A tripod is an essential camera accessory. It’s designed to keep your camera still so that you get the best results possible from the sensor and lenses that you’ve spent some serious money on.
A tripod can also open up a range of creative shooting opportunities. It’s vital for very long exposures, for example, perhaps when you’re using a neutral density filter to enable you to capture passing clouds as soft streaks or to render choppy waves as a silky blur.
It’s also easier, or more comfortable to mount your camera on a tripod when you want to shoot from an awkward angle. Especially if you’re waiting for your subject to appear in the frame or for the light to come good.
While the price of some camera tripods can be off-putting, you’ll soon regret buying a cheap, flimsy tripod that can’t be relied upon to do the job that’s needed. Equally, if you’re going to walk for miles, you may not want to carry a big, heavy tripod. It’s also about finding the right balance.
In this guide to the best tripods, we’ve selected the best camera tripods for a variety of uses and cameras. There are mini tripods that are a great stop-gap for those occasions when you can’t carry a full-size tripod, or you need something to support the camera while it’s in self-timer mode and you want to run into the frame. We’ve also included some excellent travel tripods that are perfect for holidays or when weight is a key consideration. In addition, there are standard or everyday tripods as well as a great hybrid tripod that’s a superb support for a video camera.
Best mini tripods
A mini or tabletop tripod is useful for those occasions when you don’t need a full-size or even a travel tripod. It enables you to position and angle your camera more precisely than when it’s just resting on a convenient wall.
These tripods are small and light enough to slip into your bag and carried just in case they’re needed. They’re also very useful full near ground-level photography, keeping your camera out of the dirt and letting you perfect the composition.
- Product type: Mini tripod
- Materials: Aluminium, Technopolymer
- Attachment: 1/4-inch screw
- Maximum height: 13.5cm
- Closed length: 18.5cm
- Leg angles: 45°
A Manfrotto Pixi is a staple of photographers’ kit. It’s small and light enough to slip into a bag or pocket and, provided you’re not using a long lens, it gives good support when light levels fall or you want to be in the shot.
Helpfully, when the Pixi’s legs are closed they form a nice curved shape that fits into your hand to create a useful grip when shooting selfies or vlogging.
It’s a simple, uncomplicated little tripod that deserves a place in your bag.
- Small and light
- Simple to use
- Maximum load just 1Kg
- No friction control
- Single leg angle
Gitzo Mini Traveler
- Product type: Mini tripod
- Material: Carbon fibre and Aluminium
- Maximum payload: 3Kg
- Closed length: 22cm
- Miniumum height: 12.5cm
- Maximum height: 17.5cm
- Head type: Ball head
- Number of leg sections: 1
- Leg angles: 50°, 75
- Weight: 265g
Sometimes you don’t need a full tripod but you need some support and control beyond resting your camera on a convenient wall, log or bench. While its price might justify a second take, the Gitzo Mini Traveler is an excellent little tripod that’s light enough to slip in your bag and go unnoticed.
Its head and spider are made from aluminium while the legs have carbon fibre eXact tubes. And when the legs are at the widest of their two angles, the Mini Traveler can support a payload of up to 3Kg.
It also has a simple ball head built in and thanks to a drop-slot, it allows for landscape or portrait orientation shooting.
- Better quality than the average mini tripod
- Weighs just 265g
- Solid support
- High price
- No quick release plate
3 Legged Thing Docz2
- Materials: Alloy base with ABS top cover and rubber boot adjuster
- Thread sizwe: 1/4inch-20 supplied with 3/8inch-16 adapter
- Folded length: 16cm / 6.29-inches
- Height in use: 8.1cm / 3.1-inches
- Base diameter in use: 30cm / 11.8-inch
- Tripod weight: 496g / 1.1lb
- Maximum Payload : 20kg / 44lb
3 Legged Thing Docz2 is a rugged and durable stabiliser foot that can be added to the bottom of 3LT’s monopods or it can be used as a beefy mini tripod. It has a built-in 1/4-20 thread that allows it to be attached directly onto the camera via the tripod bush. Alternatively, a 3/8-16 thread adapter is supplied to enable it to screw into the base of a monopod.
As there’s no drop slot in the Docz2, it’s a strictly landscape-orientation mini tripod but there’s a ball head built in to give some movement. When the Docz2 is on the bottom of a Monopod like the 3 Legged Thing Alan or 3 Legged Thing Trent, this ball joint enables smooth panning and lets the monopod be tilted or swivelled.
This ball joint also has a friction lock to make the movement looser or tighter as you prefer.
At 496g / 1.1lb in weight, the 3 Legged Thing Docz2 isn’t the lightest mini tripod around, but it can hold a substantial load of up to 20Kg / 44lb, which mades it useful for big and small cameras a like.
- Extremely strong
- Ball head built-in
- Dual function
- No drop slot for portrait orientation photography
- Heavier than less robust mini tripods
PolarPro Apex Minimalist Tripod Base
- Product type: Mini tripod
- Construction: 95% aluminium, stainless steel leg tiltlocks
- Maxmimum payload: 11.3Kg / 25lb
- Leg angles: Over 144 leg positions
- Feet: Rubber caps pull off to reveal spiked metal feet
- Weight: 456g / 16oz
PolarPro makes two versions of the Apex tripod, one with a head built-in and the Apex Minimalist Tripod Base which comes legs-only for use with your favourite tripod head.
The PolarPro Apex Minimalist Tripod Base has a maximum payload of 11.3Kg / 25lb, but it’s important to check the maximum payload of the head that you use before you mount a big, heavy camera and lens.
Aside from its huge payload, which in the mini tripod category only beaten by the 3 Legged Thing Doz2, the other key selling point of the PolarPro Apex Minimalist Tripod Base is its unusually wide range of leg angles. This is something of a mixed blessing as it slows down the speed at which you can set up and pack away the tripod, but it also means that you can adapt it for use on uneven ground and, when the legs are splayed very wide, the tripod can hold longer lenses than some other mini tripods.
The PolarPro Apex Minimalist Tripod Base is a seriously robust and versatile mini tripod that is likely to divide opinion.
- Robust construction
- Impressive payload of 11.3Kg / 25lb
- Each leg can be adjusted through 13 positions
- Heavier than most mini tripods
- Requires a separate head - adding weight and cost
- Fiddly leg angle adjusters
Best travel tripods
Lighter and smaller than a standard tripod, a travel tripod is designed to be easy to transport. They’re great for taking on holiday as they can be slipped in your hand luggage or popped in your suitcase without taking up too much room. And when you’re out, you won’t mind carrying a good travel tripod because it doesn’t weigh too much and gives your camera the support it needs when light levels fall.
You’ll be glad you’ve got one when you want to photograph that holiday sunset!
Peak Design Travel Tripod
- Maximum height centre column raised: 152.4cm / 60inches
- Maximum height centre column down: 130.2cm / 51.25inches
- Minimum height: 14cm / 5.5inches
- Collapsed length and diameter: 39.1cm / 15.4inches, 7.9cm / 3.125inches
- Weight: Aluminium: 1.56Kg / 3.44lbs, Carbon fibre: 1.27Kg / 2.81lbs
- Maximum payload: 9.1Kg / 20lbs
- Number of leg sections: 5
- Leg material: Aluminium or carbon fibre
- Leg lock material: Aluminium
Peak Design makes two versions of its Travel Tripod, one with aluminium alloy legs and one with carbon fibre legs. While the price of the aluminium tripod is more palatable, if low weight is especially important, bite the bullet and go for the carbon fibre tripod which is 290g lighter.
Don’t be fooled by the thinness of the lower leg sections, the Peak Design Travel Tripod is very stable. In our tests it even delivered sharp long exposures in a stiff breeze with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a full-frame camera.
The beauty of the Peak Design Travel Tripod is that it packs down to less than 40cm in length and its legs fold in tight together so it has a very narrow diameter. It’s a tripod that you won’t mind carrying ‘just in case’.
£329£569 / $349.95 / $599.95
- Very compact
- Very stable for a travel tripod
- Quick to deploy
- Centre column needs extending slightly to give the head full movement
- Hex wrench (supplied) required to attach and detach the quick release plate
- High price - especially for the carbon fibre version
3 Legged Thing Ray
- Product type: Tripod
- Announced: 4th August 2020
- Construction: Carbon fibre tubes, hard anodised aerospace-grade magnesium alloy fixings
- Max Height: 129.5cm
- Minimum height: 104mm
- Leg sections: 5
- Centre column sections: 2
- Folded length: 34.2cm
- Leg angles: 23º, 55º, 80º
- Load capacity: 30kg / 66lb at 23º, 20Kg / 44lb at 55º, 10Kg /33lb at 80º
- Max tube diameter: 26mm
- Head height (with the kit): 98mm
- Weight: 1.27kg
As a travel tripod, the Three Legged Thing Ray isn’t the tallest tripod around, but it has a premium build and packs down to just 34.2cm in length, which means it can fit in your hand luggage or slot sideways into a suitcase.
As usual, 3 Legged Thing has given the Ray some very nice extra features, including the ability to remove the legs so that it can be converted into a tabletop tripod with the addition of the optional 3 Legged Thing Vanz feet. Also, the centre column can be attached to a leg to make a monopod or mic boom.
3 Legged Thing used 8-layer Japanese carbon fibre for the Ray’s leg and centre column tubes while the canopy, leg fixings and locks are made from aerospace-grade anodised magnesium alloy. The quality of the machining is superb, which helps to make the Ray a pleasure to use.
3 Legged Thing sells the Ray legs-only or with the AirHed Vu tripod head.
- Short packed-down length
- Removable legs and interchangeable footwear for versatility
- Available with or without the Airhed Vu tripod head
- Quite a large diameter when packed down
Gitzo Légende Tripod
- Materials: Carbon exact (carbon fibre), aluminium
- Maximum height: 165cm
- Minimum height: Standard configuration: 43cm, Short centre column: under 31cm
- Closed length: 43cm
- Number of leg sections: 4
- Leg angles: 25°, 70°
- Maximum payload: 8Kg
- Panoramic rotation: 360°
- Front and lateral tilt: -90°/+40°
- Weight: 1.45Kg
The Gitzo Légende (GK 1545T-RTI) tripod kit is a special edition Series 1 4-section Gitzo Traveler tripod with a matte silver aluminium Center Ball Head. It has an elegant, simple design that works very well and should give many years of service.
It’s recommended for use with lenses with focal lengths of up to 135mm – 200mm.
The legs are constructed from Carbon eXact tubing for strength and rigidity while the leg locks are made from aluminium.
With the legs flipped up through 180° Gitzo Légende packs down to 43cm in length. However, when the 4-section legs and centre column are fully extended, the shooting height is 165cm (5ft 4-inches).
The legs have a robust yet easy to use angle-release mechanism that enables them to be positioned in one of two angles (25° or 70°) for shooting.
By unscrewing the base plug in the centre column and loosening the column lock, the centre column can be removed then inverted for low-level shooting. Alternatively, there’s a short column supplied with the kit that can be used in place of the standard column with the legs spread to their widest point. This lowers the top of the tripod head to below 31cm above ground height.
Gitzo also supplies a hook that can be screwed into the bottom of the centre column for hanging a weight.
The kit includes a Center Ball Head from Gitzo’s professional range. This is made from steel and aluminium components and features a friction-control knob to enable precise, smooth adjustments of the composition. Its quick release plate is Arca-Swiss compatible, which means the head can be used with Gitzo D profile plates as well as Arca-Swiss type plates.
A bubble-level on the head helps with keeping the horizon level.
According to Gitzo, the Légendes Tripod is built from 170 parts and is designed to be repaired rather than replaced. All of the parts are replaceable and 70% of them are said to be user-replaceable with the part being shipped at no extra cost. The Gitzo Légende is eligible for a free unlimited extended warranty upon registration.
- Simple elegant design that works well
- Excellent build quality
- Designed for repair rather than replacement
- No accessory connection points
- Short centre column replaces the standard column rather than just removing the bottom section of the main column
Best general purpose tripods
These are the tripods that you can use for all sorts of photography, they provide a stable base for landscape, still life and macro photography.
They enable you to shoot sharp long exposures during the day when there’s a neutral density filter on your lens, and detail-rich images of the night sky and everything else.
3 Legged Thing Winston 2.0
- Maximum height: 1.94m
- Maximum height without centre column: 1.5m
- Minimum height: 23.1cm
- Folded length: 61.2
- Maximum leg diameter: 29mm
- Maximum payload: 40kg
- Weight (tripod-only): 1.73kg
- Kit weight (tripod with Airhed Pro): 2.05kg
3 Legged Thing is a company that listens to the feedback from its user base, and the Winston 2.0 is a true testament to this.
Designed as the ultimate every day, every occasion tripod, the Winston 2.0 offers superb stability and is packed with features. These features include three detachable legs, so with the addition of the optional Vanz footwear, the tripod converts from a full-size support down to a tabletop tripod.
While the Winston 2.0 is feature-rich, it maintains a simple and sleek design that makes it one of the most versatile tripods available today.
- Full Height tripod
- Decent monopod conversion
- Ability to convert to a tabletop tripod
- No accessories thread on the crown
Gitzo GT2542 Mountaineer Series 2
- Materials: Carbon fibre legs
- Number of leg sections: 4
- Maximum height: 165.5cm
- Maximum height with centre column down: 137.5cm
- Minimum height: 15cm
- Leg lock type: Twist
- Leg angles: 25°, 55°, 83°
- Leg tube diameter: 18.3, 21.7, 25.3, 29mm
- Maximum payload: 18Kg
- Weight: 1.68Kg
Gitzo tripods have an excellent reputation and many professional photographers swear by them. They don’t come cheap, but they last well and give great service.
The Gitzo GT2542 Mountaineer Series 2 is an excellent all-rounder that’s solid enough for still life, macro and landscape photography without being too heavy. As one of Gitzo’s Mountaineer series tripods, it’s stiff and designed to support large, high-resolution cameras.
Gitzo used its ‘Carbon eXact’ high modulus carbon fibre for the legs and its G-Lock leg locks for quick operation. The centre column can be removed and reversed for low-level shooting.
It’s available legs-only so it can be paired with your preferred tripod head, or with the Gitzo GHF3W Fluid 3-Way head.
- Solid, reliable set of legs
- 1.68Kg weight
- Reversible centre column
Best video and hybrid tripods
Videography and photography with large cameras paired with long lenses calls for a very solid tripod. These tripods aren’t the lightest, but they’ve got a tough job to do.
3 Legged Thing Tommy
- Leg Sections: 3
- Leg material: Carbon fibre
- Maximum height: 1.62cm
- Minimum height: 15.6cm
- Folded length: 73cm
- Leg angles: 23°, 55°, 80°
- Maximum leg section diameter: 35mm
- Bowl diameter: 75mm
- Tripod weight: 2.59Kg / 5.7lb
- Maximum Payload : 60kg
3 Legged Thing introduced the Tommy as a hybrid tripod for use by videographers or photographers with big cameras and long, heavy lenses. It provides a rocksteady base for your camera work.
In addition, each of its three legs are detachable so they can be converted into a monopod or a long mic boom. Also, the legs can be replaced by the optional Vanz feet to turn the Tommy into a tough tabletop or close to ground-level tripod.
The Tommy has large diameter legs that can be spread wide to make a stable base.
Three Legged Thing supplies the Tommy with a flat plate and a 75mm-diameter bowl plate to enable your preferred tripod head to be mounted.
- Extremely well made
- Three detachable legs
- Lightweight legs for video
- Accessories port needs rotation lock