Tripods, you either love them or hate them, right?
Some of the best tripods for DLSR cameras are a lot easier to love than to hate. So what makes a tripod a tool you can love? That will depend on why you’re needing to use one. Certain photographic situations make a good tripod virtually a necessity.
If you’re at that point, you’ll soon be thinking about what you want in a tripod. Small? Sturdy? Versatile? Your version of the best tripod for you DSLR camera may differ from someone else. We’ll come back to this thought.
Firstly let’s look at some features to consider:
- Size/Weight – Not all tripods are created equal. Some are large and heavy, others small and light. A smaller tripod is easier to take with you, so you might be more inclined to use it. However a larger or heavy tripod will be more stable. Manufacturers have come up with some good compromises. A tripod with more, but shorter, leg segments can fold up smaller. But the extra extensions can affect stability.
- Stability – Size and weight are often directly related to stability, but certain tripods can be very stable while still being portable. Aluminum and carbon fiber are two materials often used to make a stable tripod lighter in weight, thus easier to transport. A stable platform is vital for any high magnification work, such as long telephoto or extreme close up macro photography. Stability is also important for HDR photography, panoramas, astro-photography, and most videography.
- Heads – The right head can make your tripod an almost perfect tool. A basic head is the pan and tilt head. Many photographers choose other heads for their needs. A ball head, especially if heavy duty, is very useful. A 3D head is very versatile and makes a great platform for a panoramic mount. A fluid head works well for video or motion pictures.
Top 5 Best Tripods for DSLR Cameras
Table Of Contents
- 1 Top 5 Best Tripods for DSLR Cameras
- 1.1 1. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Tripod Kit (Editors Pick)
- 1.2 2. Dolica AX620B100 62-Inch Proline Tripod and Ball Head
- 1.3 3. Manfrotto NEW MT055XPRO3 055 Aluminium 3-Section Tripod
- 1.4 4. Vanguard VEO 265AB Aluminum Travel Tripod with Ball Head
- 1.5 5. Manfrotto MVH502A,546BK-1 Professional Fluid Video System
- 1.6 Share this:
- 1.7 Related
1. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Tripod Kit (Editors Pick)
This multi featured tripod will be an excellent choice for a wide variety of photographers. It has enough stiffness and weight to make it a very stable platform for all but the heaviest rigs. A great feature is the vari-angle center column and leg spread locks of several different angles, each leg adjustable independently.
It is not the most compact tripod, but it folds to a manageable size and its weight is not a burden to carry with a strap or attached to a backpack. There is a version of this with a different model number that has four segments per leg that folds up a tad bit smaller. But the three segment legs on this model seem a little less fiddely and more secure in use.
These features together make it a great tripod for enthusiasts of outdoor phototgraphy. When setting up on uneven ground, spreading the legs out in different angles will often be a more stable set up than just adjusting how long each leg is.
The head on this tripod is a heavy duty ball head, capable of staying in any orientation with all but the heaviest of rigs. The quick release plate actually does release quickly, and clamps together very securely. This tripod is useable in the field, in the studio, and it travels well. In its medium price range, I would consider this a versatile tool and one of the best tripods for DSLR cameras.
2. Dolica AX620B100 62-Inch Proline Tripod and Ball Head
This tripod is a great size and weight for easily taking with you on a photographic outing. One of the worse things about needing a tripod is not having one when you need it. (Read that sentence again, it does make sense!)
The advantage of a compact travel tripod is being able to carry it without causing much of a burden. Folded up, this compact can even fit inside your backpack.
Extended, it offers a comfortable height to work from. It’s a very adjustable mount, too. The legs spread independantly of each other and will lock at different angles. The center column is reversable as well. What this means is that you can get very close to the ground if you need to.
Being an excellent travel or hiking tripod, I would consider something sturdier for studio use. Or for any heavier rigs.
It says it’ll hold up to 13 or so pounds, but trust me, don’t push it. Not with any of the smaller travel sized tripods. For an “always there” tripod, though, I am comfortable with it.
3. Manfrotto NEW MT055XPRO3 055 Aluminium 3-Section Tripod
Manfrotto makes wonderful tripods. Known for many years in the USA as Bogen, Manfrotto sells their tripods and heads separately or together in many different combinations. A heavy duty ball head, or one of the 3D adjustable heads makes a great set up for these study legs.
Any head you put on it becomes a very useful tool. It’s size and weight will cause some photographers to opt out on considering it. But for dedicated tripod users, the added stability and versatility make up for the transporting inconvenience.
This tripod was very much at home in my small studio. You could use it in the field, too, but it isn’t as versatile as some other tripods for uneven terrain or any unusual set up needs.
One neat trick I did find, though. It’s not in the instructions, but you can completely remove the center column and remount it with the head underneath. Who needs instructions anyways, right?
This seems like a lot trouble, but it pays off when you capture close up or macro images that you just can’t get any other way.
This is a great studio tool, or for taking on a remote field job, but if I’m hiking or backpacking I think I would want a little more set up versatility for the added burden of carrying this larger tripod. Overall this is a good choice for studio photographers.
4. Vanguard VEO 265AB Aluminum Travel Tripod with Ball Head
Another great offering from Vanguard! This is what I would call a sturdy travel tripod. It’s not really heavy duty, but much more robust than competing travel tripods.
Like many tripods from this brand, it has multi angle leg lock detentes and an adapter to get way down low.
A fairly unique feature is the stowaway center column. It swings around to fold inside the legs. Shaves a few inches of length allowing you to store it or transport it handily.
The leg extension segments go from fully compacted to a nice and usable full extension. All the controls for these movements are simple and of good quality.
The swinging stowaway center column means that in the same size as competing travel tripods, you get a study, versatile tool that for some photographers will make it one of the best tripods for DSLR cameras.
In the field, this tripod shows its true value. As I’ve said before, a tripod is a useless tool if you don’t have one when you need it. Whether in its own bag, in a backpack, or lashed to a medium size camera bag, it’s hard to justify leaving this fun thing behind. Leave your studio tripod behind, and enjoy your photo outing.
5. Manfrotto MVH502A,546BK-1 Professional Fluid Video System
Sometimes, a photographic need is great enough that you’ll have to take into consideration that you simply have to use a certain tool and that is that.
Shooting video to a professional standard creates a need for a stable and sturdy tripod with specific feature specifications.
Many of today’s better DSLR cameras double as completely equipped video cameras. To get the best video results, a videographer will find themselves outfitting their shooting rig in a very different way than we do for most still photography.
Add on an external microphone, a matte box, follow focus, HD monitors… all this increases size and weight by quite a bit. Even some of the Micro 4/3rds camera rigged this way for high end video will be a sizable pile of stuff.
Have no fear, Manfrotto is here! This is a large and heavy tripod. The multi segment heavy duty legs raise up very high and the mid level spreader bars provide extra stability. This tripod has convertible feet for interior or exterior use and it can be placed on a dolly for easy studio movement.
Thank goodness they were limited to around 3 ½ minutes! With a fluid head, a hydraulic fluid dampens our jerky or super swift motions. Thus, we can smoothly transition from one view to the next. Being on a super stable platform, this fluidity of motion will be a much more pleasant viewing experience. Sorry, Uncle Bob. You’re fired!
This is a beast to carry around in the field, but if you need it, you’ll find a way. It folds up into a carry-able package and can be considered for field use.
How Do I Make the Choice?
If you are in the process of thinking about a tripod, than you probably already have a pretty good idea of what tripod to get. You just need to go a little further.
Narrow it down. You know what subjects interest you most, know what areas you like to shoot in. Think about if you are usually indoors, outdoors, or far away outdoors. You probably don’t want to carry a giant heavy tripod up and down mountain trails. You wouldn’t trust a small light travel tripod with huge glass or large unwieldy video rigs. Maybe you want a tripod that can fill multiple roles.
You can learn more about setting up and making the most of your tripod here. This is also a helpful guide.
Think about your current photography, also consider what you might want to try next. That will help focus your search for the best tripod for your own DSLR camera. Depending on you, any of the tripods from this article could very well top your personal list of the best tripods for DSLR cameras.
Checkout our article on the best tripods under $100 for those on a budget.