Whether you’re an aspiring professional photographer or simply an enthusiast. A sturdy tripod is an essential part of your photography kit.
The right tripod will help eliminate blurry pictures and allow you shoot in lower light situations, using slower shutter speeds and longer exposures. And if you’re into vlogging or just documenting your everyday adventures, a tripod can be incredibly useful for getting video and pictures that aren’t just selfies.
Tripods aren’t exactly cheap, and can easily cost into the hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars. A high-quality tripod, however, is worth it, and if you value your camera, picking a cheap one will only inevitably lead to disaster.
Thankfully, there are several great options out there for a decent price. We’ve assembled a short buying guide of the 5 best tripods available for under $200 of 2017.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Top 5 Best Tripods Under $200 Of 2017
- 1.1 1. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Tripod Kit (Editors Pick)
- 1.2 2. Manfrotto MKBFRA4-BH BeFree Compact Aluminum Travel Tripod Black
- 1.3 3. Ravelli AVTP Professional 75mm Video Camera Tripod with Fluid Drag Head
- 1.4 BUY ON AMAZON.COM
- 1.5 4. JOBY GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X Bundle
- 1.6 5. MeFOTO Aluminum Roadtrip Travel Tripod/Monopod Kit
- 2 Wrapping It Up
Things To Consider When Picking a Tripod
- Size and Portability: What will you mainly be using the tripod for? Are you looking for a compact tripod you can take anywhere with you, or are you okay with something larger but sturdier?
- Height: How tall are you? A tripod that comes up near eye-level is much more convenient, while one that is merely too short can be a pan to work with.
- Material: Most tripods have legs made of aluminum, which is very lightweight, but not as stable as legs made of carbon fiber or stainless steel. The material will determine the weight: a few pounds may not seem like much, but when you’re traveling, stuffing it into your luggage or hiking, a few pounds can make a huge difference.
- Tripod head: There are few different kinds of tripod heads, such as ball heads, panoramic heads and pan and tilt heads. Ball heads are the most versatile, and can be set up in almost any angle or position you could need. Pan and tilt heads are best for video, allowing you to get smooth, seamless movements without jerking.
You may also want to look at other factors such as leg locking mechanisms, whether the tripod has a center column, or if it can be converted, but the above are the main criteria to look out for.
Top 5 Best Tripods Under $200 Of 2017
1. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 100 Aluminum Tripod Kit (Editors Pick)
Our editor’s pick for best tripod under $200 is the Vanguard Alta Pro. The Alta Pro is a heavy-duty, all-around tripod capable of shooting in almost any situation.
Folded, it measures 28.5” and is compact enough for travel. Fully extended, it comes out to 68” – almost 6 feet tall. The Alta Pro is made from aluminum alloy, making it lightweight but still sturdy, and can hold camera kits up to 15lbs. The legs adjust to 25, 50, and 80-degree angles, allowing you to get down low for extreme angles.
Vanguard designed the Alta Pro with extreme versatility in mind, and the hexagon-shaped central column is designed to swivel from 0 to 180 degrees.
Still, for a versatile, well-rounded tripod under $200, the Alta Pro is an excellent choice and well-deserving of our Editor’s Pick. It’s most suitable for enthusiasts and hobbyists, but professionals will also appreciate its compact portability for frequent travel.
2. Manfrotto MKBFRA4-BH BeFree Compact Aluminum Travel Tripod Black
Manfrotto is a trusted name, known for reliable, high-quality tripods. The BeFree is a lightweight and ultra-sturdy little tripod, made of aluminum. It fits in carry-on luggage and backpacks, going anywhere your photography may lead you.
The quality and craftsmanship are evident as soon as you pick the BeFree up. It is solid, made entirely of aluminum with durable rubber grips on the legs. 56” when fully extended, it folds down to 15”’ and can hold up to 8.8 lbs. The legs can be spread independently, perfect for uneven ground, and there are two different leg angle stops for odd angles.
The ball head has a large locking handle, as well as a quick-release with QR plate. It also has an included carrying case.
The light build means that the BeFree is very sensitive to vibrations. Photographers have noticed blurry photos from wind, and even from the vibration of the shutter itself.
This doesn’t mean the BeFree is a poor tripod, by any means; Manfrotto’s quality is excellent. It’s just best confined to travel photography, where the weight load and camera setups will be lighter and less bulky.
3. Ravelli AVTP Professional 75mm Video Camera Tripod with Fluid Drag Head
Ravelli’s AVTP is a full-size, sturdy video tripod for professional use. Capable of holding up to 27lbs, it is made from lightweight but robust aluminum, and uses an industry standard 3-segment, interlocking Crutch leg design with a mid-level spreader.
Rubber feet keep it planted firmly on the ground, and make it a seriously solid and stable design for all kinds of situations.
The tripod head has a continuous drag fluid movement. It can pan 360 degrees and tilt up to 180 degrees for smooth, effortless video shooting. Dual handles, designed for video, allow for excellent, precise control, and there are locks for both pan and tilt. The head also has a video-oriented quick release plate, with a safety latch to keep it from sliding off.
This is a common problem with more affordable tripods, and it will be difficult to find one that doesn’t stick in the same price range. The head tension is adjustable, but if smooth up-and-down motion is important to you, you’ll want to keep that in mind.
If you’re looking for a dependable, professional quality video tripod, the Ravelli is unbeatable value.
4. JOBY GorillaPod Focus with Ballhead X Bundle
If you’re looking for the ultimate in versatility and portability. Take a look at the Joby GorillaPod. It is a compact and literally flexible tripod, with rubberized legs that mold to whatever situation you’re shooting in. Perfect for vloggers and outdoor adventurers.
The GorillaPod is made from machined aluminum sockets and TPE joints, with rubberized grips, that can bend into any position necessary. Shooting in tight corners? No problem. Mountain climbing? Got you covered.
It can be used on uneven terrain, or literally wrapped around any object you see – a lamppost, a chain-link fence, bike handles. You can even turn it into a makeshift shoulder rig or carry handle for handheld shooting.
Nonetheless, it is a robust and downright adaptable option. It goes anywhere and does anything, perfect for traveling, outdoor adventuring and everyday use. it’s also an excellent choice for vloggers who take their camera with them everywhere. That’s where it truly shines. For these reasons it deserved a spot in your best tripods under $200 list. For more vlogging tripods, check out our article here.
5. MeFOTO Aluminum Roadtrip Travel Tripod/Monopod Kit
The MeFOTO Roadtrip is, like the Alta Pro and Manfrotto BeFree, a superb lightweight tripod for traveling and shooting on the go. Built from sturdy aluminum, it weighs only 3.6lbs and can support loads up to 17lbs, holding DSLR’s and mirrorless cameras plus lens.
It can be as small as 15” but fully extends up to 61”. Like the Alta Pro, each leg has two locking positions, which is great for shooting on uneven ground and in tight corners.
You can even remove the center column and screw it onto one of the leg sections, for a stable monopod that extends up to 64”. The extendable legs have 5 different sections, with a twist-locking, anti-rotation rubberized grips.
The Q series ballhead pans 360-degrees and has a lock for staying at the desired position. It features a standard Arca-Swiss compatible, quick release plate for convenience, as well as an integrated bubble level that helps prevent uneven panning.
The ballhead is also removable and you can use any ballhead you like. The center column also lets you hang additional weight from a recessed, spring-loaded hook, as a counterweight for further stability with heavier loads.
Another gripe is that the twist locks, while well-constructed and easy to use, don’t have any way of gauging whether they are tightened. If you forget to tighten one, the tripod will close and topple over – expensive new camera in tow.
Otherwise, it is another reliable option for an affordable tripod like the Alta Pro, good as a primary for enthusiasts and as a backup travel kit for professionals.
Wrapping It Up
Any of the tripods listed above is an excellent choice for a tripod, and should have you covered for almost any shooting situation you could need. We recommend the Vanguard Alta Pro as our Editor’s Choice, thanks to its compact size, durable aluminum build, and all-around versatility. It’s strong enough to hold cameras up to 15lbs, but small and light enough for traveling.
The center column can be positioned in almost any way imaginable, for shooting in a variety of different locations and demands. It’s excellent for photographers, both professional and hobbyists alike. Avoid using it with heavy loads when fully extended, but otherwise, it’s suitable for almost anything. You can also check out this guide on finding a great tripod.
If you’re into purely vlogging, you may want to take a look at the JOBY GorillaPod. It’s flexible and small enough to go virtually anywhere, but doubles as a makeshift shoulder rig or even selfie stick for spontaneous, mobile recording. See the best tripods under $100 here.