Home News Steady your camera with the best tripods for outdoor photography

Steady your camera with the best tripods for outdoor photography

Whether you’re a seasoned professional, or just interested in grabbing some great shots in your spare time, a reliable tripod is a critical piece of gear that no outdoor photographer can do without. From keeping your camera steady in low-light environments to freeing your hands for fine adjustments, once you experience the benefits of working with a tripod, you’ll immediately understand why choosing the right one is so important.

What to look for in a tripod for outdoor photography

While just about any tripod will do for shoots in controlled indoor spaces with level floors, shooting outside poses unique challenges that require special consideration.

  • Leg flexibility. Choose a tripod that lets you configure and lock its legs into as many positions as possible. This will keep your camera level and secure even while shooting on rocky ground or steep hills.
  • Durability. Outdoor gear will get exposed to moisture, dust and dirt. Select a tripod made out of aluminum and rugged plastic that can tolerate the bumps and scratches of the field.
  • Bag hook. Some tripods include a hook on their center post from which you can hang your camera bag. This lets you keep your hands free and prevents you from having to set your gear on the ground.
  • Lightweight. While it’s true that heavier tripods are more stable, shooting outdoors means that you’ll be moving your gear around a lot. A light tripod is easier to hike with and lets you get into a shooting position faster.
  • Height. Being unable to set your tripod up how you need it is an annoyance worth avoiding. The higher your tripod can go the better.
  • Feet. Look for a tripod that features tough, rubberized feet that won’t get chipped or damaged from rough surfaces.
  • Included accessories. To get the most bang for your buck, purchase a tripod that includes a ball head and mounting plates. You’ll need these for attaching your camera or phone.

Tripod types

The sheer amount of tripods available can be overwhelming, but they can be broken down into three main categories to make choosing the one for you easier:

  • Professional tripods are the most expensive. They’re often made out of premium aluminum or carbon fiber and built to high standards. Marketed to established shutterbugs, pro-level tripods sometimes don’t include any mounting accessories.
  • Hobbyist tripods are the best choice for most photographers. They aren’t built with the same level of quality as professional tripods, but they often include ball heads, mounting plates, storage bags and other equipment for less than half the cost.
  • Mini and travel tripods are tiny, inexpensive and usually designed to accommodate a lightweight digital camera or smartphone. Some mini tripods feature flexible legs that you can use to mount them to railings or other objects to make up for their lack of extendable height.

Best tripods for pros

Peak Design Travel Tripod

This aluminum tripod can support up to 20 pounds and its center hook is great for keeping your camera bag or small backpack off the ground while you shoot. Triangular legs that fold up tightly to the diameter of a water bottle and an ultra-compact ball head make it easy to store.

Manfrotto Kit Three-Section Column Tripod

This rugged tripod features an advanced, innovative ball head for secure, flexible tilting and fine-tuning. It can reach up to 72 inches in height and includes an Easy Link attachment for using accessories such as LED lights or a reflector.

Manfrotto Aluminum Four-Section Tripod

You can fully extend this tripod with one hand, thanks to its locking levers that flip into position. With four leg angles, this tripod can adapt to almost any terrain and still keep your shot level.

Best tripods for hobbyists

K and F Concept 67-Inch Camera Tripod

Featuring a quick-release plate for swift assembly, this tripod can hold up to 22 pounds and can be configured for macro photography. Its upper mounting bar lets you swing your camera 360 degrees.

Vanguard Alta Pro 2+

With its multi-angle center column, connections for additional accessories and four individual leg positions, this tripod offers professional flexibility at a reasonable price. It includes a ball head and is made out of light but durable aluminum.

GEEKOTO 77-Inch Tripod

Packed with adjustment options and built for years of use, this tripod is an excellent choice for new photographers interested in buying gear that they can grow with. It can be converted into a monopod for quick shooting and easy hiking.

Best mini, travel and budget tripods

Neewer Mini Tripod for Camera

Small in size but big on configuration possibilities, this aluminum mini tripod is of higher quality than others in its category. Its legs can be extended for normal tripod use but they can also be folded together for using it as a selfie stick.

ULANZI Phone Tripod With Holder

This mini tripod’s flexible, rubberized legs can wrap around signs, trees and railings while maintaining a good grip. It features a built-in phone cradle and a screw on the side opens the door for additional small attachments.

BONFOTO Camera Tripod For Travel

At less than 3 pounds, this anodized aluminum tripod is built for stability without sacrificing portability.  It can extend to 53 inches in height but folds up to just a little over 14 and can even be configured for macro shoots.

Amazon Basics 50-Inch Lightweight Camera Mount Tripod

While lacking in features, this budget tripod is perfect for new photographers eager to get into the hobby without making a big investment. It weighs slightly more than a pound and features a quick-release plate.

Prices listed reflect time and date of publication and are subject to change.

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