Best Budget Tripod
A video tripod can be the most important piece of equipment you buy for your DSLR.
Without one, you might struggle to capture the smoothest video footage.
Shooting by hand can have varied outcomes; at best you can end up with something similar to the Blair Witch Project, and at worst you end up with something that looks like it was recorded during an earthquake.
When picking out the right video tripod for you, the composition of it with regards to the legs, plate, and head are of the utmost importance.
Here’s what to expect in this article:
- Reviews of the best DSLR tripods
- A brief buyer’s guide
- Your burning questions answered in a FAQ
Without further ado, here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for Budget Tripods
- Best of the Best: Manfrotto Befree Live Lever Kit
- Best on a Budget: JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom
- Best Premium: MeFOTO GlobeTrotter
Best Budget Tripod Reviews
Manfrotto Befree Live Lever Kit (👑 Our Top Pick)
The best tripod for DSLR video has to be the Befree Live Lever Kit from Manfrotto.
This nifty bit of kit is compact and well-made. One of its standout features is how quickly it can be set up, making it incredibly easy to take stunning video on the go. The best videographers are ready to record at a moment’s notice, and this tripod is perfect for just that. Whether you see a wildlife scene emerge in front of you, or you have to capture the last few minutes of a sunset, the Manfrotto Befree will be ready to go as soon as you are.
The fact that it’s so compact makes it stress-free to carry around, which is more than can be said for a lot of the other hefty video tripods. This doesn’t come at the expense of stability though, since the ball top keeps things steady. As a result, it’s absolutely ideal for any form of outdoor activity which requires you to move around a lot. Be it travel to remote destinations or a long hike in your neck of the woods, this tripod can come along for the journey without requiring much thought of how you’re going to carry it.
The ball head makes use of a quick release mechanism which means you can easily remove your camera from the tripod. The combination of quick setup and disassembly make the Manfrotto Befree a solid choice for the spontaneous videographer. If you enjoy long hikes with the possibility of taking a great video, then a tripod like this one could be your best companion for capturing any special moments you witness.
- Instant setup
- Ball head
- Can support camera weight of up to 4kg
- Manfrotto quick release system
- Compact size
- Flip lock
- Carbon fiber design
- Suitable for hiking and travel
JOBY GorillaPod SLR Zoom (💸 Best Budget)
The GorillaPod series of tripods from JOBY are widely praised for their versatility, stability, and compact design. The SLR zoom model is no exception, and is available at a very affordable price for enabling smooth video footage on the go.
The best part of this tripod, and other GorillaPod models, is the numerous options you are presented with when it comes to setting it up. If you’re looking to take cutting edge video which requires outside the box thinking and unique angles, then you’ll love the malleable legs of this tripod. What having flexible legs does for you as a videographer is let you set up the camera in unconventional places. How many video tripods can you wrap around a tree branch for example?
Aside from facilitating different, exciting ways of shooting video footage, this GorillaPod is also incredibly light and secure. The compact size keeps it from weighing you down, and the rubberized foot grips make setting it up on the ground just as effective as wrapping it around a branch or other surface. You can also expect 360 degree panning, so the range of shots you can capture while shooting your video is impressive.
The quick release plate makes moving around to capture all angles of a scene incredibly easy too. This feature makes the tripod perfectly suitable for capturing the action on the go, and making the best video possible on every occasion.
- Flexible legs
- Rubberised feet
- 360 degree panning
- Over two dozen leg joints
- Can hold up to 2.9kg of camera weight
- Quick release plate
MeFOTO GlobeTrotter (💎 Best Premium)
If you’re serious about creating the best outdoors videos on the go, then you’d struggle to find a better budget tripod than the infamous GorillaPod from Joby.
While there are many variations of the GorillaPod available, fit for all different types of camera, we chose the 5K kit due to its compatibility with the best DSLR cameras and camcorders. It can support a weight of up to 5kg, which is more than the other tripods in the GorillaPod range, and it even supports the use of pico projectors, speakers and other useful gadgets.
As for the tripod itself, what is there to say other than it’s the first choice of many popular Youtubers like Casey Neistat and Roman Atwood?
The reason why many Youtubers and Vloggers favour this tripod is primarily due to its outstanding versatility. You can use it as a vlog camera support, bending the individual links to get the perfect fit for you. Alternatively, you can set it up on anything from a tree to a ledge with its flexible wrap around design if you want to record a professional-looking video outside. While some of the traditional style tripods might struggle to stay upright in windy conditions, the GorillaPod stays firm due to its clamp-like legs which hold on tight to almost any surface.
The head rotates up to 360 degrees, and can also be tilted up to 90 degrees. This gives you the opportunity to find the perfect shot every time, no matter where you are.
The best part about the frame though? It’s size.
This ultra compact tripod folds down to a single stick shape making it incredibly easy to carry around in any bag. If you are the type of person who loves nothing more than spontaneous urban adventures, or last-minute photography trips out into nature, then you’ll love the convenience of this tripod. It’s also a dream for those times you need to travel and would rather not pack away a large or heavy tripod to use with your camera.
- Adjustable segmented design
- 360 degree panning head
- 90 degree tilt
- Suitable for most cameras and camcorders
Ultimate Guide to DSLR Video Tripods
Picking out a video tripod doesn’t need to be complicated.
While there are many factors to consider, there are some which are more important than others.
If you bear the following things in mind as you make your decision, you should be satisfied with your purchase.
Before anything else, you need to ascertain whether or not the tripod will be able to support the weight of your camera/s.
If you love nothing more than taking out a heavy-duty camera for the highest quality footage, then you need to know that the tripod can not only hold the weight but still allow for smooth panning.
If you do insist on using a heavy camera, you might have to do so at the expense of portability.
As a versatile tripod capable of holding a fair amount of weight, we’d recommend the MeFOTO GlobeTrotter model for heavier shooting devices.
For lighter cameras, you have a lot more options.
If you have a light camera, what you’ll want to take into account is the type of video you’re looking to record.
If you just want a tripod that provides stability on flat surfaces for more conventional video, then most tripods will do the trick.
However, if you want greater flexibility and access to a greater number of angles as you record, then you might want to consider something like the innovative GorillaPod tripod.
Related to the weight of a tripod and the camera it supports is the portability.
If you’re looking for a tripod you can pack in your backpack and take on any trip without thinking twice, then you’ll want to find one that’s compact and lightweight.
Although you don’t need to compromise if you’re looking for a tripod that extends up a lot, since some like the MeFOTO GlobeTrotter will fold down to a convenient size when you need to carry them around.
The portability will affect how quickly you can set up your camera, and how easy it is for you to bring your tripod with you on international trips.
Also, if you enjoy hiking while looking for good video material, a smaller more compact model will make your life much easier.
The head of the tripod needs to be fluid, since you want to be able to pan the camera as you’re shooting video.
While most video tripods offer this fluid movement with a ball head, not all will provide the maximum range of panning.
Ideally, you want to be able to pan around a full range of 360 degrees.
This makes it easy to set up shop somewhere without needing to pick up the tripod and place it in a different position.
The ability to pan with a full range of motion is invaluable if you want to be able to take in your surroundings fully, or track a moving subject.
There are many factors which go into making a video tripod stable. Here are some of the main factors to look out for:
- Quick Release Plate
A quick release plate is something which is secured to the head of a tripod, and makes it easy for you to attach and remove your camera from the tripod.
It’s an essential part of any tripod and allows for spontaneous shooting.
There are various types of quick release plates, and some brands like Manfrotto even have their own mechanisms.
- Sturdy Legs
Study legs are a must.
To find this, you need to pay attention to the different aspects of the legs.
There’s the feet, the potential for adjustment, and then the centre column.
Rubberised feet is typical for most video tripods and provides plenty of stability on most surfaces. You can also find spiked feet, but these are less common.
Leg angle adjustment is important since it allows you to set up your tripod in tight spaces or uneven ground, so this could be an important factor.
The centre column will determine how high you can extend the tripod, but the higher it goes, the less stable it is likely to be. For this reason some of the best video tripods are short and compact.
What’s The Difference Between a Photo Tripod and a Video Tripod?
If you’re new to photography or videography and you’re looking to invest in your first tripod, it can be useful to know which type best suits your needs.
While it’s easy to assume any tripod will do, different setups work better for different cameras and shooting styles.
Choosing between a photo and video tripod can be tough if you enjoy shooting both stills and moving images, so here’s a quick breakdown of the two styles.
Photo tripods are the more common of the two styles, and they’re best suited for taking crisp stills whatever the subject might be.
Here are a few of the defining features:
One of the most important features of a photo tripod is that it is lightweight.
This is mainly because there’s no need for it to be heavy.
Whereas with video you might want to pan in various directions and need the extra stability of a weighty frame, taking stills isn’t as demanding.
As a result, photo tripods are easy to assemble and carry around.
- Locked Head
The main defining feature of a photo tripod is that it will have a locked head.
Again, since with still photography you won’t need to move the camera while shooting, a locked head is most suitable.
There are a range of different head styles used for photo tripods, but the majority of them will lock into place to give you maximum stability for the best photos.
Video tripods are best suited for recording moving images as you can pan the camera smoothly as you shoot.
This affects both the weight and the head style of the tripods.
- Heavy Frame
As you can imagine, swivelling or panning with a heavy DSLR camera is a potential recipe for disaster.
You need to be sure that you have a frame that’s heavy enough to support such movement if you want to be successful with your video recording attempts.
That’s why video tripods will tend to be much heavier than their photo tripod counterparts.
While this might make them less suitable for travel, it ensures you will get the best video footage wherever you are.
- Fluid Head
The head of a video tripod isn’t fixed like it with the photo tripod.
Instead, there’ll be a fluid head, which is designed for smooth panning and movement.
This fluid head is perfect for any kind of video capturing that requires you to swivel the camera.
Since this applies to most situations, it really is essential to have a fluid head tripod if you want to record any kind of video footage.
The Bottom Line
While you can’t use a photo tripod if you want to take good video footage, you can use a video tripod for still photography.
The fluid head makes the video tripod slightly more versatile, so you can use it in more or less any situation.
While it’s certainly heavier and could be more difficult to transport, it’s worth considering a video tripod if you think you’ll want to shoot video while you’re out and about.
Frequently Asked Questions About DSLR Tripods
Which is the best tripod for DSLR?
The Manfrotto Befree Live Lever Kit is the best tripod for DSLR cameras in our view.
We believe this tripod has everything you need for stable videography wherever you are.
Its compact size and instant setup make it a very attractive option, both for hiking and for travel.
Can you use a video tripod for photography?
Yes, you can indeed use a video tripod for your photography.
While the fluid head design of video tripods might put you off trying to capture stills with them, you can still take crisp photos.
One reason for this is the versatility that the fluid head affords.
If you want to pan your camera to the subject smoothly, then there are few better setups for doing so.
This is especially useful for when you have a moving subject, as in the case of wildlife photography. You need to be on your toes to keep pace, and a fluid head helps you do so with minimal effort.
You’ll also find that video tripods are perfectly well suited for supporting large cameras. That means you should have no trouble fitting your biggest camera onto one and spinning it around as if it were nothing.
It’s becoming increasingly common to use video tripods for still photography these days too due to the decline in prices.
As they have become an essential purchase for many videographers and photographers alike, video tripods are getting better and more affordable by the day.
Do you need a tripod for photography?
While all you need for photography is a camera or smartphone, a tripod can help you take your craft to the next level.
Using a tripod can make the difference between a blurry off-centre photo to a crisp shot which captures everything in the frame just as it should be.
If you want to experiment too with different techniques like long exposure, then you’re going to need a tripod to stabilise the image for a duration of time.
It’s also highly recommended to use a tripod for any kind of video you want to capture. Nothing quite ruins a cinematic video than a shaky cam, likewise if you want to try your hand at vlogging a tripod is the best way to keep the camera steady at all times.
A Final Word from Run Gun Shoot
A good video tripod can take your videography to the next level, and bring stability and focus to your footage.
Once you’ve determined what factors are most important to you, it should be easy enough to pick between the most popular models.