Need to shoot a night land­scape or a city in the light of lanterns? Are you plan­ning a com­plex col­lage of sev­er­al shots and is it impor­tant that the angle is the same down to the mil­lime­ter? Do you shoot at high zoom? Or maybe you want to get into the frame at a friend’s birth­day, where you are both a guest and a pho­tog­ra­ph­er? In any of these cas­es, you will need a tri­pod for the cam­era.

We fig­ured out the types of tripods and what para­me­ters to look for when choos­ing them for dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions.


Tripod types


Tri­pod on one leg. It is a fold­ing tube, one of the ends of which is placed on the floor, and the oth­er is attached to the cam­era or lens. There are very small monopods for phones. This includes the very self­ie sticks.

The mono­pod is the least sta­ble of all tripods, which means that it is not suit­able for shoot­ing with a slow shut­ter speed of sev­er­al sec­onds (and even more so min­utes). Due to the design, it is assumed that the pho­tog­ra­ph­er sup­ports such tripods with his hands, which at a slow shut­ter speed will turn into blur­ry frames.

How­ev­er, one anchor point is already a good way to fix the cam­era. At the very least, it is more reli­able than shoot­ing man­u­al­ly, and allows you to improve the qual­i­ty of shots and reduce the bur­den on the pho­tog­ra­ph­er. For exam­ple, the Fal­con Eyes MP-18 mono­pod can sup­port a cam­era up to 8kg.

A mono­pod helps the pho­tog­ra­ph­er sup­port a heavy lens / pixabay.com

Due to its design, this tri­pod is mobile — it is easy to car­ry and set up, it does not take up space, unlike a more bulky tri­pod. It is suit­able for reporters who con­stant­ly move from place to place, and video­g­ra­phers. Espe­cial­ly for them, there are monopods with a small brace at the bot­tom (in fact, a mini-tri­pod), which increas­es sta­bil­i­ty and allows you to smooth­ly move the cam­era.

The mono­pod was not orig­i­nal­ly designed to fix the cam­era com­plete­ly still, it pri­mar­i­ly acts as a sup­port for heavy equip­ment, which allows you to take bet­ter shots. This is not a tri­pod replace­ment.


A clas­sic tri­pod with three legs. Usu­al­ly, when we say “tri­pod”, we rep­re­sent just such a design. The legs of a tri­pod are usu­al­ly attached to the cen­tral stick with spac­ers, which increas­es its sta­t­ic nature.


This option (depend­ing on the design fea­tures, mate­r­i­al, etc., which we will dis­cuss below) pro­vides max­i­mum sta­t­ic cam­era. Such tripods are tak­en for shoot­ing land­scapes, archi­tec­ture, any shoot­ing with a long expo­sure, when col­lag­ing, when the same shoot­ing angle is impor­tant, and also if you shoot por­traits in a stu­dio with nat­ur­al and not very bright light and you need to length­en the shut­ter speed and raise the ISO.

Bud­get mod­els for ama­teurs will cost only a cou­ple of thou­sand rubles. For exam­ple, a tri­pod for trav­el Ray­lab Trav­el 55 costs only two thou­sand rubles, and its more pro­fes­sion­al and strong “broth­er” Ben­ro C1570FB1 — 11 thou­sand. At the same time, it can with­stand a load of up to 8 kg ver­sus 4 for Ray­lab.

In film pro­duc­tion, quadropods and hexa­pods are also used. These are tripods with four and six “legs” for pro­fes­sion­al video equip­ment. But buy­ing them for every­day pho­tog­ra­phy is point­less — such acces­sories weigh more than 5 kilo­grams (there are mod­els more than 20 kilo­grams), and cost tens of thou­sands of rubles.

mini tripod

These are tripods for phones and ama­teur cam­eras. As a rule, the length of the sup­port­ing struc­tures of such tripods is small — they are not high, so it will not work to put the cam­era in an open field and shoot a full-length por­trait.

Mini tri­pod for ama­teur cam­era / pixabay.com

These include:

— tripods-clamps, which are attached to sur­faces with a clamp­ing screw;
— tripods on flex­i­ble legs;
— table stands. Like tripods, only small;
— tripods-clothes­pins.

Clamps and tripods with flex­i­ble legs allow you to attach the cam­era to almost any sur­face from the back of a chair to a tree branch. Due to the unusu­al mount, the cam­era can be placed at any height and in the most unusu­al angle. Also, their advan­tage is their small weight and size, which makes it easy to take the acces­so­ry with you. This tri­pod is per­fect for those who want to exper­i­ment while shoot­ing.

Due to their size and design, mini tripods, espe­cial­ly clothes­pins, will def­i­nite­ly not sup­port a heavy pro­fes­sion­al cam­era with a lens. But they are def­i­nite­ly suit­able for those who take pic­tures with a soap dish, a light mir­ror­less cam­era or a phone. In oth­er cas­es, it is bet­ter to check the sta­bil­i­ty of the tri­pod direct­ly with your cam­era and lens.

What to look for when choosing a tripod

General indicators:

1. Mate­r­i­al and weight

Tripods come in steel, alu­minum and car­bon (car­bon fiber). The most bud­getary and heav­i­est are steel, and the light­est and most expen­sive are car­bon.

But when choos­ing a tri­pod, a high price does­n’t mean you’re get­ting a val­ue for your mon­ey. The main ques­tion is: what type of shoot­ing do you need a tri­pod for? After all, the more it weighs, the high­er its sta­bil­i­ty.

If you are shoot­ing nature, ani­mals, open areas where strong winds can blow, it is bet­ter to take a heavy steel mod­el. If you are tak­ing a tri­pod for macro, stu­dio or ama­teur trav­el pho­tog­ra­phy, then con­sid­er lighter options.

Due to their great sta­bil­i­ty, it is heavy steel tripods that are most often used by pho­to stu­dios to place stu­dio lights and bulky light shap­ing noz­zles.

2. Per­mis­si­ble load

This is how much weight the tri­pod can sup­port. One thing is a phone that weighs a cou­ple of hun­dred grams, and anoth­er is a SLR with a tele­pho­to lens, the weight of which can reach sev­er­al kilo­grams, espe­cial­ly if an exter­nal flash is addi­tion­al­ly installed on the cam­era.

If the tri­pod is light and with an allow­able load less than the weight of the cam­era and lens, the like­li­hood of drop­ping and break­ing equip­ment is great­ly increased / pixabay.com

If your cam­era with the heav­i­est lens weighs 2 kilo­grams, take a tri­pod with a load capac­i­ty to spare. For exam­ple, 3 kilo­grams or more. In this case, even if you upgrade your equip­ment a lit­tle, you will not have to buy anoth­er tri­pod.

Oth­er­wise, dur­ing shoot­ing, the tri­pod head may tilt under the weight of the lens, or the tri­pod may fold in height dur­ing shoot­ing.

3. Max­i­mum and min­i­mum height

Tripods can have dif­fer­ent min­i­mum and max­i­mum heights. For exam­ple, the min­i­mum height for tripods can vary from 5 to 150 cen­time­ters, and the max­i­mum height from 10 cen­time­ters (mini-tripods for smart­phones) to 180 cen­time­ters. For exam­ple, the Man­frot­to MT057C4 tri­pod has a min­i­mum height of 23 cm and a max­i­mum height of 180 cm.

It is advised to pay atten­tion to the max­i­mum tri­pod height in the con­text of your height. For exam­ple, a tall per­son may find it dif­fi­cult to lean too far down to look through the viewfind­er.

A tri­pod with a low min­i­mum height will allow you to exper­i­ment with angles, it is con­ve­nient to shoot chil­dren and ani­mals / pixabay.com

If height is not an impor­tant para­me­ter for you, and you often pho­to­graph peo­ple, then it is also worth con­sid­er­ing that the ide­al tri­pod height for shoot­ing por­traits is from 1.5 to 1.8 meters. But, as well as with the max­i­mum load, it is bet­ter to take with a mar­gin.

If you are inter­est­ed in macro and unusu­al angles, ask what is the min­i­mum tri­pod height. There are acces­sories whose legs can be bent in the oppo­site direc­tion. This allows you to take pic­tures with a tri­pod from vir­tu­al­ly ground lev­el.

4. Type of tri­pod head

Tri­pod with artic­u­lat­ed arm / pixabay.com

A tri­pod head is need­ed to make it more con­ve­nient for the pho­tog­ra­ph­er to tilt and turn the cam­era, change fram­ing and angle.

There are:

— spher­i­cal. This is a ball, clamped on all sides by a latch, on top of which is a cam­era mount. Allows you to rotate the cam­era in any direc­tion. But this is not the most reli­able mount­ing option. In addi­tion, there is a high prob­a­bil­i­ty that the ball head will not with­stand a heavy cam­era with a lens and addi­tion­al acces­sories;
— artic­u­lat­ed with two or three axes of rota­tion (the so-called 2d or 3d). There is a lever for each axis of rota­tion. For exam­ple, to tilt the cam­era for­ward, you need to unscrew the lever, put it in the desired posi­tion, and then fix it by twist­ing the lever. If you need to move it hor­i­zon­tal­ly, you will have to repeat the same steps with the cor­re­spond­ing lever. For exam­ple, the Man­frot­to 808RC4 has two levers — one is respon­si­ble for tilt­ing back and forth, and the oth­er — left and right;
— pis­tol grip. Com­mon with mini tripods. When the han­dle is pressed, you can move the tri­pod to any posi­tion, but as soon as you release the han­dle, the posi­tion is fixed;
— flu­id head Most often used for video film­ing. Allows you to smooth­ly move the cam­era with a flu­id mech­a­nism, which is con­ve­nient when you shoot panora­mas.

Some tripods have an actu­a­tor that rais­es the cen­ter stem, a mech­a­nism with a han­dle that allows you to fur­ther adjust the height of the tri­pod. This is handy if you need to raise or low­er the cam­era a lit­tle, but don’t want to change the height of the legs.

5. Cam­era mount type: screw or screw pad

The method by which the cam­era is attached to a tri­pod. In fact, these options are sim­i­lar, but the plat­form is more con­ve­nient — you do not need to wind the cam­era on a tri­pod while hold­ing both. It doesn’t sound so dif­fi­cult, but imag­ine that a tri­pod weighs two kilo­grams and the same amount weighs a cam­era with a lens.

The plat­form with the screw is built into the tri­pod using an addi­tion­al mount. You must first unfas­ten the plat­form, which weighs a cou­ple of tens of grams, screw it to the cam­era, and then fix this struc­ture on a tri­pod. This method will save time and nerves, because you do not have to jug­gle with a tri­pod and expen­sive equip­ment at the same time.

Tri­pod with cam­era mount­ing plat­form / pixabay.com

6. Lev­el

Allows you to set up a tri­pod so as not to fill up the hori­zon and fore­short­en­ing. Use­ful if you are shoot­ing on an uneven sur­face. For exam­ple, in a for­est on moss hum­mocks, in a field, on a dirt road, rocky ter­rain, etc. Plus, even the best stu­dios can have uneven floors.

tripod legs

  • Num­ber of sec­tions. You can meet from one to six sec­tions. The more of them, the more care­ful­ly you can put the tri­pod on an uneven sur­face, more accu­rate­ly adjust the height. In addi­tion, the more legs, the more com­pact the tri­pod can be fold­ed, but the less reli­able and sta­ble it can be. Espe­cial­ly if we are talk­ing about light­weight and bud­get mod­els.
  • Type of fas­ten­ing sec­tions. They can be fas­tened to each oth­er with snaps or screws. The first method is faster, the sec­ond is con­sid­ered more reli­able. But you should­n’t put an end to the latch­es that allow you to start shoot­ing in a cou­ple of moments — just be pre­pared that you will have to pay extra for high-qual­i­ty latch­ing mech­a­nisms and look at less bud­get mod­els.
  • The diam­e­ter to which the legs move. Impor­tant if you are con­cerned about tri­pod sta­bil­i­ty. The clos­er the legs are to each oth­er, the more unsta­ble the struc­ture.
Life hack: put the tri­pod with one foot for­ward, in the same place where the lens “looks”. This will sig­nif­i­cant­ly increase the sta­bil­i­ty of the struc­ture / pixabay.com
  • Leg tips. There are rub­ber­ized and with spikes. The for­mer are used for shoot­ing indoors, on smooth, even sur­faces. The spikes will allow you to bet­ter fix the tri­pod on the ground, grass and are suit­able for shoot­ing out­doors. There are also com­bined mod­els that allow you to mod­i­fy the tips.
  • Hook for extra weight. Allows you to weight even a light tri­pod, which will increase its sta­bil­i­ty and allow you to place a heav­ier cam­era and lens. It’s also handy if you’re shoot­ing out­doors and don’t want to leave your back­pack or bag on the ground.


  • The heav­ier the tri­pod, the more sta­ble it is. This is impor­tant when shoot­ing in strong winds and if you have heavy equip­ment. If you shoot in the stu­dio, occa­sion­al­ly plan to take a tri­pod on trips, and your mir­ror­less or soap box weighs quite a bit, you can safe­ly look at lighter mod­els.
  • To ensure that the tri­pod does not break or fall on the first use, break­ing your cam­era, be sure to con­sid­er the max­i­mum allow­able load.
  • The most reli­able tri­pod head mounts are artic­u­lat­ed. They come with three or two rota­tion axes. The more axes, the more flex­i­ble the angle can be adjust­ed.
  • To make it eas­i­er to attach your cam­era to a tri­pod, choose a tri­pod with a detach­able mount-plat­form.
  • Addi­tion­al sta­bil­i­ty will be pro­vid­ed by the largest diam­e­ter between the legs of the tri­pod and addi­tion­al weight that can be hung on a tri­pod if it has a spe­cial hook, as well as the sur­face of the legs (stud­ded or rub­ber­ized) that is cor­rect­ly select­ed for the shoot­ing con­di­tions.