Nowa­days, many peo­ple are inter­est­ed in pho­tog­ra­phy. Some peo­ple just post beau­ti­ful pic­tures on their social media accounts, some keep a more pro­fes­sion­al blog, and some arrange pho­to exhi­bi­tions of their work. In all these cas­es, in addi­tion to the cam­era, addi­tion­al tools and acces­sories are required to cre­ate beau­ti­ful and high-qual­i­ty con­tent. One of them is a tri­pod. In what cas­es it is need­ed, and what you should pay atten­tion to when choos­ing it, we tell in this arti­cle.

Source: bhphotovideo.com

What is a tripod?

The con­struc­tion of a tri­pod usu­al­ly includes the fol­low­ing parts:

  1. legs;
  2. head — the part on which the cam­era is attached;
  3. cen­ter post — a sep­a­rate leg that runs through the mid­dle and allows you to raise the tri­pod head even high­er;
  4. tips — good tripods allow you to change tips depend­ing on the con­di­tions of use.

When do you need a tripod?

A tri­pod is usu­al­ly need­ed in the fol­low­ing cas­es:

  • shoot­ing pho­tos with long expo­sure with­out blur­ring the pic­ture;
  • shoot­ing panora­mas: a series of shots is tak­en, after which the images are glued togeth­er in a spe­cial pro­gram. The 3D tour is also filmed using a tri­pod. In this case, sev­er­al panora­mas are com­bined (for exam­ple, a vir­tu­al tour of a muse­um);
  • shoot­ing night objects (stars, moon, etc.);
  • shoot­ing land­scapes, such as sun­ris­es and sun­sets, which are quite dif­fi­cult to pho­to­graph with­out a tri­pod due to poor light­ing con­di­tions;
  • time-lapse shoot­ing (a series of pho­tos): using spe­cial set­tings (or in man­u­al mode), a pic­ture is tak­en every 10 sec­onds. After that, for exam­ple, from a series of 100 pho­tos, you can make a 4‑second video;
  • shoot­ing your­self if there is no one to help (set­tings are made, a timer is set);
  • macro pho­tog­ra­phy (flow­ers, insects, etc.);
  • shoot­ing at dif­fi­cult angles / angles;
  • shoot­ing video with­out vibra­tion.


Now there are both expen­sive and not expen­sive man­u­fac­tur­ers on the mar­ket. More­over, almost each of them has tripods of dif­fer­ent price ranges in their assort­ment: from bud­get to pre­mi­um. To reduce the cost of the prod­uct allow, first of all, the mate­ri­als used.

The most bud­getary are tripods made of plas­tic. But they are also the least reli­able, they will not with­stand a heavy cam­era. It is believed that the less plas­tic in the design, the stronger it is. Some good inex­pen­sive options have a met­al base and plas­tic fit­tings.

More durable, but at the same time inex­pen­sive, are tripods made of alu­minum or its alloys. Such devices are still light, but allow you to use a cam­era with a heavy lens.

Devices made of com­pos­ite mate­ri­als (pri­mar­i­ly car­bon fibers) are con­sid­ered more expen­sive and more durable. Car­bon fiber is light­weight and durable, able to with­stand heavy loads.

And final­ly, the most expen­sive devices are made of steel. They pro­vide super accu­rate fix­a­tion, noth­ing will play and stag­ger. Their dis­ad­van­tage (in addi­tion to the high price) is a lot of weight.

Legs and number of sections

Source: photographylife.com

There are two types of tri­pod legs: tubu­lar and non-tubu­lar. All car­bon legs are tubu­lar and thread­ed for fas­ten­ing, while the met­al tripods can be fit­ted with a vari­ety of flip-lock shapes. Depend­ing on the max­i­mum height, the tri­pod legs can have from 3 to 5 sec­tions. The more sec­tions, the high­er the tri­pod and slight­ly less sta­ble, but at the same time more com­pact when fold­ed. Usu­al­ly, those who trans­port the instru­ment by car choose heav­ier steel tripods of 3 legs. Trav­el­ers, on the oth­er hand, pre­fer lighter mod­els from 4–5.

The num­ber of sec­tions also affects the height of the tri­pod. There are desk­top options (up to a meter) and floor (above a meter). The high­er the tri­pod, the more con­ve­nient it is, since it is pos­si­ble to choose the posi­tion from the low­est to the high­est (again, this increas­es its dimen­sions). Usu­al­ly, a human-height height is enough, since it is already incon­ve­nient to go high­er: in order to change the cam­era set­tings, some kind of stand is required. At the lev­el of human growth, for exam­ple, land­scapes are filmed, and macro pho­tog­ra­phy is car­ried out from a low­er angle.

Cheap and expen­sive tripods usu­al­ly have dif­fer­ent types of leg clamps. The lat­ter tend to wear out and loosen over time. This does not only apply to col­lets, which after some time just twist tighter. If the tri­pod has ordi­nary latch­es, you need to choose those that are adjustable, because the plas­tic will wear off over time and stop hold­ing. Self-lock­ing leg clips can be a nice bonus as they don’t need to be held down when fold­ed up.

Some advanced mod­els allow you to change the tips — you can sim­ply unscrew them. There are dif­fer­ent types of tips for indoor use (rub­ber or plas­tic) and out­door use (met­al spikes). Unless you plan to shoot in rain, snow, ice, or oth­er extreme con­di­tions, the stan­dard rub­ber tips that come with the tri­pod are suf­fi­cient.

Source: photographylife.com

Some mod­els are also equipped with a cen­ter stand, a leg that sits in the mid­dle of the tri­pod and allows you to change the height of the cam­era by sim­ply mov­ing the leg up or down. How­ev­er, in our opin­ion, it is bet­ter to choose devices with­out it, since it neg­a­tive­ly affects sta­bil­i­ty and cre­ates addi­tion­al vibra­tions. If you choose a device with a cen­ter leg, check that it can ful­ly low­er to the lev­el where the legs of the tri­pod meet. It should nev­er fluc­tu­ate at the low­est lev­el.

Source: photographylife.com


It is best to pur­chase a tri­pod that fits your height. After installing the cam­era on it, the viewfind­er should be at the lev­el of your eyes. It is nor­mal if it is high­er, since it is pos­si­ble to reduce the length by adjust­ing the legs. If it is much low­er than eye lev­el, you will have to bend over all the time, which is very tir­ing, espe­cial­ly if you are con­stant­ly look­ing into the viewfind­er in antic­i­pa­tion of some action.

If you have a tri­pod with a non-remov­able head, its tip should be at jaw lev­el. If with a remov­able head, the legs should end approx­i­mate­ly at shoul­der lev­el.

Anoth­er fac­tor to con­sid­er is the height of the tri­pod when fold­ed, as this affects the ease of trans­port.


An impor­tant fac­tor when shoot­ing is the sta­bil­i­ty of the tri­pod. The installed tri­pod must with­stand not only the wind, but also occa­sion­al gusts. Before shoot­ing, make sure that the cam­era does not over­bal­ance the tri­pod, oth­er­wise the equip­ment may be dam­aged.

Source: photographylife.com

Sta­bil­i­ty depends pri­mar­i­ly on two fac­tors: weight and leg width. The heav­ier the tri­pod, the more sta­ble it is. But since you often have to car­ry it on your­self (and this is quite dif­fi­cult), it is bet­ter to choose some­thing in between. In addi­tion, the wider the legs, the bet­ter in terms of sta­bil­i­ty. But wide-spaced legs lim­it the height of the lift. Thus, the user either sac­ri­fices height and gets max­i­mum sta­bil­i­ty, or vice ver­sa.


The tri­pod head is the most impor­tant part of the sys­tem as it is respon­si­ble for hold­ing the cam­era secure­ly and con­trol­ling its move­ment.

The cheap­est mod­els are equipped with non-remov­able heads. How­ev­er, if such a head breaks, the tri­pod will have to be thrown out. Slight­ly more expen­sive tripods already have the abil­i­ty to use an inter­change­able head with a ⅜ inch mount­ing thread (although there are quar­ter inch ones, they are usu­al­ly equipped with a spe­cial adapter for ⅜). There are three main types of such heads (each has its pros and cons):

  • spher­i­cal — the most pop­u­lar, it is com­pact, able to with­stand heavy loads and allows you to quick­ly install the cam­era in the right direc­tion. It usu­al­ly has a two-screw design and allows you to eas­i­ly pan 360 degrees hor­i­zon­tal­ly and con­trol the tilt angle. With this type of head, it’s near­ly impos­si­ble to shoot videos that require any cam­era move­ments because they’ll be too sharp. How­ev­er, for shoot­ing video in a cer­tain direc­tion (sta­t­ic frame) through­out the entire video, such a head is suit­able. These heads are espe­cial­ly pop­u­lar in stu­dio shoot­ing;
  • 3D or 3‑axis — allows you to shoot both pho­tos and videos (you can more smooth­ly tilt or turn the cam­era along with your head, as well as sep­a­rate­ly make changes in three dif­fer­ent planes). It allows you to set the frame very accu­rate­ly, but takes up much more space;
  • 2‑axis video head — dif­fers in size (the most com­pact ones) and smooth­ness. How­ev­er, they do not have hori­zon tilt adjust­ment, which can sig­nif­i­cant­ly com­pli­cate the shoot­ing process. Although they do not tilt 90 degrees to the side, they move smooth­ly in 2 planes: hor­i­zon­tal­ly and ver­ti­cal­ly, pro­vid­ing high-qual­i­ty and smooth pan­ning, which is impor­tant for receiv­ing cin­e­mat­ic video. That is, when shoot­ing a video where there is move­ment, you need to choose this type of head.

Source: bhphotovideo.com

You should also pay atten­tion to how the tri­pod is attached to the cam­era. In cheap­er ver­sions, a screw is direct­ly screwed in, while in more advanced ones there are spe­cial plat­forms that always remain under the cam­era. Thanks to them, you can shoot and put the cam­era on a tri­pod very quick­ly with­out wast­ing time. It is bet­ter to choose an Arca Swiss for­mat cam­era plat­form, since a large num­ber of acces­sories are pro­duced for it.

Source: photographylife.com

The head is select­ed not only accord­ing to the diam­e­ter for the tri­pod, but also for the cam­era, but not accord­ing to the max­i­mum weight of the cam­era, but accord­ing to the aver­age, since the head will not hold the max­i­mum weight very sta­ble. The advan­tage of all types of inter­change­able heads is the abil­i­ty to replace it with a new one with the appro­pri­ate thread in the event of a break­down.

Raylab tripods

One of the man­u­fac­tur­ers that offers inex­pen­sive but high-qual­i­ty tripods is the Russ­ian com­pa­ny Ray­lab. Let’s briefly talk about the design fea­tures of some mod­els from the brand’s assort­ment.

Ray­lab MT is a com­pact tri­pod made of durable ABS plas­tic and alu­minum alloy. It is suit­able for use with smart­phones, action cam­eras and cam­eras weigh­ing up to 2 kg. The gad­get was equipped with a ball head that can be adjust­ed in all axes, with screw fas­ten­ers and a uni­ver­sal plat­form. The legs move apart, which allows you to secure­ly fix the cam­era in the desired posi­tion. The work­ing height is in the range of 16–19 cm. If nec­es­sary, the device turns into a mono­pod, which is great for reportage con­di­tions and video shoot­ing in cramped con­di­tions. Thanks to its small dimen­sions (when fold­ed 14.5 cm in height) and low weight (only 0.11 kg), the device can be tak­en with you on your trav­els.

Source: raylab.ru

Unlike the afore­men­tioned mod­el, the MTF-SC is able to sup­port cam­eras weigh­ing up to 3 kg. It comes with a smart­phone hold­er. The design of this device con­sists of a ball head, a built-in phone hold­er plat­form and flex­i­ble legs with a rub­ber­ized coat­ing that pre­vents slip­ping on the sur­face. The work­ing height is in the range of 12–27 cm. The advan­tage of this mod­el is the abil­i­ty to mon­i­tor the cor­rect posi­tion­ing using a bub­ble lev­el.

Source: raylab.ru

The Ray­lab MT-SC is also designed to work with smart­phones, action cam­eras and cam­eras weigh­ing up to 3 kg. Com­pared to the pre­vi­ous two mod­els, this tri­pod has legs with two sec­tions and five adjustable posi­tions. It can be adjust­ed to almost any angle and con­di­tions.

Source: raylab.ru

Anoth­er mod­el Ray­lab RL-8018FS is a video tri­pod. It is designed for video shoot­ing with cam­eras and cam­eras weigh­ing up to 5 kg. The legs of this mod­el are made of alu­minum tubes, and the clips are made of ABS plas­tic. It uses a spe­cial video head that can be adjust­ed in terms of rota­tion speed (there is a lim­iter that mon­i­tors smooth­ness) and hor­i­zon­tal­ly (by 360 degrees) and ver­ti­cal­ly (from ‑70 to +90 degrees). The stand is equipped with a Man­frot­to-stan­dard quick-release plat­form, and a met­al tele­scop­ic brace pro­vides quick atten­u­a­tion of vibra­tions and does not allow the legs to move apart.

Source: raylab.ru

The Ray­lab Trav­el 55 portable tri­pod, with main com­po­nents made of alu­minum alloy, is designed for use with cam­eras weigh­ing up to 4 kg. Full con­trol over the shoot­ing process is pro­vid­ed by a 3D head with the abil­i­ty to move in each of the axes and mov­able legs that can be adjust­ed in a wide range of lengths. Oth­er fea­tures that have a pos­i­tive effect on shoot­ing include a quick-release plat­form for easy cam­era replace­ment, a spe­cial coun­ter­weight hook to achieve the nec­es­sary angles, and a bub­ble lev­el to con­trol the tilt of the cam­era rel­a­tive to the hori­zon line.

Source: raylab.ru

The main mate­r­i­al used in the pro­duc­tion of the com­pact Ray­lab Trav­el 63 is also alu­minum alloy. Like the Trav­el 55, this tri­pod is designed for use with cam­eras weigh­ing up to 4 kg. It great­ly sim­pli­fies the shoot­ing process thanks to a 3D head with inde­pen­dent adjust­ment in three direc­tions (the cam­era rotates smooth­ly with a con­ve­nient han­dle), a quick-release plate with insur­ance against invol­un­tary detach­ment, legs with increased mobil­i­ty, which allows you to set up a tri­pod on almost any sur­face and a bub­ble lev­el. . An addi­tion­al advan­tage is the avail­abil­i­ty of clip-on clamps for the three sec­tions of the sup­ports. They allow you to eas­i­ly adjust the required tri­pod height, and togeth­er with the retractable cen­ter stand, pro­vide shoot­ing from the required angle.

Source: raylab.ru

The alu­minum alloy Ray­lab Pro 65 also has a load capac­i­ty of 4kg. This mod­el was equipped with a replace­able ball head, clip-on clamps and a quick-release plat­form. The most cor­rect instal­la­tion of the cam­era is guar­an­teed by a bub­ble lev­el and a spe­cial posi­tion­ing scale. It is pos­si­ble to use the Pro 65 as a mono­pod. In this case, the height range is from 48.5 to 165 cm. Shoot­ing from a min­i­mum dis­tance from the ground is ensured by the pos­si­bil­i­ty of revers­ing the instal­la­tion of the cam­era. Quick adjust­ment of the required height and angle is pro­vid­ed by legs with four adjustable sec­tions with inde­pen­dent clip-on clips. The tri­pod can be used on both flat and inclined sur­faces, the hor­i­zon­tal posi­tion of the cam­era is main­tained in both cas­es.

Source: raylab.ru


Sum­ming up, we can say that the price is pri­mar­i­ly influ­enced by two fac­tors:

  • mate­ri­als used;
  • head type.

And the three main char­ac­ter­is­tics that you should pay atten­tion to when choos­ing a tri­pod are:

  • tri­pod weight, which affects sta­bil­i­ty, and max­i­mum load;
  • height;
  • head type.

It is bet­ter for a begin­ner to start with cheap options. They are usu­al­ly light and com­pact, come with a case and are ide­al for trav­el. If it doesn’t work out for you with pho­tog­ra­phy, it’s not a pity to throw out such a tri­pod, if it works out, you can buy anoth­er one.