As creators, the tripod is an essential part of our toolkit. And even with the advent of stabilized camera sensors, many times our hands alone aren’t stable enough, especially for long exposures or time-lapses. And the last thing you want is to realize you’ve captured blurry photos. Thankfully, tripods are here to help, and just because you may not have the budget to afford a high-end brand name release, that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
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There are plenty of lightweight and robust entry-level tripods on the market. But, this segment is filled with options, so choosing the best one will be quite challenging. Below, you’ll find a complete and detailed guide on how to assess tripods. And we’ve also created a list of the top ten best tripods under $100’s on today’s market.
BONFOTO B690A Travel Tripod
Bonfoto’s B690A tripod is their budget-friendly travel tripod. Released in 2017, Bonfoto offers this tripod in a single aluminum variant.
When collapsed, it measures 14.5 in (36.8 cm) with a minimum height of 20.5 in (52.1 cm) and a maximum height of 53.5 in (136 cm) with the center column extended. At only 2.6 lbs (1.2 kg), including the ball head, it’s quite lightweight but supports 17.6 lbs (8 kg) payloads. The tripod itself uses 4-section legs with flipping leg locks and three locking angles. And Bonfoto includes a ball head, which has separate pan and ball locks. It also has both 1/4″ and 3/8″ threads, so you can install other heads if desired. Plus, it uses a 2-staged center column, which also inverts 180º for low angle macro shots. Other bonuses include a foam grip, a built-in level, a center column hook, a quick-release plate, and a carrying case.
Overall, Bonfoto’s B690A tripod is an excellent choice as an ultra-lightweight travel tripod. At 53 inches tall, it’s a bit shorter than rivals but makes up for the lacking height with portability and a strong feature set for the price.
Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod
Neewers 2-in-1 tripod aims to be a budget-friendly alternative to the pricier MeFOTO tripods. Released in 2014, Neewer offers this tripod in a single carbon-fiber variant.
When collapsed, it measures 19.3 in (49 cm) with a minimum height of 23.2 in (59 cm) and a maximum height of 66.5 in (169 cm) with the center column extended. And it’s moderately light at 3.4 lbs (1.5 kg) but supports an excellent payload rating of 26.5 lbs (12 kg). The tripod itself uses 4-section legs with twist locks and three locking angles. Neewer also includes a ball head, which has two locks and a friction control. This tripod also converts into a 56 in monopod, and the center column also inverts for low-angle shots. Other bonuses include a center column hook, a built-in level, a quick-release plate, and a carrying case.
Overall, Neweer’s 2-in-1 tripod is an excellent alternative to rivals that couples a similar feature set, without the price.
TYCKA Rangers Travel Tripod
TYCKA’s Rangers Travel Tripod aims to be a direct competitor to Neweer 2-in-1. Released in 2016, they offer the tripod in a single aluminum variant.
When collapsed, it folds to 14 in (35.6 cm) with a minimum height of 7.8 in (19.8 cm) and a maximum height of 56 in (142 cm). The tripod is quite light at only 2.89 lbs (1.3 kg), including the ball head, but it supports a class-leading 26.5 lb (12 kg) payload. The tripod itself uses 4-section legs with Flip Locks. And TYCKA ships this tripod with an included ball head with dedicated pan, tilt, and friction locks. They also include a short tube attachment reducing the center columns’ maximum height. The center column also detaches, converting the entire tripod into a 57 in monopod, and it inverts 180º.
Combined, this tripod is ideal for low-angle and macrophotography. Other bonuses include a quick-release plate, a foam grip, a built-in level, a center column hook, a multifunction waist bag, a two-year warranty, and a carrying case.
Overall, TYCKA’s Ranger’s tripod is an excellent adventure tripod for traveling creators. And given its feature set and impressive payload, it’s one of the top options around.
Zomei’s Q555 is the mid-range travel tripod of the family. Released in 2018, they offer this tripod in a single aluminum variant.
When collapsed, it measures 17.5 in (44.5 cm) with a minimum height of 22.7 in (57.7 cm) and a maximum height of 62.5 in (159 cm) with the center column fully extended. This tripod weighs only 2.9 lbs (1.32 kg) but supports payloads of 17.6 lbs (8 kg). The tripod uses 4-section legs with Quick Flip locks and three locking angles. And these legs also invert 180º, reducing the folded length and adds portability. Zomei also includes a reversible center column that inverts for lower-angle shots. And they ship this tripod with an included ball head with dedicated pan, tilt, and friction controls. And you can also remove and replace this head, if desired. Other bonuses include a center column hook, a quick-release plate, a built-in level, and a carrying case.
Overall, Zomei’s Q555 is an excellent traveling companion for on the go creators. And it’s a high-quality tripod for backpackers looking for an ultra-lightweight and easily stored option.
K&F Concept 62” DSLR Tripod
The K & F Concept by Kentfaith aims to challenge Manfrotto directly. Released in 2015, they offer this tripod in a single aluminum variant.
When collapsed, it measures 18.1 inches (46 cm) with a minimum height of 16.3 inches (41.4 cm) and a maximum height of 61.6 inches (156 cm) with the center column extended. At 2.97 lbs (1.35 kg), including the ball head, it’s quite lightweight but still manages 22 lb (10 kg) payloads. The tripod itself uses 4-section legs with Quick Release flip-locks and three locking angles. It also has an inverting center column for macro shots. And Kentfaith includes a ball head with a built-in level and locks. Other bonuses include a center-column hook, a foam handle, and a carrying case.
Overall, Kentfaith’s K&F Concept is a reliable option at an excellent price. And it’s the ideal option for those who want a taller than average budget-friendly tripod with a superb load rating.
DOLICA 62″ Proline Tripod (AX620B100)
Dolica’s Proline Tripod aims to be the ideal tripod for the budget photographers. Released in 2004, they offer this tripod in two heights, both of which use aluminum constructions.
When folded, the 62-inch variant measures 22.5 in (57.2 cm) with a minimum height of 21.5 in (54.6 cm) and a maximum height of 62 in (157 cm) with the center column fully extended. And it weighs 2.5 lbs (1.32 kg) and supports an excellent payload rating of 13.2 lbs (6 kg). The tripod uses 4-section legs with flipping locks and three locking angles. It also has a rapid center column, which is removable and inverts 180º for low angle macro shots. Dolica also includes a ball head with a quick-release plate, two built-in levels, and a compass. Plus, you can install other 3/8″ heads if desired. Other bonuses include retractable spiked feet, three padded foam grips, a center column hook, a five-year warranty, and a carrying case.
Overall, Dolica’s Proline tripod brings professional features to a wide audience. And those capabilities match tripods three times the price.
JOBY Gorillapod 5K
Joby’s GorillaPod 5K is their update to the original GorillaPod line, with a better design and added strength. Released in 2017, they aim this tripod at users wanting maximum flexibility with larger setups.
It uses Joby’s flexible ball and socket leg design, allowing the tripod to bend and wrap around practically any object. The tripod itself is 15.2 in (38.6 cm) tall and weighs only 1.6 lbs (0.73 kg) with the included ball head. Yet, it still supports 11 lb (5 kg) payloads, enough for several large DSLR setups. Joby also ships this tripod with an included ball head with separate controls and a quick release plate.
Overall, the GorillaPod 5K is the ideal choice for the traveling pro wanting the flexibility it offers over traditional tripods. And it provides the best portability and a unique perspective that is unmatched elsewhere.
Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod
Manfrotto’s Compact Action tripod is their entry-level option of family. Released in 2014, it stands as their most affordable option to date. They offer this tripod in one of three colors, all of which use aluminum constructions.
When collapsed, it measures 17.8 in (45 cm) with a minimum height of 17.3 in (44 cm) and a maximum height of 61 in (155 cm) with the center column extended. It weighs only 2.7 lbs (1.2 kg) and supports a maximum payload of 3.3 lbs (1.5 kg), enough for most entry-level setups. The tripod itself uses 5-section legs with flipping leg locks and a single locking angle. And Manfrotto’s ships this tripod with an innovative pistol style head with a quick control wheel. The grip also has a dedicated Mode selector, which locks the ball head, converting it into a pan & tilt head, adding versatility. Plus, the center column of this tripod inverts for low-angle shots. Other bonuses include a quick-release plate and a carrying case.
Overall, Manfrotto’s Compact Action tripod is the perfect option for entry-level DSLR and mirrorless setups. Manfrotto has a valued reputation in this space, and this tripod continues the tradition. It’s an excellent choice as a lightweight travel tripod with best in class build quality and durability. If you don’t need a tripod with a massive payload capacity, it is the best option in the entry-level segment and the perfect tool for your arsenal.
How to choose the best tripod?
Before you can choose the best tripod, let’s first cover some basic information.
What is a tripod?
A tripod, at its core, is a three-legged device used for stabilization. And it functions as a stable platform to prevent changes from downward or horizontal forces. It’s sole purpose is to stabilize your camera. And the better the build quality, the better the overall stabilization. But, to determine a tripod’s build quality and long-term reliability is tricky. Below are the factors you’ll want to think about while looking around.
When looking at sub $100 tripods, they’ll come in one of two materials: aluminum or carbon fiber. Aluminum tripods are less expensive but usually weigh more. While, carbon fiber weighs less but is often more expensive, as it’s a rather new technology to market—the trade-off between these materials, outside of price, is durability. Well-maintained carbon fiber can last for decades, while their aluminum counterparts degrade after only 3-5 years.
For this, if you’re planning on using the tripod for less than five years, pick up an aluminum option. Otherwise, carbon fiber is best.
For this area, there are two things to consider: how much does the tripod itself weigh and what’s its maximum payload. The maximum payload refers to the total amount of weight it can withstand without collapsing. This area is crucial, so you avoid getting a tripod that cannot support heavier equipment. And the weight of the tripod as a kit is particularly important if you plan on backpacking and traveling with it.
For this, consider the weight of your camera and heaviest lens setup. And look for tripods that match or exceed that weight. Then if you want a travel-oriented option, look for tripods that weigh less than 3.5 lbs but still support that weight.
Tripod Head Types
Most manufacturers include a ball head as a part of the kit. But other types do exist, for example, gimbal, fluid, and pan-tilt heads.
For beginners, the standard ball head included is the easiest and most straightforward style around. But, this area comes down to personal preference. If you prefer another type of head, look for options that have detachable heads and support either ⅜ or ¼” screws so you can replace it.
This area is essential so you can find an option that, ideally, is tall enough for you to compose at eye level without slouching.
For this, consider the tripod’s maximum height. And get a tripod that meets the working range you need. If you plan on shooting macro photography or low angles, also consider its minimum height.
The tripod’s legs are also important. Tripods come in a variety of sizes, some having more leg sections than others. The more leg sections the tripod has, the more portable it is. But, it also reduces stability. And tripods with more than three sections will shake and bow under more weight. The leg locks also come in varying styles, typically twist or flip locks, though flip locks are more reliable.
For this, consider the portability you need. If you want maximum portability, four or 5-section configurations are best, but they won’t be as stable. Also, consider how fast you want to set up or tear down the tripod, for this flip locks are easier than twist.
The feet are important if you plan on traveling and shooting outdoors. Most manufactures include rubber feet, which work well indoors. But, they’re not ideal for use outdoors on uneven surfaces. So if you plan on traveling, look for a tripod with spiked feet.
Some tripods have inverting center columns or detachable legs. Others have compasses, built-in hooks to weigh them down, among other features. If these bonuses are important, look out for them while shopping.
Last Updated on September 22, 2023 by Photography PX Published August 20, 2020