In many of our classes we’re often asked what to look for when buying a tripod. Students don’t usually like the response, “a big, heavy tripod that’s a bit uncomfortable to carry around”. There are plenty of light, compact and cheap tripods to be found, but the whole purpose of a tripod is to keep your camera nice and steady. The best way to do that is with a tripod that is sturdy and well-built, which usually results in a bulky, heavy tripod.
There may be some of you out there that will say just get a carbon fiber tripod. They’re light and absorb vibrations better than aluminum tripods. The one big downfall is that carbon fiber is generally more expensive than aluminum. There are more pros and cons to each type, but I’ve never owned a carbon fiber tripod so for this discussion I’ll share with you what I’m using.
Over the years I’ve owned several different tripods, and I’ve recently settled on the Manfrotto 055XPROB (seen above) which I’m using with the Manfrotto 498RC2 ball head. The legs can lock at four different angles, and with a center column that retracts and can be positioned horizontally this tripod ranges in height from 10 cm off the ground to 142 cm without the center column extended, or 177 cm with the center column fully extended. For any of you that are into nature or macro photography, the low height and retractable center column are a huge advantage. The tripod is a bit heavy at about 3 kg (6.6 lbs) when a ball head is attached so carrying it around all day can get a bit tiring, but once everything is locked into place I’m confident that the camera won’t budge.
The 055XPROB is just one tripod among an overwhelming amount of choices. Whether you try this one out or choose something else, just remember that if you think it’ll be a bit uncomfortable to carry around all day then you’re probably making a good choice.