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Budget tripods can help you capture tack-sharp images and crisp videos without spending too much money. But tripods aren’t all built the same, and you need to get one that gives you bang for your buck, is easy to use, and still provides plenty of stability. Finding a good one in a market filled with thousands can be very tricky.
The good news is that once you know what to look for, you’ll find an affordable tripod that fits your needs well. This roundup tells you everything you need to know about budget tripods and compares top models to help you decide. These are the best budget tripods for 2022.
- Best overall: Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum 5-Section Tripod
- Best for DSLR: Magnus VT-4000 Tripod System with Fluid Head
- Best for phones: UBeesize Tripod S, Premium Flexible Phone Tripod
- Best lightweight: Amazon Basics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod
- Best for action cameras: GoPro Shorty Mini Extension Pole Tripod
- Best for video: NEEWER 2-in-1 Aluminum Alloy Camera Tripod
Things to consider before buying a budget tripod
Choosing a budget tripod can be an overwhelming experience because so many different variables come into play: How light should it be? How stable should it be? What’s the best material? How much should I spend? How much weight should it support? Here’s what you should look at before buying a new tripod.
A tripod’s material influences its price, durability, weight, and mobility. Most tripods are made with either aluminum or carbon fiber. While both materials are highly durable, carbon fiber is lighter, stronger, and corrosion-free. However, it’s costlier than aluminum; you won’t find a budget tripod made with it. Aluminum tripods are sturdy enough to handle most photography needs and are available at a very reasonable price.
Tripod size and height
The size and height of a tripod determine how well it works for your needs. If you’re a landscape photographer, you need a compact and lightweight tripod that you can easily carry around. But portability won’t be a concern if you primarily shoot in studios. You can get a bulkier, heavier tripod if that is the case.
Certain types of photography require different tripod heights. Real estate photographers, for example, will want something tall for getting exterior shots. However, a lot of extension isn’t as crucial for traditional portrait photography. On the flip side, having a tripod that can get low to the ground may be critical for landscape photographers, so you’ll also want to check how low the tripod can go as well.
Load capacity is sometimes referred to as weight rating and means the maximum weight a tripod can hold safely. The best budget tripods on the market have different weight ratings; there’s no universal standard. But, to ensure sturdiness, your tripod’s load capacity should be at least three times the maximum weight of the heaviest equipment you’ll mount on it.
A tripod’s legs affect its stability and sturdiness. Depending on the tripod’s maximum height, it might have legs with three to five sections. The rule of thumb is that the fewer the leg sections, the better the stability. A tripod with three leg sections should provide enough stability for most cameras.
In terms of construction, tripod legs are either tubular or non-tubular. All carbon-fiber legs are tubular and are secured by a threaded twist-lock system, while aluminum tripods have a flip-lock system.
The tripod head is perhaps the most important part of the tripod system. It controls the camera’s movements and securely holds your camera equipment. There are many types of tripod heads you can choose from, including fluid heads, pistol grip heads, gimbal heads, ball heads, and pan and tilt heads. The pan-tilt head is the most common and is typically built into budget tripods.
Different head styles are ideal for different genres of photography, with some better for video work, so be sure to check the type of head that a tripod has and that it is compatible with what you will be using it for. Also, when buying a tripod, make sure the head can support the same amount of weight as the legs. Otherwise, it will likely sag down if your camera setup is too heavy.
Here are our picks for the best budget tripods:
Best overall: Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum 5-Section Tripod
Why it made the cut: It’s a compact, sturdy, lightweight tripod that’s novice-friendly. Its features make it ideal for mirrorless and compact cameras for outdoor and indoor shoots.
- Collapsed height: 17.32 inches
- Extended height: 61.02 inches
- Weight: 2.65 pounds
- Maximum load: 4.4 pounds
- Material: Aluminum
- Leg sections: 5
- Lightweight and compact design
- Hybrid head is ideal for photo and video
- Comes with a travel bag
- Low load capacity
The embodiment of form and function, the Manfrotto 5-section tripod is sturdily built and has a stylish black finish for a professional look. We instantly fell in love with the ergonomic joystick head that allows for precise and easy adjustments. The head grip enables effortless tilts for smooth shoots. And an intuitive scroll-wheel locking mechanism improves the tripod’s sturdiness.
The unique circular quick-release plate is useful in many ways. It enables quick attachment of different devices to the tripod head—there’s no need for screwdrivers. It also allows for instant closing of the level above the joystick handle, ensuring the camera position is easily adjustable using the regulating dial and the plate. But you only get one quick release mechanism with this tripod, and it isn’t compatible with other styles of tripods. If you need to, you can purchase a more universal quick release plate and mount the Manfrotto circular one, allowing you to quickly move your camera between different tripods or gimbals.
You’ll hardly miss a shot or a video opportunity with this tripod. It has a switch that allows for quick switching from photo to movie mode. It also comes with a special adapter to accommodate higher specification cameras like the Sony Nex 5R/5T. The adapter increases the mounting head’s surface area, ensuring a firmer grip and better stability. We’re disappointed with the tripod’s load capacity (4.4 pounds), but it is ideal for entry-level DSLR and mirrorless cameras with smaller lenses.
Best for DSLR: Magnus VT-4000 Tripod System with Fluid Head
Why it made the cut: It’s one of the most affordable tripods for DSLRs on the market but has many features found in high-end tripods, like a versatile fluid head and pan bars.
- Collapsed height: 30.32 inches
- Extended height: 60 inches
- Weight: 7.72 pounds
- Maximum load: 8.8 pounds
- Material: Aluminum
- Leg sections: 3
- Fluid head moves smoothly
- Has a bowl mount and bubble level for easy leveling
- Ideal for photo or video
- Can handle heavier DSLR cameras
- Lacks a tension control mechanism
- A little on the pricey end for a budget tripod
The Magnus VT-4000 Tripod System ticks all the boxes as the best tripod for DSLR. It’s built with anodized aluminum for extra sturdiness and can hold a maximum weight of 8.8 pounds. It’s also easy to set up and operate.
Not many budget tripods feature a versatile fluid head and pan bar mounts, but this one does. The two work together to provide smooth operation and are perfect for video. In addition, all the head controls are placed on the left side of the tripod head, leaving your right hand free to control the panning handle.
It weighs 8 pounds, which is heavy, but that allows it to hold more weight and be very sturdy. A passive counterbalance mechanism and a middle spreader give it excellent stability and make it faster to spread out the legs. Finding the best balance point is relatively easy because of the separate pan and tilt locks. You can also use the bubble level for precision leveling.
But like most budget tripods, the Magnum VT-4000 has some limitations. It lacks a tension control mechanism, so achieving a tighter pan or tilts is difficult. Also, it only extends to 60 inches, which may not be enough for some applications.
Best for phones: UBeesize Tripod S, Premium Flexible Phone Tripod
Why it made the cut: It’s one of the best phone tripods and also works with compact digital cameras. Setup only involves folding and unfolding the octopus legs.
- Collapsed height: 7.87 inches
- Extended height: 7.87 inches
- Weight: 0.4 pounds
- Maximum load: 2.2 pounds
- Materials: Metal and rubber
- Leg sections: 1
- Compact and portable
- Features high-grade metal ball joints for better weight support
- Octopus-style legs give it excellent versatility
- Comes with a wireless remote
- Too short for professional shooting
- Low-quality phone holder
In an earlier roundup, we reviewed the best tripods designed for your phone, and a UBeesize tripod was one of them. Many things make this one so popular. For starters, its body comprises metal balls with rubber reinforcements for durability. It’s also sturdy enough to handle heavy outdoor usage and boasts near-infinite adaptability. It can function as a mini tripod, a selfie stick, or ergonomic handheld support. Use it for table-top shoots or wrap its legs around railings, tree branches, or whatever can keep it stable. And the non-slip feet ensure the tripod remains stable on every surface.
Weighing a meager 0.4 pounds, it’s one of the best tripods under $50. You can fold its legs easily and put it in your backpack. It comes with a wireless remote control that lets you control a mounted phone from 30 feet away. Choose the selfie mode when taking selfies, vlogging, or shooting hands-free videos and images.
The phone tripod has a universal phone mount adapter that works with many Android and iOS smartphones. It also comes with a standard adapter screw thread that makes it compatible with digital cameras like mirrorless cameras, GoPros, and small DSLRs. But it can only hold a maximum weight of 2.2 pounds. Its height and size make it unsuitable for professional shooting, but if you want something for taking photos with your phone, this is a great choice.
Best lightweight: Amazon Basics 60-Inch Lightweight Tripod
Why it made the cut: This lightweight tripod works with most cameras, smartphone adapters, and scopes. It’s ideal for total beginners and hobbyist photographers.
- Collapsed height: 23.8 inches
- Extended height: 62.2 inches
- Weight: 2.72 pounds
- Maximum load: 4.4 pounds
- Materials: Aluminum
- Leg sections: 3
- Very affordable
- Quick-release plate
- Easily adjustable legs and center post
- Build quality may not hold up over time
- Barebone features
The AmazonBasics 60-inch Lightweight Tripod is perfect for beginners and hobbyist photographers. It’s one of the best mid-weight tripods on the market and has many useful features at a low price. With a simple and unassuming design, it focuses more on functionality than style. Silver-brushed aluminum makes it sturdy and durable while cross-bracings keep it steady.
It has a pan and tilt head that allows for smooth tilting and swiveling. This style of head does limit the direction of movement but is nice and stable and allows you to be more precise. Two bubble view levels show how straight the tripod is. Align them to the center to ensure the tripod head sits perpendicular to the ground. And there is a hook on the center column to easily hang weight from to improve its sturdiness.
This budget tripod works well with most cameras as long as they aren’t too heavy. However, its plastic head isn’t very sturdy and won’t last long if you’re a busy photographer. Also, the barebone features may put you off if you like feature-packed tripods.
Best for action cameras: GoPro Shorty Mini Extension Pole Tripod
Why it made the cut: It’s a compact and easy-to-use mini extension pole and tripod. It fits nicely in standard pockets for on-the-go shooting with action cameras.
- Collapsed height: 4.6 inches
- Extended height: 8.9 inches
- Weight: 0.14 pounds
- Maximum load: Not provided
- Materials: ABS
- Leg sections: 1
- Very compact
- Dual purpose selfie stick and tripod
- Compatible with any GoPro
- Sturdily built for durability
- Doesn’t provide much height
- The handle could use texturing for better grip
Love taking photos or shooting videos on the go but hate the bulkiness of full-size tripods? The GoPro Shorty Mini Extension Pole Tripod is for you. It’s compact, sturdy, and portable, fitting nicely in your pocket or backpack. And setup is straightforward, so you can quickly put it to use.
You can extend the tripod to its maximum height of 8.9 inches to capture group photos and selfies or collapse its legs and use it as a selfie stick. The legs remain stable on flat surfaces, allowing you to take steady shots from different angles.
Shorty is compatible with all GoPro cameras, including older models. If you love capturing your experiences at the height of the action but want some different types of shots, this will come in handy. It’s worth mentioning that it’s quite short, so don’t expect drastically different angles with this. Also, its handle is smooth plastic with no texture, making it a bit slick in wet situations. But you can add some grip tape to help.
Best for video: NEEWER 2-in-1 Aluminum Alloy Camera Tripod
Why it made the cut: It’s a feature-packed tripod for videographers. With a 26-pound maximum load, several camera adapters, and a solid fluid head, it’s ideal for vloggers and filmmakers.
- Collapsed height: 23.2 inches
- Extended height: 70.9 centimeters
- Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Maximum load: 26.5 pounds
- Materials: Aluminum
- Leg sections: 4
- High load capacity
- Flip locks allow for quick and easy leg adjustments
- Extra-smooth fluid head for quick tilts and pans
- Easy to set up
- No resistance adjustments on the head
The secret to creating crisp videos is having the right tripod. A good tripod allows for smooth pans and tilts and is easy to set up and pack away—like the Neewer 2-in-1 Aluminum Alloy Camera Tripod. It’s built for the avid videographer and is easy to use. Mounting and unmounting a camera is simple, thanks to the quick release plate. And a bubble level helps you keep the composition level, even on uneven ground.
What makes this tripod ideal for video is the fluid head. Fluid heads are a type of pan and tilt head and, as the name implies, allow you to pan horizontally and tilt up and down. It limits the direction of movement to those two directions, unlike a ball head, which keeps your videos more stable. And, as you might guess, fluid heads allow for smooth movements for more professional-looking videos.
This particular head has a 360-degree panning base. The head comes with ¼-⅜-inch screw adapters that make it compatible with most camera sliders and tripods. Plus, in monopod mode, it can work as a walking stick or support your videography gear. And the lip locks let you adjust and secure the legs in seconds.
The NEEWER 2-in-1 tripod is one of the best budget tripods under $150 and only weighs 2.2 pounds. Plus, it folds down to a height of 23 inches. As a result, it ranks high on our list of the best tripods to travel with.
Budget tripod FAQs
Q: Which budget tripod is best for beginners?
According to our research, the Manfrotto Compact Action Aluminum 5-Section Tripod is the best budget tripod for beginners. It’s compact, durable, lightweight, and easy to use. In addition, it’s packed with great features like a photo-to-video mode switch, a quick-release mechanism, and an easy-to-control tripod head.
Q: What’s the cheapest tripod?
The cheapest tripod on our list is the Amazon Basics 60-inch Lightweight Tripod. It offers great value and is ideal for those looking for a cheap but functional tripod. We highly recommend it for beginners and hobbyist photographers.
Q: Are cheap tripods any good?
Some cheap tripods are good, and some aren’t. Before buying a tripod, identify your photography needs and take time to look for a tripod that meets them. Some budget tripods have a plastic plate that screws on the base of cameras, while others have more durable plates. It’s also important to check the quick-release system. Tripods with a better quick-release system cost more but allow for faster setup.
Q: Do expensive tripods make a difference?
Yes, expensive tripods make a significant difference. Most high-end tripods are reliable and feature more advanced heads that let you position the camera however you want. They also have a more durable quick release plate, not a plastic one. But perhaps the most important thing is that expensive tripods are much sturdier. Of course, it’s possible to get a budget tripod that works, but if you plan on sticking with photography, it is worth investing in a more expensive tripod.
Q: What is a good price for a tripod?
A good price for a tripod depends on your budget and specific needs. For instance, $20 is a good price for a phone tripod like the UBeesize Tripod. However, you’ll need more than $100 for a sturdy video tripod like the Neewer Camera Tripod.
Q: Will a budget tripod fit all cameras?
No, a budget tripod can’t fit all cameras. Most budget tripods have lower maximum load capacity and will not be able to support the weight of heavy cameras. Instead, they are best suited for smaller, entry-level cameras. That said, cameras are mostly standardized with a 1/4-inch female thread on the bottom, meaning most tripod mounts and quick release plates will work with any camera.
Final thoughts on budget tripods
The best budget tripod will enhance your photography and videography skills. But you need to find a balance between saving money and getting a quality tripod. Also, ensure the tripod can safely support your camera’s weight.
To prepare this roundup of the best budget tripods for 2022, we compared the best products from different manufacturers. We examined their build quality, ease of use, compatibility with different cameras, maximum weight ratings, and suitability for indoor and outdoor use. Finally, we also read buyer reviews on major e-commerce sites and reliable review sites to give a fair verdict.