Tripods and cameras are the dynamic duos of videography. It is generally agreed upon that to achieve professional productions, making proper use of a video-tripod is unavoidable. However, there are a mind-numbing variety of video tripods available in the market, often at comparable prices. That makes it rather a challenge to find one that fits the bill with so many models and manufacturing brands.
Every build has its own unique pros and cons. And we are here to guide you to choose the right one for you. The number of legs, type of material, either, carbon-fiber or aluminum, height, weight, type of heads, feet and spreaders, your level of expertise and of course, price, all come into play when shopping for a video-tripod. You might be asking yourself, why do I need a tripod for videography? And which model should I opt for? In this article, we will try to address these questions.
Why do you need a tripod?
Do you often get a slight inexplicable blur in your footage? It’s not your camera at fault here; despite the image stabilization technologies most cameras come equipped with, this blurriness can only be minimized, not eliminated.
A good trusted tripod can save the day when it comes to taking sharp and blur-free shots. Then there’s shakiness, which simply can’t be avoided with hand-held shots, this shakiness can leave your results sloppy and unprofessional. In this case, shooting with a tripod can make all the difference, separating your productions from amateurish ones. Another benefit that comes from shooting with a tripod is markedly smoother pan and tilt in your compositions.
Tripods make shooting low-light scenes without flash, such as fireworks or the night sky, a breeze. They provide stability and sharpness that is quite impossible to achieve without their aid, as hand-held footage will undoubtedly result in camera-movement. And this stability of footage will be expected of you, whether you do wedding videos, corporate advertisements or documentaries. These are the few ways tripods, help make your work stand out and make it look pro-grade. But how do you shortlist a few from hundreds of available options? Keep reading and we’ll help you decide.
Basic Structure of Video Tripods
Before we can move on to laying the best available options before you, it is important that you understand the basic structure and functionality of a video tripod. Although they differ from model to model, there are a few features that are universal to all video tripods. A few of them are their optimal weight capacity, type of the head, legs, and size.
This refers to the length of the tripod in collapsed and its height when its legs are extended to their full capacity. Some of them are bulkier and somewhat difficult to carry around, others are more compact and easier to transport. More often than not, there’s a tradeoff between size and functionality. That said, there is a certain balance that can be struck between both of them.
Weight carrying capacity:
Different lens + camera combinations have different weights. And a particular tripod only supports load within a narrow range. So to avoid damage to both your tripod and camera, you should opt for one that optimally supports the weight of your camera.
The head is the part of the tripod that sits on top of the legs or sticks for the purpose of aiming. There are quite a few head types available. Including, ball head, fluid head, gimbal head and pan tilt. Each type of head serves its own unique function. For instance, pan-tilt head finds its uses in the world of macro- videography and photography and gimbal head is best suited for mounting long telephoto lenses. Fluid heads are designed for smoother pans and tilts. As the name implies, it incorporates fluid, to minimize resistance and shakes.
Legs are manufactured from different materials, including aluminum, carbon-fiber and sometimes even wood. Each of these materials has a different load carrying capacity, weight and obviously, different prices. Aluminum can be regarded as the heavier and sturdier option, but it’s cheaper and more economical. Carbon, on the other hand, is much lighter, doesn’t corrode. However, it’s much less durable. Since it’s fragile, it means it is more liable to fracture during transport which is one of the downsides of using carbon fiber builds.
We’ve compiled a list of video tripods, which will suit your requirements whether you’re an entry-level novice or a professional or whether you want one that is light on your wallet or a high-priced financial commitment.
Velbon Videomate 638 Video Tripod
The first video tripod on this list is for beginner level as well as professional level videographers alike, who want a robust as well as functional design. Thanks to its fluid head, Velbin videomate 638 provides minimal camera movement and smooth pans and tilts. It’s one of the most economical and cost-effective models around. It’s a light-weight aluminum design and comes with a quick release mechanism. Though, it does not offer a high load capacity. That said it’s an ideal choice for out-and-out beginners, who are not ready to make a big financial commitment at this point.
- Aluminum build weighing at 4.37 lb
- Folded length of 26.38″
- The weight carrying capacity of 8.82 lb
- Fluid head
- Extended height 5.61′
Manfrotto 504HD Head With a 546B 2-Stage Video Tripod
Next up on our list is a model from a renowned manufacturer of camera accessories, Manfrotto. This model comes with a 75mm fluid head, four-step counterbalance, pan and tilt handle, ball style mount and it allows quick mounting and dismounting and much higher durability and load capacity than the previous Velbon model. For entry-level videographers who are quite serious-minded about videography, this model will make a decent starting point.
Here are some of its important specs:
- A sturdy aluminium design
- Max height of 18″ to 66″
- Load Capacity of 16.5 lb
- Bubble Level
- A tripod bag
- Ball-bearing Drag System
- 4-Step Counterbalance
Cartoni Focus 12 with 2-Stage Aluminum Video Tripod
Next up on our list is a mid-ranged, feature-packed, video tripod, Cartoni Focus 12, comes with a fluid-damping tilt (up to 90 degrees) and pan (360 degrees) mechanism. It’s an affordable option for semi-pro videographers. It provides rubber feet for shooting on uneven surfaces, for instance, uneven surfaces and slopes. It supports load up to 26lb. Focus 12 has an illuminated bubble level, and a standard quick release plate. The legs let you release both stages at the same time, rubber feet and a nice carry-on bag for portability.
- Magnesium alloy and light-weight composite structure
- Height ranging from 25-66.5”
- Illuminated bubble
- Continuous counterbalance
- Weight of 5.5 lb
- Max. load capacity of 26 lb
Sachtler Video 18 S2 with Speed Lock CF Dual-Stage Video Tripod
This model is for absolute professionals, this high-end tripod can handle anything you can throw at it, ranging from DSLRs to cinema setups. It has a carbon-fiber construction, which is light-weight and Its fluid mechanism provides quite a nifty experience.
It offers sophisticated and effortless camera movements for camera+lens combinations varying between 4 lb to a whopping 90 lb and fine adjustments to the head. It has a 16 step counterbalance and a 7 step tilt and drag apparatus. It also employs a touch & go for a camera release plate. It is adaptable for the studio as well as field production with its removable rubber feet. It features the signature Sachtler Speedlock CF, for a quick and slick set up.
- Maximum height of 60.9”
- Maximum load capacity of 90 lb.
- Carbon-fibre built
- A bowl base of 100mm / 4″
- Mid-level Spreader
- Soft water-resistant padded bag for easy transport
When buying a tripod for yourself keep in mind your reason for buying one to help you decide the perfect model. For example, if you’re a beginner-level videographer you don’t need to throw your money at high-end tripods as you could experiment just as well with cheaper models. On the other hand, if you are an expert, looking to enrich your craft with the latest features, you’d have to spend some extra bucks.