Cover photo background image by Pok Rie
If, as a videographer, you’ve ever tried to pan or tilt by hand, you’ll appreciate quite how important a tripod and good fluid head is. The thing is – there’s a huge range out there – ranging from less than $100 – to professional setups that run into the thousands.
Here, we’ve covered 7 of the best tripods designed specifically for video and filmmaking – from good budget options, a handful of mid-range high-performance systems – and an ultra-costly high-end setup that’ll rival professional level kit…
If you’re looking for a great value all round tripod, you really won’t go wrong by opting for the Manfrotto MVH502A.
Manfrotto don’t miss when it comes to quality of build – and the MVH502A strikes a great balance between versatility and the kind of durability that’ll mean you won’t be back in the tripod market for years.
Pans are smooth and the fluid head is about as close to being professional level as you’ll get without taking a significant step up into professionally priced systems. Weighing in at 8.8 lbs. means it’ll sling over your shoulder with ease – but there’s no compromise on weight capacity – with 15 lbs. held with ease.
At $579.88, it’s not a cheap system – but if you invest, you won’t be getting the credit card back out anytime soon.
The Benro S7 — or C727FBS7 to give it its full name — is an outstanding value for money tripod that’ll amaze you with its build quality and high-end materials.
If your work has you likely to head out and about to shoot, it can mean a double investment – a light tripod for the road – a sturdier (and heavier) unit for back in your studio space. The S7 does both jobs admirably though – and, despite it being a little weightier than would be ideal, has just the right level of robustness for travel.
The fluid head is a quality unit – as are the leg/feet combos which stand up to a host of terrains with ease and adjust between 30 to 62 inches – and the whole thing will easily take a 15 lb. rig.
The Benro S7 will set you back around $599 – but will easily do the job of both travel and studio tripod.
We also recommend checking out the Travel Video Tripod Kit from Benro if you are a frequent traveler. This kit is more compact for travel and features a removable video head for ease of use.
If you’re ready to take your videography to the next level – but not quite ready to drop big money on a pro setup, Magnus are an excellent brand to be checking out.
For less then $150 (price is $140.53 at time of writing) – the VT-4000 Professional offers an ultra-smooth fluid head and a build quality (especially from the middle spreader) that gives a sturdy feel to rival virtually anything else on this list.
The VT-4000 is good supporting up to around 9 lbs. of rig – and the spiked feet inspire confidence over otherwise tough terrain. After a while, you might find that you need to keep an eye on the leg-locks – but that’s a small sacrifice to make for an otherwise excellent tripod.
If you know tripods, then you know that Sachtlers command top of the range money – but, you’ll also be aware that you’ll get a fluid head that stands up to virtually any professional set up on the market.
The fluid head on the Ace really is spectacular – with a synchronized, accurate drag system that means you can make some tiny increments of adjustment to both pan and tilt.
At 10lbs. the 1002 Ace is neither hefty nor lightweight – but does offer a host of advanced adjustability options and a very nice solid floor spreader – as well as an impressive 68-inch maximum working height.
If there’s any slight criticism to be leveled at the Ace, it’s toward the $655 asking price. While we’ve come to expect to pay top money for Sachtler products, the cheaper feeling plastic that’s used could fool you into thinking it’s a lower priced alternative.
Looking for a very cost-effective tough tripod that’ll take a heavy rig? The Provista18 might be exactly what you’re looking for – with one of the sturdiest builds on this list – and an impressive weight limit that reaches 18 lbs.
For such a sturdy unit, the David and Sanford Provista18 goes up in seconds – and adjustments are exceptionally easily done – making it a great travel companion if you don’t mind the 10lb. weight it’ll add to your kit.
Interestingly, while the tripod itself will admirably handle a heavy rig, the fluid head might not quite keep up – especially since it doesn’t come with any counterbalance. Don’t misunderstand, the head is good – but if you’re expecting professional quality, you might need to spend a little more than the Provista’s very budget friendly $159.95.
Money no object? Good – because the Sachtler 0450 is likely to cost somewhere around $2400 – but, for that investment, you’re getting the highest level of performance you could expect from a tripod system.
The 0450 goes up quickly and will come down just as rapidly – thanks in part to the quick release mounting plate and quick-fire leg clasps that open and close in just one movement.
Made with plenty of carbon fibre – this higher-end Sachtler will hold nearly 13lbs. without compromising on any stability. What’s more, the 6T fluid head is one of the best on the market and moves like a dream – providing results that are difficult to match.
At 18lbs. it’s heavy – and it’s expensive – but there’s not much out there that’ll touch it in terms of quality.
Weighing in at 16lbs. the E-image EK60AAM possibly isn’t one for lots of travel – but it’ll hold a 17lb. rig perfectly for studio work – and the 2-stage aluminum legs will never let you down.
At $269.25, the EK60AAM isn’t a costly system – so you might be surprised to find that it offers some excellent fine-adjustment tools for tilt and pan work – with a half ball that keeps leveling extremely smooth – with seamless results.
You’ll struggle to find such a great fluid head on another model of this price – so, what this mid-range E-Image might skip over in terms of features, is more than made up for when you look at your results.
Some additional tripods worth checking out.