Among the different types of tripods, aluminum tripods are the most popular ones in the photography community. I have written a lot of posts on many kinds of tripods but I realized there isn’t one on the most popular, most used kind – The Aluminum Tripod. I have seen a lot of beginners, amateurs and even some professionals using these tripods but of course, they are not the same. Probably this will be your first tripod or an upgrade from a cheap tripod, nevertheless, there are many factors to consider before closing on one.
If you are looking for something reliable, budget-friendly and stable, then this guide of the best aluminum tripod is for you. Keep reading and I am sure you will find something which will match your needs.
Aluminum Tripods – Great Choice for Newbies and Pros
Okay, so there are a couple of reasons why this has been the choice of both beginners and professionals, even though there are so many other variants like the carbon fiber ones. Let’s look at them
2. Reliable: Aluminum tripods are heavier than their carbon fiber counterparts, this makes them stand firmly on the ground and within their recommended load capacity, they can perform very good.
Though aluminum tripods are good enough for any day’s casual shoot, they are far from perfect. There are a number of drawbacks which could be a problem for you if you become a full time professional. Some of them being-
1. Weight: The weight of professional aluminum tripods can be a lot which could be a problem if you are always on the move with a lot of gear. As a beginner, don’t sweat it, you will have ample opportunities to upgrade later.
2. Cheap Tripods: A cheap aluminum tripod can really hinder your performance. I wouldn’t recommend putting a lot of weight on them, not even recommended weight. Also, in some of them, the heads are fixed which means lesser flexibility.
There are some other factors too like corrosion, dampening, etc but these shouldn’t affect your decision until you plan on shooting in extreme environments like polar caps, etc. See, every product has its own pros and cons but if you are looking to save some extra bucks and don’t mind a little extra weight, my advice is, go for aluminum tripods and use the saved money to explore or buy an extra lens.
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB – Value for Money
I am sure that by now, you must have realized that these aluminum tripods are the most common choice of photographers. Let’s look at the first tripod in the list. The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB has been around for quite some time now and though there is a newer version of this available, it remains to be the top choice among people.Specifications
Product: Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB
Max Height: 68.1″ / 173 cm
Collapsed Height: 28.1″ / 71.4 cm
Weight: 5.4 lb / 2.4 kg
Leg Sections: 3
Payload: 15.4 lb / 7 kg
Bubble Level: Yes
Lock Type: Flip
My Rating: 9/10
The Alta Pro comes with a SBH-100 ball head that is built very well and feels sturdy in use. Like professional tripods, it has three angles to set the legs for ultra low angle photography. It’s innovative Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock (ISSL) system allows the central column to re-position almost in any direction quickly, even horizontally. There are a lot of factors which make it completely different like the anti shock ring, removable hook, hybrid feet, a traveling case and all of it comes at a very reasonable price.
Oben AC-1321 – Mid Ranged
Oben’s AC-1300 line of tripods is an entry level range of products and comes with a lot of advantages. I personally like Oben for its durability and value for money. Even though Oben is not such a large brand but I’m a big fan of their products. The Oben AC-1321 is an aluminum tripod which is ideal for students, hobbyists and especially first time users. It ships with a basic but detachable ball head which has a simple QR plate attached.
Product: Oben AC-1321
Max Height: 57.5″ / 146.1 cm
Collapsed Height: 23.4″ / 59.4 cm
Weight: 2.9 lb / 1.3 kg
Leg Sections: 3
Payload: 6.6 lb / 3 kg
Bubble Level: Yes
Lock Type: Flip
My Rating: 8.5/10
The tripod has 4 bubble levels ( 3 on the QR plate and 1 on the tripod) to ensure maximum precision. The tripod has a variable 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 screw which can fit almost any tripod head. Apart from this, it comes with the usual features such as a spring loaded hook (great for counterweight), foam coated legs (comes in handy in cold weather as the tripod gets too cold), 3 leg sections and a reversible central column (it does not swivel). In addition to all of this, it comes with a nice padded bag to carry. I would recommend this tripod over the Vangurd Alta Pro 263AB if the price is your concern.
Zomei Q555 – The Best Budget Tripod
Zomei has been gaining a lot of traction these days and I believe it is well deserved. The quality and the features of their product at such an affordable price makes them very likeable. The Zomei Q555 is their most popular tripod today. It packs all the good from other high end tripods and is an absolute steal. The interesting thing about this tripod is that the legs fold up vertically and around the ball head saving a lot of space.Specifications
Product: Zomei Q555
Max Height: 62.5″
Collapsed Height: 17.5″
Weight: 2.9 lbs (1.3kg)
Leg Sections: 4 (3 step positioning)
Payload: 17.6 lbs (8kg)
Hook: Yes (Spring Loaded)
Bubble Level: Yes
Warranty: 1 year
My Rating: 6.5/10
I would recommend this tripod for video though because it ships with a ball head which is fairly a good one at this price. But for video, get yourself a decent fluid head.
The leg locks are fairly good and the tripod is a great choice for beginners. For Indians, I know the tripod isn’t available but there’s an equally good tripod the DigiTek DTR 520BH (interchangeable head). The features are almost similar and the performance is as good as any other entry level tripod.
AmazonBasics 60″ Aluminum Tripod
Well, AmazonBasics 60″ is a very underrated tripod and the reason why it has been included in this list is its simplicity. There’s nothing more to it than what meets the eye. It is a very basic aluminum tripod which is just about enough to get you started. For $20 bucks, don’t expect any high end features or performance. I would recommend this tripod only if you are unsure of whether photography is your cup of tea so that you can get a sense of what you might be doing if you pursue this art.
Product: AmazonBasics 60″
Max Height: 48″ w/o central column raised, (60″)-max
Collapsed Height: 20″
Weight: 3 lbs (1.3kg)
Leg Sections: 3
Payload: 6.6 lbs (3kg)
Bubble Level: Yes (2)
My Rating: 4/10
Also, I wouldn’t recommend pushing its limits in terms of its weight capacity cause its really not worth risking your expensive gear. You don’t wanna be that dummy who broke his $2000 gear over a $20 tripod. But nonetheless, it’s a really good choice for absolute beginners. It comes with a 3-way pan head and a nice handle to a carry around. Both of these are good to have. The central column has a gear mechanism to raise the boom, which is again not recommended due to safety concerns. On the good part, it comes with 2 bubble levels which ensures perfect alignment.
Manfrotto 055XPRO3 – For Professionals
The Manfrotto 055XPRO3 is a replacement for the older 055XPROB and it comes with significant advancements. The quality, built, performance and durability is top-notch and it is one of the most versatile and reliable camera support systems in the market today. The central column turns into a horizontal boom with a push of a button and the rotating bubble level ensures that you get the perfect alignment even in the horizontal orientation.
Product: Manfrotto 055CXPRO3
Max Height: 67″ (170cm)
Collapsed Height: 24″ (61cm)
Weight: 4.4 lbs (2kg)
Leg Sections: 3 ( 4 position adjustable)
Payload: 19.8 lbs (9kg)
Warranty: 2 years, can be extended to 10 yrs.
My Rating: 9.5/10
The tripod is quite bulky though and takes up a lot of space but I would prefer this tripod over others just because of the many advantages it offers. It is a 3 section tripod which comes with flip locks which are very easy to use. The legs positions are adjustable and at maximum separation allow very low angle photography (useful in macro and landscape) with maximum stability. The tripod does not come with a head within the box, so you might wanna purchase one if you don’t have it.
I would recommend this tripod if you are thinking for an upgrade from your previous tripod or if you are a beginner who prefers quality equipment right from the start.
As the title of this article suggests, aluminum tripods are multipurpose tripods and it I hope it is clear why. The affordability, quality and reliability make it the top choice of many photographers. Though the carbon fiber tripods offer better features such as better vibration reduction, etc. it fails to appeal to the majority of photographers because of its high price. So, whether you opt for the Manfrotto or the AmazonBasics, make sure to keep your tripod is a good condition because that way, it will last for years.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this article and if you have any doubts or queries regarding aluminum tripods, be sure to leave them below in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to help you out.