Cheap tripods – The market is full of them, thanks to so many small companies trying their hand at gear making. Well, cheap tripods aren’t necessarily that bad. For beginners, they can serve as a very good option. They have their own pros and cons. If you are into photography or make videos, chances are you might have owned one. From novice to amateur to a professional almost everyone requires a good tripod. You may wanna spend on quality gear once you get a hang of photography or start with premium tripods. It’s all a matter of choice.
Tripods can cost as low as $10 and as high as $10K!. The obvious question is, is the $10 tripod worth anything? Keep reading and you will find out as we discuss questions like these and consider some of the best cheap tripods available.
When to Choose a Cheap Tripod?
As I said, whether you are a novice or a professional you have to have a tripod if you want to improve as a photographer. A cheap tripod may not necessarily be a bad choice. So at what stage should you choose one? The answer is pretty simple – at the beginner’s level. If you are a beginner in photography and reading this, you might find it helpful to know that cheap tripods are great for starters for a couple of reasons.
- They are easy to operate and there isn’t much to fiddle around with. They are pretty basic which allows you to focus more on photography instead of worrying about your gear.
- Since you are a beginner, you don’t really know if photography is your jam or if it is, what genre interests you the most. Well, this is a very serious question and if you aren’t positive at the end of the day there is no point in investing a large amount in expensive tripods.
For amateurs and professionals, it might be a good idea to keep a $50 tripod handy, you know as a backup. Probably at this stage, you feel a cheap tripod doesn’t suit your skills but it’s always a good practice to keep them by your side. I hope now you understand why you need to have a cheap tripod, now let’s talk about what to consider while choosing one.
What to Consider While Choosing One?
There are a lot of factors to consider before choosing a tripod but that’s not exactly the case with the lower segment of this niche. Tripods vary in size, features, maximum load capacity, etc. But you cannot exactly compare $20 tripod with a $30 one. I mean, there might be little changes in the spec sheet but it won’t matter much. Still, that doesn’t mean you should ignore everything at one glance. So here are some pointers which you must keep in mind.
The legs of a tripod are very important. The legs are a matter of concern, especially in a cheap tripod. Whenever you examine one at a store, make sure you extend it all the way down. The last section must be stout. Some legs are as thin as my pinky and you won’t notice it until you extend it all the way. Believe me, you don’t wanna put your camera on thin sticks. Also, make sure that the rubber feet are attached properly or they might fall off later.
The flip locks are as flimsy as they can be. Try to test them out. Extend the sections and lock them in place, then try pushing the sections back inside one another against the lock. If the locks are good you won’t be able to do so, otherwise, choose another tripod.
The head is generally attached with the tripod right out of the bag. It is not a good idea to remove it or play around because they aren’t the best ones available. Whether it is a pan head or a ball head try mounting a camera and testing it thoroughly. Move the screws, handles, pan it. Make sure nothing is broken and everything moves smoothly.
Rest of the features like the maximum height, overall weight capacity, material of construction, etc don’t play a major role because these points don’t vary as much. 9 out of 10 are made of thin aluminum tubes which is why it is not recommended to extend these to their maximum height.
ZOMEI Q111 Compact Travel Tripod
The Zomei Q111 has a lot of positive reviews on the internet. The company doesn’t have a professional or semi-professional range of tripods but they seem good at what they do. The ZOMEI Q111 won’t cost you a fortune and is a decent tripod considering the price of it. It comes with a pan head which isn’t removable.SPECS
Max. Height: 58″(147cm) | Collapsed Height: 19″ (48cm) | Load Capacity: 11lbs (5kgs) | Weight: 2.5lbs (1.1kg)
The tripod comes with a geared central column, which you shouldn’t extend unless absolutely necessary. It also features a hook and a bubble level like some of its professional counterparts. The hook is used to hang some weight to add stability. The pan head is sticky and the motion is not as smooth which is expected. Unlike most other tripods in this range it comes with a 1 year warranty. The package comes with a carrying case which is kinda nice of have. All in all it’s a great tripod at a very affordable price.
Mactrem PT55 Travel Camera Tripod
Mactrem is a relatively new company based in China. They don’t offer much choice at the moment but their PT55 seems to be in rage. The tripod is made of aluminum is very similar to the other tripods in this range. Again this tripod is well under $50 and just gets the job done. Like the Zomei, it also has a geared central column which increases the overall height by 10cm but again, it’s not recommendedSPECS
Max. Height: 55″(140cm) | Collapsed Height: 20″ (50cm) | Load Capacity: 11lbs (5kgs) | Weight: 2.5lbs (1.1kg)
The panoramic head on the Mactrem is good to get you started but don’t rely on it too much. The tripod comes in many colors of which I prefer the blue colored one. Like some professional tripods, it has a nice grip on the legs and non-slip rubber feet. The leg separator can be an issue sometimes because you cannot remove it but then you cannot have everything at this price point.
Victiv 72-inch Camera Tripod Aluminum T72
Okay, so this is not something which I’m used to at this price point. The tripod costs less than $50 and converts into a monopod when needed. This is a premium feature which they have tried to replicate. The tripod itself is heavier than the two above and the legs feel stronger. It has a good foam grip and a plastic handle attached to it, makes it easier to move around the terrain.SPECS
Max. Height: 72″(182cm) | Collapsed Height: 21″ (53cm) | Load Capacity: 8.8lbs (4kgs) | Weight: 4lbs (1.8kg)
The head on this tripod can be removed and you can attach a better one in its place. The description says it allows you to use the Arca Type Swiss plates which is a good thing. It has a good height and can be used to scopes etc. The only disadvantage is the leg separator. On uneven terrain, it might create some problems, but you cannot demand more. Same as the other two, the 3-way pan head is okayish but it is enough to get you started.
Whether its a cheap tripod or an expensive one, a tripod is irreplaceable for a photographer. Cheap tripods are the first choice of many beginners and if you are one, keep in mind my pointers before making a purchase. If you don’t wanna go through all that trouble, get any one of the above and start shooting! At this point learn as much as you can about different genres, shooting techniques, camera basics and don’t worry too much about the gear.
Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it helpful. Feel free to leave any questions or experiences in the comments section below and I’ll be more than happy to help you.