Tripods & Rigs

15 Great Tripods, Gimbals and Stabilizers

August 9, 2016

By Greg Scoblete


Late last year, Gitzo revamped its entire Traveler Tripod series, of which the GK2545T-82QD is a member. Like the rest of the series, this model offers a new center ball head and a 180-degree leg-folding mechanism. The build quality has been enhanced through the use of Carbon “eXact” tubes, which the company says are stiffer than the carbon fiber tubes used in older versions. The tripod still features the company’s G-Lock leg locking system, which Gitzo credits for keeping the tripod compact when collapsed. The new curved external form of the G-Lock improves the grip, and internal O-rings keep dust and dirt from entering the locks. There’s also now a short column for faster switching to ground-level position. The feet are interchangeable but spikes or larger foot options are sold separately. The GK2545T has four leg sections, a maximum height of 65 inches and a minimum height of 13 inches. It can hold up to 26 pounds of gear and weighs 4 pounds.

PRICE: $1,100 (includes GH1382QD ball head).




The BV4 and BV6 are two-stage, aluminum tripods with a double-tandem leg design. Both incorporate an adjustable, removable spreader, a metal 75mm bowl, oversized quick positive leg locks and dual spike feet with pads. The BV4 Pro and the BV6 Pro feature stepped counterbalances (six steps for the BV4 and eight for the BV6) for dealing with heavy telephoto lenses and camera bodies. The BV4 can keep 8.8 pounds aloft while the BV6 is sturdy enough for 13.2 pounds of gear. Both extend to a maximum height of 64.2 inches and a minimum working height of 12 inches.

PRICE: $499 (BV4); $599 (BV6)



This lightweight aluminum-based tripod has five individually locking leg sections with three different angles to choose from. A smooth two-way pan head and pan bar are included. The feet have removable rubber covers that hide spikes so you can handle any terrain, from the boardroom to the barnyard. It can hold up to 7.7 pounds of camera and lens and extends up to 56.7 inches. The kit includes a center column adapter that lets you bring the tripod down to 6.4-inches off the ground for low-angle work. It folds down to 14.9-inches and weighs 3.3 pounds.

PRICE: $160



One of the NAB debutantes, the Optimus is a 3-axis gimbal for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras weighing up to 2.6 pounds. It can be completely inverted while the power is on and the motors rotate a full 360 degrees, giving you ample room to position your camera. The Optimus features a tool-less adjustment and includes both a single handle and a double handle if you prefer the two-handed approach. The base of the single handle has a tripod mount. The Optimus has a built-in joystick to control camera movements and ships with a Bluetooth remote control and quick-release plate.

PRICE: $1,388



The MVMF500A is a lightweight aluminum fluid video monopod with a specially adapted MVH500AH video head attached. It sports a full, fluid pan cartridge for smoother pans and a sliding plate that helps you balance your camera. It has three retractable feet and can hold up to 11 pounds of equipment. A side lock system allows the camera and sliding QR plate to click quickly into the head from above, instead of needing to be aligned and slid in from the back, so you don’t need a secondary safety lock. According to Manfrotto, the side lock system also makes it quicker and simpler to lift the camera out of the head from above. The MVMF500A has one Easy Link 3/8 inch connector for attaching accessories, plus a bubble level. It closes down to 30.7 inches and extends to a maximum height of just shy of 80 inches.

PRICE: $300



The Orbit earns its name for its pivoting fluid base, which can rotate around for smooth pans and tilts. It has three feet that lock into place when you step on them, to provide rigidity while you’re panning. This aluminum monopod has four fully adjustable sections. The Orbit is sturdy enough to hold up to 18 pounds of camera and lens, extends to 65.5 inches and collapses down to 23.5 inches. It has a reversible 3/8 and 1/4-20 mount.

PRICE: $60



While gimbals with integrated cameras (think DJI’s OSMO) are slowly trickling into the market, there are millions of GoPros lying around just waiting to be stabilized. As the name implies, iKan’s FLY-X3-GO is a 3-axis stabilizer with a GoPro mount that controls movement across roll, pitch and yaw. The GoPro mount can be removed to reveal a 1/4-20 mount for other action cams. The gimbal can be removed from the handle entirely, so you can place it on a monopod, boom pole or roll bar mount. The gimbal can be remotely controlled using the included 5-foot cable (Bluetooth accessories are also in the works for wireless control). You’ll enjoy about four hours of battery life on the X3-Go and it’s pre-programmed to use out of the box, so there’s no need to spend time calibrating it.

PRICE: $320



Forged from magnesium alloy, the new Baby Grand tripods are sold in 75mm (model 75CP) and 100mm (100CP) versions. These tripods use a ratchet-style lock lever and safety catch to ensure gear stays put when you’re shooting at low angles. They feature a removable, oversized weight hook and a set screw for the tripod head. Each leg of the Baby Grand can be independently positioned and each leg locks in three positions. The rubber feet are attached to metal ball joints so they’re easy to level and are removable if you want to use the included metal ground spikes. The feet have holes in them so you can screw the tripod into wood. The 75CP can hold up to 165 pounds, has a maximum height of 11 inches and a minimum working height of 3.2 inches. It weighs 3 pounds. The 100CP is slightly heavier, at 3.8 pounds, but can hold up to 220 pounds of gear.

PRICE: $350 (75CP); $399 (100CP)



It’s not quite accurate to call the C-pan Arm a jib, since it’s far more flexible, even if it does operate under the jib-like principle of counter-balanced weight. It’s not quite a slider either, even though it can create slider-like horizontal camera movements. The C-pan Arm is more like a jib-slider mashup. It mounts to a tripod via a 3/8 thread and can pan in or out, forward and backward or up and down. Throughout any movement, the camera stays centered. The C-pan Arm ships with dumbbell counterweights and can hold 13 pounds worth of gear if you’re using it both horizontally and vertically or up to 17 pounds if you’re using it only horizontally.

PRICE: $2,200



The new Ronin MX is a follow-up to last year’s Ronin M but it has one significant difference: The MX is the company’s first universal aerial gimbal that communicates with DJI’s onboard flight controller. When mounted to a DJI drone, the gimbal is able to automatically keep the horizon level. It can communicate with GPS modules, too, allowing it to detect acceleration and to stay level when the G forces ramp up. It sports a second battery that you can use to power your camera. The MX can hold just shy of 10 pounds worth of camera and lens. It has all the shooting modes of the Ronin M, such as underslung, upright and briefcase, but also has a few exclusive settings, including an aerial mode plus a jib/wirecam mode. It offers Bluetooth and a 2.4GHz receiver and can be controlled via the DJI GO app. At 6.11 pounds it’s about a pound heavier than the M but has a wider pan axis (200 degrees vs. 90 degrees) and tilt axis—ideal for aerial use.

PRICE: $1,599


Tiffen trotted out the Aero, an upgrade to the original Steadicam Pilot and the Steadicam Scout, at the NAB show this year. Available in two models, the Aero-15 and Aero-30 offer a wider assortment of battery options, including Anton-Bauer, V-Lock and DV batteries. The Aero-15 packs a 15-pound arm/vest option for carrying up to 10-pound loads, while the Aero-30 consists of a 30-pound arm/vest option for camera gear up to 25 pounds. Both options include an HD video line, P-Tap connector to power your camera and accessories and a 7-inch monitor with 3G-HD/SD/SDMI ports.

PRICE: $3,000 (Aero-15); $5,000 (Aero-30)



While it sounds like it could be a fast food menu item, The Wedge is actually a camera mount designed for when you need to get low. Cameras can be mounted to the Wedge via a ball head, flat plate mount, or small fluid head. It sports tapped and untapped holes on the perimeter so you can attach accessories or screw it onto wood surfaces. The Wedge has an aluminum base witih three adjustable legs with floating/self-leveling feet.

PRICE: $208



When we spotted the Pointer III at the NAB Show, it was being violently shaken by company reps to demonstrate just how much force the stabilizer can endure while keeping a camera pointed in a single direction. Unlike most gimbals on the market, the Pointer III stabilizes the camera platform to stop vibrations caused by your movement from passing through to the camera (the company claims vibrations are 1,000 times weaker on the Pointer III than conventional gimbals). It can hold a maximum payload of 13 pounds, can tilt between -135 and + 135 degrees and roll from -45 to + 45 degrees. The unit uses 15mm rods for mounting batteries, camera and counterweights. You can mount cameras on either end of the handle to record stereoscopic video. It can accept up to three LiPo batteries to deliver up to 30 hours of operating time.

PRICE: $3,900



This stabilizer not only covers the typical 3 axes, but vertical motion as well to compensate for a bouncing camera operator. The carbon fiber-based Jockey can handle payloads up to 20 pounds. It keeps the camera upright even when the unit is inverted, plus you can lock in any given shooting angle in place. Owners of 3-axis gimbals such as the Ronin from DJI can use the Jockey on their gimbals to add vertical shake-correction by replacing the original horizontal 3-axis handlebars with the Jokey. The Jockey includes a support rig that you wear around your waist to distribute the weight to your hips. You’ll need a short monopod (not included) to secure the support rig to the gimbal. If you need more support (or just want to look that much more stylish), optional suspenders are also available.

PRICE: $1,679


The Lite 2 can hold up to 8.8 pounds of gear and has a battery life ranging between 4 and 8 hours. It features three shooting modes—upright, briefcase and underslung—and has detachable top handles so you can easily mount it to a drone using an optional UAV/tripod adapter. If you spring for the wireless thumb controller, you’ll be able start/stop recordings, control gimbal movement and tune the preset modes of the gimbal to your needs.

PRICE: $1,299

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