Tripods & Rigs

17 Tripods & Rigs to Keep You on the Level

January 16, 2018

By Greg Scoblete

Davis and Sanford Traverse 684C-36

This carbon fiber tripod boasts four leg sections with twist locks and three independent leg angles. The legs have a reverse folding design to make them more compact for travel. They also have foam grips so your hands don’t freeze when working in cold climates. The feet have interchangeable rubber or spike bottoms for stability on a wide range of terrains. The center post has a hook for hanging weights. There’s also a second, shorter center post if you want to get lower to the ground. The tripod comes with a ball head and Arca-Swiss compatible quick-release plate. It extends to 68 inches high and as low as 9 inches off the ground. Fold it up and the tripod measures 19-inches long. It can hold 18 pounds.

PRICE: $240

Three Legged Thing Equinox Leo

The most compact model in Three Legged Thing’s professional lineup, the Leo folds down to 13.7 inches from a maximum height of 51.5 inches. It has a detachable monopod that’s 54 inches high. The tripod can hold 66 pounds of gear aloft with three leg angles (23, 55 and 80 degrees). Three Legged Thing’s unique design uses weighted leg locks, which the company says lowers the center of gravity. They’re also wider for better torque and greater rigidity.

PRICE: $285

Really Right Stuff TCF-14

The lightest and most compact carbon fiber tripod in Really Right Stuff’s lineup, the TCF-14 can hold up to 25 pounds of camera gear. It collapses down to 17.2 inches from a maximum extended height of 47.6 inches. It has four leg sections with independent twist-grip extension locks. The TCF-14 features a reversible apex stud with a male ¼-20-inch stud on one side and a male 3/8-16-inch stud on the other. You can also remove the apex stud entirely to reveal a female ¼-20 socket. There are three ¼-20-inch mounting options at the top of the tripod for securing accessories as well as a removable hand strap, which you can use to stabilize the tripod with your own body weight if things get a little tipsy.

PRICE: $795

MeFoto Air

The Air is forged from anodized aluminum and sold in seven colors (though fear not tripod traditionalists, it’s also sold in black). It features a new Hyperlock leg locking system. Rather than a locking mechanism for each leg section, HyperLock uses one locking mechanism per leg, so a single turn unlocks and extends the entire leg. It also allows you to freely adjust leg height by twisting the lock at any desired length. All the tripods in the series have a detachable, telescoping selfie stick and include a spring-loaded smartphone holder. They also include a rechargeable Bluetooth remote control so you can remotely trigger your mobile phone. The tripods include a ball head with integrated bubble level.

PRICE: starting at $59

Sachtler flowtech 75 MS

This two-stage, carbon fiber tripod is one of the fastest to deploy on the market, according to Sachtler. The secret is the quick-release brakes at the top of the unit that snap open to rapidly release the legs into position. It operates from between 10.2 to 60.2 inches or from 24.8 to 61.8 when using the mid-level spreader. The legs are wider than average to provide for greater stiffness and load bearing capacity—you’re able to place up to 44 pounds of gear on the flowtech 75. You can pull away the flat feet to reveal spikes.

PRICE: $1,050

Slik Lite AL-420M

The Slik Lite AL-420 series of tripods have an integrated LED flashlight that can be unscrewed from the center column to help you operate more efficiently in the dark. The tripods also feature a Rapid Flip Mechanism that lets you invert the legs 180 degrees for easier storage. They offer a gearless, detachable and invertible center column that you can separate into a shorter column, which allows you to use the AL-420 models lower to the ground. The aluminum-based AL-420M weighs in at 2 pounds and can hold 4.4 pounds worth of gear at a maximum height of 48.8 inches. It has a minimum working height of 6.5 inches and folds down to 14.1 inches when it’s time to hit the road.

PRICE: $120

ProMediaGear Pro-Stix 34 Series

These carbon fiber tripods are available in heights ranging from 51 to 71 inches and are capable of keeping up to 60 pounds of gear aloft. The tripods feature an interchangeable flat plate and bowl mount with multiple ¼-20 mounts and anti-rotation pin slots so you can easily attach accessories. The legs have three adjustable locking angle positions and the feet have stainless steel spikes for stability on rough terrain.

PRICE: starting at $799

Benro Aero 7

This travel tripod can hold up to 15 pounds of gear and delivers a maximum height of 59 inches. It has reverse-folding tripod legs to make it more compact when on the move. It has a removable video head and the center column has a leveling adapter. You can remove the center column and a single leg to make it a monopod.

PRICE: $599

DJI Ronin 2

The second generation of DJI’s three-axis gimbal has been upgraded with more torque and power for handling up to 30 pounds of camera gear. It has built-in GPS to help stabilize your gear even when speeding down a freeway. There’s a detachable grip and a quick-release mount. New axis locking levers and fine tuning knobs deliver faster and more precise balancing, while the Auto Tune Stability feature intelligently adjusts motor parameters for optimal use. You’ll find a new touch screen for configuring gimbal settings or controlling RED cameras. It’s powered by a pair of hot-swappable batteries that can be used to power cameras as well. A recently-released Ronin app lets you tune the gimbal, adjust the smoothness of the pan and view stats on the gimbal’s vitals.

PRICE: $6,999

Manfrotto Element Traveler Tripod Big 

Manfrotto’s new Element Carbon series offers the lightweight rigidity of carbon fiber at aluminum tripod prices. The Element Traveler can hold about 17 pounds of gear, extends to 64.6 inches
high and has a minimum working height of 16 inches. It includes an aluminum ball head that accepts an Arca-type quick release plate and features a separate pan lock. They ship with interchangeable spiked feet.

PRICE: $150

Zhiyun Crane 2

The Crane 2 offers something you don’t usually see on gimbals of this class—an integrated follow-focus control. Simply cable your camera to the gimbal and you use the tactile wheel to dial in focus while your camera sits steady on the Crane. Depending on the camera model, you’ll also gain control over ISO, aperture, EV and other camera settings via dedicated controls on the gimbal’s handle. It can support up to 7 pounds of gear and has a maximum run time of 18 hours.

PRICE: $749

Platypod Max

The Platypod Max can provide sturdy camera support at a fraction of the size and weight of a tripod. Simply screw in your ball head, mount your camera and place the Platypod where you need added stability. It has holes for screws so you can fix it to walls or wooden structures, too. Its spiked feet are adjustable so you can angle your camera. It’s built to support heavy weight—up to 300 pounds—though its total carrying capacity depends on the ball head you use.

PRICE: $99

iKan DS2-A

This new gimbal can handle cameras under 4 pounds and supports 360-degree pans. The 3-axis gyro stabilizer has an Auto-Sweep mode that lets you program a 60-second camera movement routine. There’s an OLED display to read out operating modes and a Lock Mode to keep the camera pointed in a single direction. There are four different Follow modes and you’ll get up to 8-10 hours of battery life.

PRICE: $750

Feisol CT 3372LV M2

This carbon fiber tripod features a leveling center column and Rapid Anti-Leg-Rotation technology that prevents leg sections from rotating while you’re setting up the tripod. It can hold up to 66 pounds of gear aloft and has three leg angles (25, 50 and 75 degrees). The legs can be reverse folded when it’s time to pack up. You’ll enjoy a max height of 76.3 inches and a minimum height of just 4.1 inches.

PRICE: $679

Vanguard Veo 2

This second-generation tripod series boasts new carbon fiber material and weighs less than its predecessor. You can opt for models with four or five leg sections, with either a ball head or a pan head. They boast a rapid center column rotation feature that allows the VEO tripod to fold down into a compact size. There are now advanced quarter-turn twist-locks with definite open and shut positions to quickly extend the legs. They can support up to 17 pounds of camera gear.

PRICE: starting at $100

Gitzo 100th Anniversary Travel Tripod

This special edition tripod is based on the company’s Traveler series and features a 180-degree leg folding mechanism to help keep the tripod compact when folded. There’s also a new Center Ball Head for smooth and precise camera movements. The 100th Anniversary model features an ergonomic strap made of genuine Italian leather fashioned to look like carbon fiber. Let’s hope we all look this good at 100. Note that supplies of the special edition are limited.

PRICE: $1,500

Sirui W-1204 Waterproof Tripod

Whether you’re setting down in the Caribbean sand or steadying yourself on a rocky outcropping on some rolling Irish hills, the Sirui W-1204 is up for the rigors of your travel photography. This carbon fiber tripod has waterproof legs that can withstand salt water. One leg converts to a monopod for added versatility. You’ll find a bubble level and slip-resistant rubber feet that can be replaced with the included stainless steel spikes when dealing with rougher terrain. The tripod’s center column has a hook for adding extra weight in the event you need greater stability. The tripod extends to a maximum height of 63.8 inches and supports payloads up to 33.1 pounds.

PRICE: $300

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