How to Choose a DSLR Camera Tripod

Svetlana November 11 2021

As a professional photographer, you might want to think about a few things to buy the best tripod for DSLR. Here are the factors to consider:

Value for money

You'll definitely want to spend less while buying a cheap DSLR tripod... But don't forget about what we mentioned earlier: value for money! Cheap tripods often sport cheap materials and heads, making them susceptible to toppling or slipping during use. If yours is made of less durable material, you'll have to buy a new one sooner than later.

If you are a professional, you might not want to buy the cheapest tripod stand you come across. For the sake of your camera gear's security and safety, you can afford to take any risks. 

It might be tempting to save money by trying out a cheap tripod, but remember that it'll cost you more money in the end. So, choose a tripod that ensures the safety of your DSLR camera, even if you have to invest a little more money in it.

On the other hand, if you are not a professional and taking photography as a hobby, you can think about buying the cheapest tripod to start with. Choose tripods that match your camera's weight and height. If possible, get one with a head that tilts and swivels too. 

Material

Tripod stands are typically made out of aluminum or carbon fiber material. Carbon fiber is more expensive than aluminum but weighs less - so it will be easier to carry around and set up at various locations. With affordable price ranges and longer product life, choose an aluminum tripod stand over carbon fiber when shopping for tripods under $150.

A full-sized tripod stand has 3 components; center column, legs, and head. All three parts should be made from high-quality materials in order to provide maximum security and stability during windy weather.

You can use a lightweight aluminum alloy or plastic as they are less expensive but cannot withstand strong winds whereas you can use titanium or magnesium alloy as they are more expensive but are strong enough to sustain heavy wind gusts. Carbon fiber tripod legs are the lightest ones, so you can carry them for a longer period of time without tiring yourself.

Mounting Method

A tripod's mounting method should not be ignored as it will make a huge difference on how stable your camera stands, and on the amount of work, you'll need to do to set things up. For example, if your DSLR has a removable lens and flash unit, you'll want a tripod with an easy-to-use quick-release mount.

A pin screw mount will also do just fine. If you are looking for cheap tripods that support mirrors, look out for those with 3/8" mounts, which simply slide onto the tripod stand without screws. Downside: such models often come with fixed-length legs making it difficult to adjust the height of the camera stand.

Head Type

A tripod head type determines how versatile your camera stand is and the amount of control you get. Inexpensive tripods have a simple ball head, which means that you can adjust pitch angles but not roll ones. To get better control over pitch and roll angles, choose one with a 3-way pan head. Not only does this help create smooth motion shots, but it also allows more adjustment possibilities for pointing your camera in several different directions.

 A ball head enables you to move your camera at any angle. You can tilt it in any direction or even rotate it around on its axis. It is suitable for still photography with long lenses.

A pan/tilt head allows you to control the camera's position along the horizontal plane but not on the vertical plane. A panning movement would be similar to that of an office chair swivel whereas tilting forward and backward is like that of adjusting your car seat height up and down. If you are shooting landscape, macro, or architecture photos, you should look for a pan/tilt head.

Maximal Height

When it comes to choosing a tripod for supporting your DSLR, you'd need the one that reaches your eye level or at least be close to it. 

When measuring the height, you'd ensure the center column gets completely extended. Also, you'd consider the weight of your DSLR, which adds 3-4 inches more on the top of the tripod.  Getting a tripod with maximal height would allow you to stand in a comfortable position. So, you can shoot for long hours in a relaxed posture. 

If you'd like to opt for a shorter tripod that's lightweight for better portability, you'd need to bend down a lot. But, it won't be a big issue if you'd be using the tripod less. Issues related to a height usually depend on how tall you are. Sometimes taller people might need a tripod with a higher height range.

Height ranges for professional tripods start at around 25 inches and go up to as high as 48 inches. You can choose one depending on your height or the location where you'll be shooting most of the time. Keep in mind that the lower the tripod stand, the harder it will be to operate.

Able to tolerate extra weight

It is a given that your tripod should handle the weight of your DSLR and its lens with safety. 

Whether the tripod's own weight is heavy or light, it should at all costs bear your camera gear's weight. This is one of the points where you cannot compromise. After all, the tripod's real job is to hold the camera with full security.

Tripod’s own weight

If your photography job includes a lot of traveling, you would need to consider the weight of the tripod. 

A lightweight tripod would be beneficial to carry around places. Although, a heavy tripod would offer a high level of stability.  During strong winds, a heavier tripod would support your shooting experience better. If you decide to choose a lightweight tripod, pick the one that has a hook under the center column. 

The latch allows you to add more weight and enhance the stability of the tripod in windy weather. 

If your DSLR has a good weight capacity, try finding a tripod stand that's rated for slightly more than that capability. The added support will boost security all through your photography sessions, even during windy days. On the other hand, if you are not very sure about how much camera weight you have, just get a cheap tripod stand with a 1/4" male stud. This standard tripod head is suitable for small and light cameras.

FAQs

-How do I choose a tripod for my DSLR? 

Your choice of the tripod would depend upon your budget and particular requirements. If your work needs you to travel a lot, you'd want to buy a lightweight and easy-to-transport tripod.  But, if you work in the studio, a heavier and more firm tripod would be suitable for you. Also, the weight of your DSLR and lens influence your final decision. 

-What is the best DSLR tripod?

Our top recommendation includes Vanguard Alta Pro 263AP. It is the best tripod for DSLR. This tripod is super durable, easy to adjust, and offers full stability. The attachment of the Pan Head allows outstanding panning ability and smooth movement than Ball Head. The Auto-Rotate feature enables the camera to move in any direction.

-How do I attach my DSLR to my tripod?

First, you need to put your camera on top of the tripod's head after loosening the knob on each side of it. Then you would need to tighten them back afterward by putting pressure while spinning them counterclockwise If your camera has no holes for mounting screw, then you can use the quick release plate of the tripod. 

-How do I attach my camera to the tripod head?

You need to loosen the screw first and then mount your camera on top of the tripod head. Tighten it back afterward by rotating them clockwise. In order to prevent the screws from over-tightening, apply a dab of grease or oil before doing that as many manufactures recommend this safety measure.

Final Thoughts

A tripod creates an immense difference in a photographer's composition by providing support.  Having a tripod available while capturing difficult shots would help in achieving sharpness. You won't have to deal with blur photos anymore, and take your time to compose an angle in peace.