Whether you’re a new photographer or a seasoned professional, chances are you’re already familiar with the basic functions of a tripod. It serves as a solid base to take photos when you need your camera to be still, and also eliminates some of the strain of holding a camera for long hours.
It’s especially important to have a tripod if you plan to shoot in poorly-lit situations, as your camera will have to use a slower shutter speed for proper exposure. When you use a slow shutter speed, your camera will pick up any movement on your end, known as camera shake.
A tripod will enable you to get clean, crisp images even in low light. It’s also essential for long exposures, such as shooting star trails or capturing motion in cars.
What to look for when buying a tripod for a DSLR camera
Most tripods can hold at least 5 pounds, which is suitable for an entry-level DSLR and small lens. Some higher-end models can hold upwards of 40 pounds, which is necessary for many professional DSLRs and heavy telephoto lenses.
Most tripods have legs that can be adjusted to reach different heights. The height range you need will depend on what you are shooting. Some tripods are made specifically for tabletops; they are useful for food and product photography.
There are two main types of leg locks on tripods: twist leg logs and quick-release flip switches. Many photographers prefer leg locks with quick-release switches, as they allow them to adjust the height much more quickly.
Our top 10 picks for the best DSLR tripods
With a height range of 18″ to 65″, this impressively lightweight tripod from ZoMei can take on virtually any job. It’s made of aluminum and magnesium alloy, specially processed to resist corrosion, and it’s ideal for both indoor and outdoor shooting.
No need to leave your heavy lenses at home; a maximum weight capacity of 33 pounds makes this tripod ideal for photographers and videographers with heavy duty equipment. Despite its impressive weight capacity, the tripod itself weighs only 3.7 pounds.
The legs can be locked into three different angles to accommodate tight quarters. They use a rotating lock for height adjustment up to 65″. The pan/tilt head offers ultimate control with separate locks for both pan and tilt.
A quick-mount plate makes it easy to mount and dismount your camera from the tripod as needed. The tripod can be converted easily to a monopod as desired.
This durable magnesium aluminum alloy tripod from Pantan is a top-notch option for a professional who needs something heavy-duty. It’s capable of holding up to 44 pounds, so you can bring along your heaviest cameras and lenses.
The height range is 26″ to 72″, one of the tallest on our list. The height can be easily adjusted with the locking leg mechanisms. A quick 3-direction pan/tilt head can be rotated for easy transition between landscape and portrait orientation. It comes with a quick-release plate to easily attach and detach your camera as desired.
Made from lightweight aluminum, Albott’s 2-in-1 tripod and monopod is ideal for photographers who are often on the go. It extends from 21″ to an impressive 70″.
Capable of holding 8.8 pounds, it’s ideal for most DSLRs and zoom lenses. The convenient quick release locks allow you to adjust the height easily and quickly.
The 3-way pan/tilt head provides 360-degree rotation. It’s complete with a quick-release plate to easily mount your camera.
Manfrotto’s 3-way tripod is targeted toward advanced photo enthusiasts who want the ultimate control over panning. Made from aluminum and technipolymer, it’s lightweight but durable enough for indoor and outdoor shooting.
It extends from 17.51″ to 65″ to suit a range of subjects and has a maximum load capacity of 6.61 pounds. While it’s not suited to the heaviest equipment, it’s suitable for most DSLRs and lenses up to 200mm.
The quick release leg locks make it easy to adjust the height as needed. Controls on the 3-way head allow the user to adjust pan/tilt and level separately to frame their subject perfectly.
Dolica’s 60″ Proline tripod is made from lightweight aluminum alloy. It weighs only 2.5 pounds but is capable of holding an impressive 15 pounds, so it’s suitable for even semi-pro and professional equipment.
The height range of 21.5″ to 60″ is suitable for a range of subjects. Durable flip leg locks allow you to adjust the height as needed and lock it in place.
A 360-degree rotating head allows you to shoot full panoramas, while the quick-release plate makes it easy to attach and detach your camera as needed.
JOBY’s innovative designs have revolutionized tabletop tripods. Manufactured with Japanese medical-grade ABS plastic, stainless steel and German TPE, the GorillaPod is made to endure even the toughest shooting conditions.
Unlike the other tripods on our list, the Gorillapod isn’t made to extend to a taller height. With flexible legs that can be wrapped around surfaces, it’s designed to be used on virtually any surface, even held on the side of a tree.
Despite its deceivingly small size, it can hold up to 6.6 pounds. The ball head is fitted with a quick-release plate.
Mactrem’s travel tripod is made with lightweight aluminum alloy and engineering-grade plastic for a lightweight but sturdy build. Capable of holding up to 11 pounds, it’s a good choice for mid-level and semi-pro DSLRs.
The height range of 19.7″ to 55″ makes it easy to get the shot you’re looking for. Sturdy lever-lock legs allow for quick height adjustments.
A 3-way pan head rotates a full 360 degrees for full panoramas, while the universal quick-release plate lets you attach and detach your camera in seconds.
This lightweight tripod from AmazonBasics is perfect for the amateur photographer who needs a solid tripod on a budget. It can hold up to 6.6 pounds, perfect for an entry-level DSLR and standard lens.
With a height range from 25″ to 60″, it’s a standard size tripod. The height is adjusted with the locking legs and a center post that can be extended for an additional 12″ of height.
The 3-directional head comes with a quick-release mounting plate and two handy bubble view levels to ensure your camera is straight before you take a shot. It’s a pan and tilt head with the capability to take portrait or landscape shots as desired.
Premium magnesium and aluminum alloy construction makes this tripod from BC Master both sturdy and lightweight. It can hold just over 17 pounds, making it suitable for professional-grade camera bodies and lenses.
At its minimum height, it measures 18″. It can extend to a maximum height of 80″, the tallest on our list. The height is adjusted by unlocking the flip lock mechanisms on the legs and sliding the legs out.
The stable, precise ball head can be adjusted smoothly and easily to achieve your desired angle. It’s outfitted with a bubble level for perfectly level horizons, and a quick-release plate for easy mounting.
The lightweight, durable build of Cambofoto’s travel tripod makes it an excellent sidekick for nature and outdoor photographers. Constructed with aluminum, it weighs only 3.6 pounds but can hold up to 8.8 pounds.
The height range of 21″ to 70″ is fairly standard and suitable for general photography. The leg locks are sturdy and secure, and can be used to adjust the height as desired.
It uses a 3-dimensional plate for the ultimate control over your shots. It pans a full 360 degrees and tilts 180 degrees, with separate pan and tilt locks. A quick-release plate can be attached to your camera to make mounting quick and easy.
The tripod you choose will depend on what type of photography you plan to pursue, as well as what equipment you currently use. Amateur photographers with entry-level DSLRs don’t need the same heavy-duty tripods that a professional with heavy gear will need. Choosing the right tripod for your DSLR will ensure that you can get crisp, clean photos whenever you need them.