best camera tripod under 100

Best Camera Tripod Under $100 

Many photographers are amazed to discover that it's possible to buy an enthusiast-level DSLR for the same price as some top of the line tripods, but you don't have to bankrupt yourself to get a good quality tripod.

There are a number of great tripods in the under-$100 range, which is perfect for the occasional user or for photographers who want to get a taste of what tripod shooting is like.

Here are a few of the best camera tripods available for under $100

How to Choose a Camera Tripod

Spending your money carefully when it comes to buying camera equipment is a good habit to get into as early as possible, so here's what you need to know about tripods in order to get the most value for your money.

Construction Material

The best tripods have leg sections made out of cutting-edge carbon fibre composite materials, but those are usually in the $500+ price range.

In our price range you can find tripods made out of aircraft-grade aluminium alloys that still provide a great blend of weight, stability, and affordability, and in many cases they are just about as portable as their carbon fibres cousins.

Just try to avoid a tripod made entirely out of plastic, unless you're only planning to use it occasionally in the studio - and even then, they can be more trouble than they're worth!

When it comes to the rest of the construction, try to avoid choosing a tripod that uses plastic on the locking mechanisms or the tripod head and go for metal instead.

Plastic is lightweight and cheap, which is helpful if you're going to be traveling a lot with your tripod, but it is very susceptible to wear and tear from regular use.

Over time, the tripod legs might not lock quite as firmly, and the tripod head might not lock into position as effectively as you need.

Height & Weight

A good tripod needs to be able to cover a range of shooting heights effectively, which usually means from somewhere around 12" at the minimum height and 50-60" at the maximum.

Modern tripods have quick-locking telescoping legs that allow you to quickly adjust this height, as well as a central post that can be extended to reach the full height.

Some also allow you to fold the legs in a unique way to get extremely low to the ground, sometimes as low as 4", but that's not common in the under-$100 price range.

Of course, the downside to having a larger maximum height means that you're carrying around more metal on your back, and after a day's worth of walking around shooting, you'll be glad for every ounce of weight you can avoid carrying.

If you have an assistant to do your carrying for you, or if you're an experienced hiker who doesn't mind carrying a heavy load then go for the biggest height.

Stability

Stability is obviously the most important part of any tripod, but it's so influenced by the height, weight and construction material that it was worth mentioning those first.

Every section where the tripod has moving parts increases the chance of causing slight vibrations in your shot.

Making sure that the tripod head and leg locks are made of solid metal is the best way to maximize your stability.

Additionally, having strong, rotating feet at the end of each leg allows your tripod to adapt fully to the shooting conditions.

In some landscape shooting situations the wind can start to play tricks with your tripod, so it's useful to have the option to add a bit of extra weight for additional stability.

Some tripod models have a hook at the bottom of the central mounting post, allowing you to hang a weight (such as your camera bag) in order to keep your tripod firmly planted.

Last but not least, having the ability to swap out the tripod feet to match the type of ground you're shooting on can be a huge help.

Sharp spikes don't get much traction on paved surfaces or other built environments and shooting with soft flexible rubber feet isn't always the best idea when you're out in the wilderness, so the ability to adjust them gives you that little extra edge of stability in any situation.

Support Capacity

In the under-$100 price range, you're probably not going to be mounting a heavy medium-format camera or an extra-long telephoto lens on your tripod, but it's still important to know just how much weight it's able to support safely.

Most tripods in this range will support weights between 5 and 10 lbs, although some can handle a bit more.

That's perfect for any kind of mirrorless camera with any but the largest telephoto lenses, or an entry to mid-level DSLR with an average lens - but when in doubt, weigh your gear first!

Bonus Features

There are several helpful extras that some manufacturers add into their tripods, even at the under-$100 price point:

  • If possible, choose a tripod that has a built-in bubble or spirit level to allow you to get proper horizon alignments easily without a lot of work in post-production.
  • It can also be very handy to have a tripod that allows you to convert the central mounting post into a monopod, giving you two stabilizers in one package.
  • Look for a quick-release mounting plate to allow you to switch from tripod to handheld shooting rapidly. You never know when a photo opportunity will present itself, so staying flexible can keep you from missing unexpected shots.

The Best Camera Tripods for Under $100

Now that you know what your options are, let's take a closer look at some of our favourite tripods.

Rangers 57” Ultra Compact Tripod

This tripod from Rangers has undergone a significant redesign compared to the previous model, and that update has fixed almost all of the issues that prevented this from being mentioned as a favourite in earlier posts.

It has a height range of 15" to 57", weighs 2.9 lbs with the included ball-head, and folds up for storage or transport into a 14" long package.

The aluminium legs telescope into 4 sections with quick release locks made of solid metal, and the overall construction is about as good as you'll find in this price range.

Rangers has even included almost every one of our recommended bonus features:

  • a dual-level system for easy alignments (although for some reason one of the levels is mounted on the side of the ball-head);
  • a hook for adding additional weight;
  • a quick-release mounting plate on the tripod head and one of the legs can be detached to combine with the central post to form a telescoping monopod.

The only thing that's missing is the ability to swap out the tripod feet, but that's not exactly a necessity.

Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod

Despite being one of Manfrotto's more basic entries in the tripod market, this aluminium tripod has a decent height range from 17" to 61" in a 2.6lb package.

Unfortunately, it can't close up smaller than 17" which makes it a bit less portable than some of the other models we looked at, although its real handicap is the amount of weight it can support: nothing over 3.3lbs.

This makes it a perfect choice for a mirrorless camera or a very lightweight DSLR and lens combination, but even then you might be coming very close to the support limit.

Despite the portability issues, the Compact Action Tripod has something special that most tripods don't: a joystick head.

This can be a real advantage for anyone who likes to pan a lot during their shooting, whether you're going for a simple panorama or an interesting panning blur effect.

Some photographers swear by them, but others aren't fans - it will depend on your personal shooting style.

K&F Concept 62" Tripod

K&F Concept chose to construct their aluminium tripod range out of what's actually an aluminium and magnesium alloy, and it shows in the final weight of this model.

It covers a height range of 16" to 62" and weighs in at 4lbs, making it one of the heavier tripods we looked at.

On the plus side that extra strength really boosts the support weight, allowing you to mount gear weighing up to 17 lbs, which should cover almost any camera and lens combination available.

The downside is that they've tried to cut out some of the weight by using plastic for a number of the locking mechanisms, which means they won't as durable as some of the other models after extended usage.

Other than that issue, it still checks a number of the other boxes that make a good tripod into a great one: a smoothly rotating ball-head with quick-release plate, bubble level and support hook for adding extra stability weights.

It can't convert into a monopod, but it can invert its central post for shooting much lower to the ground than its 16" minimum height would suggest.

Zomei Q555 Tripod

This tripod has a decent height range and weight profile, ranging from 17.5" to 62.5" and totalling 2.9 lbs, although it can't fold away any smaller than 17.5" which makes it a bit awkward to carry.

The anodized aluminium alloy legs telescope in 3 sections with plastic locking mechanisms, ending in fixed rubber feet that can't be swapped out.

The tripod head is better constructed with a good ball head and quick-release plate that can support up to 17 lbs.

One odd aspect and potentially irritating of this design is the foam padding that wraps around two of the tripod legs.

If you're shooting exclusively in controlled environments they won't cause a problem and might actually be helpful as a handle, but if you ever take this out of the studio they're going to act as magnets for dust and dirt.

Ravelli New Professional 70" Tripod

This tripod features the largest height extremes of any of the models we looked at, with a range from 32" to 70", making it perfect for taller photographers.

Hopefully, your extra height means that you won't mind carrying a bit of extra weight on the tripod because this is also the heaviest model we looked at, weighing in at a hefty 8 lbs.

All that weight does make for an extremely stable tripod, and it has a great range of features including a pistol grip tripod head with oversized quick-release mounting plate, swappable rubber and spiked feet, and an invertible central column.

JOBY Gorillapod

The Gorillapod is an amazingly fun little tripod, but it doesn't really fit into the same category as the rest of these tripods.

It's so unique that it's worth including, thanks to its fully articulated legs that allow you to adjust them to any shape or position.

You'll be constantly amazed at the different shooting options that are suddenly available when you realize that you can attach your camera onto a whole new range of surfaces that would never work with a more traditional tripod.

It doesn't stand very tall, just around 12" high, and it can only support up to 6.5 lbs, but it also weighs less than a pound, which makes it portable enough to bring alongside a more traditional tripod.

It will support mirrorless cameras and lightweight DSLRs with ease, but don't try to mount too much gear on it or the ball joints that make up the legs won't remain stable.

Our best pick

This was a tough choice between the Ravelli New Professional and the Rangers 57" Ultra Compact Tripod.

In the end, the Rangers tripod wins out thanks to its excellent blend of size and portability.

The Ravelli is too heavy to make for convenient carrying, despite being an excellent tripod, so it isn't the best choice for landscape photographers or anyone else who has to travel with all their gear on their back.

The Rangers tripod has all the important features that you need in a tripod while keeping it all lightweight, so you won't have to dread the weight of your gear!



best camera tripod under 100

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About the Author Luca

Hi, I am Luca, founder and editor in chief at photographyambition.com. I am crazy about photography and I always have a camera with me. When I am not busy with my day job, enjoying my family or taking photos, I am on Photography Ambition to share what I have learnt so far.

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