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The best tripods for 2019: take better photos

Find a new three-legged friend with our guide to the best tripods around.

One the fastest ways to improve your photographs is to get yourself a camera support. A decent tripod will allow you to shoot long exposures, expand your options in low light (by allowing you to use slower shutter speeds), and open up possibilities in new genres such as astrophotography.

Which tripod to choose? Aluminium, carbon fibre, magnesium, or some combination more than one? Heavy and sturdy or light and transportable? The answers to these questions depend pretty heavily on what camera gear you use and what you're planning to shoot, so we're here to help. Below you'll find our guide to the best tripods available right now, for all different users and budgets.

The best camera for creatives

Right now, we think the best tripod is the Benro Go Plus Travel tripod. It's super portable, the pivot system is elegant and every feature of the design is immaculately implemented. But the best tripod for you will depend on what sort of photography you want it for – and what level you're at.

How to pick the best tripod

When it comes to choosing the right tripod, it pays to understand the different options that are available. Many recent designs, for example, have legs that swing vertically upwards for stowage, so that the feet encompass the head when the centre column is fully extended. This reduces the packing length by about 8cm, but there’s a downside in that these tripods are a bit more fiddly and time-consuming to set up and fold away.

A more time-honoured tradition for extending the maximum height while keeping the stowage size fairly small is to use four or five telescopic sections within each tripod leg, rather than the more conventional three sections. It’s a useful space-saving feature, especially for travel tripods – but, again, there’s more setup time involved, with extra leg section clamps to operate.

Another top trick of some current tripods is that they have a pivoting centre column. In most cases, this enables you to use the centre column as a horizontal boom, as well as vertically upright. It can be a big advantage in macro photography, as well as for shooting with ultra-wide-angle or fisheye lenses.

It’s also a bonus for really low-level shooting, given that most tripods these days have legs that can be splayed to lock at multiple, wider angles to the vertical. Some pivoting tripods go even further and enable you to lock the centre column at a number of angles through a full 180-degree arc.

To save weight, many up-market tripods are available in carbon fibre. For a full-sized tripod kit, including head, you’re looking at a weight-saving of around 20 per cent compared with the same kit based on aluminium legs. The weight reduction is usually more minimal with smaller travel tripods. The main drawback of carbon fibre is that it’s more expensive to manufacture, so the tripod itself can be significantly pricier to buy.

Here's our pick of the best tripods available right now.

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01. Benro Go Plus Travel

The best tripod overall, the Benro is great for anywhere and everywhere

Main construction material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 49cm (yes) | Weight: 2.05kg | Max operating height: 179cm | Max load (legs, head): 14kg, 14kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 3 angles | Leg extension locks: Twist | Pivoting centre column: 180 degrees | Detachable monopod: Yes

£279 View at Amazon Low Stock £319 View at Wex Photo Video £319 View at Park Cameras ?See all prices (3 found) Excellent build quality and sturdiness Supremely versatile feature set Expensive to buy Not available as complete kit with legs and head

Billed as a travel tripod, this Benro is sold as separate legs and head. There’s therefore no money-saving complete ‘kit’ option, but at least you can choose the head that best suits your needs. Benro’s B1 ball head is ideal. The swing-up legs enable a carrying length of just 49cm, yet the maximum operating height is a lofty 179cm, partly thanks to each leg containing four sections. One leg can easily be unscrewed and used as a monopod, in conjunction with the removable centre column. Like the Vanguard tripod in this round-up, the pivoting centre column can be rotated vertically through a full 180-degree arc, with multiple locking angles along the way. The pivot system is elegant and every feature of the overall design is immaculately implemented.

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02. 3 Legged Thing PUNKS Travis Tripod

A rugged, general-use tripod, Travis will prove an invaluable companion in all weathers

Main construction material: Aluminium | Folded height (leg inversion): 45cm (no) | Weight: 1.6kg | Max operating height: 165cm | Max load: 18kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 3 angles | Leg extension locks: Twist | Pivoting centre column: 180 degrees | Detachable monopod: Yes

Solid and dependable Hefty 18kg payload Packs down really well No carbon fibre option

Another impressive achievement from the folks at 3 Legged Thing, Travis is one of the best aluminium tripods around. Able to handle payloads up to a whopping 18kg, this set of legs will support even the heaviest of pro setups and then some, and even though it's not billed as a travel tripod, it certainly packs down like one, measuring just shy of 45cm when folded up.

With detachable rubber 'Bootz' (feet) and a unique Tri-Mount plate that allows for easy accessory attachment, Travis is a tripod that offers a great deal of customisation to suit your particular workflow, which suits its status as an all-rounder. It also converts handily and quickly to a monopod, further expanding the utility and versatility of this excellent tripod.

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03. Kenro Karoo Ultimate Travel Tripod

Could this really be the ultimate travel tripod?

Main construction material: Aluminium | Folded height (leg inversion): 48cm (yes) | Weight: 2.16kg | Max operating height: 190cm | Max load (legs, head): 10kg, 8kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: : 3 angles | Leg extension locks: Twist | Pivoting centre column: 0/90 degrees (+ invert) | Detachable monopod: Yes

Low Stock £139 View at Wex Photo Video Low Stock £279 View at Wex Photo Video Check Amazon ?See all prices (3 found) Massive maximum height for travel tripod 90-degree pivoting centre column Not very lightweight Carbon fibre edition only slightly lighter

A perennial problem with travel tripods that fold down to space-saving dimensions is that they fail to give a decent maximum operating height. The Kenro Karoo literally rises above that particular criticism. Despite folding down to just 48cm, courtesy of swing-up 4-section legs, it can reach a towering 190cm at full stretch. The extra height is due to an extending centre column, which also enables a 90-degree pivot facility for use as a horizontal boom.

The tripod is reassuringly sturdy, as is the ball head that’s supplied as part of the kit. It comes complete with interchangeable metal spikes and rubber pads for the feet, and a padded carrying bag. The Kenro is great value at the price, and there’s also a carbon fibre version which isn’t much more expensive, although the saving in weight is fairly minimal.

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04. Novo Explora T5

What price carbon? Maybe less than you think, this is the best budget carbon fibre tripod

Main construction material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 47cm (yes) | Weight: 1.43kg | Max operating height: 161cm | Max load (legs, head): 10kg, 10kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 3 angles | Leg extension locks: Twist | Pivoting centre column: No (invert only) | Detachable monopod: Yes

£179.99 View at Amazon £219.99 View at Amazon ?See all prices (2 found) Spectacular value Can be used as a monopod No pivot facility for centre column Not the tallest tripod around

Despite being amazingly good value for a carbon fibre tripod, the Novo Explora 5 doesn’t cut any corners in build quality. It folds down nice and small with swing-up 4-section legs, has a respectable maximum operating height of 161cm and a hefty maximum load rating of 10kg for both the legs and the included ball head. The load limit is particularly impressive, given the relatively lightweight build compared with many similar tripods. There are two pan release knobs on the ball head, rather than the usual one, so you can pan the whole head or just the camera platform.

An innovative friction damper is also fitted, with an adjuster that’s built into the main clamping knob. There’s no pivot facility for the centre column but one leg can be unscrewed and used with the centre column as a monopod. Another neat trick is that the rubber foot pads can be removed to reveal metal spikes. All in all, it’s a superb tripod for the money.

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05. Manfrotto 055CXPRO3

The best sturdy, tall tripod, the Manfrotto is more than the sum of its parts

Main construction material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 72cm (no) | Weight: 2.54kg | Max operating height: 182cm | Max load (legs, head): 9kg, 10kg | Sections per leg: 3 sections | Locking leg angles: 4 angles | Leg extension locks: Clip | Pivoting centre column: 0/90 degrees | Detachable monopod: No

£119 View at Wex Photo Video £149 View at Jessops £199 View at Amazon ?See all prices (8 found) 101 Amazon customer reviews ☆☆☆☆☆ Super-speedy pivot system Very solid and stable Lengthy when folded, no carry bag No detachable leg for use as a monopod

Sold as separate legs and head, rather than a complete kit, the 055CXPRO3 tripod and XPRO Ball head are nevertheless perfectly matched. There are actually a variety of 055 legs available in both aluminium and carbon fibre options and with either three or four sections per leg. This three-section carbon edition is chunky and super-sturdy, with a generous maximum height of 182cm when the XPRO head is fitted. It’s relatively long when folded, but the 4-section edition packs away smaller.

Both are quick and easy to set up, as the legs don’t swing up for stowage, and the 90-degree pivot facility for the centre column is also brilliantly simple to use. Unusually, these days, the leg section locks have a flip action rather than a twist mechanism, but they’re very effective. The XPRO Ball head is among the very best that we’ve ever come across. It’s available with Manfrotto’s usual 200PL quick-release plate, or in a pricier option with an Arca-Swiss compatible quick-release plate.

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06. MeFOTO GlobeTrotter

Small but strong, and reasonably tall

Main construction material: Aluminium | Folded height (leg inversion): 41cm (yes) | Weight: 2.10kg | Max operating height: 165cm | Max load (legs, head): 12kg, 12kg | Sections per leg: 5 sections | Locking leg angles: 2 angles | Leg extension locks: Twist | Pivoting centre column: No (invert only) | Detachable monopod: Yes

Low Stock £179 View at Wex Photo Video £189.95 View at Amazon £225 View at Amazon ?See all prices (10 found) 14 Amazon customer reviews ☆☆☆☆☆ Very small carrying case Hefty maximum load rating No pivot facility for centre column Only two alternative leg angles

Considering that this tripod folds down to just 41cm in length, it’s a little surprising that it weighs in at over two kilograms. However, the MeFoto GlobeTrotter has an impressive maximum load rating of 12kg for both the legs and the supplied ball head, and reaches a useful maximum operating height of 165cm, thanks to having 5-section legs. Following the current vogue, the legs swing up to reduce the carrying length, and one of them can be detached for monopod duty.

Interchangeable rubber pads and metal spikes are supplied with the kit, along with a smart padded bag. All that’s really lacking is a pivot facility for the centre column, and there are only two lockable leg angles instead of the more usual three. A pricier carbon fibre edition of the kit is also available, which reduces the overall weight by 400g.

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07. Vanguard ALTA PRO 2+

A tripod that literally bends over backwards, or forwards

Main construction material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 71cm (no) | Weight: 2.1kg | Max operating height: 172cm | Max load (legs, head): 7kg, 10kg | Sections per leg: 3 sections | Locking leg angles: 4 angles | Leg extension locks: Twist | Pivoting centre column: 180 degrees | Detachable monopod: No

£245 View at Amazon 180-degree pivot rotation for centre column Quick and easy set up Relatively long when folded down Supplied bag is unpadded

With an emphasis on quick and easy setup rather than minimising the folded size, this Vanguard Alta Pro tripod has three sections per leg, and the legs don’t swing fully upwards for storage. That said, they do have four selectable lockable angles and, coupled with a full 180-degree pivot facility for the centre column, ultra-low-level shooting is a doddle. Another bonus is that, like in most recent Manfrotto tripods including current versions of the 055 and 190, there’s a 3/8-inch threaded socket for attaching accessories like an LED light. Build quality is very good throughout and the Vanguard is a joy to use, even if it doesn’t fold down very small.

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08. Manfrotto 190go!

The best compact, conventional tripod, Manfrotto’s longstanding 190 series gets a twist

Main construction material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 54cm (no) | Weight: 1.94kg | Max operating height: 159cm | Max load (legs, head): 6kg, 10kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 4 angles | Leg extension locks: Twist | Pivoting centre column: 0/90 degrees | Detachable monopod: No

Low Stock £139 View at Wex Photo Video £199.95 View at Jessops £225.10 View at Amazon ?See all prices (14 found) 28 Amazon customer reviews ☆☆☆☆☆ Wide choice of kits available Simple setup and pivot facility No detachable monopod leg Modest maximum load rating for legs

Building on the huge popularity of Manfrotto’s 190-series tripods, there are a number of Manfrotto 190go! kits on the market. They’re easily distinguishable as they use twist-action clamps rather than clip locks. Kits are available with either aluminium or carbon fibre legs, and with either 3-way or ball heads. The legs have four sections in all cases, and the most up-market option includes the superb XPRO head which, again, is available in 3-way or ball versions.

The legs don’t swing up for stowage but the folded length is a modest 54cm nonetheless. Despite having four sections per leg, the maximum operating height of 159cm isn’t overly generous and the maximum load rating of 6kg for the legs is rather less than that of the favoured XPRO ball head. The pivot facility is amazingly quick and easy to use, enabling the centre column to act as a horizontal boom. Ultimately, it’s a solid tripod that’s very nicely engineered and a pleasure to use.

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09. Manfrotto Befree

Remarkably small and lightweight for an aluminium tripod

Main construction material: Aluminium | Folded height (leg inversion): 41cm (yes) | Weight: 1.5kg | Max operating height: 144cm | Max load (legs, head): 4kg, 4kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 2 angles | Leg extension locks: Clip | Pivoting centre column: No (invert only) | Detachable monopod: No

Low Stock £109 View at Wex Photo Video £109.99 View at Amazon £109.99 View at Jessops ?See all prices (14 found) 300 Amazon customer reviews ☆☆☆☆☆ Folds down to just 41cm Lightweight build Relatively low 4kg max load rating Max operating height only 144cm

A variety of ‘Advanced’, ‘GT’ and ‘2N1’ editions of the Befree tripod have come to the market recently but the classic simplicity of this original version is still hard to beat. With 4-section swing-up legs, it folds down to a mere 41cm and weighs just 1.5kg, making it ideal for the long haul of travel photography. The maximum operating height of 144cm and load rating of 4kg are both rather modest but should prove sufficient for most photographers. The tripod and head are both fairly rigid and robust, considering their lightweight build, and the clip-style clamps work smoothly and efficiently. If you’re after a basic tripod that won’t weigh you down, this Manfrotto makes a good travel companion.

10. Joby GorillaPod 1K

Take your camera to new, uncharted vantage points

Maximum height: 25.5cm | Weight: 196g | Leg type: Flexible | Max load: 1kg | Pivoting centre column: No | Detachable monopod: No

Flexible legs Can grip unusual surfaces Relatively low capacity Short max height

No tripod list is really complete without the famous Joby GorillaPod, the grippy mini-tripod with legs that can be bent this way and that to grip onto all sorts of unusual protrusions. The 1kg payload limits your setup a little, but as long as you're not using a pro DSLR and a telephoto lens or some similar combination, you'll be able to set up your camera in all sorts of creative ways. It's a great extra accessory to have along if you use mirrorless cameras or even smartphones (with an adapter), especially because it packs down so well and is so light to carry. Also, bunch the legs together and the GorillaPod converts into a working handgrip, perfect for on-the-spot video shooting or selfies.

Today's best tripod prices

? CBQ Benro GoPlus Travel FGP28C CBQ £279 View See all prices CBQ Benro Mach3 CBQ £99.99 View See all prices Low Stock Kenro Karoo Ultimate Travel CBQ £139 View See all prices CBQ Novo Explora T5 CBQ £179.99 View See all prices CBQ Manfrotto 055XPRO3 tripod CBQ £99.99 View See all prices CBQ MeFoto GlobeTrotter aluminium A2350Q2 CBQ £189.95 View See all prices CBQ Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263CB 100 CBQ £245 View See all prices CBQ Manfrotto 190 Go! CBQ £225.10 View See all prices CBQ Manfrotto Befree CBQ £85.99 View See all prices Low Stock CBQ Joby GripTight PRO TelePod CBQ £89.95 View See all prices We check over 130 million products every day for the best pricesView All Deals

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