Last updated on February 16th, 2021
No matter how steady your hands are or how brilliant your technique, using a handheld camera all the time can become exhausting. The modern camera offers excellent image stabilization but getting a tripod is incredibly important if you are looking to take your photography to another level.
Not only will a tripod offer better stability, but it also opens several new avenues of camera photography. Many photographers agree that getting a tripod is one of the most significant ways to improve your skills and it makes handling a camera easier.
Every budding photographer needs to get a tripod to take their practice to the next level. Here are some of the best tripod under $500 the market has to offer!
How to pick the best tripod under $500?
It’s challenging to identify what to look for in a tripod if you are a beginner photographer. Several different aspects make one tripod different from another.
Photographers need to consider all sorts of different factors like height, weight, and load carrying capacity. Here are all the various factors that anyone looking to buy a tripod needs to take into consideration.
One of the most essential factors that photographers need to consider is the height of the tripod. While this one is a bit of a personal preference, if you’re looking to buy a single tripod, it should have a decent range.
Another vital thing to remember is that many tripods allow you to raise the mounting head attachment. Instead of looking at the extra height, you should look at the regular measurement of the tripod.
Although having the additional height is definitely a bonus, raising the tripod too high can significantly impact the balance. Ideally, when looking to get a single tripod, the best choices are the ones that provide a decent range.
Depending on the build of the tripod, they’re available in all sorts of different weights. There are more decadent options on the market that offer excellent stability and at the same time high carrying capacity. In comparison, lighter options are more portable.
The right kind of weight for each photographer is going to be different. Suppose the primary purpose is to take pictures in the studio. In that case, a heavier tripod with more durability might be more fitting. On the other hand, for travel photographers, tripods that weigh less are more suitable.
Regardless of what type of tripod you get, the best tripod under $500 have durable hardware. Tripods need to go on your photography adventures with you, which may mean encountering some rough conditions.
There’s no point in buying a tripod that goes to snap midway through the photography trip. That’s going to be more frustrating than not owning a tripod in the first place. When looking at durability, take note of what the tripod is made of. Ideally, you should be looking for a carbon fiber or aluminium build.
The durability you need in a tripod also depends on the nature of the trip. If you’re going to Paris, you won’t need a durable tripod like you would in a trek across Thailand.
The load capacity represents the amount of weight that a tripod can withstand. Before buying a tripod, one needs to consider the weight of the camera and the lenses in their kit.
If you’re simply using a regular travel lens, there’s no need to worry about the tripod’s load capacity. When it comes to using heavier lenses, that’s where the need to use a camera with a high load carrying capacity becomes a necessity.
Sometimes, the lenses that you get can turn out to be more expensive than the camera. That’s why a tripod with a high load capacity is essential. Before buying a tripod, it’s essential to identify how much your camera and your lens weighs.
While it’s not the most exciting factor, the price range is an important determinant in identifying what tripod you should get. Finding the right balance between price and quality will give you the best value for your budget.
There are three major types of tripods on the market. These different types are pocket, travel, and studio.
A studio tripod is the most heavy-duty and tends to have the largest load capacity. These typically weigh more than 11 lbs and can extend to a height greater than 70-inches. If you have a heavy camera, this is the best choice.
A travel tripod offers a decent combination of portability, durability, and performance. These tripods can manage a load from 6 to 11 lbs and have a maximum height between 70-60 inches. They are ideally suited for a small camera.
A pocket tripod offers the greatest portability but can’t compete in height and load capacity. They offer a maximum extended height of 30 inches and can withstand a maximum weight of 4 lbs. Most people use these with a phone, not a camera.
Top 5 Tripods under $500
Last update on 2021-02-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- Weight: 4 lbs
- Height (contracted): 18.7 inches
- Height (extended): 66.9 inches
- Max Load Capacity: 22 lbs
- Number of section legs: 4
- Top Attachment: V1 Ball head
- Extra Features: Built-in monopod, standard screw-in rubber, and stainless spiked feet
One of the most versatile and top-quality options on our list of best tripod under $500 is the Benro Rhino FRHN14C + VX20. Benro allows you to choose between either an aluminum or carbon fiber design for the tripod.
The carbon fiber design costs more but is considerably more durable. However, the aluminum design is durable enough for most photography adventures. With a folded height of 18.7 inches, the tripod doesn’t take up a lot of space and is easy to carry around.
The extension of the travel tripod reaches a maximum height of 66.9 inches and provides decent length without taking anything away from the mobility. Unless you are 6″3 or above, the height of the tripod means that there is no need to lean.
The carbon fiber tripod can bear a maximum load of 22 lbs on the legs. Each leg has four sections to help ensure that there’s a high level of stability. Users can easily unscrew one of the legs and turn it into a monopod.
On the bottom of the feet are rubber spikes and interchangeable pads. That ensures that the tripod is stable on different kinds of terrain as well. It’s the ideal tripod for anyone looking to get an all-purpose device that can do it all. You can also purchase triple action ball head and a quick release plate with the tripod kit.
We think that the Benro Travel Angel 2 Series Carbon Fiber Tripod is the best overall tripod in the $300-$500 range. It combines brilliant extension, stability, and ease-of-use to provide buyers with the complete package. Out in the fields, competitors simply can’t match up to the overall performance of the Angel 2 Series.
- Weight: 5.0 lbs
- Height (contracted): 26.9 inches
- Height (extended): 67.6 inches
- Max Load Capacity: 13.2 lbs
- Number of legs sections: 3
- Top Attachment: Alta PH-114V Video Head
- Extra Features: Quick release plate and 360-degree pan
The Vanguard Alta Pro 2V 263 CV Carbon Fiber tripod has a lot to offer and is a decent option for both portrait and landscape photographers. It has an ideal length of 67.3 inches. Another brilliant feature is that this PH-114V video head ball head tripod can go to a minimum height of 20 inches, making low-level shooting much easier.
When it comes to loading capacity, the Vanguard Alta Pro 2V 263CV Carbon Fiber tripod can easily support a camera that weighs up to 13.2 lbs. This quick release tripod weighs a very easily manageable 4.69 lbs and is easy to carry around. However, it lacks in portability due to a long-folded length of 26.9 inches.
The Alta Pro 2V 263 CV Carbon Fiber tripod, with quick release plate, has three legs. On the base of each is a small rubber foot. Removing the foot reveals a screw thread that gives you the option to add accessory feet. There’s an angle release on the top of each tripod leg that allows you to move each leg through four angles.
On the crown of the tripod, there’s a center column rotation lock, which is a very helpful feature. The Alta PH-114V Video head ball head tripod also includes an accessories screw thread, which comes in handy to attach a light or a mic. Photographers also have the option of making use of the 360-degree horizontal rotation and 180-degree flipping center column on the tripod.
We think that what stands out the most about the Vanguard Alta Pro 2 263CV Carbon Fiber tripod is the build quality of the product. It makes use of incredibly high-quality carbon fiber, that’s not only durable but has a fantastic finish which earns it the best quality ranking.
Manfrotto BeFree GT XPro (Best Versatility)
- Weight: 3.3 lbs
- Height (contracted): 16.9 inches
- Height (extended): 64.6 inches
- Max Load Capacity: 22 lbs
- Number of legs sections: 4
- Top Attachment: Ball Head
- Extra Features: Twist M-Lock leg system
There a lot of versions of the Manfrotto BeFree but, the GT XPro represents a design that is the very top of the line. This tripod is available in either an aluminium or carbon fiber design and weighs around 4 lbs. The main advantage of the tripod is its portability and aid in macro photography.
Photographers can offset the column mechanism by 90-degrees and use it for macro photography. The tripod has an intuitive design, with controls that are very convenient to use. The tripod legs feature an M-lock system that allows photographers to quickly and easily secure any given section.
There are three main angle options that photographers can choose between, and the height ranges from 9-163 cm. The tripod also features a light Manfrotto 496 ball head that allows for pano rotation.
Another brilliant feature is the attachment system of this aluminium and carbon fiber tripod because its cut-outs make it possible to fold the tripod’s legs as close as possible. The folded legs can give photographers access to multiple angles that other tripods cannot match.
When it comes to finding the right angles, the 496-ball head mount of this tripod really makes a difference. There are two individual knobs on the ball head, one controls the tilt, and the other is for panning.
While it may not offer the maximum extension or the highest load capacity, it’s a jack of all trades that manages to do all jobs we expect from a tripod well. When we were testing out this tripod, it didn’t particularly stand out at anything but it managed to do everything we expected, that’s why it earns our most versatile ranking.
- Weight: 3.6 lbs
- Height (contracted): 25.6 inches
- Height (extended): 68.9 inches
- Max Load Capacity: 17.5 lbs
- Number of legs sections: 3
- Top Attachment: 3/8-inch screw
- Extra Features: Four leg angles, Q90 Center Column
Manfrotto has a reputation for offering some of the best compact tripods on the market. That’s why a lot of their offerings start competing with one another on our list of best tripods under $500. It features a magnesium and carbon fiber construction and has 4 section legs.
Each of the legs comes with a quick release locking mechanism. Photographers can also lock the legs in four different angles to get the best pictures possible with this tripod. The quick center column system of this carbon fiber tripod ensures that photographers can easily mount and remove the tripod when important.
One of the best qualities of the Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 Center Column Tripod is the rigidity. This tripod has great balance, and it is almost impossible to move unintentionally. It features 3 layered carbon tubes that ensure the tripod is as stable as possible. These tubes help ensure that the Manfrotto tripod is lighter and offers better portability than the competition.
The feet may not have spikes built into them, but the Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod still feels very stable on both soft and hard ground. It features a stiff frame that further helps improve stability. The center column can be removed completely and find use as a lateral arm.
Manfrotto is the premier organization when it comes to making lightweight travel tripods. The 055CXPRO3 is a great option for studio and outdoor photography. The Manfrotto 055CXPRO3 just falls from our top choices because it doesn’t feature a single piece center column which is important in tripods in this price range.
- Weight: 11 lbs
- Height (contracted): 31.5 inches
- Height (extended): 63.8 inches
- Max Load Capacity: 17.6 lbs
- Number of leg sections: 3
- Top Attachment: 3/8-inch
- Extra Features: pan ; tilt lock, 4-step counterbalance, illuminated bubble level
Professional photographers may need a little more oomph than what a travel tripod can provide. That’s where the Benro S8 tripod with a pro video handle comes into the equation. It’s a complete package that has been designed for high-quality video production, thanks to the video head, and it is ideal for photography.
The S8 tripod with a video head can easily support any camera that weighs up to 17.6 lbs. That’s more than enough load capacity to easily handle even the heaviest professional equipment. It features an aluminum construction to ensure that the tripod is as stable as possible.
Due to its video production purpose, the mount head features multiple knobs for controlling the pan and the tilt. All this is because of the S8 pro video head. Photographers also have the opportunity to lock legs in at different angles.
Another smart feature is the presence of a four-step adjustable counterbalance on this video head tripod. The counterbalance’s presence helps ensure that the tripod can compensate for the different-sized camera and can adapt to multiple centers of gravity.
Benefits and Potential issues of tripods under $500
For those that have already started their photography journey, $500 represents the perfect amount to invest in a tripod. One of the best benefits of buying the best tripod under $500 is that it leaves you free to experiment and see a few different options. Photographers can see which type of tripod suits their needs the best.
One of the major benefits of choosing tripods between the $300-$500 range is that they are good value for money. Instead of getting a bare bones budget tripod, photographers give themselves the opportunity to get tripods that provide a number of different features. The most significant difference we have noticed when using tripods in this price range is the upgrade on quality. While still not on the level of more premium tripods, you can expect decent quality from this price range.
However, $500 isn’t going to cut it when you’re looking to invest in a professional tripod. There are several tripods options that are significantly more expensive, and there are major reasons behind the higher price. One issue with tripods under $500 is the material that is involved. While the modern and latest tripod models under $500 offer better construction, not all of them are ideal.
Another issue with tripods under $500 is that the user experience isn’t on the same level compared to the premium range. The most expensive and high-quality tripods offer an incredibly memorable user experience. Everything is designed to function perfectly. Budget tripods may feature good quality material, but still the user experience isn’t on the same level.
Another issue that might arise with tripods under the price of $500 is reliability. They might not be able to perform on the same standard on every photography trip and they might not last as long as the professional ones.
Is it worth buying a more expensive tripod than $500?
There are several tripods on the market with a price of more than $500. It can be daunting and tempting to invest more than $500 on a tripod. However, you need to ask yourself whether the extra money spent will get you a full featured professional tripod and whether the investment is worth it considering your photography experience level.
Professional tripods represent some of the best of the best tripods on the market. They offer the best features and are typically made of the best material. If you’re looking for the best tripod, here all the reasons why spending more than $500 on a tripod can be worth the money.
One of the major reasons individuals will invest more than $500 on a high end tripod is that they have significantly better build quality. The best tripods are constructed with better materials and need to meet higher quality assurance standards. Some of the most common options for building tripods are either aluminum or carbon fiber.
Most high end tripods are made of carbon fiber or a combination of carbon and magnesium. The material has a higher strength to weight ratio and is lighter than traditional aluminum tripods. It also has better vibration damping characteristics that help maximize image sharpness and perform better.
Another reason why photographers might spend more than $500 on a tripod is reliability. That reliability becomes more evident as you progress forward into the longer term. Budget tripods might work adequately for a certain amount of time. Still, they’re more likely to present issues sooner or later and make tripod photography challenging.
With proper maintenance and care, it’s definitely possible for a professional tripod to last ten years or even more. When they are out on the field, it’s definitely possible to notice the difference in build quality. You can always count on a professional tripod, no matter the weather conditions.
Better User Experience
Many people might understate this factor, but a lot of budget tripods aren’t a lot of fun to use. If using the tripod isn’t fun, it’s also going to mean that the quality of images may suffer.
Tripods with the better build quality and a more intuitive design are a lot more fun to use. The best tripods provide photographers with a significantly better user experience. Your image taking abilities will definitely benefit after investing in a tripod that offers an optimal user experience.
All in all, when starting out, it’s better to invest in a budget tripod. However, as you gain more experience, there are different advantages to investing in a high-quality tripod.
When it comes to the best tripod under $500, the Vanguard Alta Pro 2 263CV Carbon Fiber and the Manfrotto GT X Pro are some of the best options. The Vanguard Alta Pro 2 263CV Carbon Fiber makes use of incredibly high quality material and the Manfrotto GT X is incredibly versatile and covers all the requirements of a tripod. However, they lag behind the overall performance of Benro Travel Angel 2 Series Carbon Fiber Tripod. The Benro provides the best combination of height, portability, and user experience. It also has an excellent carbon fiber build. We certainly think it’s one of the best tripods that photographers can buy for under $500 in 2021.
For more related articles please visit our website www.Mytraveltripod.com.
Eva is one of the co-founders of MyTravelTripod. She is in charge of the market research and strategic planning of the website. She also enjoys working on the visual designs of the website.
She has one 5 year old daughter and thirteen tripods.
In her free time, she likes hiding under the bedsheets reading her science fiction novels.