Let’s say you’re looking for a photo tripod or a video tripod that’s under $100. There are a lot of cheap tripods to choose from but are any of them good? We’ll go through the top candidates below:
Candidates for best tripod under $100:
Manfrotto is one of the best known tripod manufacturers with a reputation for making solid quality gear. Their sub-$100 tripods are primarily meant for photographers though in an pinch you could use them for shooting video with a small camcorder as well. This particular Manfrotto tripod is under $100 and features a ball head, meaning it’s quick and easy to level. It has a very respectable maximum height of 65 inches (5.5 feet) and folds down into just 18 inches when collapsed.
Another nice feature of the Manfrotto Compact Advanced Tripod is that it has a quick release latch which lets you pull a lever to release the camera from its mount, take a few photos or some video handheld with the quick release plate still attached., and then easily put it back on the tripod.
Max height: 65 inches
Min height: 18 inches
Leg sections: 5
Weight: 3 pounds
Load capacity: 6.6 pounds
Fluid head tripods allow for especially smooth panning and tilting and other camera movements so they’re ideal for shooting video. This cheap tripod under $100 by Magnus supports a still or video camera as heavy as 15 pounds and has a generously pan handle for the price. It also has a bubble level which can help get it set up straight on uneven surfaces by adjusting the length of some of one or two of the legs. Also includes quick release plate. The Magnus VT-300 also has a mid-level spreader which allows you to quickly open and close the tripod and also improves stability while you’re panning or making other camera movements. Comes with its own carrying case and shoulder strap for portability as well as adjustable feet.
Max height: 64 inches
Min height: 29 inches
Leg sections: 3
Weight: 6 pounds
Load capacity: 15 pounds
This tripod by budget camera gear maker Neewer extends to reach about 60 inches in height (5 feet) and is an ideal photo tripod or compact video tripod. It features a ball head design which is easy to level using the built in bubble level, especially on uneven ground. This cheap photo/video tripod also comes with a quick release plate that allows you to easily slide your camera off the tripod, shoot handheld for a moment, then return it easily to the tripod. Note that this tripod does not come with a pan handle so if you’re shooting video that may not be ideal and you may want to consider one of the other tripods under $100 listed in this article.
Made of a sturdy aluminum alloy. Comes with its own carrying bag.
Max height: 62 inches
Min height: 17 inches
Leg sections: 4
Weight: 4 pounds
Load capacity: 17 pounds
This cheap tripod for video is sturdier than most tripods under $100 and can accept cameras up to 13 pounds in weight which includes any DSLR as well as most small to mid size camcorders and many professional cameras as well. It features a fluid head and long handle for panning left and right smoothly as well as tilting up and down. Because the handle is detachable it can also attach on either side of the tripod depending on if the user is right or left handed. With a mid-height spreader and length adjustment dials, this budget tripod can be deployed rapidly. Comes with a carrying bag.
Max height: 55 inches
Min height: 30 inches
Leg sections: 4
Weight: 12 pounds
Load capacity: 13 pounds
This Pantan tripod for still photography or video has the highest load capacity of any of the tripods less than $100 listed in this article. It can securely hold up to about 40 pounds of camera load and includes a carrying case with a strap. It has a short panning handle that’s detachable. It also features a quick release plate for detaching your camera and re-attaching it efficiently (the plate stays stuck to the bottom of your camera until you’re ready to put it back on or put the entire tripod away). Also includes a built in bubble level to tell if you’ve got the tripod aligned straight on uneven surfaces like hills.
Max height: 72 inches
Min height: 26 inches
Leg sections: 4
Weight: 7 pounds
Load capacity: 44 pounds
Frequently asked questions about cheap tripods
What is the most important factor to consider when choosing a tripod?
This is an impossible question to answer without knowing more about how you will use it but here are a few common factors that people care about when choosing a tripod:
- Does this tripod have a fluid head for smooth panning when I’m shooting video?
- Will this tripod each up to be the height I want it to be?
- Is this tripod big and bulky and heavy?
- Can this tripod support the types of cameras I’m going to be using on it?
- Does this tripod have a panning handle for shooting video?
What is a fluid head tripod?
A tripod with a fluid head has actual liquid inside it that makes the panning or tilting motions you make while shooting video silky smooth instead of jerky or stutter-y. You may not need a fluid head tripod if you’re shooting still photos but if you’re planning to shoot video, a fluid head tripod is often extremely useful. Fluid head tripods tend to be a bit more expensive and in some cases slightly bulkier than non-fluid head tripods.
What is the difference between a ball head vs a pan and tilt head?
A ball head centers around exactly what you think: a ball joint. It can rotate, tilt, pan or adjust and lock to nearly any angle, if positioned correctly. Meanwhile a pan and tilt tripod head will be able to mimic many of those same motions but in order to reach certain angles you will need to adjust two things (both levers and locks for panning and tilting) instead of just one (locking and unlocking the ball joint). Some videographers and photographers may find ball joint tripods easier to deal with because they allow for faster setup and easy leveling on uneven surfaces.