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Every videographer aims to shoot stable shots that tilt and span smoothly without a shaky appearance. However, this might not be the case if you don't equip yourself with the best video tripod. In the review below, we will help you identify the right video tripod for you.
Equipping your video gear with the best video tripod will make all the difference in your shooting experience, especially when it comes to video stability. Below, we focus on everything you may need to know about video tripods.
The Manfrotto Professional is specifically designed for the modern interchangeable lens DSLRs and HDSLRs, with a 75mm half ball mount. The head comes with a pre-set counterbalance of around 8.8 pounds, but overall, the tripod can support camera gear of up to 15.4 pounds.
The head features two link connectors that enhance the fitting of an external monitor or accessory to the head. Unlike the Manfrotto Travel Befree Live, it comes with a telescopic mid-level spreader that enhances accurate angle settings.
Thanks to the rubber overshoes and spiked feet, the tripod is stable and secure even on uneven grounds and slippery floors. It weighs 12.13 pounds, making it unsuitable for carrying around. However, the maximum height of 64.76 inches is less impressive than that of Manfrotto 290 Xtra.
The Manfrotto Lightweight is a twin leg tripod that comes with a 60mm half ball fluid video head that ensures fine control and smooth shots. The platform is wide enough for HDSLR, with a slide plate that facilitates the use of modern cameras.
It comes with fluid cartridges on the tilt and pan axis that helps to enhance precise and smooth control of the camera movement. It features leg-locking collars and advanced ellipse-profile tubing, which improves stability and rigidity.
Unlike the Manfrotto Professional, it comes with a maximum load capacity of 11.02 pounds, making it ideal in supporting heavy interchangeable lens cameras.
Also, the feet are equipped with rubber overshoes which increases grip when shooting on slippery surfaces such as floors. Unlike the Manfrotto Travel Befree Live, it weighs 8.36 pounds, limiting its portability.
The National Geographic Travel tripod features an aluminum construction which makes it lightweight, sturdy, and compact. Typically, this video tripod can extend to a maximum height of 65 inches, and you can fold it to 16 inches, making it suitable for carrying in camera bags and backpacks.
Besides, to enhance the precise control and smoothness when shooting videos, the head comes with two fluid heads that work independently, one for tilt and the other for the pan. Unlike the Manfrotto Lightweight, it weighs 3.28 pounds, making it convenient to carry when traveling.
However, the lightweight construction affects the overall stability, yet it doesn't come with a hook to connect to a weight when using in trying situations. The support for 13 pounds is ideal for heavy camera gear, better than the one in models like the Manfrotto Professional.
The Benro Aero 4 uses folding legs, making it compact enough for carrying in a camera bag, rolling case, or backpack. It features a flat base fluid head which enhances both tilt and pans for a precise and smooth camera motion.
It is equipped with an advanced leveling column that facilitates accurate and swift leveling, ensuring the horizontal pans are straight and level. Also, it comes with a built-in bubble level which ensures accurate alignment.
The aluminum-made reversing folding stands come with flip lockers, which ensure independent adjustment of the leg angle. Although the maximum load capacity of 8.8 pounds is impressive, it's less compared to Manfrotto 290 Xtra.
It comes with a weight hook, allowing you to secure it to the ground. It weighs 5.85 pounds, which is heavier than the Manfrotto 290 Xtra, making it inconvenient for carrying.
The Manfrotto 290 Xtra is a versatile video tripod that comes with flip locks that allows you to change the leg's height individually. It comes with four leg angles which provide flexibility on ways to place the tripod.
It features rubber feet which enhances traction even when you are using it on uneven or slippery grounds such as slippery floors. Unlike Benro Aero 4, with a maximum load capacity of 11 pounds, you can use this tripod with heavy mirrorless cameras or flashlights.
It comes with a quick-release plate, enhancing the attaching and detaching of a camera using a flip lever, making it easier to use, especially in places where you frequently need to change the camera.
Although lighter than Benro Aero 4, it weighs 5.6 pounds which is unsuitable for carrying around in a handbag.
The Manfrotto Travel Befree Live features a distinguished design with traveling and portability in mind. Like the Benro Aero 4, it comes with a fluid video head that can support camera gear of up to 8.8 pounds while realizing a smooth pan and tilt.
You will have peace of mind when using it on uneven surfaces as the leveling ball facilitates excellent horizontal alignment. In case you are using it in trying situations, it comes with a hook that allows you to attach a weight to improve stability.
It weighs 3.6 pounds, lightweight enough to carry in a backpack or camera bag when traveling. However, it has a maximum height of 59.06 inches, which is less appealing compared to Manfrotto 290 Xtra.
The Vanguard VEO 2 PRO comes with a modern, sleek design that incorporates unique features for video shooting, making it ideal for hunting and bird-watching videography applications.
Unlike National Geographic Travel, it features camera shock and vibration control which helps dampen the vibration and reduce camera shake even when you are using it in a moving vehicle.
Also, it comes with a 2-way pan head which ensures a smooth camera controlling experience. It features spiked feet, which helps in maintaining grip and stability when using in uneven grounds, improving usage versatility.
However, unlike Manfrotto Lightweight, it comes with a less impressive capacity of 8.8 pounds. With a weight of 3.3 pounds, it's the second most lightweight and suitable for carrying when traveling.
The Benro S2 comes with a sturdy construction of carbon fiber and stainless steel, making it reliable and durable. It's equipped with a quick-release plate that allows you to attach and detach your camera gear easily, making it ideal for situations where you change the camera frequently.
Like the Manfrotto Lightweight, the feet are rubberized and spiked, making it ideal for use on slippery grounds due to the improved grip. Although it's heavier than Vanguard VEO 2 PRO, it weighs 3.8 pounds which is lightweight enough to carry in a bag.
Also, it features a leg flip-lock function, which prevents flipping, ensuring the camera is secure. However, unlike the Benro Aero 4, the maximum load capacity of 5.5 pounds is unsuitable for heavy camera gear.
If you are planning to get yourself a new video tripod, choosing the best from the many options in the market might be challenging. Fortunately, below are the essential attributes you should consider when deciding.
Additionally, the chart provides you with an overview of the varying features of these video tripods.
|Product||Maximum Load Capacity (Pounds)||Maximum Height (Inches)||Weight (Pounds)|
|Benro Aero 4||8.8||52.56||5.85|
|Manfrotto 290 Xtra||11||66.7||5.6|
|Manfrotto Travel Befree Live||8.8||59.06||3.6|
|National Geographic Travel||13||65||3.28|
|Vanguard VEO 2 PRO||8.8||57.5||3.3|
The camera is connected to a plate on a tripod. Typically on small or cheap tripods, this is a solid plate with a mounted screw mount that connects directly to the bottom of the camera.
However, advanced video tripods such as Benro S2 come with a release plate. These quick-release plates are convenient and enable you to detach or attach the camera more quickly.
A quick-release plate is particularly important for single-camera shooters, especially when you quickly switch from tripod mount to handheld. You can also leave the camera plate attached when storing the camera to make subsequent mounting quicker.
The tripod's head materials and design significantly affect its ability to capture smooth, beautiful slopes, pan, and tilts. With cinematography and videography, it's almost impossible to achieve smooth movement without the use of the right head. The pan-and-tilt and ball heads are the main types of video tripod heads.
The pan and tilt head enables you to set your tripod head around the axis individually by loosening and tightening the adjusting knob. This knob can have a knob's arm connected to this button, and so with this head style, you can swipe up and down or left to right.
On the other hand, the ball head comes with a ball and socket design. When connected, the ball moves freely at its joints like in the Manfrotto Travel Befree Live.
You can use a knob to squeeze and hold the ball and safeguard it to its place. Movements are regulated with this knob, which usually has an arm connected to it.
As the name suggests, fluid heads are sealed with lubricating oil. This lubrication allows the head to move when turning or tilting smoothly. As these video heads use liquids, it should be noted that not all are suitable for working in extreme temperatures.
The best tripod head moves 360 degrees and tilts +/- 90 degrees, like that of Benro Aero 4. The pressure in the head fluid can be corrected or adjusted.
The adjustments, known as dragging, offer you more control over your movements. The heads are attached to the tripod legs using a flat or a ball mount.
Most video/film tripods have a handle or a control arm for rotating and tilting. However, some tripods have options for handling mounting. Some models, such as Manfrotto Professional, offer the option of using a second handle for better control.
However, you can use this second handle as a mounting point for additional zoom and focus controls. Two-stage telescopic arms are very useful when using remote controls.
Many tripods in the market have carbon fiber or aluminum legs. Aluminum is generally inexpensive, while carbon fiber is significantly stronger and lighter. For instance, the Benro S2 comes with carbon fiber leg construction, making it more sturdy than the others on our list.
Although the material of the legs doesn't really affect the tripod's performance, the weight might be different.
Many manufacturers include the weight of the legs or tripods. Finally, you need to decide if the difference in weight is worth the cost.
The video tripod legs are usually one-legged or two tandem legs. Double legs provide additional stability and support and are often the only option for carrying high payloads. The number of telescopic parts that make up the base must also be taken into account.
The more stages or pieces the tripod has, the smaller the folded size. However, multiple leg sections can also result in slightly longer set-up times and a bit heavier to transport.
When considering the tripod's maximum payload, you need to take into account more than the camera's weight. Some lenses weigh more, and also the weight may not be evenly distributed.
Tripod balance issues can be caused by extra weights of the external recorders and larger batteries that are attached to the back of the camera. Finally, you should consider the extra weight of anything you attach to the camera bracket, such as microphones or lights.
The weight capacity of tripod heads is rated, and it is very crucial not to exceed this weight because it can damage the head. If you want to avoid such scenarios, it's advisable to go for a video tripod with a high payload, such as National Geographic Travel.
Fluid from the head creates a cushion that stabilizes your shots. If you surpass your head weight limits, it will affect your cushioning capacity. This makes shooting problematic to the operator.
Although it is not important, it's good to have a perfect match bubble level on the tripod head and the other one on the tripod stand. You will not need to use a bubble level much if you have a digital level in your camera.
If you don't have either, attachment of a bubble level to your camera hot shoe can be done. Fortunately, some video tripods, such as Benro Aero 4, come with a bubble level.
You can mount your camera once the tripod is secure and in place. Ball heads that require only one lever to loosen and tighten are the best, meaning you can position your camera in the right position just with two lever turns.
Getting a ball head that will allow you to switch quickly between portrait and landscape, such as Manfrotto 290 Xtra, is also important.
As a videographer, your aim is to shoot smooth tilting and panning shots. Also, you want your hands free, so you can adjust the lights and lenses. However, not all video tripods can give you this versatility and stability. Fortunately, any pick from the above list won't disappoint.