TripodsThere's nothing more stable than the classic design of a three-legged tripod. Flashpoint F-1228 carbon-fiber tripods provide the sturdiness that you need at an affordable price. The four-section leg set will extend to a maximum height of 60 inches, and the tripod's weight of only 3.3 pounds can support up to 17.6 pounds, which is ideal for combining with the 11-pound maximum capacity of the Flashpoint F-2 magnesium-alloy ballhead. Estimated Street Price: $179 (tripod); $56 (ballhead).
A good companion for today's weather-sealed camera bodies, the Gitzo Ocean Traveler GK1581OT tripod is designed for photographers who spend a lot of time braving the elements. It features stainless-steel castings, a first for tripods, and Ocean-Lock, the next generation of Gitzo's G-Lock leg-lock system. The Ocean-Lock uses inserts at both ends of the carbon-fiber leg tubes to help prevent water, sand, dust and debris from entering and ruining the legs and locking mechanisms. The stainless-steel center ballhead also can be disassembled for cleaning, and extra grease is supplied to lubricate the head once it has been rebuilt. Estimated Street Price: $1,200.
Modern tripods can carry more weight while weighing less themselves due to a variety of advancements, including hybrid material construction, new manufacturing processes and chemical finishes. Thanks to durable magnesium castings that reduce the weight of their tripods by about 30 percent, the Giottos MG four-section series of magnesium and carbon-fiber tripods, the MG8240B and MG8250B, are ultra-lightweight at only 1.9 and 2.3 pounds, respectively—yet they can hold a maximum load capacity of 6.6 and 11 pounds each. The leg tubes are made from tough carbon fiber, and the tripods are easily maneuverable, with three leg positions and quick-release locks. Estimated Street Price: $335 (MG8240B); $385 (MG8250B).
The three-section 055CX3 tripod from Manfrotto uses 100-percent carbon-fiber leg tubes for rigid construction and a convenient carrying weight. The aluminum center column includes an adapter for conversion to a short column, which is great for keeping low-to-the-ground shots and macro photography tack-sharp. Estimated Street Price: $349.