Tripods & Supports

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Capturing sharp photos requires sturdy legs. Yes, that means adding more to your load, but few accessories are as essential as a tripod. Lenses and cameras with image stabilization definitely help, but nothing ensures sharpness like a tripod. Plus, a tripod locks in your composition for careful review before you shoot and prevents you from accidentally changing it as you’re taking the shot.

The key, of course, is finding one that works for you. If space or price is an issue, there are tripod alternatives. A mini-tripod will save you room, but make sure it can handle the weight of the camera and lenses you use. Another option is a monopod, which is lighter but also less steady. Softer supports, like beanbags, also can come in handy.


Benro Carbon Travel Angel

If you do a lot of traveling, the Benro Carbon Travel Angel is a good choice because when folded, the tripod is just 14.6 inches long and fits easily into a backpack or suitcase. Model TRCB269 features a load capacity of 26.4 pounds, weighs 3.5 pounds and lengthens to 61.3 inches with the center column extended. The legs can be independently locked into place

Cullmann Magnesit 532C

at two different angles, making it possible to shoot on uneven terrain or in tight spaces. It also comes with a shoulder strap and carrying case. Estimated Street Price: $482.

The Cullmann Magnesit 532C uses strong, yet lightweight die-cast magnesium parts and vibration-cushioned carbon legs to deliver optimal stability. The legs lock quickly and securely, thanks to a newly developed leg-clamping design. Height ranges from 25 inches to 72 inches, and you can position the camera as low as 12 inches for ground-level exposures. The 532C supports up to 26 pounds while weighing 4.6 pounds. It also comes with adjustable steel spikes, a separable center column and foam casing on the upper legs for protection against bumps and damage. Estimated Street Price: $375.

Davis & Sanford ATPX10

The weather-resistant aluminum and stainless-steel construction of the Davis & Sanford ATPX10 make it an ideal choice if you do a lot of outdoor shooting. Flat, pointed feet that can pivot are able to adjust to any terrain, and the rectangular-shaped legs are designed to work well in muddy conditions. The reversible center column allows you to get low to the ground or as high as 66 inches. Without the column, height ranges from 23 to 61 inches. The


tripod comes with the FX10 three-way head with quick release, can support a 35-pound load capacity and weighs seven pounds. Estimated Street Price: $199.

For a long time, the only choices of leg material were wood or aluminum. Enter carbon fiber. Consisting of multiple layers of crossed-ply carbon fibers, these tripods weigh less, dampen surface vibration and have a solid build. But they’re also more expensive. The affordable Flashpoint F-1328 is a heavy-duty carbon-fiber tripod that extends to 63 inches, yet its four-section legs collapse to a carrying size of 21 inches, making it ideal for travel. Weighing in at just four pounds, the F-1328 supports 24 pounds and has a separable center column for ground-level use. Estimated Street Price: $269.

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Giottos MTL9240B-5011SB

Convenience and flexibility combine in the Giottos MTL9240B-5011SB tripod/head system. Each of the four-section, flip-lock legs can be set to three different angles, and neoprene rubber grips ensure a comfortable, secure hold for easy transport. The three-way 5011SB pan/tilt head has a built-in safety-lock quick-release system. A retractable hook at the bottom of the center column adds weight if necessary. Rubber pads on the bottom of

Gitzo Explorer GT2540EX

each leg and a built-in bubble level make setup easier. It extends from 11.3 inches to 60.5 inches, holds 6.6 pounds and weighs three pounds. Estimated Street Price: $141.

If you shoot in tight spaces, close to the ground or at other odd angles, the Gitzo Explorer series offers an in
novative solution. Set the legs to any angle and move them independently while the center column tilts and rotates freely to any position. The column can tilt from vertical to beyond horizontal, rotate 360 degrees and lock at any angle in between. Shoot with a Gitzo off-center ballhead for even more freedom to take unconventional shots. It weighs four pounds, supports 26.4 pounds and features the G-Lock leg-locking system. Estimated Street Price: $675.

Induro Carbon Fiber 8X CT-Series

The latest generation of Induro Carbon Fiber 8X CT-Series and Aluminum Alloy 8M AT-Series tripods feature higher load capacities, greater stability and a more rugged build. Ergonomic leg-lock grips and a textured rubber surface provide a better grip. The center column is larger for increased stability, and a threaded accessory mount socket allows attachment of articulated arms, clamps and other mounting devices directly to the tripod. Induro is one of the few manufacturers to make its own

Manfrotto 055CX

carbon-fiber tubing, while the aluminum is made of a high-grade alloy. Estimated Street Price: TBA.

The Manfrotto 055CX series carbon-fiber tripods are built with 100-percent carbon-fiber tubes for optimal rigidity while maintaining a lightweight frame. The innovative Q90° center column can be used horizontally without removing the head or the column. The three-section 055CXPRO3 and four-section 055CXPRO4 models feature legs that adjust to four different angles and an integrated bubble level. The PRO3 ranges from 4.5 inches to 68.9 inches, weighs 3.6 pounds and can support 17.6 pounds. The PRO4 ranges from 4.5 inches to 66.9 inches, weighs 3.7 pounds and also supports 17.6 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $399 (PRO3); $419 (PRO4).


Berlebach Mini Leveling Wood Tripod

When space and stability matter equally, a mini-tripod offers an ideal solution. The Berlebach Mini Leveling Wood Tripod is a two-section tabletop tripod that includes a built-in leveling head. Height ranges from four inches to 15 inches, and it weighs two pounds, yet supports 17.6 pounds. A lever under the camera platform allows the top plate to tilt

Joby Gorillapod SLR

±15 degrees in all directions for easy camera leveling. Wood tripods are especially well suited for dampening vibration. Estimated Street Price: $288.

With legs featuring joints that can bend and rotate 360 degrees, the Joby Gorillapod SLR is a versatile compact tripod that attaches to unusual surfaces like tree trunks and railings. Setup is instant, thanks to a quick-release clip with bubble level that keeps the camera connected and level. Rubberized ring and foot grips deliver enhanced stability on


rough terrain. It supports 1.75 pounds. The SLR-Zoom holds heavier cameras up to 6.5 pounds and can be used with a new ballhead that pans 360 degrees with a 90-degree tilt. Estimated Street Price: $39 (SLR); $49 (SLR-Zoom); $44 (ballhead).

The Slik SPRINT MINI II GM has a collapsible height of just 14 inches and weighs a mere 1.6 pounds. The padded legs provide a comfortable grip while carrying. Extending to a height of 43.3 inches, the tripod also is ideal for more general use, and a built-in short center column makes it a good choice for doing macro work with a minimum height of just 6.4 inches from the ground. The main center column also can be reversed for low-angle shooting. The MINI II GM holds up to 3.5 pounds. Estimated Street Price: $75.

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In addition to less weight, monopods offer more freedom to move the camera around while


keeping it steady for tack-sharp images. The Monostat-RS lineup of

Sunpak PRO 724M

monopods comes with some truly unique features like the Swivel Toe Stabilizer, which lets you shoot at up to a 60-degree angle from horizontal. The toe also provides a solid grip on slippery surfaces. Each model features Anti Rotation Tubing for quick setup and is available in aluminum or carbon fiber. Estimated Street Price: Starts at $165.

The Sunpak PRO 724M carbon-fiber monopod features four carbon-fiber leg sections with twist locks and extends from 19 inches to 63 inches. It’s lightweight, absorbs vibrations and provides the strength to support up to 11 pounds—a pro D-SLR with long lens—while w
eighing just a tenth of that at just over a pound. A neoprene grip offers comfortable handling in any climate, and a retractable spiked rubber foot provides good grip on any surface. Estimated Street Price: $74.

The BushHawk 320D is a padded shoulder mount that uses a trigger to fire your camera with an included shutter-release cord. A double-handed grip allows you to

BushHawk 320D

hold the system comfortably, and there’s a neoprene adjustable grip strap for right- or

VariZoom FlowPod

left-handed shooting. It’s available as a kit that includes a window pod, sling strap, hard case for cords and nylon carrying bag. It comes in Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony mounts. Estimated Street Price: $250.

If you shoot with one of the HD-video-capable D-SLRs, the VariZoom FlowPod is a unique stabilization device that allows you to pan more easily than a conventional tripod. It can be used like a monopod, but lets you move the camera and still shoot steady images. There are three modes—Monopod, Stabilizer and Low. You can record smooth video sequences in Stabilizer mode and quickly switch to Monopod mode for capturing stills. Estimated Street Price: $499 (FlowPod with balancing plate).


Giottos MH5011

Kirk Enterprises BH-3

Really Right Stuff BH-40

The two most popular types of tripod heads are the ballhead and three-way pan-tilt head. A ballhead allows you to move the camera to any position and quickly lock it into place by twisting a single knob. A pan-tilt head lets you adjust each axis separately. For the most part, both types come with quick-release plates that allow you to remove the camera for handheld shots and attach it for tripod-mounted shooting easily.

The compact Giottos MH5011 three-way pan/tilt head features a built-in safety-lock quick-release system, two bubble levels and large rubber control handles. It weighs less than a pound, supports up to 13 pounds and easily mounts to most tripods. Estimated Street Price: $59.

The Kirk Enterprises BH-3 panning ballhead weighs 19 ounces and supports up to 15 pounds. A single knob releases and locks the ball, while two smaller knobs control the 360-degree panning base and adjust friction. A new quick-release platform with built-in spirit level accepts Arca-style plates and mounts. Aluminum, brass and stainless-steel construction delivers a rugged build. Estimated Street Price: $265.

The BH-40 from Really Right Stuff is designed for medium-sized lenses such as the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 and 300mm ƒ/4. It can handle up to 18 pounds while weighing just 13 ounces. It’s available with quick-release clamps, a plain platform or a panning clamp. Estimated Street Price: $375 (BH-40 LR).

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