Best Tripod For Super Telephoto Lenses

By | 26/10/2022

Today, we will help yous find the best heavy-duty tripod for your photography. Merely showtime, a lesson I learned about tripods.

I flew to Kiruna, Sweden, a few years agone to see the northern lights. I got up early on in the morn to photograph the frozen Torne river, and my tripod broke! Absolutely, it was -13 F (-25 C). But it was still a fleck of a shock. How was I going to photograph the aurora borealis without a tripod?

Fortunately, i of the other guests lent me hers. But I learned an of import lesson. There’s no substitute for a sturdy tripod when taking pictures in extreme weather. Buying a cheap and cheerful i is a false economy. What you demand is a stable tripod that won’t allow yous down!

Picture of photographer kneeling with tripod
© Nick Dale

[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If y’all use one of these and buy something, we make a little money. Need more than info? See how information technology all works here.]


The 7 Best Heavy-Duty Tripods

Hither’s our listing of the all-time carbon fiber and aluminum models on the market. If you desire to know what to look for in a heavy-duty tripod, read our ownership guide at the end of this article.

7. iii Legged Thing Winston 2.0

Picture of 3 Legged Thing Winston 2.0 heavy duty tripod

The British-made iii Legged Thing Winston 2.0 tripod comes in earth bronze or metallic slate gray and scores well in all the major categories. The caput can back up a maximum load of 66 lbs ii oz (thirty kg)—which is more than you could ever possibly need. The elevation range of 5.7 inches (fourteen.5 cm) to 6 ft iv.4 inches (ane.94 chiliad) also lets you accept pictures while continuing upward—unless you’re even taller than I am at 6 feet 3 inches!

This 8-layer carbon fiber tripod weighs only iv lb 8 oz (two.05 kg). The folded length of 24.ane inches (61.2 cm) is endurable unless you want to put it inside your camera bag. In that case, you’d be better off with the Leo ii.0, which folds downwardly to only 14.vii inches (37.3 cm).

Once you’ve mounted your camera, the tripod shows great stability. You lot tin fifty-fifty convert it into a monopod, boom, or tabletop version. On the other hand, there’s no thread on the crown to mount accessories, like an iPhone mount. And in that location’due south no quick-release mechanism to remove your photographic camera.

Price:
$$

Pros:

  • Great stability
  • Heavy maximum load
  • Lightweight materials and construction
  • Yous can use information technology at eye level continuing up
  • Low minimum height good for macro work
  • Versatile center cavalcade
  • Choice of colors

Cons:

  • Long folded length
  • No cheaper aluminum version
  • No accessories thread on the crown
  • No quick-release mechanism

6. ZoMei Z818

Picture of ZoMei Z818 heavy duty tripod

The orangish or blueish ZoMei Z818 is an affordable, all-weather aluminum tripod that copes well with heavy DSLR lenses. It also converts into a monopod if you lot screw together the center column and one of the legs.

The combination of magnesium and aluminum used in its construction means it’southward quite light at 3.7 lbs (i.7 kg). The whole affair is also weather-sealed using anodic oxidation. So information technology’s perfect for extreme conditions.

The legs come up in four sections. And y’all can hold them at three dissimilar angles. They have independent twist locks to fix or release them. Yous can also fold them dorsum 180 degrees then that the whole tripod measures only xviii inches (45.7 cm).

The maximum meridian of 65 inches (165 cm) is a petty on the low side if you’re alpine. And the minimum height of 22 inches (55.9 cm) is a piffling on the loftier side if you similar to get down low to accept wildlife or macro shots.

But it has a 360-caste panorama brawl head with individual head tension and lock knobs. It also has a pan lock to assistance you adjust it to the verbal position and keep it there.

Finally, you get a few useful features, like the column hook underneath the eye column. And information technology has a convenient quick-release plate (with a built-in spirit level) that lets you release your camera at the push of a push button.

Toll:
$

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Includes an adjustable ball caput
  • Converts into a monopod
  • Curt folded length
  • Weather sealed
  • Includes cavalcade claw
  • Quick-release plate

Cons:

  • Not suitable for ground-level shooting
  • Non high enough to use at eye level if you’re alpine

5. FLM CP34-L4 Two

Picture of FLM CP34 L4 II heavy duty tripod

This heavy-duty tripod was designed in Germany only built in China. The FLM CP34-L4 2 is a black, systematic, Series 3 carbon cobweb tripod. And it’s relatively affordable.

It offers good stability and vibration resistance. And it ticks virtually all the boxes when it comes to heavy-duty camera tripods:

  • Its maximum weight capacity is 72.75 lbs (33 kg).
  • Its height range is four.five inches (11.three cm) to 68.three inches (173.five cm).
  • Its folded length is 23.6 inches (60 cm).
  • Its weight is 4.three lbs (one.95 kg).

The x-layer carbon fiber legs come up in iv sections and simply slide out of the tubes when unlocked. Y’all don’t demand to pull or milk shake them to accomplish full extension.

The platform has a cork and rubber composite pad on tiptop of information technology to dampen vibrations and ensure a firm grip on whatever head yous install. There are also 3 plastic screws arranged around the heart that y’all tin can tighten with a hex wrench (or Allen cardinal) if you lot desire fifty-fifty more than security. Alternatively, you tin remove the platform to reveal the integrated video bowl.

Information technology doesn’t come up with a tripod head or column claw (just a 1/4-inch hole). And the leg locks are blank metallic and hard to use in extreme cold. But it does have a bubble level on the apex, an integrated 75 mm video bowl, and the option of rubber feet or xl mm steel spikes.

Price:
$$

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Heavy maximum load
  • Good vibration resistance
  • It can be used without crouching when standing up
  • Depression enough minimum pinnacle for macro piece of work
  • Bubble level on the apex
  • Option of prophylactic feet or 40 mm steel spikes

Cons:

  • Long folded length
  • No caput
  • No column claw
  • Leg locks awkwardly in common cold weather condition
  • Only available in black

4. Neewer Photographic camera Tripod Manner III

Picture of Neewer Camera Tripod Style III

The Neewer Camera Tripod Way Iii is an aluminum tripod that comes in red and black. It’s a tall photographic camera tripod—the tallest in the Neewer range at 72.iv inches (184 cm). But the minimum superlative of 25.6 inches (65 cm) is rather disappointing. Information technology supports 33 lbs (fifteen kg), weighs 4.76 lbs (2.sixteen kg), and folds to 26.four inches (67 cm).

The panoramic ball head has an Arca-Swiss-compatible quick-release plate. It also has three adjustment knobs and two bubble levels to ensure a straight horizon.

The multi-angle center column lets you suit your shooting angle (0, 22.5, 45, 67.5, or ninety degrees) and tin be rotated 360 degrees in the horizontal position. It can also be reversed to shoot low-level macro photos. In that location is as well an eye from which yous can hang a weight for actress stability.

The legs come in 4 sections and are made of magnesium-aluminum alloy with sponge grips for amend grip and comfort in hot or cold conditions. There are twist locks, and the legs’ angles are independently adjustable using spiral-type locking knobs. You tin besides use one of them as a 20.7-56.9 inches (52.5-144.5 cm) monopod or walking stick.

Price:
$

Pros:

  • Splendid value
  • One of the tallest tripods available
  • An adjustable ball head and 2 chimera levels
  • Reversible center cavalcade with dissimilar shooting angles
  • Quick-release plate
  • Heart for hanging weight
  • Leg doubles as monopod or walking stick

Cons:

  • You can’t apply it at basis level
  • Long folded length

3. Gitzo GT3543LS

Picture of Gitzo GT3543LSUS heavy duty tripod

The French visitor Gitzo is probably the biggest proper name in high-cease, heavy-duty tripods. The Gitzo GT3543LS Series 3 is a systematic tripod made of carbon fiber. It offers best-in-class vibration resistance despite its slim legs and narrow stance. But information technology comes with a hefty cost tag!

The maximum height is relatively low at 57.5 inches (146 cm). Merely that won’t affair if you’re not particularly tall or plan to use a gimbal head or eye column. The minimum tiptop of only three.5 inches (9 cm) is fine for macro work.

The tripod weighs only 4.27 lbs (one.94 kg), making it the most lightweight heavy-duty tripod in Gitzo’s Serial 3 lineup. Information technology has a good load limit of 55 lbs (25 kg) and folds down to 21.half dozen inches (55 cm).

At that place’south no head included. But you go a lxx mm Gitzo Condom-Lock platform clamped on the side with a release push button. It tin can be removed or replaced with a video basin or centre column. In that location’s also a large ballast claw nether the platform. And the apex has a chimera level.

The four-section Carbon exact legs show no flex even when fully extended. They can be locked at 23, 53, or 86 degrees. And y’all can choose 33 mm and 55 mm removable feet.

The G-Lock Ultra Twist locks are weather-sealed. And yous tin can also twist to unlock all three locks simultaneously with only a quarter-plow. Information technology’s a real timesaver!

Weakness and Strengths

In that location are just a couple of small gripes:

  • The leg bending locks are a fleck fiddly.
  • The Easy Link attachment port for accessories has a iii/8-inch thread rather than the standard 1/4 inch. This means it may not be compatible with your iPhone clamp, for case, unless you utilise a reducer bushing.
  • The shims or “hose clamps” used to stop the legs from rotating are fragile. They easily break, get lost, or are damaged. Then yous might need a few spares!

On the plus side, Gitzo offers a huge range of accessories for your tripod, including video bowls, leveling bases, geared columns, and sliding carbon-fiber centre columns. Gitzo’s worldwide sales and support network too make information technology fairly piece of cake to find replacement parts or a place to go repair piece of work washed.

Cost:
$$$

Pros:

  • Potent legs and fantabulous vibration resistance
  • Lightweight merely with a heavy load limit
  • Low minimum height
  • Quick-release leg locks
  • Wide range of accessories and worldwide back up

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No head included
  • Low maximum height
  • Fiddly leg locks
  • Wrong thread on the Easy Link attachment port
  • Hose clamps are hands lost or damaged
  • Only available in grey

ii. Oben CT-2491

Picture of Oben CT-2491 Carbon Fiber Tripod

The Oben CT-2491 is an affordable carbon fiber tripod. Information technology offers a groovy combination of load weight—39.six lbs (eighteen kg)—and maximum top—72.five inches (184.i cm).

The minimum height of 6 inches (15.2 cm) is also perfect for depression-level, macro piece of work. And information technology weighs only iii.5 lbs (i.6 kg). Although the folded 23.3 inches (59.2 cm) is rather long.

Information technology doesn’t come up with a tripod head. But you can add together the GH-30 Gimbal Head to brand a rock-solid platform for sports and wildlife photography. It consists of a solid bandage aluminum alloy chassis and 6x carbon cobweb, with non-rotating legs in four sections.

The twist locks are quite potent. Just the rubberized feet retract to reveal spikes for better grip on ice, snow, or sand. The merely slight quibble is that the eye column doesn’t lock downwardly completely to prevent it from slipping downward.

Price: $

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Lightweight structure
  • Adept maximum load chapters
  • You tin use it standing up or lying down
  • Rubber feet or spikes

Cons:

  • No tripod head
  • Long folded length
  • Strong twist locks
  • The middle cavalcade doesn’t lock

1. Gitzo GT5563GS Systematic Series 5

Picture of Gitzo GT5563GS Systematic Series 5 Carbon Fiber Tripod

The Gitzo GT5563GS Systematic Serial 5 is a carbon fiber tripod. Information technology’s in a form of its ain in terms of load capacity, maximum height, minimum meridian—and cost!

Its nickname is “Giant” because it can back up upwards to 88 lbs (xl kg) of camera gear at heights of 3.9 inches (10cm) up to 109.4 inches (278 cm)! Just that comes with a massive compromise in terms of weight and length. It tips the scales at 7.8 lbs (iii.56 kg). And it only folds down to 28.vii inches (73 cm).

The general design is similar to the less expensive GT3543LS, with Carbon eXact Tubing, Thousand-Lock Ultra Twist locks, and an Like shooting fish in a barrel Link zipper port. But the legs come in 6 sections. So don’t endeavor setting this ane up in a hurry!

The specifications and the cost are ridiculous. But sometimes you just need the best of the best!

Price:
$$$

Pros:

  • Excellent load capacity
  • Market-leading maximum height
  • You can apply it at ground level
  • A wide range of accessories globally available

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Very heavy
  • Long folded length
  • Tedious to fix

Heavy-Duty Tripod Ownership Guide

If you’re buying a camera, the key factors to consider (autonomously from price) are sensor size, frame rate, and the autofocus arrangement. If y’all’re buying a lens, the most important specifications are optical quality, focal length, and whether information technology’s zoom or a prime.

In both cases, these factors are critical to your ability to do the task. And it’s the same with a tripod.

Anyphotographic camera shake
will ruin your images if the tripod vibrates in windy conditions. If the tripod’due south build quality is so poor that it’south likely to fall over, you lot might fifty-fifty lose your photographic camera!

So what are the factors to consider when buying a heavy-duty camera tripod? The trade-offs are between size, stability, and price. You can ordinarily become two of them, but non all iii!

Some specifications are dealbreakers, just some are just a matter of personal preference. It’southward vital to be articulate in your own heed nearly the differences betwixt the ii.

Picture of photographer with reindeer
Photographer with tripod and reindeer.

Dealbreakers

For myself, these must-have features for heavy-duty tripods:

  • Maximum Load Capacity:
    This must exist enough for your needs. A good rule of thumb is that a heavy-duty tripod should be 1.5x the weight of your camera and your heaviest lens.
  • Tiptop Range:
    This must friction match the level at which you more often than not want to accept pictures. I’chiliad 6 anxiety 3 inches tall, and there are plenty of times when I need to shoot standing up at eye level—if only to avoid back spasms! That means I need a full-size tripod that extends to at least 72 inches. Equally, there are times when I want to get downwards really low, then the everyman height has to be only a few inches.
  • Folded Length: This is obviously not a factor when you’re shooting. Only information technology might be vital when traveling. A security guard once banned me from taking my tripod on a airplane from Buenos Aires because they classed it as an “offensive weapon”! Information technology would have been much easier if it had been compact enough to stow in my photographic camera bag.
  • Weight: This might besides be crucial when flight abroad. When I travel with my camera bag, I always struggle to meet the acquit-on limit—especially when it’s only 15 kg on local flights in Africa. That’due south impossible for me to make if I take all my lenses. So the last thing I need is even more weight to carry with a heavy tripod!

Personal Preferences

To me, these features fall more nether preferences.

Tripod Head

The tripod head must be appropriate for the type of shots you’ll exist taking:

  • Ball Head: This works well if you demand flexibility and a quick response.
  • Fluid Head: If you similar panning shots, the greater precision and adaptability of the 3-style or pan-and-tilt head might be better. Any fluid caput as well helps to dampen whatsoever erratic camera movements.
  • Gimbal Caput: This is perfect for keeping your camera balanced if you shoot a lot with a long lens.
  • Nodal
    or
    Panoramic Heads: These aid avert parallax errors and stitching problems in your panoramas.
  • “Systematic” Tripod: This has an open expanse at the superlative where the caput would usually be. It lets you lot bandy between different attachments, such as a video bowl, center column, or leveling base.
Picture of photographer using gimbal head tripod
A photographer using a gimbal head tripod. © Nick Dale

Other Tripod Features

  • Material: Tripods come up in plastic or fifty-fifty wood. Simply aluminum and carbon fiber tripods have much meliorate force-to-weight ratios. But exist aware that the choice of carbon fiber leads to a more expensive tripod!
  • Leg Diameter: Gitzo’s Series iii heavy-duty tripod legs measure 33-36 mm at the top. And that’s now a kind of industry benchmark among many manufacturers.
  • Hooks: A hook under the heart column lets you lot hang your photographic camera bag underneath to add stability in strong winds.
  • Anxiety: Rubber anxiety are generally the best for most surfaces (either indoors or outdoors). But metallic spikes are better in icy conditions. Some models have both types built in. Yous may just take to retract the rubber feet to reveal the spikes.
  • Centre Columns: These are useful if you desire to extend the pinnacle of a tripod (and they can be turned 90 degrees or reversed to get low-angle shots). But tripods tend to become more unstable with the heart column extended. The general dominion is that yous should simply elevator the center cavalcade as the concluding resort once you’ve extended the legs completely, then you lot might non need 1.
  • Leg Locks: Y’all tin can gear up tripod legs using twist or lever locks. In theory, both types of leg locks might fail. But at least the twist locks will give y’all a second or 2 to catch your camera if the tripod starts falling over. But the merely twist-lock tripod I ever bought broke the first time I used information technology, and I had to throw it away!
  • Number of Leg Sections: This is a merchandise-off between stability and convenience. The more sections there are, the smaller the tripod is to acquit. But the tripod won’t be as sturdy and will take longer to put up and take down.
  • Leg Angles: This determines how high and stable the tripod is for a given leg length. There are usually three preset angles at which the legs click into position, such as 23, 53, and 86 degrees. Each leg lifts independently. Then you can always lift one or two if y’all’re on uneven surfaces or there’s a tree in your manner.
Hook underneath the Gitzo GT3543LSUS tripod
Hook underneath the Gitzo GT3543LSUS

Decision

If yous’re looking for a heavy-duty tripod, you tin can’t go far wrong with Gitzo. Whether you opt for the “Giant” or the more modest GT3543LS, the blueprint and build quality will never allow you down—wherever yous are and whatever the weather. But plenty of other models cover the bases in terms of my “dealbreakers.” And they tin be found for a fraction of the price.

All photographers are different. We all work in dissimilar genres and environments with different cameras. I rarely need a tripod on safari in Africa because there’s nowhere to put information technology in the truck! But I ofttimes utilise long telephoto lenses to accept panning shots with long exposures. And I couldn’t have taken pictures of the northern lights without a stable tripod.

If you’re looking for a budget heavy-duty tripod and don’t spend much fourth dimension working in adverse conditions, then y’all might be perfectly happy with a ZoMei Z818 or Oben CT-2491. On the other hand, money might exist no object if you’re obsessive near the sharpness of your landscapes.

To choose the best heavy-duty tripod, you simply have to ask yourself what your priorities are. In one case yous’ve come up with an answer, I hope this list will guide you to the all-time products on the market.

If you want to take scenic photos of animals in their natural habitat, check out our Wonderful Wildlife Portraits e-book!

Source: https://expertphotography.com/best-heavy-duty-tripods/