Tripods are one of the most useful tools in your photography. With one, you can be more flexible about when and where you capture photos. Since they keep your camera perfectly still, they allow you to take better photos with long lenses, in low light, or even in complete darkness! Although all tripods serve the same general purpose, there are only a few that I would recommend for photography. Here I’ll break down what to look for in a tripod and share some of my favorite tripod options on the market.

If I were forced to pick one tripod to use for the rest of my life, I would use the Promaster XC-M 525CK Professional Carbon Fiber Tripod. This has been the tripod I’ve used for years, and have taken it across the world taking photos. It’s seen ice, water, snow, sand, dust, and every type of weather condition and still operates like new.

Being that it’s carbon fiber, it’s ideal for my work that typically involves hiking and long backpacking trips. Even though camera gear can be heavy, a tripod doesn’t need to be. Those are just a few reasons why I love the Promaster XC-M 525CK tripod.

My Top Tripod Picks For Photography

Depending on how serious you are about your photography, spending hundreds of dollars on a tripod might not make sense. Below I’ll outline some great options for both beginner and professional shooters to give you great options to choose from.

Travel Tripods

Travel tripods are perfect for packing in a back and taking anywhere. They’re lighter than studio tripods and are far more versatile for the average photographer.

1. GEEKOTO 75″ Camera Tripod

Unlike a regular tripod, the GEEKOTO 75″ Camera Tripod has a rotatable center post, meaning you can use it vertically or horizontally. Couple this with a 360-degree ball head, and there isn’t a single angle you won’t be able to capture with this tripod. It can extend up to 75″ with ease using the handy twist-lock legs and hold a max load of 22lbs. This tripod gives you the best of both worlds with flawless functionality and staying compact enough to take anywhere. If you’d like to have the option to mount your camera horizontally, this is by far your most affordable option!

    • Max Height: 75″ / 191cm
    • Type: Aluminum
    • Built-In Monopod: Yes
    • Max Weight Capacity: 22lbs
    • Tripod Weight: 4.4lbs
    • Lock Type: Twist Lock
    • Head Type: Ball

 2. ZOMEi 62″ Camera Tripod

As another affordable tripod for real estate photography, check out the ZOMEi 62″ Tripod. With a max height of 62″ and twist-lock legs, this is a great (and cheap) option if you prefer twist locks. It can hold a maximum weight of 17.3lbs and has many unique mounting options compared to other tripods. There’s almost no orientation this tripod can’t get you into! This tripod uses a ball head with two-axis locks for better pan control. For the price, you won’t find a more capable tripod!

    • Max Height: 62″ / 157cm
    • Type: Aluminum
    • Built-In Monopod: Yes
    • Max Weight Capacity: 17.3lbs
    • Tripod Weight: 3.3lbs
    • Lock Type: Twist Lock
    • Head Type: Ball

3. Promaster XC-M 525K 70″ Professional Tripod

If you want a professional-grade tripod that gets things done, then look no further than the Promaster XC-M 525K Tripod. Compared to other tripods on this list, this one has more leg locks making it far easier to fine-tune its height. Rather than just two or three leg locks, this one boasts four for the ultimate control. Additionally, this tripod doesn’t cheap out on weight capacity to physical size. Weighing only 2.1lbs, the Promaster 525K can hold up to 17lbs. This makes it one of the most compact and sturdy tripods on this entire list. It has a ball head for the easy positioning and twist locks for fast extending. There is also a built-in monopod to sweeten the deal!

    • Max Height: 70″ / 177cm
    • Type: Aluminum
    • Built-In Monopod: Yes
    • Max Weight Capacity: 17lbs
    • Tripod Weight: 2.1lbs
    • Lock Type: Twist Lock
    • Head Type: Ball

4. Manfrotto Befree Advanced 59″ Tripod

If you’re looking for a well-known camera brand, Manfrotto has been a mogul in the tripod market for decades. This tripod has a max height of 59 inches, so it’s not incredibly tall at full stick. Holding up to 17.6lbs safely, there’s not much in your camera bag this tripod can’t manage. Best of all, this tripod is available in both level and twist-lock models depending on your style. You can also get the Befree Tripod with a pan and tilt head if you prefer!

    • Max Height: 59″ / 149cm
    • Type: Aluminum
    • Built-In Monopod: No
    • Max Weight Capacity: 17.6lbs
    • Tripod Weight: 3.5lbs
    • Lock Type: Twist Lock or Level Lock
    • Head Type: Ball or Pan & Tilt

Heavy-Duty Tripods

If you deal with heavier camera builds and don’t need to carry your tripod on a trail, heavy-duty tripods are worth considering. Especially if you are using ultra zooms for wildlife photography, having a beefier tripod can be beneficial.

5. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB 68″ Aluminum Tripod

If you want a bombproof and robust tripod at a great price, the Vanguard Alta Pro Tripod is the choice for you. Unlike some of the compact tripods on this list, this tripod has thicker leg tubes making it look and feel more secure. It comes with a ball head boasting a pan lock for better control of your camera orientation. It can extend up to 68″ tall and hold up to 15.4lbs. This tripod also has lever locks with optional spiked feet for guaranteed security when shooting outside on the loose ground.

    • Max Height: 68″ / 172cm
    • Type: Aluminum
    • Built-In Monopod: No
    • Max Weight Capacity: 15.4lbs
    • Tripod Weight: 5.5lbs
    • Lock Type: Lever Lock
    • Head Type: Ball

6. Manfrotto 290 Xtra 65″ Aluminum Tripod 

The Manfrotto 260 Xtra Tripod is a robust and user-friendly tripod perfect for any heavy camera setup. This tripod has lever locks for quick adjustability and is lightweight enough to hold any DSLR or mirrorless camera with a lens. Although this tripod does sit as the heaviest on the list, it’s not the end of the world if you shoot a lot in the studio. Like the other Manfrotto tripods in this list, you can get this tripod with either a ball or pan and tilt head depending on your style. Ultimately you’re getting one of the sturdiest and robust tripod legs for the money. If you need a heavier weight capacity, you can always upgrade your tripod head in the future.

    • Max Height: 65.2″ / 165cm
    • Type: Aluminum
    • Built-In Monopod: No
    • Max Weight Capacity: 5.5lbs
    • Tripod Weight: 11lbs
    • Lock Type: Twist Lock or Level Lock
    • Head Type: Ball or Pan & Tilt

Flexible Tripods

Flexible tripods are great for setting up your camera in unique positions. Rather than having extendable legs, these tripods have bendy legs at a fixed length. They’re usually just a couple of feet tall but help capture unique angles not possible with a regular tripod.

7. Fotopro Flexible Tripod

The Fotopro Flexible Tripod (click to find price on Amazon) is a great tripod for DSLR, point and shoots, and mobile devices. Since it comes with multiple attachments depending on which camera you want to use, it’s very user friendly. Unlike other bendy tripods with ball legs (that can break), this tripod has solid flexible legs. So if you’ve ever been wronged in the past and had a flexible tripod leg break, this tripod won’t let it happen.

  • Max Height: 11″ / 28cm
  • Type: Flexible
  • Built-In Monopod: No
  • Max Weight Capacity: 2.64lbs
  • Tripod Weight: 0.4lbs
  • Lock Type: None
  • Head Type: Fixed

8. JOBY GorillaPod 5K Flexible Tripod

The JOBY GorillaPod (click to find price on Amazon) is by far the most capable flexible tripod on the market, but you pay the price. I ended up purchasing this flexible tripod after having weight issues with other ones. Likewise, I love that the GorillaPod comes with a ball head, making setting up a shot so much easier than the fixed tripod head of most bendy tripods. If you have a professional level camera but want to have the versatility of a flexible tripod, the JOBY GorillaPod 5k Kit is a must!

  • Max Height: 15.6″ / 39.6cm
  • Type: Flexible
  • Built-In Monopod: No
  • Max Weight Capacity: 11lbs
  • Tripod Weight: 0.7lbs
  • Lock Type: None
  • Head Type: Ball

Types Of Tripod Heads

When you break it all down, there are only two types of tripod heads best for real estate photography.

ball head and a pan and tilt head.

A ball head is the simplest version of a tripod head. Your camera is mounted to a ball the sits inside your tripod head. When the ball is loose, you’re free to move your camera horizontally or vertically. Once you have a position, you twist a dial, lock the ball into place, and you’re ready to take photos!

With a pan and tilt head, you have two separate arms to control the camera’s positioning. By rotating the tilt handle, you’ll loosen the tilt axis to adjust your camera’s tilt (up and down). If you rotate the pan handle, you’ll loosen the pan axis to rotate the camera. When you use each of these handles together, you can get your camera into any position you need.

Ultimately, the head you choose comes down to personal preference. With a ball head, you have more versatility with how and where your camera is positioned. The downside is it’s harder to reposition a certain axis since the ball can rotate in any direction.

With a pan and tilt head, you have the advantage of adjusting a specific axis without worrying about moving the other. The downside is that you might find it annoying to use two separate handles to reposition your camera angle.

I personally like to use ball head tripods since I’m not forced to deal with two handles for two different axis. Instead, I can loosen one knob and be able to move my camera into any orientation freely. Whether you end up using a ball head or a pan and tilt head, they’ll still get the job done. It just comes down to personal preference.

Twist-Lock Vs. Lever Lock Tripod Legs

No matter how expensive a tripod is, there are only two types of tripod legs: the twist lock and the lever lock.

Although both serve the same purpose, they have a slightly different approach when adjusting your tripod’s height.

A twist-lock does exactly as the name suggests. You rotate these locks to loosen your tripod legs and adjust the height. The advantage is that they’re slightly easier to undo and tighten, but they take slightly more time.

A lever lock uses a latch instead to lock or loosen the tripod legs. It’s easier to adjust your tripod with lever locks quickly and less cumbersome to make small height adjustments. The downside is that these locks are either fully on or fully off. It’s hard to adjust the amount of resistance felt when you adjust a tripod leg.

You can’t go wrong with either option, but it’s important to consider this in your purchase!

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Happy Tripod Hunting!

– Brendan 🙂