A Review of the Tripod Brands: Some lesser-known facts

review of tripod companies

The joys of a solid tripod

Buying a tripod is an absolutely agonizing process.  I was reminded of my past experiences in buying a tripod when I listened to a podcast from Marko Kulik this week.  Unless you’re an absolute beginner in photography, you already know how important a rock solid tripod and ballhead can be.  If you buy a high-quality tripod, you will likely own it for at least 10 years before needing to replace it, so choosing a tripod can be quite difficult.

To that end, I wrote this post to review some information about various tripod manufacturers that you might find interesting.

Gitzo Tripods

If Gitzo were a car, it would be a Ferrari. Gitzo is widely considered to produce the best tripods on earth, but its tripods come with a price tag that you wouldn’t believe!  Many of their tripods start at a price of $800.  The Ferrari comparison is not only fitting to describe the quality and price of its products, but also to point out that Gitzo is headquartered in northern Italy.

Gitzo has established a name for itself through innovation.  It was the first company to create a carbon fiber tripod, and it was also the first company to create a basalt tripod.  When Gitzo makes a move in the industry, others are sure to follow.

My recommendation: If you’re made of money, buy a Gitzo.  If you’re buying a Gitzo, I particularly like this one that I played with at a camera store once, but have not tested in the field.

Manfrotto Tripods

Many photographers will be surprised to learn that Manfrotto and Gitzo are actually subsidiaries of the same company: The Vitec Group.  In fact, Gitzo tripods are all distributed under the Manfrotto name.

While the two companies may live in one household, they are quite different in terms of features and design.  Manfrotto tripods are well respected in the industry as a quality and cost-effective choice for tripods.

Judging from my own anecdotal experience, I would guess that 50% or more of advanced amateur photographers choose the 055XPROB as their first quality tripod.  This Manfrotto tripod is durable, rock solid, and cost-effective.

Induro Tripods

I have to admit that I’m an Induro fanboy.  I have tried nearly every brand of tripod and have never been more pleased with any other brand.

In my opinion, Induro produces tripods that are of the same or nearly the same quality as Gitzo, but at a reasonable price point.  I also like that Induro tends to include a few more features on some of its tripods than other brands, like bubble levels and carrying cases (that never fit the tripod with a ballhead attached–ug!).  Another reason I like Induro products is that they often produce tripods which are taller than other brands.  While I’m only 5’10″ (1.7 meters), I often set my tripod up to a height of 7 feet (2.1 meters) to capture an interesting angle.

If you’re looking at purchasing an Induro tripod, you might consider this aluminum tripod if you don’t mind carrying a little weight (I don’t), or you might look at this carbon fiber tripod if you have money to burn.

Benro Tripods

Like the Gitzo/Manfrotto connection, Benro and Induro are both owned by the same company: the Mac Group.

I have to confess that I don’t have any hands-on experience with Benro products.  From looking at their products, it is obvious that they specialize in Gitzo knock-offs.  Reviews online seem to suggest that they do a good job with their knock-offs and they produce good products.  I would be interested to try them out.

If any of you have actual experience with Benro products, I’d love to hear about it in a comment below.  I may end up driving to Tampa or Miami some time in the next few months to check out a few photography stores that have Benro products–just because I’m curious.

The “Other Guys”

A few people in the comments below gave a shout-out to Feisol tripods.  I have never seen one of their tripods in person, but they look good on paper.  They look to be taking all the major inventions from Gitzo (anti-rotation legs, legs fold over head, etc), but the designs seem to be unique to Feisol.  Interesting company.  Maybe I’ll buy one so I can review it for the site.

You might check out some of the tripods from Digital Camera Rookie, though.

I have sunk my money in several tripod companies in the past that delivered horrific products.  I returned my RocketFish tripod from Best Buy within a few hours of purchase, and I have seen several of my photography students buy the Flashpoint F-1118 and it has to be the most rickety tripod I’ve ever seen.  Other tripod manufacturers include Slik, Vanguard, and Giottos.  I have not personally seen them produce any tripods that warranted my attention, but I haven’t seen all of their product lines.

I found some of this information by reading a post by Roger Cicala at LensRentals.com.  As with all of Roger’s articles, it’s well worth your time.

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. Gary says

    Never, never think budget when planning to purchase a tripod & head. Decide how much you can afford to spend today. Add 20% to that amount and then save until you have the added 20%. Plus a second 10 to 15%. Then purchase your tripod. You will save big bucks in the long run and not end up with 3 or more tripods laying around unused. If you want a tripod to support 8 pounds purchase one that will support 16. After several purchases I have finally purchased a RRS TVC-33 & BH-55 Ball Head. I now wonder what took me so long to make this purchase. One of the best buys I have ever made.

  2. NAVEEN says

    just say me which is the best one among
    SLIK Tripod F153
    Benro DIGITAL TRIPOD KITS T600EX
    i would like to buy one among them

  3. says

    I own a vanguard alta pro 284CT carbon fiber tripod, the quality you get out of this reasonably priced tripod, makes me really happy.

  4. says

    I’ve been a photographer for over 40 years and have covered most of what there is to cover but the last 12 years of my career was in Higher Education and in that position, I used the Benbo system exclusively.
    I found it to be one of the most versatile and reliable mobile units I’ve ever worked with. I’m sure you would love the simplicity of this system if you were to give it a try.

  5. Paul Mason. says

    I like Benro tripods, I have been using them for twenty years, there are a type of tripod you love or hate. They are ideal for use in the field, the extending legs have the wider secession on the lower end, that way there is less chance of dirt working into the joints and locking rings. The legs and central pole all swing through the main locking point, the legs can point anywhere and also the camera. When the centre lock is free I hold the head as everything can and will move, this gives you ability to position in any angle you can imagine. I have had two legs spread on the ground with the third on the top of a wall, and the camera angled down to a flower at the base of the wall; it is this freedom of movement I like.

  6. says

    After over 40 years as pro photog and having used almost all of the brands of tripods at one time or another, it is my belief that the best tripod is the one you have with you. In other words, analyze exactly how and when and where and for what equipment you will be shooting with and get a tripod/monopod that matches the event and USE IT!
    I really enjoy your articles and the totally excellent and accurate detailed information you include. The pics are great also… :-)
    Thank you.

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