The Best Tripods & Ball Heads

Experienced landscape and wildlife photographers know that the tripod is the #1 most essential piece of gear. Although most photographers know how important a tripod is, far too many photographers foolishly put off the purchase of a professional tripod for years and instead buy 5 junkers before finally choosing to buy something of good quality. Once you buy a professional tripod, you’ll be amazed at the difference in sharpness of your images. Trust me… the tripod is essential!

However, not every photographer needs an expensive tripod. For example, when I shoot portrait photography, so I rarely shoot on a tripod. Other than portraiture, I use a tripod 100% of the time.

If you’re interested in tripods, you’ll probably like this article where I explain the pros and cons of each of the major tripod brands.


Good Much Better Jim’s Dream Tripod

Manfrotto 7322YB

Improve’s Review:
This is a great tripod because of price and quality. It’s semi-stable and will do you well for the first year of intense tripod use. The recommended ball head for this isn’t as strong for bigger cameras and lenses. Entry-level cameras will do great on this tripod!

Induro AT-313

Improve’s Review:
This is, by far, the best tripod I’ve used that costs anything near this price point. At $187, this tripod is an absolute steal! It’s tall, very sturdy, and durable. If you’re ready for a professional tripod, then this one has my whole-hearted recommendation

Feisol CT3442

Jim’s Review:
For my personal preferences in a tripod, this is the best tripod ever made. It’s very light weight, has no center column so it gets down very low, the legs fold over the ballhead for compactness, comfortable height, and it’s of course rock solid. I consider this tripod more durable than even the Gitzos.


Not sure what a ballhead is? Click this link to find out all about ball heads. Pro tripods need a head of some kind to attach the camera to the tripod, and the ball head is the most popular choice.

Good Better Best

Vanguard SBH-300

Improve’s Review:
This is an INCREDIBLE ball head for the price. I used this ball head with a 600mm lens and it did a great job without any creep. I have also did exposures of several hours for night photography and still saw no creep. You will not find any ballhead that can compete with this piece of awesome.

Sirui K10X

Improve’s Review:
This ballhead has one significant advantage over the Vanguard–weight! The Vanguard is very solid and durable, but this head is SIGNIFICANTLY smaller and lighter while providing the same strength. A pro tripod is not light, so you’ll want the weight advantage of a nice light ballhead.

Really Right Stuff

Improve’s Review:
If you have the money to spend on the best ball head that money can buy, then you’ll want something from a company called Really Right Stuff. Their gear is top notch. For $500, it’s fantastic!

Comments from the I.P. Community

  1. Lamar Smith says

    I purchased the AT-413 tripod (for additional height) and Sirui K10X ball head this past January (2014). I’m absolutely thrilled with the purchase. The quality of the construction for both items is impressive. Smooth movement of the tripod legs and the head locks in place without having to apply a lot of pressure on the knobs. When releasing the head pressure the camera doesn’t flop over. The Sirui head also features a safety button that protects the camera from sliding off the mount when releasing the pressure. I highly recommend it.

  2. Jeremy says

    What about monopods…

    I have the Induro tripod and the vanguard ball head and I love them both. I wish that I would not have bought so many cheap big box store tripods.

  3. Mohammad Khozaei says

    Hi Dear
    can u please help me to choose one of these tripods ?
    1. BENRO A1350Q1
    2. Vanguard Alta 263AP
    I’ve check your website, you recommended Manfrotto 7322YB
    but I couldn’t find it in market.
    thank you :-)

  4. says

    Thank you for your advice!

    I have a BENRO A500F tripod. It seems to be a solid tripod with a ball head. Have you ever worked with such or similar tripod? Do you believe it is a solid one?



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