What are the best low cost tripods for filmmaking?
A good video tripod for filmmaking is essential. If you buy one item of equipment that you will use again and again it will be a tripod. Going hand-held when filmmaking is great but your audience will always appreciate a good steady shot. Tripods come in all shapes and sizes from compact lightweight travel tripods to heavy-duty tripods for studio work. The most important feature to look for when buying a tripod is the fluid head. If the head does not pan and tilt smoothly, it will be of little use for video production. You can spend a small fortune on a good fluid head tripod. Luckily there are some lower cost tripods available that should suit your needs.
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Magnus VT-400 Aluminium Tripod System
The Magnus VT-400 is a great mid-level tripod and head for shooting video. It has a 2-way fluid pan and tilt mechanism head, which will give smooth pans for general video production. This head has two independent locks so you can secure it in both the up and down and left to right positions, so your video camera won’t move an inch.
You can also remove your camera with the quick release plate at the top of the tripod. This tripod can support a maximum weight of 15lbs, this should be fine for most small cameras but maybe not ideal for larger shoulder mount cameras. The maximum height of the legs is 64 inches and these are built of tough anodised aluminium.
Price: $129.00 £104.00 €117.00
K&F Concept 70″/177cm Travel Tripod
The K&F Concept Travel Tripod is the ideal solution to reduce the camera shake of your video. It has a standard quarter-inch screw, which will fit most video cameras. It also has height of 53cm and a maximum height of 177cm with the extended centre column. This tripod can also convert to a monopod in seconds with a height that ranges from 41cm to 147cm.
It has a carry weight of 3.7lbs and it comes with a storage bag so it’s easy to carry and transport. If you want to do pans and tilts there is a handle attached to the tripod head so you can perform smooth camera movements with your camera.
Price: $89.00 £72.00 €81.00
Slik 504QF II Video Tripod
The Slik 504QF II Video Tripod is excellent value for those who are looking for a low budget tripod for filmmaking. It weighs about 2.570g, which means it is light and won’t be giving you backache when you are carrying it around all day. Its collapsed height is 690mm, so it shouldn’t be too much of a burden when strapped around your kitbag.
The full height when extended is 150cm and it can go as low as 45cm for those difficult floor shots. On the feet there are rubber shoes but there are no spikes. This does mean that in rough ground you may lose stability, but this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
There is also a centre column if you need to get a bit more height. The video pan head has an extra-long adjustable control handle that provides a smooth fluid motion when panning and tilting. It also comes with a three-way head that will be able to handle most filmmaking tasks. While it is not the smallest tripod when collapsed, it is a good all-round performer, which will give you many years of practical use.
Price: $130.00 £105.00 €17.00
Benro Aero 4 Video Travel Angel Tripod Kit
The Benro Aero 4 Tripod is more expensive than some of the other tripods described here but it is a quality piece of equipment that will handle most filming tasks. It has a weight of 1.900g so it’s not too heavy to carry and light in weight. It’s got a maximum height of 165cm and when fully collapsed will pack down to about 46cm. This means it isn’t difficult to carry around when travelling. There are also spikes that can screw down from the rubber feet, which will give you that extra stability if you find yourself on rough ground.
The design of the head is specific for video filming with separate pan and tilt adjustments. This means it will move smoothly to give you good panning and tilting shots. This tripod is a made of tough aluminium and you can remove one of the legs to give you a monopod if needed. It also comes with a padded bag with strap so you can easily sling it on your shoulder for carrying to your next shoot.
Price: $249.00 £201.00 €226.00
Manfrotto 290 Tripod with Befree Live Fluid Head
If you want spend a little more on a tripod then the Manfrotto 290 might better suit your needs. Aimed at the video blogger and mobile journalist, this tripod has a quality design with innovative touches and sturdy durability. The video head gives smooth pan and tilts that will give a professional finish to your videos and should put up with most filming tasks that you can think of. This is the smallest and lightweight video tripod head in the Manfrotto range and it has a dedicated sliding plate to help balance your video camera. The pan and tilt head also has fluid drag, which makes it incredibly smooth.
The tripod itself is extremely portable and weighs just 0.38kg, so it won’t weigh you down too much when you are out location filming. This Manfrotto 290 has a compact and lightweight design, which combined with the head, is easy to pack away and carry. The legs feature aluminium tubes, which are sturdy and rigid when up and should give you peace of mind when in windy conditions. The leg locks are aluminium, which means when you lock the legs in place they will hold firm without slipping. At the bottom of the legs are rubber leg warmers that help to keep the tripod firmly in place when standing.
Price: $179.00 £145.00 €163.00
The Magnus VT-4000 is a tripod for serious video work. It weighs 3.62kg but can carry a weight of up to 3.99kg so it should easily be able to support your video camera and any extra equipment you may have attached. The head comes with a panning handle, which attaches to the right side of the head. This will be able to accommodate any panning or tilting shots you may wish to do. You can also take the handle off and move it to the other side if needed. However, you cannot remove the tripod head like on some other tripods as it is attached to the legs. There is a set of dedicated lock switches to lock the head in place if you need to. These can be helpful if you only want to concentrate on one particular camera move.
Added to the head is also a fixed counterbalance spring mechanism, which gives a 1.5kg of counterweight for smooth titling movements. There is also a bubble-level to help you get level on rough ground. The quick release plate on the head has a double-lock feature which snap-locks when you push the plate in place. This will keep your video camear safe and secure when moving around. If you need to remove the plate in a hurry you just push the red button, which unlocks it and releases your camera. The VT 4000 tripod is made of anodised aluminium which gives it a sturdy build quality and it should put up with most filming tasks you may face. It is also not too heavy if you need to carry it.
At full height it will reach 59 inches, which should be tall enough for most purposes. On the bottom of the legs the VT 4000 tripod has retractable spike feet, which can be useful when you are in rough terrain. When you move inside you can simply put the spike feet back up and let the rubber feet take over so you don’t risk scratching the studio floor.
Price: $159.00 £128.00 €144.00
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