A tripod opens up a world of possibility for photography. With a stable support you can shoot experiment with long exposures, night photography and loads more. There are plenty of applications for a tripod in the video world as well, allowing you to get more stable shots and experiment with techniques like smooth panning.

Which tripod to choose? Aluminium, carbon fibre, magnesium, or some combination of materials? Heavy and sturdy or light and transportable? The answers to these questions depend pretty heavily on what camera gear you use and what you’re planning to shoot, so we’re here to help. Below you’ll find our guide to the best tripods available right now, for all different users and budgets.

Right now, we think the best tripod is the Benro Go Plus Travel tripod. It’s super portable, the pivot system is elegant and every feature of the design is immaculately implemented. But the best tripod for you will depend on what sort of photography you want it for – and what level you’re at.

How to pick the best tripod

When it comes to choosing the right tripod, it pays to understand the different options that are available. Many recent designs, for example, have legs that swing vertically upwards for stowage, so that the feet encompass the head when the centre column is fully extended. This reduces the packing length by about 8cm, but there’s a downside in that these tripods are a bit more fiddly and time-consuming to set up and fold away. 

A more time-honoured tradition for extending the maximum height while keeping the stowage size fairly small is to use four or five telescopic sections within each tripod leg, rather than the more conventional three sections. It’s a useful space-saving feature, especially for travel tripods – but, again, there’s more setup time involved, with extra leg section clamps to operate.

Another top trick of some current tripods is that they have a pivoting centre column. In most cases, this enables you to use the centre column as a horizontal boom, as well as vertically upright. It can be a big advantage in macro photography, as well as for shooting with ultra-wide-angle or fisheye lenses. 

It’s also a bonus for really low-level shooting, given that most tripods these days have legs that can be splayed to lock at multiple, wider angles to the vertical. Some pivoting tripods go even further and enable you to lock the centre column at a number of angles through a full 180-degree arc.

To save weight, many up-market tripods are available in carbon fibre. For a full-sized tripod kit, including head, you’re looking at a weight-saving of around 20 per cent compared with the same kit based on aluminium legs. The weight reduction is usually more minimal with smaller travel tripods. The main drawback of carbon fibre is that it’s more expensive to manufacture, so the tripod itself can be significantly pricier to buy. 

Here’s our pick of the best tripods available right now.

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01. Benro Go Plus Travel

The best tripod overall, the Benro is great for anywhere and everywhere

Main construction material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 49cm (yes) | Weight: 2.05kg | Max operating height: 179cm | Max load (legs, head): 14kg, 14kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 3 angles | Leg extension locks: Twist | Pivoting centre column: 180 degrees | Detachable monopod: Yes