The travel tripod conundrum is a cruel reality of physics and practicality. The larger and heavier a tripod is, the steadier it will hold a camera. The larger and heavier a tripod is, the less likely you will ever want to carry it around or take it on a trip. Why are we left with a photographic reality like that which makes the tastiest food bad for you?
Tripods come in all shapes, weights, heights, and styles. If you are new to the world of tripods, please check out The Tripod Explained article before reading further. Here we are going to recommend travel tripods for the photographer. First, we must ask, “What makes one a ‘travel’ tripod?”
Well, any tripod is a travel tripod if you are willing to travel with it, but some tripods are designed to fold up into a compact package that, in some cases, can fit into a carry-on bag. They are also designed to be lighter than their full-sized counterparts. Usually, they have four or more leg sections, legs that can fold up around the center column, or a center column that drops down between the legs for transport. In general, they do not extend to the same heights as full-sized tripods, so get ready to bend over while shooting. Other than those features, the travel tripod is basically the same as any other three-legged camera support.
I visited the B&H SuperStore and picked the brains of the store’s tripod experts, got hands-on with all of the different options, and have compiled this list of the 12 travel tripods shown here, in price order, with the highest priced (as of press time) first.
1.Gitzo GK1545T Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod with Center Ball Head
Well, it really doesn’t get any better than the Gitzo GK1545T Series 1 Traveler Tripod and Center Ball Head, travel tripod and Center Ball Head, and the price would certainly indicate that. The entire design of the Gitzo travel tripod is based on maximizing its thin profile. The odd-shaped head is purposely curvy to accommodate the legs when inverted for transport. Gitzo travel tripod legs are narrower than much of the competition, but generally maintain higher load capacities. O-rings seal the top of the twist locks to keep debris out, the legs can be set at one of two angles, and the chassis is made of magnesium. The center ball head is a fine complement to its gorgeous legs and features a separate pan lock knob, screw lock for the Arca-type compatible plate, and a tungsten disulfide coating for silky smooth action. Like Manfrotto, Gitzo sells individual parts for its tripods, so if you wear out a component, it can be replaced.
The slightly higher-priced alternative has slightly larger legs, and a 26-lb capacity; the GT2545T.
Gitzo GK1545T Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod with Center Ball Head
•Load Capacity: 22 lb
•Max. Height: 64.4″
•Min. Height: 12.6″
•Folded Length: 16.7″
•Leg Sections: 4
•Weight: 3.2 lb