The best budget tripods are a fantastically cost-effective way to increase your versatility as a photographer or videographer. There are many camera techniques that simply aren’t possible without a good, solid camera support, and while tripods can come at quite a high price, they don’t have to, and the cheap tripod market is filled with solid budget choices.
The main challenge is to make sure that even with the cheap price tag, you’re still getting a quality product. There’s a lot of false economy floating around there on the market, and so it’s best to stick to reputable brand names, many of whom have done a commendable job of offering cheap tripods alongside their more expensive products. We’ve included plenty in this guide, such as Joby, Benro and Manfrotto.
Depending on what you want to shoot, you’ll want to look at slightly different budget tripods, and we’ve included plenty of different types on this list. For those with ultra-light setups who just need a straightforward support, we’ve included a couple of tabletop tripods. We’ve also added in some cheap tripods with three-way heads that are optimised for video, as well as options with reversible central columns for low-down shooting – this is great for macro and close-up work.
Having a low budget does rule out certain types of tripod – if you’re spending less than $100, you’re not going to get tripods made from carbon fibre, which is the stronger and more lightweight material. You’ll also get a relatively simple tripod head, rather than the more sophisticated ball and video heads that come with expensive tripods.
With all that said, let’s get to the list.
The best budget tripods
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Tabletop tripods can be just the thing in a pinch, and the Manfrotto Pixi EVO is arguably the best around. It offers a surprisingly comprehensive amount of functionality for such a small device, with two leg angles for uneven surfaces, as well as a built-in head that allows you to tilt the camera up to 90° to enable shooting in portrait orientation.
The Pixi Evo supports camera kit up to a weight of 2.5kg, so naturally it’s not going to be suitable for all setups. A lightweight mirrorless setup or even an entry-level DSLR should be okay, as long as you’re using a smaller lens. This pocketable tripod will perfectly complement such a setup.
Flexi-leg tripods have gained in popularity as smartphones have increasingly become the go-to choice for content creators, and the Benro KoalaPod is one of the best. It comprises three to five extendable, detachable legs that can be twisted around any which way you like, allowing you to balance your camera or smartphone on uneven surfaces, or grip onto protruding objects.
With a carrying capacity of just 1.5kg, the Benro KoalaPod is designed for the lighter end of setups – the included smartphone clamp makes it clear who the intended audience is. Moulding the legs to a secure position can take a bit of practice, but once you get the hang of it, this is a superbly versatile tabletop support.
Manfrotto has been doing a good job of introducing budget-friendly photo and video accessories alongside its more premium offerings, and the Element MII Aluminum is one such option. It’s really quite well specced for a tripod that tends to be sold around the $100 mark.
It carries 8kg of kit – comfortably more than basically anyone is going to need – and can be extended to a maximum height of 160cm. Its twist-lock legs are quick to deploy, and the easy-switch leg angle selectors are great for quickly adjusting the tripod’s position. The Element MII Aluminum is an ideal choice for a day of city-exploring photography, where you’ll want a quick-deploy support that packs down well.
A stable support is critical for macro shooting, where focusing is incredibly precise, but it also needs to be able to get close to the ground so that you can fill the frame with your subject. The Slik Sprint Pro III with SBH-100DQ is an excellent choice of budget tripod for this kind of work – it features a reversible two-section center column, as well as a Rapid Flip Mechanism that lets you get the tripod down low nice and quickly. Its minimum working height is just 15.7cm away from ground level, meaning you can get very close to any low-down subjects. The rubberized leg grips and robust flip locks also help with smooth operability.
Designed as a travel tripod, this has swing-up legs that reduce stowage size. Unusually, however, its centre column protrudes from the top of the tripod spider and can’t slide down for a reduced shooting height. But it can extend higher, thanks to its dual-section telescopic design.
With five leg sections and two center column sections, the Sirui has a modest full operating height of 141cm, but has the joint-shortest folded height on test at just 32cm.
Considering that the center column is mounted on top of the spider, the minimum operating height is still low at 36.5cm. If that’s not low enough, you can remove the centre column and screw the ball head to the tripod spider. This enables the shortest regular-orientation shooting height of any tripod here,
at just 8cm.
Extending the five-section legs is smooth and the twist clamps require minimal turning to loosen or tighten them. We found the supplied ball head was nice and steady, and features a panning lock.
When buying a tripod, it’s important to look at the head that it’s packaged with, and the 3-way pan-and-tilt head that comes with the Velbon EX-530 is an excellent specimen. If you’re planning on creating dramatic stitched panorama shots, or shooting video and want to be able to pan the camera smoothly, this is a great buy. The additional radial leg brace in the center also makes it extra secure, and a 4.1kg load capacity should be fine for basically any camera setup. It’s a bulkier tripod than others on this list, but if you don’t mind shouldering a little extra weight, it’s an excellent choice.
Joby is mostly a name known for its flexible, grippy GorillaPod tripods, however the firm has also branched out into different types of camera support. The Compact Advanced tripod is a more conventional affair, a lightweight camera support that’s clearly been designed with vloggers in mind. It travels well thanks to a neatly folding design, it comes with a useful three-way head, and if you shell out for the kit (which isn’t much extra) you also get the GripTight 360 Phone Mount. It uses the same QR plate as other Joby products, meaning it’s easy to swap your camera between them in seconds. Handy if you already own a GorillaPod or similar.
This budget tripod is designed for use for shooting video, or for supporting a spotting scope. Its three-section design means that it does not fold away as small as some, but this helps with stability - which is also helped by the spreader supports that connect the center column to the legs. A downside, compared with more expensive options, is that you can't remove and upgrade the pan-tilt head. See our full Svbony SA402 review.