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Last updated on November 18th, 2020

You may think that hand-held shots are enough in photography, but many shooting styles are not possible in hand-held mode. Time-lapse, long exposure, panorama, and astrophotography are only a few of the many shooting styles that require good camera support.

Image stabilization systems in camera bodies and lenses are getting better, but they are not enough to achieve your desired shots, especially those requiring long exposure, AEB shooting, or HDR photography. The camera needs to be in a still, fixed, and well-supported position to achieve the best results.

The tripod is the simple answer. It’s an essential part of a photographer’s camera gear, and it’s equally important as extra batteries or a spare memory card. Even famous photographers like Ansel Adams used tripods, though it was more required with film and landscape photography.

What to Look For in Buying a Tripod Under $100

There are a lot of factors to consider when picking a tripod. Do you need a lightweight or heavy tripod? Will you be walking around with your tripod often, or will you be staying put for an extended period? The last thing you want is to feel sore halfway through the day.

Another factor to consider is the minimum and maximum height of the tripod. Do you need an ultra-compact tripod, or is extendibility more important to you?

If you travel often, you’ll most probably want an ultra-compact tripod that can fit your luggage or carry-on.

Despite having several factors to consider in buying one, several of the best tripods are under $100.

Tripod Head

A good tripod head is rotatable in various directions and angles, providing different perspectives. It’s also good to consider one wherein the camera can be easily attached and detached from the tripod head.

In times when you need to quickly switch from tripod mode to hand-held mode, detaching your camera from the tripod with the help of a quick-release plate will help you get that perfect shot.

Tripod Frame

A tripod that is easy to set up can save you time. In photography, every second count. A second too late can easily result in an imperfect shot. When picking a tripod, the frame should be easy to set up, extend to multiple vantage points, and pack.

Material

Tripods are made from various materials, but the most common ones are aluminum, carbon fiber, and wood. Each of these has its advantages and disadvantages.

Aluminum is known to be durable, has a good strength-to-weight ratio, and is reasonably priced. The disadvantage of aluminum is that it quickly adapts to the temperature of the environment. When you’re shooting on top of a mountain on a cold, cloudy day, aluminum quickly gets cold. When you’re shooting under the heat of the sun, aluminum easily gets hot.

Wood is ecological, can easily absorb vibration, durable, temperature tolerant, and corrosion-resistant. The disadvantage of wood is mainly in portability. Most wood tripods are significantly heavier and don’t fold to compact size. If you travel often, a tripod made of wood is not the best choice.

The last material is carbon fiber. It’s known to have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, good vibration dampening, temperature tolerant, and corrosion-resistant. The main disadvantage of a carbon fiber tripod is the price. They’re known to be very expensive compared to aluminum and wood tripod. Durability is also a concern with carbon fiber since it’s not quite durable to impact.

Weight of Tripod

The weight of a tripod largely contributes to how heavy the camera and lens it can support. It makes more sense to go for a tripod that has an extra load capacity. Doing so makes your tripod future-proof in case you’ll upgrade to a heavier camera system in the future.

Size

How low or high will you be shooting? Keep in mind that the tripod should meet the height in which you usually shoot. The best photos aren’t always at eye level. Some pictures are more appealing