Tripods and monopods are vital pieces of equipment for many photographers. But they can be a significant expense when you’re on a budget.
If you’re a photographer on a budget, you don’t need to worry. You can still find an excellent tripod or monopod that meets your needs.
In this article, we’ve got the best budget tripods and monopods for photographers. Keep reading to find the best budget-friendly tripods and monopods.
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The Difference Between a Tripod and Monopod
Their names give away the main difference. A tripod has three legs, and a monopod has one. But there are also differences in how and why they are used.
A tripod gives you excellent stability, creating a sturdy base for your camera to sit on. The three legs mean a tripod can stand alone, without human assistance. Using a tripod gives you more freedom with your camera settings. You can use slower shutter speeds without fear of camera shake or motion blur. And you can do long exposures and time- lapse photography.
The single leg of a monopod gives the photographer temporary support when they need it. They don’t give you the prolonged stability of a tripod. But they are nimble and don’t need any setup. Monopods are favoured by sports and wildlife photographers. A monopod gives them the support to get the shot they need. But it also allows them to move around quickly.
There are tripods, monopods, and some options that double as both. We’ll feature all of these options in our list, so you’ll be able to find what you need.
What to Look For in a Tripod
The first thing to check is the weight capacity. You need to know that the tripod you buy can support the weight of your camera. And if you use large lenses, like a telephoto lens, that will add to the weight you need to support.
Exceeding the weight limit of the tripod not only puts the tripod at risk. You might also damage other equipment, like your camera. If you overload the tripod, it will become top-heavy and topple over.
Another thing to consider is the tripod’s maximum height. You need to think about the kind of photography you’ll be doing with the tripod. And you should think about your height. You don’t want to have to stoop to look through the viewfinder.
The next thing to think about is the head of the tripod. There are fixed heads that are stable, but they don’t allow for any movement. You’ll find pan and tilt heads, which give you more freedom of movement. And then there’s the ball head, which offers an excellent range of movement.
The Best Budget Tripods and Monopods
Now it’s time for our list of the best budget tripods and monopods. We have something for everyone, so you’ll be able to find what you need.
The Amazon Basics tripod may be the cheapest option on this list, but it’s packed with many features.
This fantastic tripod has a simple fluid head that lets you pan and tilt your camera. It also has a crank that precisely raises and lowers the centre column without losing stability. It also features bubble levels to let you confirm if your tripod is straight or not.
The Amazon Basics tripod is not the most compact option on this list. It would stick out if you attached it to your backpack. But that’s a minor issue regarding this piece of equipment.
Strength is the more important issue. And it can support up to 6 pounds, meaning it can handle bigger cameras. Its wide aluminium legs ensure a stable platform for your camera.
Kodak has been a household name for at least a century. So when they come out with a budget tripod, you can expect it to have good quality.
Kodak’s tripod has all the features that come standard in most budget options. It has a fluid head, a crank to adjust the centre column, and a quick-release plate.
But what makes the Kodak tripod different is the simplicity and build quality. It has a beautiful aluminium frame that’s sturdy and strong. The tripod head may be plastic, but it looks sleek and high-grade compared to its competitors.
If you love to travel, this compact tripod is the best option for you. Despite having an aluminium body, it still only weighs 2.99 pounds. It’s strong and lightweight, which is exactly what a travel photographer needs.
What makes the K&F Concept tripod attractive to travel photographers is that it can fit in small bags. That means you can place it in plane cabins without any issues. Despite the K&F Concept’s compact size, it extends up to 62 inches.
But the best feature of this tripod is its centre column. You can configure it so it can support a camera for low-angle shots. You can even remove it and turn it into a monopod for when you’re on the move.
This compact tripod from Geekoto is one of the best budget options on the market. It’s an excellent option for travel and any outdoor photography.
One of the best features of this tripod is the rotating ball head. The head has a quick-release flip lock, so it’s easy to attach your camera. But the head is connected to the main body of the tripod with a ball joint, which gives the head 360 degrees of free rotation.
The Geekoto tripod is strong but only weighs 3.4 pounds. And despite its light frame, it has a weight capacity of 17.6 pounds. That’s strong enough for a professional-level DSLR camera with accessories.
It has a maximum extended height of 77 inches. But it folds down to a reasonable 19 inches, making it easy to carry with you. The Geekoto tripod also doubles as an excellent monopod.
Manfrotto is a famous brand among professional photographers. But it also has a few great options for beginners! One of their budget best-sellers is the Manfrotto Compact Action tripod.
As the name suggests, the Compact Action is so portable that you can put it inside a small book bag. It also features a pistol grip that gives you excellent control when adjusting the tripod head.
The downside of using Compact Action is that its legs are slightly flimsy, and they don’t go up as high. But if you have a lightweight camera, it shouldn’t cause any problems. After all, this tripod is specifically designed for entry-level DSLRs and mirrorless options.
If your photography finances are tight, this option may push the budget to its limit. But it’s a solid and easy-to-use tripod recommended for serious photographers. This tripod handles 5.44 pounds, which is enough for a high-level DSLR.
This Manfrotto has a maximum height of 53 inches. For lower angle shooting, it goes down to 16 inches. You have an excellent height range for a variety of shooting.
It uses a unique feature called Quick Power Lock. It allows you to lock and unlock sections separately until complete extension. This way, you can keep tweaking the legs with only one hand. It also offers a 90° column system so you can take photos from any perspective.
The Manfrotto MT190X Pro4 includes a bubble level and an easy link connector. It’s a reliable option for enthusiast photographers.
This Vanguard tripod has everything you need in a tripod. It has excellent build quality. It’s portable, and it provides stability when shooting. It’s perfect for enthusiast-level photographers.
The tripod has detachable legs and a removable centre column. That means it can be combined to form a monopod. It can extend up to 65.5 inches. And can shoot as low as 9.5 inches from the ground, giving you a great height range.
The ball head is removable, giving you 91° tilt in portrait orientation and 360° in independent rotation.
The reversible centre column and the low-angle adaptor make this tripod perfect for low-angle and macro photography.
The Amazon Basics 67-inch Monopod checks all the prerequisites for the perfect monopod.
Despite being under 1 pound in weight, it can carry up to 6 pounds. With a universal 1/4 inch mount, you can attach any tripod head to it for additional stability.
Our favourite feature is the four-section shaft that extends up to 67 inches. Now that’s a big plus, especially if you’re a tall photographer.
The added details built into the product make the Amazon Basics monopod unique. For instance, apart from having a rubber foot, it also has a retractable spike for extra stability. It also features a cushion grip and strap, which allows you to use it as a hiking pole.
Camera supports don’t get much cheaper than the Vista Trailblazer. Its seven-pound weight capacity is on the low side for monopods. But it can provide support for most enthusiast-level cameras.
The Vista Trailblazer extends up to 68 inches. But it can also fold down to 21 inches for low-angle shooting or packing. Flip-style locks adjust the monopod’s height quickly and easily.
At one pound, the monopod isn’t going to add much heft to your bag. The bottom foot has a spike, which you can retract to use the rubber foot instead.
The Vista Trailblazer isn’t the most full-featured monopod out there. But it’s a good deal for the tightest budgets and photographers who want to try a monopod.
Finding a budget monopod for heavy gear isn’t easy to do. But the Benro MAD38A Adventure Series 3 Aluminum Monopod can handle a robust 35.3 pounds yet has a reasonable price tag.
The higher weight capacity makes the monopod excellent for handling heavy lenses. The monopod extends to 62.8 inches, and when closed, the monopod is 20.7 inches long.
The monopod will only make a 1.4-pound dent in your gear bag, so it’s a great travel tripod too.
Unlike most budget monopods, this Benro has a rubber foot that helps keep the monopod in place. The foot articulates, so the monopod still allows for different angles. Other perks include flip-style locks for quick height adjustments and a foam grip at the top.
The monopod is also available in carbon fiber if the budget has a bit more wiggle room. But the weight reduction is small, and the price hike is steep. That’s why the aluminium option is our top pick.
Like most monopods, there’s no head included. Picking up a tripod head will allow further camera angle adjustments outside of that articulating foot at the base.
The secret to getting the best tripod or monopod is doing a lot of research. Remember that not every piece of equipment is perfect for every photographer. You need to look for the gear that suits the photography you do.
Figure out how you want to use your tripod or monopod. Will you be shooting outdoors or travelling? Or will you be working in a studio? Those are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself before buying.
But whether it’s for sports, landscape, or food photography, I hope you’ve found the best budget tripod for you.
If you’re using a monopod for wildlife photography, check out our Wonderful Wildlife ebook to take it to the next level!