When shopping for the best tripods for wildlife photography, many options are out there and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by them. Tripods provide a ton of advantages over just “point and shoot” with your camera and allow you to get the absolute best shots possible.
A few of the advantages tripods offer when photographing wildlife are:
- Increased stability
- Better in low light conditions
- Allows for long exposures
- Just overall more time to take shots
Needless to say, tripods can really help take your wildlife photography game to the next level. So in this article we’re going to look at some of the best tripods for wildlife photography in various price ranges from budget to high end.
The best tripods for wildlife photography
Top 3 favorite tripods
1. GEEKOTO 77″ Comapact Aluminum Tripod – Best budget aluminum tripod
4. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AP Aluminum Tripod – Best overall aluminum tripod
5. Benro Adventure 3 Series Carbon Fiber Tripod – Best carbon fiber tripod
1. GEEKOTO 77” Compact Aluminum Tripod
- Aluminum construction
- Extends 19″ to 77″
- 360° panoramic ball head
- Compact and portable
- Easily turns into monopod
- Weighs 3.37 pounds
- Capacity 17.6 pounds
- Carrying case included
For this price range, you’ll be hard pressed to beat the GEEKOTO 77″ Aluminum Tripod. It’s wildly popular on Amazon, is really tall at 77″, and the build quality is great. It comes with a carrying case for easy transport and has all the bells and whistles of a tripod that costs 3x as much.
All in all this tripod is lightweight, sturdy, highly versatile, is great for beginners and pros alike, and really gives you more for your money than you’d expect. If you are wanting a nice aluminum tripod but don’t want to break the bank, this is a great choice.
2. Mactrem Lightweight Aluminum Tripod
- Extends from 17.5” to 62.5”
- Removable quick release plate
- 360 degree swivel ball head
- Made of super lightweight aluminum
- Detachable monopod
- Max load is 33 pounds
- Weighs just 2.9 pounds
- Compact at just 17.5″ when folded
- Includes case and phone holder
This aluminum tripod from Mactrem is lightweight, heavy duty yet compact, and versatile. It’s in a similar price range as the aluminum GEEKTO but there are some key differences. This one is significantly shorter at just 62″ compared to 77″, but it holds significantly more weight and weighs a bit less itself. Regardless of the differences it’s another great option for a budget friendly aluminum tripod.
I have some experience with this brand and own this tripod from Mactrem, that I use for a smaller point and shoot camera that I have. I am confident that any tripod from this brand will be of similar quality to the one I have and will make for a great tripod for wildlife photography. Or whatever your use may be.
3. Vanguard Alta Pro Aluminum Tripod
- 3 section aluminum legs adjust to 25, 50, and 80-degree angles
- SBH-100 ball head rotates 360 degrees
- Includes quick release plate
- Move the central column from 0 to 180 degrees
- Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock (ISSL) system
- Folded height: 28.2″
- Extended height: 68.2″
- Weight: 5.4 pounds.
- Max. load capacity: 15.4 pounds
Vanguard has been around for over 30 years and designs only high quality tripods and other photography gear, just like the Vanguard Alta Pro. One of my favorite aspects of this particular tripod is the ability to splay the legs out very wide, almost all the way to the ground.
Overall, this tripod is very sturdy, stable and and well-made. The ability to move the center column from 0 to 180 degrees in various vertical and horizontal positions make macro-photography and special wide-angle shots a pleasure. While this is an amazing tripod that is very well made, it is not a travel tripod and is rather heavy compared to some of the others on this list. The folded height/length is also quite long. If those things don’t bother you then this tripod has a lot to offer.
4. GEEKOTO Carbon Fiber Tripod
- Tripod tube is made of high-density carbon fiber
- Extends from 19’’ to 79’’
- Quickly transforms into a 81” monopod
- 360° panoramic ball joint head
- 3.4lbs tripod weight
- 26.5lbs maximum load weight
If you liked the style and design of the aluminum GEEKOTO above but wanted a carbon fiber option, this is it. It’s very similar in many ways to its aluminum cousin, with a few subtle differences. The tripod itself is lightweight and weighs about the same as the aluminum model, but it holds significantly more weight and extends an additional 2 inches.
While more expensive than the aluminum version of this tripod, it is still priced lower than most other carbon fiber tripods without sacrificing quality. If you’re looking for an affordable and lightweight carbon fiber tripod to add to your field kit, this is an certainly an option to consider and has stellar reviews on Amazon.
5. Manfrotto 055 3-Section Aluminum Tripod
- Unprecedented Strength and Rigidity Featuring Quick Power Locks
- Manfrotto’s Q90 Center Column Boasts Quick One Finger Operation
- Easy Link Connection for Adding Accessories
- Upper Disk with Rotating Bubble Level to Level on All Planes
- The Professional 3-Section Aluminum Tripod Solution
- Closed Length 24.02”
- Leg Angles 25°/46°/66°/88°
- Legs Tube Diameter 1.18-1.02 0.89”
- Load Capacity 19.84 lbs
- Maximum Height (with Center Column Down) 55.12”
- Maximum Height 66.93” – Minimum Height 3.54”
- Weight 5.51 lbs.
Manfrotto is another player in the world of tripods, and their 055 model is top of the line. It extends to 67 inches and holds almost 20 pounds, which should be plenty for even heavy equipment. The Manfrotto 055 is also highly versatile, light, strong, sturdy, and comes with plenty of features. It is a bit on the heavy side so not the best for portability, but not everyone goes hiking with their tripods. I often set my tripod or trail camera right in my backyard to record the wildlife there.
There is a carbon fiber version of the Manfrotto 055 and it does cost quite a bit more. For all of you tripod and photography gurus out there, you know that many times the extra cost is worth it. If you are coming from the previous model Manfrotto tripod, like the 190, the 055 is quite the upgrade.
6. Benro Adventure 3 Series Carbon Fiber Tripod (TAD37C)
- Compact and lightweight
- Weighs just 4 lbs
- Max load 30.9 lbs
- Extends from 25″ up to 63.6″
- Attach any compatible tripod head
- Ideal for location shooting or for studio use
- Limited 3-Year Warranty (Extendable to 5-Years)
Along with Manfrotto and several other brands, Benro is a top name in tripods. The Benro Adventure Series 3 comes in multiple variations as you can see from the product page allowing you to choose the one best for you. Regardless of how you choose to buy it, you’re sure to be thrilled with the design and build quality of these tripods.
As a higher end carbon fiber tripod, you will pay a little bit extra for this one. For serious photographers or those looking for an upgrade from their previous tripod, it will be well worth it. This tripod does not come with a head, so you’ll have to purchase that separately. The Benro Triple Action Ball Head comes highly recommended.
How to choose the best tripod for wildlife photography
If you are already shopping for tripods, then you likely already have your camera or have one in mind. Additionally you may already know how and where you will be using the camera and tripod. Keep these things in mind as you read over this section. It is meant to help you select the best tripod for wildlife photography, but also to pick the best one for you specifically.
Below are some of the main things you should consider when shopping for a tripod. Whether it’s for use with a DSLR, spotting scope, or anything else.
1. Weight & height
- Product weight – Consider the actually weight of the tripod because you will likely be carrying it around and transporting it. While most tripods are made to be as lightweight as possible, weights do vary so always keep that in mind when choosing a tripod.
- Product weight capacity – Probably even more important is the weight capacity of a tripod. Some camera tripods like this one from Amazon Basics can only hold around 6.6 pounds, while others like the GEEKOTO 77″ on this list can hold up to 17.6 pounds. That’s a huge difference. A nice DSLR and a telephoto lens can weigh 5 pounds or more. I recommend choosing a tripod that can hold about 2x the weight of your camera and lens.
The height of your tripod is always very important and it’s in your best interest to choose a tripod that is at least as tall as you are. You won’t always be standing when using your tripod, but if you are you can easily bring your camera to eye level.
2. Build quality
The two best materials for tripods are carbon fiber and aluminum, which is what all of the tripods on this list are constructed of. Some are made of steel and lower quality tripods can be made of plastic. If you are shopping for your first tripod, I recommend going with a nice aluminum one. There are many solid choices on this list that are built really well.
Tripods can range in cost from $50 to $500 or more, and everywhere in between.
- $50 – $100 – You can get a pretty decent aluminum tripod in this range if you are just getting started and aren’t using it to mount expensive equipment.
- $100 – $200 – If you are mounting a high-end DSLR or spotting scope, I’d recommend not going below this price range. It’s always advised to buy the best tripod you can afford.
- $200 – $300+ – There are a few on this list that fall into this range, like the Benro Adventure Series. These are typically top of the line tripods for serious photographers.
Your perfect tripod should be highly stable and always be balanced. Tripods are primarily used outdoors, especially for wildlife viewing, and are subject to weather conditions. A heavier tripod doesn’t necessarily equate to a more stable one either. Most good tripods, like the ones one this list, are going to be very stable.
Consider the different places and ways you want to use your tripod. Will you be traveling with it often, flying with it, carrying it in a backpack? Think of all the ways that you might possibly need to use your tripod and then when you are shopping for one make sure that it meets all of your needs. Each of the following components listed below can be highly versatile, depending on your needs.
A tripod is made up of many different parts, the following 3 are the main ones to look at if you’re considering purchasing one.
The head of the tripod is the top portion that your camera connects to. Its main purpose is to secure your camera and keep it steady while allowing you to easily and quickly adjust the angle and view.
Different types of heads:
- 3-Way / pan and tilt head
- Ball head
- Pistol grip head
- Geared head
- Gimbal head
2. Center column/Chassis
The chassis of a tripod is what connects the legs to the head. Some tripods come without a head or a center column, most tripods allow for them to be added on separately. This is where you do so.
The center column is a pole that is in the center of the three legs. It extends down towards the ground for maybe a foot or so, its purpose is to allow you to further extend the height of the tripod once the legs are fully extended. Some tripods do not have or need a center column.
3. Legs & feet
The legs are the main parts and what actually make a tripod a tripod. They are typically made of either carbon fiber or aluminum, with each having pros and cons. For instance, carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum. While carbon fiber is pretty durable, carbon fiber tripods are almost always more expensive and can be prone to fractures. Aluminum on the other hand is a bit heavier than carbon fiber but is more durable and less expensive.
There are a few different types of tripod feet styles. Some of the main types you might see are claws, spikes, rubber, or adjustable feet. Each type of feet work best for different terrains and uses. Clawed feet work best on rocky terrain, adjustable on uneven ground, rubber on slick surfaces, etc. Many times tripod feet are universal and can be swapped out for different uses.
When choosing a tripod there are many things to take into consideration, most of which we’ve touched on in this article. One thing is for certain though, a good tripod is a crucial part of photography. You will always want to get the best tripod for wildlife photography, and not go the cheap route that can end up with less than desirable results.
I’ve left you with some solid choices in this article, all of which will server you well. Some of the tripods on this list are better suited to hobbyists while others are more geared towards professional photographers.If you’re on a budget but still want a great quality tripod, I’d order the GEEKOTO 77″. However if you’re down to spend a little more for the best, then I’d get either the Benro Adventure Series 3 or the Vanguard Alta Pro.
I hope you’ve found this article helpful and are able to choose a tripod that you love!