The 6 best tripods for landscape photography and what to look for

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First of all, why do you even need a good tripod for landscape photography?

Why do I even need the best tripod for landscape photography anyway, why not just a good one  or can’t I just make do with a cheap one?

Well….. No, you can’t, well you could but it will impact the quality of your pictures massively.

I’ll set the scene, you’re in this picture above ready to take the shot of a lifetime but guess what you don’t need a tripod because you’re a pro, who needs a tripod any way.

You set up, you’ve got the perfect shot in your viewfinder, you take a deep breath staying as till as you can.

You release the shutter but boy is it cold, you’re shaking, the camera’s shaking and there goes your perfect shot and you end up with something like the image below.

The best tripods will stop this from happening and camera shake will no longer be an issue.

With landscape photography being more of deliberate and pre-planned style of photography, a tripod will allow you to pause and focus on what the best setup will be for the shot you are envisioning instead of just taking shots on the fly without proper preparation.

A tripod becomes particularly useful with the settings used a lot in landscape photography.

The narrow aperture and the longer shutter speed are very unforgiving on any kind of camera movement and even more so at night time with likely a wider aperture but an even longer shutter speed

So ultimately the reason you want a good tripod for landscape photography is stability and eliminating that dreaded camera shake.

The qualities of the best tripods for landscape photogrpahy

There are many things you should take into consideration before choosing a tripod, there will likely be compromises for some tripods but it’s about finding the best fit for what you intend to do with it.

For example do you do a lot of hiking whilst taking photos? 

If so you’re probably not going to be wanting to carry round a tripod that weighs the same as a small elephant (slight exaggeration but you get the point).

Material

The vast majority of tripods are made of aluminium or carbon fibre, the biggest difference between them is price and weight.

Aluminium

Aluminium is a very strong material; tripods made from this will make for a very stable base for you to take photos from.

The great thing about aluminium tripods is that they are in most cases cheaper than their carbon fibre counterpart.

One of the downsides to this material is that although it is light, it is heavier in comparison to carbon fibre.

For those on a budget, the aluminium tripod is a great choice and will provide you with the stability that you require.

Carbon Fibre

Carbon fibre is also exceptionally strong and like the aluminium makes it a very stable base to shoot from.

One of carbons best features is its weight, it’s much lighter than aluminium making it ideal if you do a lot of hiking to get to your vantage point.

Conversely it’s biggest downsides is that it is much more expensive but in most cases it is worth the extra money if you do a lot of walking between shots.

Portability

Weight

Depending on the type of landscape photography you intend on doing will also decide on what type of tripod is best for you.

For instance some people love photography and hiking or backpacking equally and so a tripod that is light weight is likely to be high on the list of priorities for those people.

On the other hand some will only go to places easily accessible by car or other form of transport, if this is the case for you then you probably won’t mind if the tripod is heavier.

If you want lightweight then I would advise going for a carbon fibre tripod, if weight isn’t such an issue then why not just go for an aluminium and save yourself some money while you’re at it!

Folded Length

Similarly to the weight, the folded length is more likely to be of concern to those who do plenty of walking in between shots and less of an issue although still a consideration for those who can travel direct to their shooting site.

The folded length of a tripod should strap nicely onto your bag, you don’t want it to be flailing around otherwise it’s likely to end up on eBay…. not good, well good for someone, just not you.

Minimum and Maximum Height

The height is pretty self explanatory, you want a tripod that is at a height where you don’t have to bend over or hunch.

The 2 Main Types of Head

When it comes down to head choice it’s quite personal, some people like the free, easy movement that the ball head offers but can (emphasis on “can”)  also lack stability, whilst some prefer the more precise but bulkier 3 way pan and tilt.

Ball Head

The ball head works exactly the same way as your shoulder or hip does using a ball and socket joint to allow a full range of movement.

This type of head is very easy to use although the knob that locks your chosen position in place can become loose from the weight of the camera pulling down on it.

3 Way Pan and Tilt

This head allows the camera to move on all planes of movement, so that’s up, down, left, right, portrait, landscape and of course rotation.

What I like about this type of head is the precise movement it gives you which I feel gives me greater control of the picture that I want to take.

The slight downside to this type of head is that they are normally larger and more cumbersome than the ball head.

Features

Maximum Load

For obvious reasons you need to know the weight limit for your tripod. 

I would recommend getting a tripod that can handle a little more than you plan on using as a buffer to add more in future or just for reassurance, you don’t want your tripod to fail under your expensive kit.

Leg Sections

The more leg sections a tripod has the smaller it will fold down to.

You may think “great, get me the new 50 leg sectioned tripod” but the extra leg sections can compromise the stability of the erected tripod.

So when choosing a tripod, a general rule would be that the fewer the leg sections, the more stable the tripod will be, this isn’t the case 100% of the time but it’s a good general rule.

Levelling Bubble

Taking a picture like this with a levelling bubble makes things much easier

A levelling bubble tells you whether or not you are well… level.

This is a nice feature to have as what you think is level and what is truly level can be two entirely different things.

Sometimes it can be hard not to assume that you must be level because all of the legs are extended to the same point and can cause frustration, this isn’t a problem with a levelling bubble.

This feature is also particularly helpful when taking panoramic shots where staying level is very important.

Stabilisation Hook

A simple hook or loop normally located at the base of the central column that allows for increased stability.

This is particularly useful when your tripod is at it’s tallest setting as with the camera it can become a bit top heavy.

Simply attach a weight, usually your camera bag with a bungee cord so that your bag is touching the floor and applying downward force to further stabilise the tripod.

For day to day use outside of landscape photography this feature will probably not be so essential but when you’re half up mount Vesuvius and the wind is blowing, you’ll be glad of this tiny yet very useful feature.

I would say that this hook is even more important on carbon fibre tripods as the reduced weight may lend itself to needing additional stabilisation.

Angled Legs

This is a great feature for a tripod to have, it allows the user to manipulate the legs individually which can be ideal for when working with rough or uneven terrain.

It also allows the legs to lie almost flat giving you a very low minimum height for you to play with.  

Our 6 best tripods for landscape photography

1. Manfrotto 055XPRO3

We score this 4.2/5
4.2/5

Key Specifications:

Material – Aluminium

Stabilisation hook / Loop – Yes

Levelling bubble – Yes

Leg sections – 3

Maximum load – 9kg

Folded length – 61cm

Weight – 2,500g

Max height – 170cm

Min height –  9cm

Leg lock type – Flip lock

Features
Handling / Performance
Value for money

Pros:

  • Very strong build
  • Easy to setup
  • The easy link is great for accessories
  • Exceptionally stable
  • Good max load

Cons:

  • No case included
  • Quite heavy
  • Hook location
  • Fiddly horizontal column

Summary

The Manfrotto 055XPRO03 is an extremely solid and stable tripod which makes it perfect for the great outdoors.

Due to it’s stability and strength, this tripod can stand up to some pretty tough conditions, ideal if you spend most of your time at higher altitudes or out in the open where wind is more likely.

There are some nit picks with this tripod though. 

Being made of aluminium this tripod is on the heavier side and may not be your best option if you do a lot of walking between shots.

Some people report that the configuration of the horizontal column can be quite fiddly but once set up is strong and sturdy.

The location of the stabilisation loop is just off centre in between the legs, this is more of a personal thing but I feel that the tripod would be more stable if it was more central or if there was one on each side so the weight would end up in the middle.

I do like this tripod but I think that more should be included for your money, you don’t even get a bag which some may prefer so that they can choose their own but that’s just me. 

You can purchase them with the heads at an increased price or you can just buy the tripod and choose the head seperately; it’s up to you.

2. Neewer Carbon Fibre Tripod / Monopod

We score this 4.3/5
4.3/5

Key Specifications:

Material – Carbon Fibre

Stabilisation hook / Loop – Yes

Levelling bubble – Yes

Leg sections – 4

Maximum load – 15kg

Folded length – 45cm

Weight – 1,700g

Max height – 160cm

Min height –  45cm

Leg lock type – Twist lock

Features
Handling / Performance
Value for money

Pros:

  • Easy to set up
  • Compact
  • Resists vibration well
  • Robust and stable
  • Pretty light

Cons:

  • The monopod is kind of clunky
  • The included ball head takes some tightening
  • Included bag is too small

Summary

The lightweight Neewer carbon fibre tripod is an excellent tripod, especially for it’s price.

The carbon fibre frame is very stable standing up to moderate weather conditions and also includes a stabilisation hook for those more blustery days; an important feature for lightweight tripods.

Due to its weight and the fact that it can be folded to a rather compact 45cm would make it a great fit for those who do a lot of travelling between shots.

What I like about this tripod is how it handles vibration, some carbon fibre tripods can struggle with this but the Neewer does not.

One of the downsides of this tripod, and it may not bother everyone depending on whether they decide to use this feature, is setting up the monopod. Some say that they feel it should be much easier to set up and it feels a bit cumbersome.

The ball head can also be problematic but this could just be the nature of the beast. Ball heads are known to sometimes fall slightly under the weight of your equipment once all the knobs are tightened.

Rounding up with one very small issue…. the included bag is quite tight and so it might be best to purchase one separately that better suits you.

A great tripod and exceptional value for money. 

3. Manfrotto MKBFRTA4BK-BH (UK)

We score this 4/5
4/5

Key Specifications:

Material – Aluminium

Stabilisation hook / Loop – Yes

Levelling bubble – No

Leg sections – 4

Maximum load – 8kg

Folded length – 40cm

Weight – 1,490g

Max height – 150cm

Min height –  40cm

Leg lock type – Twist lock

Features
Handling / Performance
Value for money

Pros:

  • Very Light
  • Fast setup
  • Highly portable
  • Compact
  • Included padded case

Cons:

  • Lacking stability at full extension
  • Not great in moderate or more winds

Summary

This Manfrotto tripod is perfect for certain situations. The travelling landscape photographer would absolutely love this tripod for its over all portability.

At a very light 1,490g, this tripod wouldn’t feel like a burden when trekking over mountains to find your next big shot.

Combine this with its compact nature at only 40cm when folded and a very fast setup and you’ve got a recipe for landscape photography perfection on the fly.

Another nice thing you get when purchasing this, is a padded bag, not essential but good to have and this one doesn’t seem half bad either unlike some that you get given for free with your purchase.

The biggest gripe with this tripod is its stability. This is mainly a problem when the legs are fully extended and relying on its much narrower bottom legs for support, because of this it also doesn’t perform amazingly well in rough weather conditions.

With these features it’s obvious to see exactly who Manfrotto were targeting with this one and I agree that this tripod would be perfect for those who consider portability key, unfortunately in doing this it has slightly compromised on its stability.

Overall the Manfrotto tripod would be a great suit to those who do a lot of travelling with their landscape photography and maybe not so much for those who partake in photography in rougher weather conditions.

4. MeFoto RoadTrip

We score this 4.7/5
4.7/5

Key Specifications:

Material – Carbon Fibre

Stabilisation hook / Loop – Yes

Levelling bubble – Yes

Leg sections – 5

Maximum load – 8kg

Folded length – 39cm

Weight – 1,400g

Max height – 156.5cm

Min height –  39cm

Leg lock type – Twist lock

Features
Handling / Performance
Value for money

Pros:

  • Super light
  • Monopod feature works well
  • Highly portable
  • Wide range of colours!
  • Decent included ball head
  • Compact

Cons:

  • Tripod plate fiddly
  • Legs can only be locked in 2 positions
  • Cost increase for carbon fibre

Summary

I really like the MeFoto RoadTrip tripod, it’s very light and is extremely portable.

Weighing only 1,400g and folding down to just 39cm, this tripod is ideal for those long days trekking the landscapes, making this tripod a great contender for portability.

With a lot of tripods that include the head you may be disappointed with what you get and you’d likely end up buying a new head, however with the MeFoto the ball head is actually pretty decent and will certainly suffice for a wide range of uses.

Only a small point, but this tripod comes in a range of colours for you to choose from so now you can get the tripod matches your new bag…. oooh stylish!

I do like this tripod however there are some downsides.

The tripod plate is not the best design, currently you’d need a screwdriver to tighten the plate properly, I hope that this will be replaced in favour of a d-ring to allow easy adjustment on the fly.

The legs can only be locked at two positions which doesn’t allow for much flexibility but this is something you would get used to and you’d just adapt to using these two settings.

The final downside is not about the tripod itself but its price. There is an aluminium version of this tripod which weighs 1,600g, so 200g more than the carbon fibre one.

The aluminium one is considerably cheaper and I think that for such a small difference in weight the price difference shouldn’t be as large as it is, so if the extra 200g doesn’t bother you I’d definitely go for the aluminium one.

Aluminium Version

Carbon Fibre Version

5. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB

We score this 4.7/5
4.7/5

Key Specifications:

Material – Aluminium

Stabilisation hook / Loop – Yes

Levelling bubble – Yes

Leg sections – 3

Maximum load – 7kg (vertical) / 5kg (horizontal)

Folded length – 71.5cm

Weight – 2,440g

Max height – 173cm

Min height –  0cm

Leg lock type – Flip lock

Features
Handling / Performance
Value for money

Pros:

  • High quality build
  • Great multi angle centre column
  • Very sturdy and stable
  • Leg flip locks work very well

Cons:

  • Quite heavy
  • Not as compact
  • Ball head can shift

Summary

The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB is a great tripod that allows for a great variety of shots without compromising stability unlike others on the market.

The tripod is sturdy and stable and it is clearly apparent that it is built to a high quality standard, this is shown further in its flip locks that lock strongly, quickly and without much effort.

One of its best features is its highly agile centre column allowing for a whole multitude of different shots both high and low.

The downsides for the Vanguard are mainly related to its portability, at 2.44kg, it is on the heavier side and perhaps wouldn’t be a good choice if you hike a lot whilst taking photos.

Adding to this is the fact that it is not very compact when folded, at 71.5cm, it may not be suited to all carry bags and may even get in the way, after a while this can become very annoying.

Again like with others on this list, the Vanguard uses a ball head which can be prone to shifting under the cameras weight, this is more a negative against the head type but is still worth noting.

Overall this is a wonderful tripod and the flexibility of shots is second to none.

6. K&F Concept TM2534T

We score this 4.7/5
4/5

Key Specifications:

Material – Aluminium Magnesium alloy

Stabilisation hook / Loop – Yes

Levelling bubble – Yes

Leg sections – 4

Maximum load – 10kg

Folded length – 49cm

Weight – 1,990g

Max height – 169cm

Min height –  0cm

Leg lock type – Twist lock

Features
Handling / Performance
Value for money

Pros:

  • Great multi angle centre column
  • Decent carry bag
  • Sturdy
  • Ball head works well
  • Overall good build

Cons:

  • Instructions are terrible
  • Fixings feel cheap

Summary

The K&F Concept TM2534T is another very versatile tripod, great for landscape photography but also great for macro and other types of photography that can make use of its flexible column.

The centre column is great allowing for a wide range of shots, the only limit to the pictures you can take is your imagination.

It comes with a decent carry bag which is a rarity nowadays.

Another rarity is having an included ball head with fluid movement but that’s exactly what this tripod has, this alone can play a huge role in the success of your photography.

The tripod is sturdy and stable and overall the build quality is good, which leads me onto my next point.

It’s only good because the fixings like the twist leg locks and the angle adjusting locks seam a little cheap, I don’t feel that it affects the performance of the tripod but over time it seems like they may deteriorate.

The other thing is that the included instructions are terrible which is a shame seen as though a half decent tripod has been built but something as trivial as the instructions hasn’t been finished to a high standard. It’s pretty easy to work out though.

Overall a great tripod for landscape photography but also other areas of photography making it a bit of an all rounder.

Wrapping Up

That concludes our picks of the best tripods for landscape photography.

Remember to pick one that aligns with what you intend on using it for; if you plan on doing a lot of hiking, travelling or backpacking whilst you take your photos then weight and portability will be a huge determining factor for you.

If you don’t mind a bit of extra weight and you won’t be doing too much travelling between shots then something heavier and possibly more stable would be a better suit.

What tripod do you use for landscape photography and what do you look for in a tripod? Comment below.

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