When we spoke to some professional photographers about the best tripod under $100, the opinions were mixed.
Ditto with amateurs and YouTubers who largely seem to believe, that $100 isn’t a price tag where one can expect a durable, stable and reliable tripod for heavy and expensive lenses.
But a few opinions never deterred our curious noses from doing some digging.
Particularly because we desperately needed a reliable second tripod (after our Vanguard Alta Pro 283CT was snitched in South Africa).
As always, we were strapped for cash, with $100 being the absolute maximum that we could afford to spend.
After spending months doing the research, we were pleasantly surprised to find not one, but 11 tripods sturdy enough to survive the abuse that we subject it to and all priced under that magic number, $100.
If you are looking for the best tripod within $100 budget, chances are that you will find it in this list.
TL;DR – Our Top 3 Picks
1. Manfrotto Compact Action tripod with hybrid head
If you have been following us for a while, then you wouldn’t be surprised that the #1 recommendation in this list is a Manfrotto.
We love the brand and its products. This one is no different.
It is a very light, portable and compact tripod, best suited for travel and other applications that mainly use an entry-level DSLR camera with the kit lenses. (It does come with an adapter if you are looking to use a higher-res camera.)
This means that it doesn’t have a huge safety payload, the max being 3.3 lbs.
The tubing is heavy-duty aluminum that keeps it wobble free even on a windy day.
But it extends to 61” and folds down to just 17.32”, that’s just the length we seek for landscape shots during hikes. Oh, did we mention that it weighs just 2.65 lbs.?
It comes with a hybrid head that offers 360-degree panoramic pans and tilts to 90-degrees in all directions, including straight down. There’s a pistol-grip with a wheel that can be operated with the thumb to loosen or tighten the mount. Extremely easy to use!
The head has a quick-release plate that makes the camera attaching a breeze. Also, you can switch from photo to video mode by pressing a lever.
Manfrotto Compact Action tripod
2. Dolica AX600B250 Aluminum Alloy Proline Traveler Edition Tripod
Priced slightly lower than the Manfrotto Compact Action, we have this amazing little tripod from Dolica, who are known as the spendthrifts’ fav brand for a reason.
It is made of aluminum and has a max load capacity of 13.1 lbs. So, if you were looking for a compact tripod that could sustain your heavier lenses, you’ve just found it.
It extends to 62” and folds down to just 23” and comes with a removable, invertible center column (macro shots) that keeps it rock steady.
Quick-release flip locks make it easy to deploy and collapse on a short notice. The standout feature though is the single-lever ball head.
Offers 360-degree panoramic shots with marks and comes with a quick-release plate with a ¼” mounting screw.
Two bubble levels on the plate allow precision every time, while the twist of a knob lets you lock the pan and tilt movement.
Overall, we couldn’t be more satisfied with the Dolica tripod at this price. It comes with a 5-year warranty as well.
3. Neewer 2-in-1 Camera Tripod Monopod
There’s something about these little-known brands that makes them produce unbelievably good products.
Here’s the 2-in-1 tripod, monopod combo from Neewer, which is like a bunch of goodies.
Where do we begin? Let’s start with the build quality. It is made of 28mm magnesium-aluminum alloy tubes that give it a max load capacity of 33 lbs., while it weighs just 4.76 lbs.
The payload capacity alone makes it perfect for use with a variety of DSLR-lens combos and almost every camcorder that we usually use.
Yes, it’s a little heavy as compared to travel tripods. But we are willing to overlook that.
Everything else is just perfect.
It extends to 72.5” and has a minimum height of 25.6” with a folding height of 26.4”. The legs can be deployed and collapsed easily and the lengths of each leg can be adjusted independently for uneven terrain. There are hooks that let you hang sandbags to stabilize it on uneven turf.
The center column is 18.9” and can be inverted for macro shots or realigned for extremely low angle shots.
When you want to use it as a monopod instead, you can remove one of the legs. This reduces weight as well.
The ball-head is perfect for smooth pans and two knobs allow you to control the tilt to a full 90-degrees.
In simple terms, there’s very little that you cannot do with this tripod. At this price point, this is an unbelievably good deal.
Neewer 2-in-1 Camera Tripod Monopod
4. Bonfoto B690A Aluminum Tripod
The Bonfoto B690A fits the bill for our second travel tripod. Or as a ‘just-in-case’ tripod that can be thrown into our backpack without adding to the bulk.
It folds down to just 14.5” thanks to the reversible legs and weighs just 2.6lbs. Yet, it has a max load capacity of 17 lbs. which works with most of our cam and lens gear combos.
It has 4-section legs with flip locks for quick deployment and comes with a telescopic center-column that can be reversed for macro shots and features a hook to throw in a sandbag for stability.
It is 53” when fully extended. While that’s not the best, considering that both of us are well above 6’, it is a reasonable height that we are willing to live with for a second tripod.
More importantly, it stays rock steady even with our Canon EOS 1-DX MK II and the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM mounted on it. The combo weighs well over 13 lbs.
Comes with an interchangeable ball head for smooth pans and tilts.
5. AmazonBasics Lightweight Camera Mount Tripod
The AmazonBasics Tripod isn’t our favorite in this list. But we don’t see why it can be a very useful second tripod for specific applications.
For starters, it weighs just 1.25 lbs. Club that with a 3-way head that lets you pan, tilt and switch from landscape to portrait in a jiffy, and you have a very useful set of features in an affordable package.
It extends to 50” and folds down to just 16” making it very portable.
The legs are easy to deploy and can be adjusted (not individually) to customize the height.
However, the tripod can be wobbly even with an entry-level SLR and a lightweight kit lens when the legs are extended fully. We won't rely on this in windy conditions or uneven terrain if we intend to use it at max height.
Having said that, when we do our indoor shoots and are looking for a lightweight tripod to attach our point and shoots or DJI Osmo Action cameras to, there’s possibly no better pick.
It also works reasonably well outdoors when the legs are extended fully.
6. Sony VCT-R640
The Sony VCT-R640 is one of Sony’s entry-level models that’s aimed at beginner photographers and videographers.
It is a basic tripod that looks a tad outdated when you compare the design with some of the others in this list of best tripods. But coming from Sony, it is as sturdy as the rest of their gear are.
It is made of aluminum alloy and weighs 2.64 lbs. with a maximum weight capacity of 6.6 lbs.
It extends to 56” and folds down to 21”. Neither are the best-in-class. But don’t forget the price point when you draw unreasonable comparisons.
This is at least 50% cheaper than most other tripods under $100.
For the price, it is a very good tripod to buy.
It comes with a three-way head that pans and tilts smoothly. No wobble at all. To top it off, there’s a quick-release plate that lets you switch cameras in the blink of an eye.
Looking for a reliable, inexpensive tripod for still photos or for use with light-weight camera setups? Give this a shot.
7. Moman Tabletop Tripod
This Tabletop tripod from Moman is an invaluable addition to our gear.
It is incredibly versatile for a variety of applications like product shoots, food photography and macro shots.
It has a maximum height of 4.3” and a minimum of just 1.3” getting you unbelievably close to the action.
When not in use, it folds to just 6.2” and can be tucked into your pocket if need be.
Despite the size, it has a maximum weight capacity of 176 lbs. Oh yes! You heard that right.
You can prop the heaviest camcorder and lens combo on this and this brute of a tripod doesn’t even flinch.
Stays rock steady thanks to the CNC aluminum alloy construction and the rubber wrapped feet that give it excellent traction.
It comes with Moman’s popular ball head that offers 360-degree smooth movements and a quick release plate for mounting a range of cameras, scopes and camcorders.
If you are involved in any type of photo or videography that requires a reliable, low-angle tripod, then we highly recommend this one.
Moman Tabletop Tripod
8. Polaroid 72-inch ProPod
The ProPod is an entry-level tripod from Polaroid that boasts of max height of 72”. Most tripods at this price point extend to a max of 50-60”.
Those extra 12” can be a godsend if you are above 6’ tall and using the tripod at its maximum height all day.
After use, you can fold it down to 28” and apart from a carrying case, it comes with an inbuilt handle that allows easy transportation.
The build quality is decent, but certainly not the best. While the legs and the center column are built of aluminum alloy, the locks and some of the knobs seem a little flimsy for use with heavier setups.
But a few tradeoffs are to be expected at this price.
As long as you don’t overload the three-way head, you should be good to go.
Comes with a quick-release plate by the way.
Polaroid 72-inch ProPod
9. JOBY GorillaPod 5K Stand
If you are a professional photographer, then the Joby GorillaPod needs no introduction. We owned one of these for six years before one of the legs finally gave in to the abuse that we subject it to, every single day.
It is an extremely versatile camera mounting accessory.
In many situations, even better than an expensive tripod. It can be mounted on trees, poles, bridges, humans, zombies, name it and it just wraps around and sits tight.
Doesn’t flinch even when we have stretched the 11 lbs. maximum weight load by a tad. (Do this at your own risk)
The construction is lightweight aluminum and it has a tough rubber coating that works flawlessly even in extreme weather conditions.
Having said that, ensure that you take necessary precautions when you mount expensive gear on a gorilla pod.
JOBY GorillaPod 5K Stand
10. Mactrem CT62
The Mactrem CT62 is one of the sturdiest travel tripods that we’ve come across in recent times. We call it a travel tripod because it collapses to just 17.5” and weighs 2.9 lbs.
That fits our backpack comfortably without straining our backs.
Further, it has an impressive maximum load capacity of 33 lbs. and extends to 62” which works well with some of our heavier setups that we use for wildlife.
It comes with a 28mm ball-head with two bubble levels for added precision. The panning is incredibly smooth without any jitters or jerks.
You can lock the ball head on the pan axis with the twist of a knob that stops downward and upward movements.
Also, it features a reversible center column for ground-level shots. We recommend adding a counterweight if you are using a heavy telephoto lens with this tripod.
11. Magnus VT-300 Video Tripod
Our last pick in this list of best tripods under $100, that deserves a special mention is the Magnus VT-300.
This is one of the best tripods for videography. It’s made of carbon fiber and has a 15 lbs. max load capacity.
Extends to 64.3” and has a buttery-smooth ball head with independent tilt and pan locks.
The three-section legs can be extended by flipping locks. Stays sturdy and wobble-free at max heights.
Having said that, there are some instances of the ball head fluid leaking after three to four years of use.
Would you call that a con considering the price point that it’s being sold at?
We wouldn’t. But that’s subjective to the usage too.
Overall, if you are in the market for a budget-priced videography tripod, this is one of your best bets.
Magnus VT-300 Video Tripod
Things To Consider When You Shop For A Tripod Under $100
Contrary to popular notion, it is completely possible to get a great tripod for a wide range of applications under $100.
Manufacturing processes have evolved considerably over the past few years, bringing the prices down while improving the quality of tripods.
Having said that, there are a lot of gimcracks being sold under fancy names and labels.
Here are a few important things to consider before you shop for a budget tripod.
Manufacturers often advertise the best feature of the tripod while describing the build quality.
So, the description may mention ‘Aluminum alloy’ or ‘Carbon fiber’, where only the tubing is made of aluminum. Most other parts, including the locks, the knobs and the feet may be cheap plastic.
When selecting the best tripod under $100, check for details about the build quality.
Do the locks keep the legs securely locked or is there play/give even after locking?
Do the rubberized feet work on rough terrain?
How smooth is the panning and tilting? Does it jerk?
Does the tripod wobble when extended to the max height in windy conditions (A common problem with cheap store-bought tripods)?
Can it be reliably used outdoors?
The tripod head
Most tripods south of $100 either have the classic 3-way head or a ball head. Gimbals are rarely used at this price point.
Irrespective of the type of head you are comfortable with, look for ease of operation. Does it come with one single knob or multiple knobs to lock the camera into position?
Our #1 pick, the Manfrotto Compact Action comes with a pistol grip and a wheel that can be operated with the thumb to tighten and loosen the cam. It’s effortless.
Most manufacturers also offer QR plates or Quick Release plates with their tripods these days. Proprietary plates limit the options for you and lock you down to a specific brand.
Look for ARCA-Swiss compatible quick release plate as its universally compatible with most cameras.
Fluid heads are usually used for videography.
No matter what the intended use, there’s not one photographer who dislikes a compact, lightweight tripod.
If you travel a lot with the tripod in tow, look at the folded size. This will determine whether it fits comfortably into your backpack.
Likewise, check the weight. Pick the lightest one that you can without compromising on functionality. Even one or two lbs. of weight can make a huge difference if you are carrying it all day.
Max weight capacity
The weight capacity is an oft overlooked factor while buying tripods. But it’s one of the most critical ones.
What camera and lenses do you mostly work with? Is it heavy telephoto lenses used in wildlife? Is it lightweight lenses usually used in travel?
Always pick a tripod that has at least 20-30% more capacity than your setup. For example, if you use a Nikon D5 with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E, a setup that weighs nearly 6.5 lbs., you’d want to select a tripod that has a max weight capacity of at least 9 lbs. to be safe.
Also, use a counterbalance whenever appropriate to prevent the tripod from tripping over and damaging your expensive gear.
Max and minimum Height
The maximum height that the tripod extends to, will play an important role in determining ease of use.
If you are taller than 6’, then a 5’ tripod will give you a sore back after a while. Look for one that extends to 72” if possible so that you don’t have to bend that often.
But if you are a shorter user, like 5’5 or thereabout, then you can pick one that extends to 60-62” for comfortable use.
Low angle shots aren’t typically used in most applications. But they are an absolute necessity in Macro and food photography. Look for tripods with a center column that can be inverted for low angle use.
That’s it folks. We hope that you enjoyed reading through our recommendations of the best tripods under $100.
We have picked tripods for the most common photographic applications, like wildlife, travel, Vlogs, food and of course for Videos.
Do write to us if you feel that we have missed out on anything. Until next time, adios!