Are you interested in wildlife photography? Whether you’re hoping to venture into the heart of Africa on a safari or just looking to photograph birds and squirrels in your backyard, one indispensable tool is the tripod. When it comes to finding the best tripod for wildlife photography, it’s important to ensure that you balance out your needs and preferences with your budget to find the best option that will make a difference in your work.

Here at The Adventure Junkies, we enjoy helping our readers to learn about photography; in order to help them capture the best images that they’re after. With this in mind let’s take a look at some different tripod options that are available.

From traditional aluminum tripods to lightweight carbon models that are perfect for travel and hiking, let’s take a look at the best options that are available for wildlife photography enthusiasts today.

For more of our top outdoor photography gear recommendations, check out these popular articles: 

Landscape Camera | Landscape Lenses | Landscape Tripods

Travel Camera | Travel Lenses | Travel Tripods

Wildlife Camera | Wildlife Lenses | Wildlife Tripods

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QUICK ANSWER – THE BEST TRIPODS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

1. 3 LEGGED THING EQUINOX WINSTON

2. MANFROTTO MT190XPRO4

3. MEFOTO CLASSIC CARBON FIBER

4. MANFROTTO MT055XPRO3

5. INDURO CT-414 8X CARBON

6. GITZO SERIES 2 MOUNTAINEER

7. PROMASTER PROFESSIONAL XC525C

8. OBEN CT-3561

9. DAVIS & SANFORD TR654C-36

10. VANGUARD ALTA PRO 263AB

 

 

 

COMPARISON TABLE – THE BEST TRIPODS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

PICTURE
WILDLIFE TRIPODS
BEST FOR
WEIGHT
MATERIAL
PRICE
RATING
PICTURE
WILDLIFE TRIPODS
BEST FOR
WEIGHT
MATERIAL
PRICE
RATING
3 Legged Thing Equinox Winston
Overall
3.8 lbs
Carbon
$$
4.5
Manfrotto MT190XPRO4
Overall
4.4 lbs
Aluminum
$
4.6
MeFOTO Classic
Overall
3.7 lbs
Carbon
$$
4.6
Manfrotto MT055XPRO3
Overall
5.5 lbs
Aluminum
$$
4.4
Induro CT-414 8X
Overall
6.3 lbs
Carbon
$$
4.6
Gitzo GK2542-82QD Series 2 Mountaineer
Professional Use
5.4 lbs
Carbon
$$$
5.0
ProMaster Professional XC525C
Professional Use
3.0 lbs
Carbon
$$
5.0
Oben CT-3561
Budget
3.1 lbs
Carbon
$
4.2
Davis & Sanford TR654C-36
Budget
3.3 lbs
Carbon
$
4.3
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB
Budget
5.4 lbs
Aluminum
$
4.5

 

 

 

WILDLIFE TRIPODS REVIEWS

3 LEGGED THING EQUINOX WINSTON

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Overall

WEIGHT: 3.8 lbs

MATERIAL: Carbon

PROS: Stable, ideal for heavy equipment, includes quick-release plate, compact

CONS: Difficult to find accessories

 

 

 

MANFROTTO MT190XPRO4 ALUMINUM TRIPOD

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Overall

WEIGHT: 4.4 lbs

MATERIAL: Aluminum

PROS: Sturdy, versatile, easy to use

CONS: Aluminum construction

 

 

 

MEFOTO CLASSIC CARBON FIBER TRIPOD/MONOPOD KIT

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Overall

WEIGHT: 3.7 lbs

MATERIAL: Carbon

PROS: Lightweight, ideal for travel, 360-degree panning, versatile

CONS: Locking mechanisms don’t have great weather sealing

 

 

 

MANFROTTO MT055XPRO3

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Overall

WEIGHT: 5.5 lbs

MATERIAL: Aluminum

PROS: High load capacity, smooth pan and tilt head

CONS: Low quality bag

 

 

 

INDURO CT-414 8X CARBON TRIPOD 4 SECTION

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Overall

WEIGHT: 6.3 lbs

MATERIAL: Carbon

PROS: Steady, good build quality, built-in level, 55lb load capacity

CONS: Rubber feet can become loose over time

 

 

 

GITZO GK2542-82QD SERIES 2 MOUNTAINEER

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Professional

WEIGHT: 5.4 lbs

MATERIAL: Carbon

PROS: High-end, includes bubble level, includes a top-notch ball head system

CONS: Price

 

 

 

PROMASTER PROFESSIONAL XC525C

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Professional

WEIGHT: 3.0 lbs

MATERIAL: Carbon

PROS: 5-section tripod, spring-loaded weight hook, ball head included, built-in monopod

CONS: May not include carrier bag

 

 

 

OBEN CT-3561

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Budget

WEIGHT: 3.1 lbs

MATERIAL: Carbon

PROS: Affordable, lightweight, good for travel

CONS: Some reported issues with the ball head construction

 

 

 

DAVIS & SANFORD TR654C-36

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Budget

WEIGHT: 3.3 lbs

MATERIAL: Carbon

PROS: Lightweight, versatile, high maximum load capacity

CONS: Plastic construction for some components

 

 

 

VANGUARD ALTA PRO 263AB

Check out the latest price on:
Amazon

BEST FOR: Budget

WEIGHT: 5.4 lbs

MATERIAL: Aluminum

PROS: Flexible, stable, versatile

CONS: Plastic construction for some components

 

 

 

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST TRIPODS FOR WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY

While there is no shortage of options available today, you’ll want to ensure that you find the best tripod for your needs. Here’s a look at some things that you’ll want to consider when choosing a tripod for wildlife photography.

 

WEIGHT

The weight of the tripod is an especially important consideration if you’re planning to travel with it; or if you’re going to be taking it with you on hikes or nature walks. Tripods vary in weight considerably, from just over a pound to more than 6 pounds. Keep in mind that the heavier models will get very heavy quickly when you’re packing it around.

With tripods, you’ll usually be choosing between heavier, traditional aluminum models, and more modern, lightweight carbon fiber ones. Carbon fiber is the preferred material of choice for most wildlife photographers, but it’s more costly than aluminum.

It also tends to be less stable in high-wind conditions; although some models include an option to hang a sand or water bag to add extra stability. Here’s a look at both options now.

 

ALUMINUM

Aluminum is the classic material that most tripods used to be made from. Today, many budget models are still made from the same material. The main advantage to aluminum is the price. It’s usually much more affordable than carbon fiber. There’s also the fact that aluminum is a more study choice; ideal for high-wind environments.

 

CARBON FIBER

Carbon fiber is a material of choice for most photographers today. Carbon fiber tripods are lighter; and easier to transport. However, these tripods tend to be more expensive than aluminum. They also may lack stability in extremely windy conditions.

 

TYPE OF HEAD

When you buy a tripod, it will come with a head –but you can remove this and attach it to a different type of head if you would like. There are a variety of different tripod heads on the market, and all of them are designed for different things.

Ball heads are the most common type of head that most tripods come with, but pan-tilt heads are another popular choice. These heads allow for more precise positioning.

Most serious bird photographers and anyone who’s looking for something that will allow them to track the movement of wild animals will want to consider purchasing what’s known as a gimbal head for their tripod. A gimbal head allows for easier movement and offers better stability for heavy telephoto lenses –the kind that you’ll be using for most of your wildlife photography.

 

MAXIMUM LOAD CAPACITY

Most tripods are designed to hold a certain amount of weight, so make sure you consider the maximum weight that your tripod is able to take. Go ahead and calculate the weight of your camera and lens to find out what type of tripod you’ll need to get.

 

STABILITY

Stability is another important consideration. A good tripod should be able to hold your camera and gear; without falling over and damaging them. Usually, tripods that feature better construction provide better stability.

 

HEIGHT

Next, you’ll want to consider the height of your tripod, and make sure you get one that’s the right size for you. Choosing one that’s the right height will allow you to easily look through the viewfinder, without having to hunch over –or stand on a log!

To find your ideal tripod height, take your height and then subtract the distance from your eyes to the top of your head. Then, subtract the height of the camera from the bottom to the viewfinder, as well as the height of the ball head. If you’re stuck, Jim Harper at Improve Photography has a helpful chart that you can use to find a tripod that’s an ideal height for you

 

A QUICK RELEASE PLATE

A quick release plate is one accessory that allows you to easily remove and reattach the camera from the tripod. This will allow you to place the camera on the tripod and lock it into place easily. This is especially useful when photographing wildlife; where you need the ability to work quickly.

 

COST

Finally, last but not least, you’ll want to consider the cost as well. You can expect to pay more for a high-quality carbon fiber model, but they’re the preferred option for most landscape photographers. Higher-quality models tend to be easier to use as well; which means less fiddling with components when you’re out in the field.

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