Best Budget Tripod
If you’re looking for the best budget tripod here in 2021, you better be careful…
Sites like Amazon offer hundreds of cheap travel tripods (guide) which cost a lot less than $100 (some even less than $50!), often from brands that no photographer has ever heard of!
While there are a few good ones, I wouldn’t recommend you trust most of them with your expensive camera equipment.
You see, there are budget tripods… and there are cheap tripods, i.e. dodgy ones that won’t last more than a few months.
Although a budget tripod can be tempting, especially after you’ve spent a pretty penny on your camera/lenses, you’re setting yourself up for disaster by choosing the wrong one.
In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the best budget camera tripods of the year, to help you save some money, as well as save your precious camera gear!
Table of Contents
Best Budget Tripod in 2021
|Manfrotto Compact Action||View Price →|
|Oben AC-1321||View Price →|
|Joilcan 80-inch||View Price →|
|GEEKOTO 77''||View Price →|
|ZOMEI 58''||View Price →|
1. Manfrotto Compact Action
- Collapsed Height: 17.38″ (44 cm)
- Extended Height: 53.36″ (135.5 cm)
- Weight: 2.64 lbs (1.2 kg)
- Maximum load: 3.30 lbs (1.5 kg)
- Materials: Aluminum and plastic
The Manfrotto Compact Action is indeed compact. It’s also versatile and very light while delivering plenty of functionality in a durable frame.
Most importantly of all, this tripod delivers great stability and use-versatility at a very reasonable price.
For starters, the Compact Action tripods are very light, so if you’re a travel photographer who wants something that packs down tightly in just seconds, this is one of the best tripods around.
Despite this, it can later be extended to a modestly good max height of just over 53 inches (135.5 cm).
As well as its decently small collapsed height of just 17.38 inches (44 cm), the weight of the Manfrotto Compact Action is great too. At 2.64 lbs (1.2 kg), it’s pretty easy to bring it onto a plane in a carry-on bag or haul it around city streets and countryside in a backpack.
Also, because this Manfrotto tripod comes with locking cam levers for leg extensions, you can pull it out of your back, extend it, adjust the height of each leg individually (for uneven ground) and have this little guy set up in an ideal position in just seconds without a problem or any tools.
Its leg locks are definitely useful for shooting on the fly when you need to change locations quickly or frequently.
Another thing we noted about the Manfrotto Compact Action is that it doesn’t feel flimsy or cheap at all despite its low weight and low price.
It’s definitely not built for extremely rugged misuse, but this Manfrotto model can easily handle plenty of heavy use without falling apart unless you deliberately mistreat it.
What really helps the Compact Action tripod’s durability is a combination of aluminum body and simple construction.
The Compact Action is capable of extending just high enough to be comfortably functional for people with average height due to its 53.36-inch (135.5-cm) maximum height. I myself only measure 5’10” and had no problems, but someone who’s 6’3″ might get some trouble from this tripod. Shorter people should have no problems.
As for the Manfrotto Compact Action tripod head, we love it. Out of many different models we’ve covered, this gadget has one of the better designs.
It uses a 360-degree ball head movement with an additional pistol-lock and move mechanism. With this, you can shift from portrait to landscape shooting in no time flat and the same design works well for tracking shots with video recording.
A little flywheel that scrolls backwards and forwards keeps locking and unlocking simple with the head. Unfortunately, there’s no bubble level for making sure everything is even.
On a final positive note, the Manfrotto Compact Action tripod is very stable on all kinds of terrain and each of its legs offers enough extension flexibility to let you adjust the four of them with almost any kind of uneven surface beneath the tripod’s feet.
The only caveat that we didn’t like about this is how thin the last extension of each leg is: Since each of these slides inside the one above it, that final extending piece gets very flimsy looking. Like we said though, the tripod is strong, despite appearances.
Finally and more negatively, we have to flag that the maximum load weight rating of the Compact Action support isn’t the best.
At just 3.64 lbs (1.65 kg), it’s fine for most compact mirrorless and some DSLR cameras, but there are a few camera models out there that could easily cause balance and load capacity problems for this tripod.
If you’re using more heavy-duty photographic and video equipment, and more likely, if you’re packing a large DSLR with telephoto lenses, this particular Manfrotto model isn’t the ideal tripod.
However, for light-weight set ups or for your smartphone, it’s a handy, easy to use, lightweight, and attractively priced option.
The Manfrotto Compact Action offers a lot at a very reasonable cost and with few negatives.
Compact tripods such as this are better suited for small cameras but, with this in mind, it’s excellent at what it’s built for.
2. Oben AC-1321
- Collapsed Height: 17.3″ (44 cm)
- Extended Height: 61.3″ (155.7 cm)
- Weight: 3.4 lbs (1.5 kg)
- Maximum load: 11 lbs (5 kg)
- Materials: Aluminum
The Oben AC-1321 3-section Aluminum Tripod offers plenty of features and design specs for robust photographic flexibility. However, it also comes with its share of downsides that may or may not be an issue for some users.
This compact tripod model comes with a sturdy aluminum build that’s almost entirely metal, with little plastic included.
In terms of maximum height and minimum height, it’s similar to the Manfrotto Compact Action above, only with a notably better maximum height and a supposedly better load capacity that should theoretically sustain larger cameras with bigger lenses (but more on that detail shortly).
Right off the bat, it’s worth noting that the Oben AC-1321 comes priced at just a tick under US$100 (see latest price here), so it’s hardly fair to expect miracles of design from it. However, though it’s not the best budget tripod we’ve seen, it delivers plenty of quality and a fairly sturdy build that’s hard to actively dislike.
At the very least, it feels well-built for a tripod of its type and handles normal use well enough to be worthy of its price in terms of ruggedness.
The Oben AC-1321 3-section tripod’s legs do feel thin, end especially when they’re extended to its maximum height – the very last extensions with rubber feet are uncomfortably slim.
These legs do however have a channel running down their length to keep them for twisting, and we definitely like that. The feet themselves do have a slightly angled cut to them which works well on flatter surfaces but tends to slip on uneven grassy or rocky ground.
We also think that fully extending the very last leg sections produce just a bit too much instability, particularly with a larger camera.
As for extending and locking said legs down, this can be done with small flip locks that hold up well enough and certainly make setting up the Oben AC-1321 tripod really quick. That said, these same flip locks are slightly on the flimsy side and don’t get our full vote on long-term sturdiness.
We mention its legs being thin without saying that they’re weak since they gave no indication of actually being likely to break or fail.
The same goes for the flip locks. They seem a bit cheap, but it’s not something we can be sure of. The rest of the AC-1321 features a quite robust body design, especially considering other tripods in this price bracket.
For one thing, the center column looks and feels very sturdy, and has its own single channel to keep it from twisting while being adjusted. Oben even gave the bottom of this column a hook, which can be used to hang a weight for even better balance during shooting with a heavier camera.
We, however, don’t recommend overloading this hook since the AC-1321 does have some issues with weight support.
The Oben AC-1321 tripod’s ball head is removable and can be replaced. It too is well built and we liked the sheer amount of levels built into it, along with its quick-release locking system lock, which is also quite strong.
On the other hand, the AC-1321’s mounting plate left us a bit puzzled with its small size. It works fine though and will hold up a camera that’s within weight limits without problems.
A couple of other great features about the Oben AC-1321 are the accessories it comes with. These include a nicely padded carrying case with shoulder strap for easy carrying and three leg wraps for each of its leg sections (useful for cold weather).
We appreciated these extras – especially given this model’s low price.
At 3.4 lbs (1.5 kg), the AC-1321 can be called a lightweight tripod, though it does sit slightly on the heavier side.
It’s light enough to be a breeze for backpacks and carry bags, and its compact size of just over 17 inches (43 cm) is also great for easy packing it into a backpack or carry-on bag. In a nutshell, it’s a pretty decent travel tripod.
Moving back to the Oben AC-1321’s tripod head, we not only liked its sturdiness but also its bubble level functionality. This model has plenty of levels and they make camera adjustment very convenient, which is useful for avoiding time wasted in post-production editing.
On the other hand, though the AC-1321 is rated for up to 11 lbs (5 kg) of load capacity, we think it can’t quite manage that. With a large Canon DSLR with telephoto lens mounted to it (even if it weighs less than 11 lbs) the ball head starts to creep slightly.
After even further use, this creep worsens slightly and the quick release plate lock device showed some problems with tightening down correctly. Even the ball head itself might start to stick after a while.
With lighter cameras, this might not be such a problem, but the maximum load capacity is definitely to be taken with a grain of salt.
To summarize, the Oben AC-1321 3-section Aluminum Tripod does have some problems with heavier cameras. None the less, it comes with some great features and accessories for its low price point.
For those with lighter cameras and lighter budgets, this one easily counts as one of the best tripods in its price bracket.
3. Joilcan 80-inch Tripod
- Collapsed Height: 18.5″ (47 cm)
- Extended Height: 80″ (203 cm)
- Weight: 3.37 lbs (1.5 kg)
- Maximum load: 19 lbs (8.6 kg)
- Materials: Aluminum alloy, some plastic
The Joilcan 80-inch tripod makes one thing obvious right in its name: it offers a great maximum height.
Whether you’re short or incredibly tall, this powerful and affordable tripod has got you covered for easy use without wringing your back during sessions.
What’s more, its extremely flexible, well-made aluminum alloy body is strong enough to support lots of weight even when fully extended, which is more than we can say for a number of tripod models that cost even more than the Joilcan 80-inch edition does at around $85 bucks (check latest price here).
We’d even go so far as to say that it’s one of the best tripods on this list, depending on your needs.
(Remember that at this price point, you can’t expect a carbon fiber build… but don’t worry – aluminum has its advantages too. Check out our carbon fiber vs aluminum tripod guide to learn more.)
To start things off, the Joilcan 80-inch comes with a three-section aluminum leg construction that can be set to pretty much any height between 18.5 and 80 inches and locked up in seconds.
To make this even better, it offers fully independent leg spread for each of its extensions, letting you change the heights and positions of each as needed for uneven terrain.
The tripod legs are well built too. They feel sturdy even when fully extended and even the last extensions on this tripod model don’t give a wobbly feel that we’ve noted in other budget models. This is in fact necessary given this tripod model’s claims of up to 19 lbs (8.6 kg) of load support.
We also like the fact that the Joilcan 80-inch tripod’s leg sections are round, which makes them feel, look and handle more firmly. The inclusion of twist-lock functionality further helps with the leg locks and overall stability.
One other feature of the Joilcan 80-inch tripod’s legs that we love is their integrated monopod functionality, with which one leg converts to a monopod for situations in which you can’t simply extend a full tripod.
One other neat thing about the Joilcan 80-inch model is that its rubber feet come with subtle little spikes that integrate under the rubber. If the little rubber parts at the end of the legs are screwed in fully, these spikes emerge and let you dig the Joilcan into soft, uneven ground.
Unscrewing the rubber feet just a bit hides the spikes again so you can set the tripod up on hard surfaces. These kinds of features really add to the usefulness of tripods, so it’s great to see here.
Moving on to the ball head of the Joilcan, it’s exceptionally sturdy, with a large diameter that really feels like it can support the claimed 19 lbs of camera load for this model – impressive for tripods of this price.
The ball head of the Joilcan 80-inch also comes with lots of adjustment options that include an independent pan lock for 360-degree rotation and a ball lock for moving your camera to a 90-degree angle.
The quick-release camera plate itself is large, well made, and also sturdy.
The Joilcan 80-inch tripod’s ball joint in the central column is handy for adjustment of camera position on the fly, but just as importantly it’s also well made for endurance – or at least seems that way to us.
Its design allows it to support a camera’s weight at 90-degree angles without losing position, partly because it also spreads load capacity throughout the tripod instead of on a single specific potential failure point.
One thing that isn’t so great about the Joilcan 80-inch tripod involves its monopod functionality. We noticed that it requires spare parts in the form of a couple of small pieces that need to be brought along if you want to use the tripod in this mode. It’s easy to lose them and getting replacements would probably be a hassle.
In summary, the Joilcan 80-inch is extremely sturdy, very versatile, and well made in general. It’s definitely easy to like.
Some users might not be happy with its bulkier folded size and weight – but if you need those 80 inches and lots of support for bigger cameras with their lenses, this model does a superior job at a low price.
4. GEEKOTO 77”
- Collapsed Height: 19″ (48.2 cm)
- Extended Height: 77″ (195.5 cm)
- Weight: 3.37 lbs (1.5 kg)
- Maximum load: 17.6 lbs (8 kg)
- Materials: Aluminum, some plastic
The extremely affordable GEEKOTO 77″ is certainly not an ultra-compact tripod due to its fairly long folded size of 19″ (48 cm), but it gets plenty of maximum height at 77 inches (195.5 cm).
This should be enough even if you’re a tall user, and this model’s weight of 3.37 lbs (1.5 kg) is reasonable enough to make it easy to carry nearly anywhere.
What we like in general about the GEEKOTO 77″ is that it comes with plenty of functionality and a fairly sturdy build at one of the lowest prices on this list. For less than $80, it’s a well-made travel tripod that’s also quite versatile.
Its ball head comes with 360-degree rotation and free angles for lots of camera adjustment and panning options.
We also like the fact that the GEEKOTO 77″ can be adjusted to a wide range of heights and three different leg angles, with each leg being individually adjustable as needed for uneven ground.
This tripod’s legs adjust with leg locks that use a snap locking mechanism, which stays sturdy even though it didn’t entirely convince us on its long-term reliability.
There’s also a monopod option with the GEEKOTO 77″. For this, you’ll have to disassemble the central axis screw and reassemble the leg setup into a single shaft, but this can be done quickly and with fairly minimal fuss (though we’ve seen faster monopod assembly options in other tripod models).
Officially, the GEEKOTO 77″ supports a load capacity of up to 17.6 lbs (8 kg). This is more than enough for most DSLR setups even with large lenses.
In our case, we didn’t note any position slippage in the ball head even with a hefty Nikon or Canon DSLR plus 600mm lens. That said, it might not be a good idea to test the GEEKOTO 77″ to its load limit during active shooting if you want to rely on camera immobility.
The GEEKOTO 77″ also comes with a center hook below the center column, which is useful if you want more stability – see our camera tripod guide here for more explanation on this.
Any weight you hang here should, however, be taken into account when mounting the camera and considering this tripod model’s maximum safe load tolerance.
The legs of the GEEKOTO 77″ are fairly stable even with heavy loads but depending on the conditions you’re working in, they look just slim enough to not be entirely trustworthy in rough terrain when fully extended.
What we also liked about the GEEKOTO 77″ ‘s ball head is that it lets you attach or release a camera quickly and easily with just a firm turn of a knob.
The center column beneath this can be adjusted upwards or downwards too, making it even easier to adjust for height than by having to play around with the legs.
One other nice feature of the GEEKOTO 77″ is that it folds in such a way that the head assembly is kept protected by the tripod body.
To give it even more coverage against bumps, scratches and other accidents, the manufacturer also includes a separate head protection sleeve for when you pack this little guy up into its padded case, which is included too.
Overall, we really like the GEEKOTO 77″ tripod because it’s an all-round good tripod if you’re on a budget. It’s also surprisingly strong, well made and loaded in basic but essential camera support features for outdoor and indoor work.
It may not look like it can hold its weight but, as we quickly noticed, this is deceptive. This highly affordable device holds its own from its rubber feet to its tripod legs and right up to the central column and ball head.
5. ZOMEI 58”
- Collapsed Height: 19″ (48 cm)
- Extended Height: 58″ (147 cm)
- Weight: 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg)
- Maximum load: 11 lbs (5 kg)
- Materials: Aluminum legs, plastic head
By far the single most affordable, best budget tripod for an absurdly low price on our entire list is the Zomei 58″ compact portable tripod. With a cost that sits well below $40, it offers a surprising amount of value for its price tag.
This little model has its defects and definitely won’t be for everyone – even among budget tripod buyers – but it’s worth taking seriously.
The Zomei 58″ comes with all the essential features. This means that it has quickly extendable leg sections with plate buckle locking mechanisms, a 360-degree knob for panning shots, a fast loading camera plate and a firmly built central column with weight hook for hanging something to add even more stability.
We also think it’s remarkably tough for its very low price. There’s even a bubble level built into this Zomei edition budget tripod.
The Zomei 58″ compact portable model doesn’t come with a monopod feature, unfortunately, but its three legs are easy to adjust and quite stable.
We also noted that because this tripod is so short in general, the leg extensions don’t feel overstretched even when the Zomei 58″ is fully extended up to maximum height.
While the legs of this particular budget tripod are made of aluminum, it’s center column and head both have lots of plastic in them.
At first glance, this makes it seem flimsy and weak but after some moderate use, you’ll notice that the Zomei 58″ holds itself firmly even with a hefty camera with a larger lens attached.
It might have some balance issues with a heavier camera secured to its head, but the hook can be easily used to counteract this risk, and the low maximum height of this Zomei model helps it stay stable too.
We also like how smoothly the head moves around on the Zomei 58″. We didn’t notice any stiffness – and while the camera mounting plate does attach a bit loosely to a camera for our liking, everything stays perfectly still when it’s actually being used for shooting.
The camera head comes with lots of orientation options and is easy to get the hang of in no time, even if you’re a total beginner to the world of camera tripod use.
More negatively, tall people might quickly learn to hate the Zomei 58″ compact tripod. Its 58-inch maximum height (147 cm) is not fun to deal with when you’re over 6 feet tall.
Another downside of the Zomei 58″ is that it only shrinks down to 19 inches (48 cm). For a tripod that’s so short when extended, we’d have hoped for something a bit smaller when compacted.
Its weight of just 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg) does make it a useful travel tripod. We do, however, wish it had more metal in its center column and head build. The plastic parts in both look like they could soon start to wear out and they’re definitely not as tough as their metal counterparts in slightly pricier tripods.
The bottom line for the Zomei 58″ compact portable edition is that it gives plenty for its absurdly low price.
This model doesn’t compare to most mid-range tripod editions on features or aspects of build quality, but from a value per dollar perspective, it’s possibly the best tripod we can think of for less than $40.
If you’re looking for a tripod that won’t burn a huge hole in your pocket, this list has you covered.
It goes without saying that you do get what you pay for – and no budget tripod is going to be perfect in every way.
That’s why we’ve been sure to single out the limitations of each of the tripods on this list, giving you the option to weigh up the pros and cons for yourself and find the best one to suit your needs.
Depending on the type of photography you do and the weight of your camera setup, you might choose to compromise on allowable load over height when fully extended – or vice versa.
The one thing that is clear, is that each of these tripods offers exceptional value for its low price point. So if you’re on a budget but still want something that serves the purpose, these tripods are definitely for you.
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.
Stephan Jukic is a technology technology writer and experimental photographer who spends his time living in both Canada and Mexico. He also loves cross-cultural street photo exploration.