Best Value Carbon Fiber Tripod
This is a guide to the best carbon fiber tripod in 2020 if you have a limited budget.
There are many merits of carbon fiber vs aluminum tripods for cameras, but they usually come at a cost.
Some models run into the thousands of dollars, and that’s just for the legs alone!
|Manfrotto 055 Strong, verstaile tripod with quick power lock legs for maximum stability.||View Price|
Fortunately, here in 2020, the selection of affordable camera tripods is broader than ever before.
That said, don’t fall into the temptation of buying a cheap carbon fiber tripod with an unrecognisable brand name, as there are plenty of those too!
Here are the best carbon fiber tripods we tested, ranked in order:
- Manfrotto 055
- Induro Stealth 3
- MeFoto Classic
- Neewer CF
- ZOMEi Z669C
Let’s have a closer look at the recommendations.
Best Carbon Fiber Tripod in 2020
|Manfrotto 055||View Price →|
|Induro Stealth 3||View Price →|
|MeFoto Classic||View Price →|
|Neewer Carbon Fiber||View Price →|
|ZOMEi Z669C||View Price →|
1. Manfrotto 055 Our #1 Choice | Best Carbon Fiber Tripod
Extended: 66.9 in (170 cm)
Retracted: 24.8 in (63cm)
Weight: 4.86 pounds (2kg)
When it comes to tripods, Manfrotto certainly produces some of the best picks around. This Manfrotto CF tripod in particular, is something great to have as it provides excellent performance without a hefty weight penalty.
Weighing just under 5 pounds (2kg), and with a closed length of just over 2 feet (63 cm) the 055CF tripod is easy enough to lug around as it won’t weigh you down too much or seriously impede your movement.
Light as it is, you might think that this tripod is only good for smaller equipment. This isn’t the case however, as it is capable of supporting a maximum load of almost 20 pounds (9kg). This is more than enough for a full-frame DSLR with a large lens attached, making it an excellent DSLR tripod for photographers.
The 055CF has three sections that stretch out to a full height of just over four feet (140 cm) with the center column down. Extend that and add the height of a head, then you get a tripod that will easily allow you to take high angle shots or clear obstacles that are blocking your camera’s view.
The legs on the Manfrotto 055 can be deployed very rapidly thanks to the Quick Power Lock mechanism which is a flip lock system that allows the user to release the legs and lock them securely in place with only one hand.
If you need to configure the tripod for difficult or really low angle shots, the 055CF‘s legs are up to the task. It clicks into three different position so you get lot of versatility when it comes to positioning the support.
Like most other tripods, the center column of the 055CF terminates with a 3/8″ screw so you cannot connect your camera to it directly. As such, you’re going to want to attach a head of some sort not just so you can mount your camera but also for added functionality.
If the support is to be used for photography, the Manfrotto XPRO magnesium ball head comes highly recommended. This ball head is rated for a maximum load of 22 pounds (10 kg) and features, among others, a triple locking mechanism, grease-free movement, a friction lock for the ball, two bubble levels as well as a quick release plate.
Its center column also does more than extend and retract. With the push of a button, the column can be turned 90°, thus allowing you to take otherwise difficult top shots with ease.
The Manfrotto 055 comes with a built in bubble level around the center column that allows you to plant your camera as squarely as possible, thus reducing the need to straighten out wonky pictures in post. It also features the easy link connector to which you can fit an accessory arm that can hold a flash, reflector, LED lights or whatever else you need to capture the image you want.
As light and versatile as the 055CF is, there are a couple of other carbon fiber tripods in Manfrotto’s current lineup that are closely matched. These are the Manfrotto 190XPRO and the Manfrotto Befree.
The 190XPRO is actually very similar to the 055CF when it comes to spec and is even half a pound lighter. However, it does not carry as much weight and cannot stretch out as far. The Befree on the other hand, is significantly lighter and smaller but is far less capable than the other two.
The 055CF and the 190XPRO are priced almost identically but, given its taller height and heavier payload capacity, the 055CF narrowly edges out the 190XPRO. The Befree in contrast, is priced at just under $320 and comes with a 494 ballhead. However, this tripod is more of a dedicated travel support so it isn’t as ideal as the other two for anything else.
As far as high-quality tripods go, the Manfrotto 055 is definitely among the best you can get. It’s versatile and light enough to take with you on hikes and tours, yet is strong enough to support your heaviest gear if it needs to.
At over $330, the 055CF it isn’t exactly what you’d call cheap. But, it more than makes up for it with what it can do and how durable it is, so you can expect to keep using it for many years, if not decades to come.
Extended: 63.58 in (161.5 cm)
Retracted: 25 in (63.5 cm)
Weight: 4.32 lb (1.96 kg)
If you’re looking for a very capable CF tripod that you can use for a very long time, then the Induro Stealth 3 is something that’s worth a closer look.
Featuring a 9x weave stealth carbon pattern, the Stealth 3 is easy to tell apart from more conventional tripods so it tends to stand out. Aesthetics aside though, this is a well built, reliable tool that should enable you make the most out of your photography.
At just 4.3 pounds (2kg) the Stealth 3 is light enough to take with you on any shoot. And, at just 25 inches (63.5 cm) fully retracted and placed inside the included carrying case, it won’t be getting in your way either. As such, you can go just about anywhere with it without having to sacrifice your mobility.
As far as load capacity goes, the Stealth 3 is a beast. It’s rated for a maximum of 44 pounds (20kg) so can mount your largest camera and your heaviest lens on it as well as many other accessories and still have a big safety margin left.
This tripod comes fitted with a 3/8″ screw that will take just about any head you need to use. If you’re shooting stills, then a well-built ball head would go well with it but, if video is your thing, then pan-and-tilts, gimbal heads and other video head with a 3/8″ female thread will fit nicely.
With its legs fully deployed and the center column down, the Stealth 3 measures 53.5 inches (135 cm). Extend the center column however, and you gain a little over ten inches of height so you end up with a total of 63.6 inches (161.5 cm). This should be more than enough to allow you to get an unobstructed view of your subject and provide you with an adequate vantage point for taking high-angle shots.
Aside from being able to extend generously, the Stealth 3‘s legs can also be set to open in three different positions. This feature allows you to get your camera in place more easily while providing an extra measure of safety and stability. It also allows you to shoot from angles that would otherwise be very hard to achieve.
Instead of the usual flip locks that other tripod manufacturers use, the legs of the tripod are held in place by twist locks. Unfortunately, this means that they will take more time to deploy and retract and you’re going to need two hands to do it.
On the upside however, these twist locks are very strong so you can expect the legs to stay firmly in place at all times and not worry about them collapsing under the weight of your gear.
The carbon fiber tubes that make up the legs of the Stealth 3 are fitted with rubber sleeves for protection. These also give you a better grip and protect your hands from injury in case the support is left out in very hot or very cold weather.
Like many other tripods, the Stealth 3 comes with rubber feet installed. However, unlike other supports, it also comes with spiked metal feet for use on softer surface like turf, snow or sand. The set also includes a wrench so you can easily switch from one set to the other in the field.
The manufacturer warrants the Stealth 3 for five years from the date of purchase. But, if you register your product online, another five years is tacked on to existing warranty so you get ten years of coverage.
Besides, for what this support is and what it can do, you can think of it as a reasonable investment that will keep working for a long time to come.
Extended: 61.6 inches (156.5 cm)
Retracted: 15.35 inches (39 cm)
Weight: 3.1 lbs (1.4 kg)
If you take a lot of travel photos and need a tripod that won’t get in your way, then the MeFOTO Classic should be on your list of things to get.
Aside from the fact that this product weighs just a hair over 3 pounds (1.4 kg), it also folds up on itself so it becomes even easier to carry around. When fully retracted to fit in the included travel case, the Classic measures 15.35 inches (39 cm).
As far as carrying capacity is concerned, the MeFOTO Classic is very sturdy for its size. Official specs put the maximum load limit at 17.6 lbs (8 kg) so it should be able to hoist anything from a mirrorless camera to a full-frame DSLR with a good sized lens without any trouble.
Note though, that this MeFoto isn’t rated for heavy loads so it would be advisable to try to keep a close eye on it whenever you’re mounting a beefier camera.
Other tripods are usually sold without heads but this isn’t one of those. The Classic comes with their high quality Q-series ball head so you get to save a sizeable amount. The ball head has three knobs that give you a fair amount of control when setting up for a shot. One controls panning, another manages the drag on the ball and the last one locks or releases the ball.
The ball head also comes with an Arca Swiss quick release system that lets you mount and dismount your camera with ease.
Then again, if this ball head isn’t to your liking, you can always remove it and mount one you prefer onto the standard 3/8″ screw on the center column.
For something that measures just a little over a foot long when retracted, the Classic does have quite a bit of reach when fully extended. With the center column down, its five sections stretch out to 53 inches (134.9 cm). Pulling the center column all the way out however, increases the height of the tripod significantly and takes it all the way to 61.6 inches (156.5 cm).
The legs of the MeFOTO Classic are kept under control using twist locks. Though not as fast as flip locks, these keep the legs firmly fixed in the position you set and won’t collapse or come undone by accident. This affords you extra peace of mind especially if you use expensive gear.
The Classic has a feature that that is as novel as it is useful. It turns into a full-length monopod. This is done by pulling out the center column and unscrewing one of the legs. The leg is then screwed onto the center column to complete the transformation.
To keep the Classic securely planted on the ground, it comes with metal spikes that replace the standard rubber feet. This makes it much safer to use on soft ground as it provides more traction and lessens the chance of it being knocked down.
Other features of this tripod include: a foam grip on the monopod leg for easier handling, a recessed center column hook where you can hang weights, an integrated bubble level on the head and an anti rotation feature that complements the twist lock system.
At around $320 dollars, the MeFOTO Classic isn’t exactly bargain basement, but neither is it ultra-pricey. Still, you may be tempted to compare this tripod to heavier-duty ones in the same price range. If you find yourself doing this, keep in mind that this is a carbon fiber travel tripod that’s supposed to make it easy for you to get around so there’s really no comparison.
Extended: 66 inches (168 cm)
Retracted: 19 inches (48.3 cm)
Weight: 3.4 lbs (1.54 kg)
If you’re in the market for a more affordable CF tripod, but still want bang for your buck. Check out this Neewer Carbon Fiber tripod.
Retailing for just under a hundred bucks, the Neewer 66″CF packs a lot of features that can be found in tripods that are far more expensive.
Unlike many pricier tripods, the Neewer 66″ CF comes with a ball head. This means you don’t need to get a separate one (unless you want to) so you get to save a few bucks. An included ball head also translates into you being able to shoot with the tripod right out of the box.
The included ball head is well made and can swivel 360°. It’s capable of panning and features a couple of control knobs that lock the ball as well as the panning mechanism in place. It also comes with a quick release system that lets you mount and remove your equipment with ease.
For legs, the Neewer 66″ CF makes use of with high density carbon fiber tubes. This makes it very durable so it should be able to take whatever you put it through. It also weighs a measly 3.4 lbs (1.54 kg) and measures just over 19 inches fully folded so you shouldn’t have a problem lugging it around especially if it’s in the included carrying case.
The Neewer 66″ CF has a maximum reach of 66 inches (168 cm) with the ball head attached and the center column extended. Yes, there are tripods that are taller but, for something that’s made for travel, this is pretty impressive. Also consider that this tripod shrinks to such a compact size when not in use.
The legs of this tripod are kept in place by twist locks instead of flip locks so they deploy a bit slower. But, the good bit is that twist locks tend to be accident proof so there’s not much chance that they will come undone unless someone loosens them on purpose.
One thing to note though, this isn’t a heavy duty studio tripod so you’re going to want to strip your gear of anything that’s unnecessary to keep the weight down. You’re also going to want to keep your eye on the support and as much as possible, not leave it unsecured and/or unattended on uneven ground.
This tripod can do a few special things that many other camera supports cannot. Its legs for instance, can fold all the way up so it turns into a smaller package that is more easily transported.
You can even click the legs into three different, pre-set angles so you can choose the most appropriate setup that provides the best vantage point as well as the most stability.
One of the best features of this tripod is that it can turn into something else. By removing the center column, unscrewing the leg that has the rubber sleeve and screwing those two together, you get to transform the Neewer 66″ CF into a full-sized monopod that can even double as a walking stick if you’re out on the trail.
Like any other tripod, the Neewer 66″ CF comes with rubber feet. However, if you find yourself shooting on soft ground, you won’t need to remove anything to be able to attach spikes. Instead, you simply turn the rubber feet until the built-in metal spikes protrude.
As far as tripods go, you’d be hard pressed to say that the Neewer 66″ CF is the best available. Then again, for what it can do and for how much it sells for, you’re actually getting a very good deal.
So if this tripod checks all your boxes, you shouldn’t hesitate to pick one up for yourself.
5. ZOMEi Z669C
Extended: 60 inches (152 cm)
Retracted: 15 inches (38 cm)
Weight: 3.4 lbs (1.5kg)
While you can certainly lug a heavy tripod around while traveling, doing so will slow you down and wear you out. As such, you’re going to want something light to hold your camera up. Something like the Zomei Z669C carbon fiber travel tripod.
Small, light and strong, the Zomei Z669C is designed specifically for travel photography. Weighing just 3.4 pounds (1.5 kg) and measuring just 15 inches (38 cm) when folded over itself, this tripod isn’t a big burden and shouldn’t affect your mobility significantly.
Other tripods may require you to buy a head separately but the Z669C already comes with one. This means you can save some cash by not spending on this component. If you do want another ball head though, you can simply unscrew the one that’s included and mount your preferred model on the standard 3/8″ screw.
The included ball head is very capable and is a match for the rest of the tripod in terms of load capacity. It has a couple of controls built-in, one of which locks (or releases) the ball while the other controls the panning movement of the head. The head also comes with an Arca Swill type quick release plate so you can mount and dismount your camera quickly.
One of the things that make the Z669C great for traveling is the fact that it can be set up in different ways. Its legs, for instance, click into three different positions so you can easily adapt it to your current shooting and/or stability requirement.
Small as it is when configured for stowing, this tripod does stretch out by quite a bit. Its five-section legs and two-section center column work out to 60 inches (152 cm) when the support is fully extended. This allows you to easily dial in the height you need for the shot you want to take.
This tripod’s legs and its center column are kept in place with twist locks. Though somewhat slower to use than flip locks, these hold everything in the desired position very well so you can count on the support to stay rock steady whenever you set it up.
The Z669C is by no means the burliest tripod around but then again, it was never designed to be. Still, the support is quite strong and can hold up a respectable 19 lbs (9 kg). This load capacity lets you go beyond smaller mirrorless systems and lets you make use of much heavier DSLRs as well as the lenses they require.
Unlike many tripods, the Z669C is capable of a couple of tricks that make it even more useful. First, its center column can be installed upside down while still maintaining adjustability.
This feature lets you mount your camera between the tripod’s legs so you can shoot very low or come up with more creative angles.
It also converts into a monopod by simply unscrewing the leg with the Zomei brand on the foam sleeve and screwing it onto the center column. Alternatively, you can also screw the head platform and the ball head directly onto the leg if you need something shorter.
Other features of the Z669C are a weight hook at the bottom of the center column to keep things steady and retractable metal spikes that will keep the support from moving on soft ground.
The kit comes with a high-quality carrying case, a cloth pouch for the ball head and a threaded stud that connects the monopod leg to the center column.
The Zomei Z669C isn’t something you need to think long and hard about. After all, it is a high-quality CF tripod with a lot of the features you’d find on more upscale models. Besides, at $125, it isn’t exactly bank-breaking so you should come out ahead if you decide to pick one up for yourself.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you need a tripod for landscape photography?
In a word, yes. While there are many instances where you can handhold your camera and take a marvelous image, there are times when you’d want to take your time. This is especially true during low light conditions as even the faintest movement can render the image unusable.
What tripod height is the best?
There’s no one tripod height that’s “the best” as the primary purpose of these supports is to hold your camera in the proper place. Having said that, however, it does help to have a tripod with a bit of reach as it can help give you an unobstructed view of your subject as well as give you more options when it comes to finding the best shooting angle.
Do tripods fit all cameras?
Most cameras have a threaded 1/4″ port at the bottom so, for as long as a tripod has a 1/4″ screw either on its platform or on the head, then it should fit.
Carbon Fiber Tripods | Final Words
If you have your heart set on acquiring a CF tripod, it’s very important that you not buy the first thing you see.
Instead, take the time to do research while defining your purpose for buying one. This should help you narrow your choices by quite a bit.
You should also make it a point to set your budget before you look around. Generally, you should go for the best you can afford while steering clear of things that are just too far out of reach.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll have to sacrifice quality as there are now many excellent yet lower-priced alternatives available.
Whatever you end up with, make sure that you’re happy with your purchase because chances are, your tripod is something you will be using for a long time to come.
Is this something you agree with? Let us know in the comments section below.
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.
Don Machuca is a writer and professional photographer/videographer from Manila, Philippines who specializes in landscapes, events and product photography.