Features to look for …
Check out the finer points of tripod design before making your buying decision
Full-sized tripods usually have a mounting platform between 50mm and 60mm in diameter. A close match to the diameter of your chosen tripod head’s base will help with stability. See our comparison table (page 107) for details.
Ideal for low-level shooting, or on tricky terrain, multiple leg angles are a real bonus. Most modern tripods have three lockable positions, whereas a couple of the Manfrotto tripods on test have four.
Pivoting centre columns are great for macro and ultra-wide-angle shooting (when you want to ensure tripod feet aren’t in shot). With both Benros on test, you can lock the centre column at almost any position through a 180-degree arc.
Legs that are made from three separate sections (two extending) are the most common. With four or more sections, there’s a risk that the bottom ones may be quite thin and spindly. The plus side is that the tripod collapses down smaller for more compact stowage.
Leg section locks
Some photographers prefer clip-style clamps, whereas others prefer twist locks. Either way, manufacturing precision is required to ensure firm locking when closed, as well as smooth extension of leg sections when released.
Rubber pads work well in most conditions. On soft surfaces like carpet or dirt, spikes can be better as they give a more secure footing. The Sirui tripods feature retractable spikes within rubber feet, whereas others have interchangeable spikes and rubber pads.