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I will be up front and honest. I AM NOT SPONSORED BY ANY OF THESE COMPANIES I TALK ABOUT. I say this because it seems like I am shilling for particular products, the fact of the matter is, I’m a small business owner. I create content once in a while, I write about things once in a while. When I do that, it’s because I find products I really like using. Positives and Negatives, I will share them all.
So, today, I want to talk about tripods. What a damn hard subject to get into, because if you went on Amazon, you’re going to be inundated with not hundreds, but THOUSANDS of options out there, well known brands, lesser known brands, and weird knockoff/fake brands. I’ve tried a lot of them and I want to be clear first and foremost.
GET A REAL TRIPOD
I had 3, an Amazon Basics, a Fugetek, and a UeGoGo… these are not real tripods. Sure, you can buy them and you can trust your phone on them. But, you put a camera on them, and you start to realize that you’re trusting your thousands of dollars of camera equipment on a $15 dollar tripod that is wobbly and shaky.
It’s not a good look, unless you like to be terrified constantly and sweating when the wind blows.
So, what is a real tripod?
There are a few brands people migrate to, Manfrotto is always the “Big Name” most people know and Gitzo is another that most photographers will know. Here is my assessment on the top two.
Manfrotto is ok. Yes, I said it, it’s ok… but it’s like an iPhone, it does everything great, they are build ok, have a few small options in terms of types, but it’s ok. ITS OK. Not the end all be all tripod. It will hold your camera, it’s relatively steady, they are a bit overpriced because of the name, and getting replacement pieces are easy (and yes, overpriced).
Ok, if Manfrotto is an iPhone, Gitzo is basically a Rolls Royce. Yes, that is the comparison I’m doing for this article. Is it a great tripod company? YES. Do they make great options and tripods? Probably the best… however, that comes at a premium. You thought paying $180 for a Manfrotto tripod was steep, well to get the best, you have to pay the best prices… for Gitzo, not for you. You get to start at around $600 for their mini/traveler options and north of $1,100 for a standard tripod.
Is it worth it? YES! However, I only got to try it out for about 30 minutes at a trade show, it was a custom Gitzo Systematic System, the legs alone were $2k, the head was around $600, and to show it’s sturdiness, they were demonstrating different kits setup. It was holding about 16 pounds of camera, glass, and accessories. Amazing.
But, well out of reach for most people… that leads me to place I’ve been for 5 years now. Constantly.
Slik Tripods, this is where you will think I’m a Slik Shill. That they are paying me to say this, or send me free things all the time. They don’t (though, I would love it if it they did).
Build quality, amazing.
Replacement Parts, Affordable.
They have beginner tripods, minis, travel, mid tier, customizable, pro, and ultra mega pro (made up that class, but prices go from 20 – 200, then up to 600, so ultra mega pro).
I have had 2.
Correction. I HAVE 2 Slik Tripods.
I use my Slik Pro 700 DX AMT with a 3 way head as my every day “driver” for my long exposure work.
Brand new, it looks like this
After 5 years of beating it up and beating it around town, it looks like this:
I love this tripod with all my heart with it, has made these photos possible (including one, “Learning Together” that is going to be in an art installation in Roswell Georgia)
I also have a Carbon Fiber Monopod from them that is great, but I rarely use it, only because it’s not in my wheelhouse.
However, I was looking for a new travel tripod. And I fell into a trap of a ton of nonsense and then I saw it.
There are minis on Slik’s Website.
SO, here is one of my new ones… that will be here soon.
It has everything I need, and will be perfect when I travel and want to do late night long exposure photos. So, a price like that, and a track record of amazing quality. I’m definitely getting a Mini-Pro V.
I’m not saying you should throw out your other tripods and get a Slik.
I AM saying that your next tripod is a Slik.
Use your old tripods for fun phone based projects (they are really good for that!)