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The best video tripod in 2021: camera supports with fluid heads for videomakers

Included in this guide:

best video tripod
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best video tripod will differ from photographic tripods mostly in the way they move. While photographic tripods will do an excellent job of keeping the camera still, a dedicated video tripod will have a fluid head that lens you pan and tilt smoothly. If you're serious about filmmaking it's a good idea to invest in a video tripod as it will make your work look more professional. 

Video is a dynamic medium that will need to use moving shots if you want to make a good film. There is certainly a place for static shots but you certainly don't want that to be the only option available. Owning a fluid video where you can adjust the resistance and operate it via a long handle will make all the difference as it'll allow you to be more precise with your movements. 

Another key difference between tripods and photographic tripods is the size of the top plate. Video tripods tend to have much longer top plates so that there is more flexibility with the camera's position and weight distribution. When we think of video setups, they are often much more unbalanced than photo setups due to the position of accessories such as a mic, light or external recorder. Luckily, video tripods often have an adjustable counterbalance system which helps when you're shooting with one of the best cinema cameras or using a big telephoto lens. 

Some video tripods will come with spreaders between their legs for extra stability and for ease of opening. You'll also notice lots of video tripods like photographic tripods that will have spirit levels on them so you can tell if your horizons are straight. It's really important you get this right when shooting video as it's not very easy to correct in post. 

There are lots of different types of filmmakers using all sorts of different kit and no two people are going to have the same needs. Vloggers and YouTubers using smaller cameras or smartphone setups won't need something as advanced as someone shooting a documentary. Pro Cinematographers will need a tripod that has a high payload and is extremely sturdy but they come at a price. We've included sections for each category of video tripod to help you decide what is most suitable. 

So check out our guide to some of the very best and latest tripods for different users at a range of price points.

Best video editing software

The best video tripod in 2021

YouTubers & vloggers

(Image credit: Manfrotto)

1. Manfrotto BeFree Live Lever Kit – aluminum

A small and light tripod that’s ideal for travelling or compact cameras

Specifications
Material: Aluminum
Extended height: 151cm
Folded height: 40cm
Weight: 1.75kg
Leg sections: 3
Maximum load: 4kg
Reasons to buy
+Folds down well+Fast to set up+Light weight
Reasons to avoid
-Max payload 4kg-No pan and tilt drag adjustment-No counterbalance adjustment

Manfrotto is one of the biggest names in tripods and they have something to suit all needs and budgets. The BeFree Lever-Lock tripod kit uses three-section aluminium legs that are clamped down using lever locks. You can also get this kit with a twist-lock leg if you prefer that style or if you're feeling really flush, there's a carbon fibre version that will reduce the weight. However, we think the aluminium version offers the best balance of weight, price and features plus it can be packed down into a small bag. The ball head isn't the best quality as there is no pan or tilt drag adjustment but it still gives smooth results.

(Image credit: Velbon)

2. Velbon DV-7000N with PH-368 Fluid Head

It’s a budget tripod, but one that can handle a decent payload

Specifications
Material: Aluminium
Extended height: 162.5cm
Folded height: 57cm
Weight: 3.47kg
Leg sections: 3
Maximum load: 6kg
Reasons to buy
+Decent pan and tilt +Maximum height of 162.5cm
Reasons to avoid
-Old school cork top-QR plate not great-No counterbalance adjustment

If you want an entry-level tripod designed for video and aren’t bothered about the distinctly old-school looks, the Velbon DV-7000N Video Tripod with PH-368 Fluid Head is a decent bit of kit. The three-section legs are braced from the center column to keep the tripod from twisting, which adds to the traditional looks. The head has separate locks for pan and tilt and the damping is adjustable, although the knobs are a bit tricky to get hold of. But the movement is surprisingly smooth and well-damped for a budget tripod. With a load capacity of 6kg, it’s more than enough for a mirrorless camera, lens and mic, and even a small monitor too. 

(Image credit: Vanguard)

3. Vanguard VEO 3+ 263CP

Sturdy, tall and versatile - there's a lot to like here

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber
Extended height: 173.5cm
Folded height: 77.5cm
Weight: 2.3kg
Leg sections: 3
Maximum load: 6kg
Reasons to buy
+Carbon fiber for lighter weight+3-section legs for better rigidity+Versatile multi-angle center column
Reasons to avoid
-Long when packed-Max load could be higher-Arca Swiss head is unusual for video

If you want to shoot from a high angle, the max 173.5cm shooting height of this Vanguard tripod is ideal. It reaches this altitude with legs incorporating only 3 sections, which is good news for overall rigidity, as fewer joints equal less wobble, though it does inevitably make the folded length fairly long at 77.5cm. The included PH-38 pan head is handy for video as the tilt motion can be independently locked off to leave you smooth, level panning motion. The head itself sits on an extendable center column which can also be rotated to sit horizontally. You could use it as a rudimentary slider at a push, but it's intended to be clamped at pretty much any angle (not just horizontal) so you can shoot from all sorts of angles. Be careful though, as with the column jutting out at an odd angle, a heavier camera set-up could cause the tripod to become unbalanced.

(Image credit: Libec)

4. Libec 650EX

A new, affordable, entry-level video tripod made for lightweight setups

Specifications
Material: Aluminium
Extended height: 150.5cm
Folded height: 27.8cm
Weight: 3.3kg
Leg sections: 2
Maximum load: 3kg
Reasons to buy
+Affordable price+Small and portable+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-Two-section legs-Not the tallest

It's good to see the entry-level end of the video market being catered for, and this video tripod from Libec is pitched for exactly that. Released in 2020, this is a lightweight, straightforward tripod that's designed for light setups weighing no more than 3kg. Its industry-standard sliding plate is broadly compatible with widely used heads from the likes of Manfrotto and Sachtler, and its one-touch flip locks are designed to allow the user to make quick adjustments to the height. Only having two leg sections to play with does hamper versatility a little, but it's still a solid tripod for a fantastic price, making for a great addition to any vlogging setup.

Indie filmmakers

(Image credit: Libec)

5. Libec TH-X

The traditional-style video tripod with no frills but at a great price

Specifications
Material: Aluminum
Extended height: 159cm
Folded height: 75.5cm
Weight: 3.1kg
Leg sections: 3
Maximum load: 4kg
Reasons to buy
+Traditional design with spreader+Fast to set up +Comes with carry case
Reasons to avoid
-Not very compact to carry-No drag/counterbalance adjustment-Lower head quality

The Libec TH-X tripod kit is traditional-style video tripod, made by a Japanese company that has lots of experience of making tripods for filmmaking. It has a twin tube leg set-up, which is fast to use and stable, as well as a mid-level spreader to get it set up quickly. It’s not too heavy and takes Manfrotto-fit tripod plates which are very popular. It’s the relatively basic head that’s the limiting factor in both maximum payload of just 4kg and its basic design. The pan and tilt movements are good, but the drag is not adjustable and there’s no counterbalance adjustment. The tripod is a 65mm bowl fitment, so putting on a better head in future is a good plan.

(Image credit: Benro)

6. Benro A373FBS6Pro

A single tube-style tripod with an advanced tripod head

Specifications
Material: Aluminum
Extended height: 163cm
Folded height: 40.9cm
Weight: 4.25kg
Leg sections: 3
Maximum load: 6kg
Reasons to buy
+Modern design tripod and head+Minimum height 31cm+Adjustable pan and tilt drag+Five-step counterbalance adjustment
Reasons to avoid
-Not the highest payload 

Benro has packed lots of modern technology into its good-looking tripod kit which mates the A373F aluminum single-tube tripod with a 75mm half bowl fitting to the newest S6Pro head. The head is impressive as it has a five-step counterbalance system to keep your camera from tipping forwards or back, and adjustable drag for pan and tilt with large and easy to use adjuster knobs. The camera plate is long for easy adjustment, too, and the pan bar can be fitted to the left or right. The tripod reaches 163cm in height but can go as low as 31cm, which is a unique benefit for such a burly bit of kit.

Best video tripod: 3 Legged Thing Mike Carbon Fibre with Quick Leveling Base and AirHed Cine Arca Head

(Image credit: 3 Legged Thing)

7. 3 Legged Thing Mike Carbon Fiber with Quick Leveling Base and AirHed Cine Arca Head

A funky newcomer with great specs and interesting tricks up its sleeve

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber
Extended height: 147.5cm
Folded height: 66.7cm
Weight: 1.65kg
Leg sections: 3
Maximum load: 14kg
Reasons to buy
+A triumph in cool design+Minimum height of 13.5cm+Large payload for weight
Reasons to avoid
-Not the highest reach-No counterbalance adjustment-Fixed pan and tilt drag

Once you've gotten over the unusual and incredibly long name of this British-designed tripod, you're faced with a rather good bit of kit. The three-sections legs are made from carbon fiber which massively helped to keep weight down. These can also be detached for, a monopod or boom arm or alternatively, splayed out so the head is positioned very close to the ground. 3 Legged Thing even sells accessories that will convert the head to a hi-hat style tripod just 13.5cm from the floor. It features an Arca Swiss-style base plate and there are a variety of feet to choose from depending on what surface you're using it on. 

Cinematographers

Best video tripod: Sachtler 4585 Flowtech 75 MS

(Image credit: Sachtler)

8. Sachtler 4585 Flowtech 75 MS

A totally new leg design to be easy to carry on the shoulder

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber
Extended height: 153cm
Folded height: 68cm
Weight: 2.9kg
Leg sections: 3
Maximum load: 20kg
Reasons to buy
+Quick-adjust legs +Carbon fibre+75mm bowl head fitting+Big payload
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most compact-Doesn’t come as a kit

The Sachtler Flowtech 75 MS Carbon Fibre Tripod with a mid-level spreader is very different to the regular single or double carbon fiber tube designs as it has very wide, almost flat legs. Each leg features a single clamping lever that locks and unlocks the sections, so you can set the whole lot up with just three locks which all sit together at the top of the tripod. Each leg extends independently, and when detached from the spreader, each leg can pivot without affecting the other legs. It’s designed to be comfortable to shoulder-carry, too. Of course, you need to budget for a suitable head, such as the Sachtler Ace XL or FSB 8 T. 

Best video tripod: Miller 3780 CX18 Sprinter II

(Image credit: Miller)

9. Miller 3783 CX14 Sprinter II

The Rolls Royce of traditional-style twin-tube carbon fiber tripods

Specifications
Material: Carbon fiber
Extended height: 169.3cm
Folded height: 85.3cm
Weight: 7.2kg
Leg sections: 3
Maximum load: 14kg
Reasons to buy
+Incredible quality +Super-smooth pan and tilt+High quality carrying case
Reasons to avoid
-Minimum height 60cm-Very pricey

When your tripod and head costs more than many people’s whole camera and lens systems, you know you are buying the very best that will perform impeccably and last for a very long time. The Miller kit is a dream buy for many, but if you are shooting big-budget productions on an expensive cinema camera with lots of accessories on it, you want something that is up to the job. The counterbalance has 16 different levels of resistance and the pan and tilt are adjustable, too. The kit doesn’t offer significantly more technology than other tripods, but it’s the way it handles the movements that sets it apart. Silky smooth with no judder at the end of the pans or tilts gives your films a totally professional edge good enough for Hollywood.

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Adam Duckworth

Adam Duckworth is an award-winning professional photographer and videographer based in the UK. He has worked for many top magazines, newspapers and corporate clients for more than 25 years. He was named SWPP UK Commercial Photographer of the Year, and is an Associate of the British Institute of Professional Photography. He has also worked for international publications like Motor Cycle News, Racer X, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, ZOO, Golf World, Today's Golfer, and Mountain Bike Action, among others.