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The best video tripod in 2020: camera supports with fluid heads for videomakers

The best video tripod in 2020
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best video tripods are different to photographic tripods in a number of key ways. While a photo tripod will do the basic job of keeping a camera still for video, using a dedicated video tripod and head combo will open up your filmmaking in many ways, some of which you may not have thought about.

Take panning and tilting. Video is a dynamic medium, and while there's a place for a locked-off shot, you hardly want it to be the only option available to you. Having a video head that is smooth to move, with an adjustable level of fluid damping to assure precise control, makes a world of difference. A video tripod will also provide you with a longer control arm that'll allow you to be very precise with your movements.

There's more. Video tripods also tend to have longer top plates than photo tripods, which allows for more flexibility with camera positioning and weight distribution. This makes a lot of sense when we consider the more piecemeal, uneven nature of video setups, with long lenses and extra accessories. Video tripods are also more likely to have an adjustable counterbalance system, which helps even more when you're shooting with a big video camera and telephoto lens with a monitor attached and a mic on top. All that bulk adds up!

Video setups also tend to have a quick-adjust head with a spirit level, which helps you keep your horizons straight. This is especially critical in video as it's much more difficult to correct than it is in a still photograph. Some of the tripods for video will also come with spreaders between their legs to help you open them up quickly and evenly; you'll see a few of those mentioned in this guide.

We've made ten picks of what we reckon are the best video tripods available right now. We're aware of course that there are many different types of filmmaker out there, and not everyone has the same kind of needs. Some people are vloggers and YouTubers using small, affordable cameras or smartphones, while there are also indie filmmakers who are likely using more involved setups. Then at the step beyond that we start to see pro cinematographers, who have the biggest budgets and the cameras to match. We've included sections for each of these broad category of video user, with our top current recommendations in each one.

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

Best video editing software

The best video tripod in 2020

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

Material: Aluminium | Extended height: 151cm | Folded height: 40cm | Weight: 1.75kg | Leg sections: 3 | Maximum load: 4kg

Folds down well
Fast to set up
Light weight
Max payload 4kg
No pan and tilt drag adjustment
No counterbalance adjustment

Manfrotto is one of the market leaders in tripods with something to suit all users and budgets. The BeFree Live Lever-Lock tripod kit uses three-section aluminum legs that are clamped down using lever locks. There is a different version available using twist-lock legs, too. And even a lighter carbon fiber version but that costs significantly more. The aluminum BeFree Live Lever-Lock tripod offers the best balance of weight, price and features, and can be packed down into a very small package. The ball head isn’t the best quality and there is no pan or tilt drag adjustment, but it’s still smooth and gives great 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

Material: Aluminium | Extended height: 162.5cm | Folded height: 57cm | Weight: 3.47kg | Leg sections: 3 | Maximum load: 6kg

Decent pan and tilt 
Maximum height of 162.5cm
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: Libec)

3. Libec 650EX

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

Material: Aluminium | Extended height: 150.5cm | Folded height: 27.8cm | Weight: 3.3kg | Leg sections: 2 | Maximum load: 3kg

Affordable price
Small and portable
Easy to use
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.

(Image credit: Vanguard)

4. Vanguard VEO 2X 265CBP

The carbon fiber tripod that packs up small but has a big payload

Material: Carbon fibre | Extended height: 151.1cm | Folded height: 40.9cm | Weight: 1.59kg | Leg sections: 5 | Maximum load: 12kg

Carbon fibre gives light weight
Packs down to a compact size
Can be used as a monopod
Compromise design
No fluid drag or balance adjustment
Arca Swiss head is unusual for video

The Vanguard is light, folds down incredibly small and has a high payload of 12kg. That’s because it’s made out of carbon fiber instead of aluminum, but comes without the usually high premium price the material commands. It can also have the center column removed and used as a monopod. However, the Vanguard is not really a specific video tripod but a multi-use tripod. This is due to having a ball head that can be locked off for tilt, then the friction knob used to slow down the pan movement. It does come with a pan handle that can be fitted to aid smoother movements. But there’s no fluid drag at all.

Indie filmmakers

(Image credit: Libec)

5. Libec TH-Z T

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

Material: Aluminium | Extended height: 161cm | Folded height: 79.5cm | Weight: 3.49kg | Leg sections: 3 | Maximum load: 4.99kg

Traditional design with spreader
Fast to set up 
Comes with carry case
Not very compact to carry
No drag/counterbalance adjustment
Lower head quality

The Libec TH-Z 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 5.99kg 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 75mm 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

Material: Aluminium | Extended height: 163cm | Folded height: 40.9cm | Weight: 4.25kg | Leg sections: 3 | Maximum load: 6kg

Modern design tripod and head
Minimum height 31cm
Adjustable pan and tilt drag
Five-step counterbalance adjustment
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

Material: Carbon fibre | Extended height: 147.5cm | Folded height: 66.7cm | Weight: 1.65kg | Leg sections: 3 | Maximum load: 14kg

A triumph in cool design
Minimum height of 13.5cm
Large payload for weight
Not the highest reach
No counterbalance adjustment
Fixed pan and tilt drag

If you can get your head around the unusual and very long name for this British-designed tripod and head system, you’re left with a fantastic bit of a kit at a decent price. It uses three-section carbon fibre legs to keep the weight down, and these can be detached to form a monopod/ boom arm or splayed out very wide to get the head incredibly close to the ground. You can even buy accessories to use the head as a hi-hat style tripod just 13.5cm off the deck. The head has an Arca Swiss style plate, and a variety of feet are available to avoid damage to floors.

Best video tripod: Manfrotto MVK502C-1 Pro Video Carbon system

(Image credit: Manfrotto)

8. Manfrotto MVK502C-1 Pro Video Carbon system

Cool carbon fibre legs and a well-proven head make for a solid system

Material: Carbon fibre | Extended height: 185cm | Folded height: 87.5cm | Weight: 6.6kg | Leg sections: 3 | Maximum load: 7kg

Carbon fibre legs
Easy to adjust fluid damping
Reaches a good height
75mm ball head
Not the lightest 
Fixed counterbalance

Manfrotto’s Pro Video carbon system matches the three-section carbon fibre MPRO 535 legs with the well-trusted MVH502A head, in a kit that comes complete with a padded carry bag. The counterbalance is not adjustable, but the important pan and tilt is easy to dial in thanks to large adjusters. The movement is smooth and well controlled. The head has two 3/8in threaded connectors so you can attach accessory arms right to the head. The legs can be splayed out to three different angles to get you lower to the ground, and the maximum height is very impressive at 185cm.

Cinematographers

Best video tripod: Sachtler 4585 Flowtech 75 MS

(Image credit: Sachtler)

9. Sachtler 4585 Flowtech 75 MS

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

Material: Carbon fibre | Extended height: 153cm | Folded height: 68cm | Weight: 2.9kg | Leg sections: 3 | Maximum load: 20kg

Quick-adjust legs 
Carbon fibre
75mm bowl head fitting
Big payload
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)

10. Miller 3780 CX18 Sprinter II

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

Material: Carbon fibre | Extended height: 168cm | Folded height: 85cm | Weight: 5.8kg | Leg sections: 3 | Maximum load: 16kg

Incredible quality 
Super-smooth pan and tilt
High quality carrying case
Minimum height 57cm
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 15 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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