Whether you want to snap a selfie without having an outstretched arm appearing in shot, or capture a delicate macro composition arranged on a table, a mini tripod could be for you. These ultra-compact supports are also ideal for keeping in your kit bag should the opportunity arise to shoot a long exposure.
Add an optional phone clamp holder and a mini tripod is the perfect accessory for getting the most out of the long-exposure astrophotography modes offered by camera phones like the Google Pixel 4 and OnePlus 7T Pro.
Sometimes dubbed 'tabletop' tripods, they're designed to placed on just such a surface, although any raised platform like a wall or park bench can work just as well for elevating your camera.
Most mini tripods pack down to around the size of a typical 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, and can be as light as 300g, making them easy to slot into a small camera bag, or just a jacket pocket. The diminutive legs will usually be topped off by an equally cute ball head, though the larger the better if you want decent stability when mounting a DSLR camera.
While you'll usually have to make use of raised nearby objects to gain extra height, some mini tripods sport extending legs or a height-adjustable centre column, though the latter can only lift your camera so high before things get very top heavy and unstable.
All the mini tripods on this list are capable of supporting an action camera or camera phone, though a phone will require an additional clamp to secure it to the tripod. Beefier models can support several kilos of kit, making them suitable for even a full-frame DSLR paired with a telephoto lens.
The best mini tripods in 2020
1. Manfrotto Pixi Evo
A well made tabletop tripod that nails the basics for a fair price - you can’t go wrong
Weight: 260g | Packed length: 20.5cm | Max extended height: 19cm | Max payload capacity: 2.5kg
Manfrotto’s Pixi mini tripods have been with us for several years, but this Evo version steps things up - literally - thanks to its extendable two-section legs. These can lock into six different extension points using an ergonomic push-button release on each leg. At full stretch there’s some flex when you mount a heavier DSLR, but Manfrotto’s 2.5kg load rating is reasonable. Keep the legs retracted to their shortest setting and the Evo feels much more stout, thought this reduces the shooting height from 19cm to 15.5cm. Alternatively, if you want to sink lower, the legs have a secondary angle setting selected using a simple but effective switch on the side of the ball head. This lets the head down to around 10cm off the deck.
The ball head itself is of a usefully large size for a mini tripod and it clamps securely. It can also tilt through 90-degrees into portrait orientation, and a convenient wheel locks the ¼”-20 thread to your camera, so you don’t need to rotate the whole tripod.
Factor the keen pricing and this basic but well made support is a smart buy.
2. Sirui 3T-35K
It's not cheap for such a small tripod, but you get what you pay for
Weight: 430g | Packed length: 24cm | Max extended height: 34cm | Max payload capacity: 4kg
Sirui’s entry stands out thanks to its almost entirely metal construction. It certainly feels like a premium product, especially next to more budget rivals. Load capacity is a respectable 4kg, and we found the 3K-35T easily supports a full-frame DSLR and 24-70mm lens. This sturdiness does have an impact on weight though, as the 3K-35T tips the scales at 430g - noticeably heavier than Manfrotto's 260g Pixi Evo mini tripod.
The legs fold out from their resting position alongside the centre column, and a quick twist of the central ‘spider’ locks them in their outstretched position. The two-section centre column can then adjust your shooting height from 25.5cm up to 34cm, or you can remove the column completely and mount the head directly to the legs for a lower stance, though this is a bit of a faff that requires the use of an Allen key.
The support is topped off by a good-sized and precisely-machined aluminium ball head. It features separate pan adjustment, though this is of limited use as there isn’t a dedicated knob to adjust the pan base independently.
3. Joby GorillaPod Rig
A must-have for videographers, if bulky on the go and heavy on the pocket
Weight: 840g | Packed length: 34cm | Max extended height: 36cm | Max payload capacity: 5kg
You can get GorillaPods in numerous sizes to suit cameras from a GoPro up to a full-frame DSLR, and all make great tabletop tripods, but we went for the flagship GorillaPod Rig to see what the GorillaPod design is really capable of.
The Rig is intended to hold not just your camera, but with those ‘arms’ on either side, you can also add accessories like LED lights, microphones, a small external video monitor, or even a phone (via an optional clamp). The system works best for shooting video closeups, but it can be equally effective for macro stills when you position a light on either side of your camera. This can be anything up to a full-frame DSLR, as the total load rating is 5kg.
The Rig is bundled with a high quality ball head that features separate pan adjustment. Grippy locking knobs clamp the head very well, and your accessories mount to the GorillaPod arms using standard ¼”-20 screw threads.
The legs are the largest in the GorillaPod range, measuring around 27cm long. They allow you to wrap the Rig around static objects, so this needn’t just be a tabletop tripod, and Joby also bundles a strap that lets you to tie the Rig to even larger objects, such as a tree trunk.
4. Benro BK10
Good value for small cameras, and especially useful for phone photography and vlogging
Weight: 300g | Packed length: 19cm | Max extended height: 91cm | Max payload capacity: 1kg
Benro’s ultra-portable BK10 mini tripod weighs only 300g and is a mere 19cm long when folded, yet thanks to a 7-section telescopic centre column, it can extend to give a 91cm-high shooting platform. Fold the tripod legs together but keep the centre column outstretched and you’ve also got a comfortable selfie stick useful for vlogging.
But use it as a tripod and the combination of short legs and that towering central column does make things very top heavy with a camera on board, and the 1kg load rating seems very optimistic. Realistically you’ll need to stick to an action camera, compact camera or camera phone for the BK10 to be in its element.
Benro includes a GoPro mount, as well as a basic clamp to hold a phone, both attaching to the tripod’s tiny plastic ball head. What’s more, you also get a Bluetooth remote that clips to one tripod leg when not in use. We found this gadget worked flawlessly as a remote shutter release when paired with our test phone.
5. Gitzo Mini Traveler
Small but beautifully formed: if you can justify the outlay, the Mini Traveller doesn’t disappoint
Weight: 265g | Packed length: 21cm | Max extended height: 17cm | Max payload capacity: 3kg (legs 25kg)
Mini tripods can often also be short on build quality, but Gitzo’s mini marvel is a noteable exception. It’s constructed using the same carbon eXact tubing tech as full-size Gitzo legs and is topped off by an equally well made aluminium ball head. The ball itself clamps super-securely using the grippy locking ring at the base of the head.
Gitzo rates the load capacity at 3kg, and that’s very fair, as the Mini Traveller feels rock solid, even when the legs are spread to their widest setting - a neat pull action on each leg lets you switch between the two available angles.
If you need to support even more, the legs themselves have a colossal 25kg load rating - just remove the head using the included Torx wrench, and Gitzo provides an adaptor that allows fitment of a beefier head to maximize the legs’ carrying capacity.
Equally impressive is the tripod and included head weigh a combined 265g, which makes this one of the lightest mini tripods on the market.
The Mini Traveller is available with two color options: black, or Gitzo’s signature ‘Noir Decor’ mottled gunmetal grey finish.
6. Velbon EX-Macro
A great - if bulky - design, but almost ruined by excessive build quality cost-cutting
Weight: 560g | Packed length: 28cm | Max extended height: 56cm | Max payload capacity: 2.5kg
As tabletop tripods go, the EX-Macro is somewhat bloated, measuring 28cm long and requiring a 9cm-diameter slot in your kit bag. It’s also on the heavier side at 560g, but the EX-Macro is closer to a full-size tripod in design than a typical tabletop tripod. The legs have three sections and lock using conventional lever clamps, while the centre column has 6cm of height adjustment. Maximum shooting height is a very versatile 56cm, and the legs can support up to 2.5kg of payload, though Velbon recommends 1.5kg as a safer bet.
It’s a surprisingly conservative load rating given the tripod’s substantial size, but the problem is the unashamedly plastic construction. As a result, the three-way pan & tilt head feels very cheap, and the tiny plastic quick release plate is especially nasty, causing a heavier DSLR to wobble more than we’d like. It’s a pity given the head’s separate pan and tilt adjustment should be ideal for delicate macro compositions.
The head is definitely the weak link in the setup, and it can’t be replaced. The legs actually hold very securely under much more than 2.5kg, with extra - albeit completely plastic - bracing helping their rigidity. This bracing can also let the leg angle extend wider for extra stability.
7. AmazonBasics Lightweight Mini Tripod
Want the smallest tripod possible? This could almost fit in a Christmas cracker
Weight: 120g | Packed length: 11.5 cm | Max extended height: 16.5cm | Max payload capacity: 0.5kg
Mini tripods don't get much more mini than this, both in terms of size and cost. You'd be forgiven for assuming this would arrive in pieces and be made plastic so thin you could breathe through it, but not so. In fact, almost all the components are metal, and the fit and finish are more than acceptable for the money.
Each leg is comprised of three sections and they telescope to raise the minimum 10.5cm shooting height up to a max 16.5cm. However with only friction to keep the legs outstretched, the maximum payload is restricted to just 500g, though this is still enough to attach a camera up to a small mirrorless interchangeable lens camera equipped with a lightweight kit lens.
The metal ball head complements the legs, as it too is designed only to support small, light cameras. The ball's diameter is tiny, and the range of tilt movement is very restrictive, though there is a slot in the ball housing that allows you to rotate your camera into portrait orientation.
Ultimately we'd recommend you spend a little extra to get a more versatile and robust mini tripod, but if you're on a tight budget or want the smallest possible support for a suitably compact camera, this is a pleasantly handy gadget.
5 things to look for in a mini tripod
1. Heads up
The limiting factor of a mini tripod can often be a titchy ball head. A larger ball is more controllable and easier to clamp securely.
2. Spread your legs
A tripod with multiple leg angle or extension options gives you the choice between extra height and more stability.
3. Size matters
Good quality mini tripods can hold a surprising amount of gear. With load ratings up to 5kg, some can support even a DSLR and telephoto lens.
4. What tabletop?
Joby’s innovative and extensive GorillaPod range proves a mini tripod can be liberated from the tabletop, as you can wrap them round many objects.
5. Little extras
Bundled mounts to fit a GoPro or smartphone are nice, as is an extending centre column for gaining more height or doubling as a selfie stick.