If you want to do any landscape or product photography you are going to need a good tripod. Like so many pieces of photography gear you can spend insane amounts of money on a tripod, but you don’t have to.
A good quality tripod at a good price is the Benro Adventure 2 Series Aluminum Tripod w/ B2 Ball Head for about $220.
You can spend anywhere from $15 to $2,000 on a tripod, so what should a beginner choose?
Skip the Least Expensive
It is super tempting to get a $15 tripod for a beginner. I get it, you really want to see if you are REALLY going to get into this or if it is a phase.
You are better off not having a tripod and getting a false sense of security that it is going to hold your camera well. They don’t last. You are likely to break it within the first 3 months of trying to use it.
Sure, if it came with your kit, use it until it breaks. Just make sure you test things to make sure your camera is truly secure before you leave it on the tripod to take a photo.
I stared off with a $35 tripod that I won’t even take the time to name here. It didn’t last and it was next to impossible to get it to hold my camera where I wanted it to. The head would tilt a little after I tried to lock it down. Soon the knob to tighten the head down stripped out and the leg locks broke.
If you can’t afford a slightly more expensive tripod a cheap one is better than nothing but I guarantee you will be buying another in pretty short order.
Least Expensive Quality Option
So what is a quality option that won’t break the bank for a beginner? I started and still use the Induro AKB1 for a pretty reasonable cost. I wish I could recommend it here.
Unfortunately, Induro has become a more high-end manufacturer and the AKB1 isn’t made today. While Induro makes highly quality tripods, it is a price range I don’t recommend for a beginning or even serious hobbyist photographers.
Instead, I am going to recommend the tripod I bought for my wife in 2017. The K&F Concept 62” DSLR Tripod (TM2324). At about $80 it is a tripod with both a quick release plate and a ball head that will hold your camera in place pretty well and packs up pretty small. We have used it on many shoots now and I haven’t yet found a better quality tripod for the price.
Yeah, $80 is a lot more than $15, but the quality difference is immense. The K&F Concept isn’t going to outperform tripods that are hundreds or thousands of dollars, but it will be enough for a beginner for sure. The best part is this gets you everything you need, you don’t have to buy an L bracket or a ball head separately.
Serious Hobbyist Tripod
Honestly, a serious hobbyist would probably be pretty happy with the K&F Concept as well. The tripod is that good. Though the ball head on the K&F Concept isn’t quite as smooth or strong as my top ballhead pick for a serious hobbyist in the Highline Ballhead from Colorado Tripod. The Highline is the best ballhead I have used for the price ($130). It competes very well with ballheads that are much more expensive. Unfortunately it is on back order everywhere right now so my second choice is the SIRUI K-40X I put on my Induro tripod legs. At $170 the Sirui K-40X is still an excellent value for the price.
$130 to $170 may seem pretty pricey to get a good ball head for a hobbyist. I get it, I had a hard time spending that much on a ball head, but it has been worth it. I can lock down my camera EXACTLY where I want it with the Highline or the K-40X. Both are also arca-swiss compatible, which opens you up to the world of L-brackets – an absolute must for landscape photographers.
The Highline and the K-40X are good options for a ball head, but what about legs for a serious hobbyist. One option would be to start with the K&F Concept and then replace the head with the Highline or K-40X later. That would work well and is kind of the process I followed with the Induro legs.
If you don’t have any tripod legs and want a step-up to both the legs and the ball head to start with as a serious hobbyist then I recommend the Benro Adventure 2 Series Aluminum Tripod w/ B2 Ball Head (TAD28AIB2).
At $220 this is the very best leg and tripod combination that I expect to last for a long time and lock your camera exactly where you want it for many years. It is also arca-swiss compatible with the ball head making this about the best price to performance sweet spot for a beginning or hobbyist photographer.
The K-40X and Highline are better than the Benro, but either are nearly as much for just the ballhead as what you can get for both the legs and thead head of the Benro Adventure 2. If I were buying a tripod for myself today it would be the Benro.