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I’m looking to buy a tripod online. (My one local camera shop doesn’t stock many options, and those it does have are much more expensive there than are online.)

Price, size, weight — all these are easy to compare when browsing online. But sturdiness is very important in a tripod, and I don’t know how to judge it from written descriptions or specs! Is there any way to gauge the sturdiness of a tripod apart from actually feeling it? Something to look for in the materials, or where it’s manufactured, or…?

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There's a decent tripod buying guide at warehouseexpress.com/home/?/guides/tripod-buying-guide.html –  ElendilTheTall May 24 '11 at 10:29

3 Answers 3

One important thing would be the material of construction. Usually carbon fibre are the best because they are light and can take a good amount of load. But they can be a little pricey. But if its for indoor use a heavy tripod would be good. Any tripod can be made sturdy just by using the bag provided for it and filling it up with a couple of rocks from around and hanging it from the hook that is provided below the tripod head. Also the manufacturers generally provide the maximum load. Please stick to it because it definitely does matter.

You could find reviews online for recognised brands but not always. But its always better to buy a tripod after looking at it. Not because it wont have the features and stuff but when you just try it out you will know whether you like it or not because tripod like your camera if you take care of it stays with you for ever.

Another piece of advice is that you rather buy a slightly pricey tripod because the construction would be better and all. Also rather than investing on cheaper ones that eventually start giving problems ( eg: Thread of the head breaking off, buckling of the legs etc) and you would have to invest on another one. Rather you buy a good one now and not really worry about changing or anything like that later.

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For almost any recognized brand, you can find online reviews. You can decide on tripods which have higher maximum load limit comparing to others. Weighty tripods are sturdier and have higher load capability. Its better if you can take a look what your friends and other local photographers use and get one of those models. You did not mention what camera and lens you're planning to use on it. However, its always better to get a tripod which can handle roughly twice the load you'll actually be putting on it.

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Tripod specs usually include maximum load you can put on them. If you have 2 kg camera, it's probably going to be much more stable on tripod that can handle up to 5 kg of load than on one with 2 kg limit.

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