Road Train !!!!!!!!!!

by Russell McMahon

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I have look at Tripod that is mobile yet sturdy and light but that discusses expensive tripods.

I want something cheaper (under $30). I checked some on Amazon. Which one would you recommend, considering I am not familiar with the technology? It is for Nikon D5100, with 18-55mm and 55-300nm lenses. I would probably use it indoors most of the time occasionally outside and sometimes in light wind (but I can compromise on that for cheap one). Here is what I have looked at:

or any other.

I would like something small that is easy to store. Easy attach/detach is must (I can compromise on money here). Height is no big deal but good-looking is a plus. I want something that is appropriate for my camera but cheap and the right technology.

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Obligatory reading on how to save $700 by forgoing the $30 tripod: bythom.com/support.htm –  mattdm Sep 13 '11 at 2:03
    
We have this question on sub-$100 tripod recommendations, but you're looking for considerably cheaper than that.... photo.stackexchange.com/questions/3745 –  mattdm Sep 13 '11 at 2:04
    
I mean there is a lot available on amazon in this price range. If i it is a bit higher, I can go for it. Basically looking for a fit for my DSLR. –  photo101 Sep 13 '11 at 2:08
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The really cheap ones are basically junk. They're okay if you want to bring 'em out once a year for a family group photo, but will be frustrating if you want to use it more than that. The sub-$100 question should help, but also see What should I pay attention to when choosing a tripod? –  mattdm Sep 13 '11 at 2:14
    
Only the Revelli there is a photo tripod, the others are for video. I have never heard of that brand and have only had one tripod in that price range and was a waste of money. FWIW, the $150 tripod I bought later was not enough for a DSLR either. Today I would not recommend anything under $250 or so. –  Itai Sep 13 '11 at 2:17

7 Answers 7

up vote 9 down vote accepted

First, I'm going to disagree with basically everyone else here, and say that I see no reason you can't pick up one of these inexpensive solutions and be completely happy. Understand that you must set your expectations in line with what you are purchasing, but it already sounds like you are because you have explained compromise is OK as long as it is cheap and matches your equipment and beginner experience/equipment.

First of all, if you have no tripod yet, you can do a lot of new types of photography with ANY tripod, no matter what the price, as compared to what you could do without a tripod. A tripod could be considered a box that you get from the home improvement store, or even something you find on the street, but any object that allows you to set your camera down and take long exposure shots or any shot that is not handheld will expand your capabilities.

Some of the downsides to cheap/inexpensive tripods include:

  • Will not properly support heavy/large lens/body combinations
  • Legs may bend or stress under weight and become unstable
  • Wind may blow over the setup
  • Setting up a shot to be level can be complicated and cumbersome if tripod is designed for video
  • The tripod may be very heavy/large
  • You may be unable to take shots at ground level or close up that macro requires
  • Poor manufacturing will lead to deterioration of the product quickly

Read the above statements a few times, and once you fully understand them all, go ahead and purchase an inexpensive tripod and start taking photos!

Some tips on using an inexpensive tripod that still allow it to be usable:

  • Don't max out the height on any section, especially the middle column
  • Utilize any feet features that help secure the tripod(middle pins or rubber feet)
  • Keep the total camera weight well under the maximum stated
  • Stay away from questionable weather conditions, wind, sea salt, sand

As far as the three tripods you specified, I see no issues with any of them specifically, I think you will find more value in the reviews on Amazon then any specific things I can point out.

Overall, a cheap tripod is going to give you additional options you currently do not have, the capabilities will be limited, but as long as you are smart, and use it while considering the downsides you will find a great utility in this sub-$50 accessory.

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OK, I'm gonna +1 this b/c there is some value for a cheap tripod over a no-tripod after all... –  ysap Sep 13 '11 at 15:05
    
@ysap - BOOM! Exactly my point! I also think $30 is a bargain for any hobby accessory, easy to impulse buy, and will open up a world of new opportunities for any amateur photography! –  dpollitt Sep 13 '11 at 15:09
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When the cheap tripod breaks or blows over and you lose far more than $30 of gear, I'd argue that no tripod is better than a cheap one that provided false security. –  ahockley Sep 13 '11 at 17:24
    
I'm not suggesting using a fishing line as a camera strap. A $30 basic tripod from Best Buy isn't going to just tumble over with a basic DSLR and a kit lens, even in minor wind. If you are really concerned about that, lower the legs and center column a bit. As I said, you must understand the limitations and worth within them! –  dpollitt Sep 13 '11 at 17:31
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I bought the revelli (first option in my question) and man it is rock solid. I have never used a tripod before though but I absolutely had no problem with it in terms of stability. Downside it it is not quickest to adjust but then this is a new baby. –  photo101 May 26 '12 at 21:09

My answer is that no, I cannot recommend an under-$30 tripod. The point of a tripod is to provide camera stabilization in order to improve image quality and the super-cheap tripods don't reliably provide this function.

Tripods which are that cheap are going to seriously compromise on materials and the tradeoff will be a lack of stability and a lack of durability. A tripod without stability is pointless; a tripod without durability is very risky (I once had a buddy lose around $1400 of gear as his cheap tripod blew over and broke in the wind).

Answers on the question about sub-$100 tripods are filled with caveats and cautions; attempting to be happy with a tripod for less than a third of that price simply isn't realistic. Much like I'd tell someone who wants a super telephoto wildlife lens for $250 that such gear doesn't exist, there is no such thing as a good $30 tripod.

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Absolutely agree. No $30 tripod can sufficiently support a DSLR. And yes, I am talking from experience. –  ysap Sep 13 '11 at 13:29
    
I ordered the first option above for $35. It has a review on youtube that confirmed to me it is stable and it can support 17 lbs of gear. Agree not quick to setup, has legs with screws rather than clips but I think it might work. It includes one free tripod as well :) –  photo101 Sep 13 '11 at 13:35
    
I really think the user is asking "WOULD you recommend a sub $30 tripod", not COULD you. I know that is what he wrote in the title, but the details really don't support that. I am probably off on this, as others have voted you up on this answer, but I thought I would note. –  dpollitt Sep 13 '11 at 14:38
    
+1 - I absolutely agree, a $30 tripod would be an utter waste of money. –  John Cavan Sep 13 '11 at 15:04

GorillaPod

The only solution I could recommend in this price range would be a GorillaPod.

You would have to put it on something (car, table, wrapped around a tree trunk) to get any height, but it might be workable for you.

... Or it might be too much of a compromise. :-(

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For tripod-like support on a budget, you should consider tripod alternatives, rather than tripods. Look for reivews on the Gorilla Pod and the The Pod, which is really a very nice beanbag camera support.

I have had much success using my camera bag as a stable platform when shooting landscapes.

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I agree with ahockley, a ~30$ tripod will not be stable or durable enough for outdoor long exposure usage.

However, what about a gorillapod, or a bean bag tripod? if you can find a rock/wall/lamp or other suitable base to put your camera on, you may be able to pull off stable long exposures, at the expense of some mobility for adjustments when composing. Personally, i've took some 2-3 min exposures with a gorillapod slr zoom (~30£) and they came out well..it's always a matter of securing your gear properly.

disclaimer: i'd advise on getting a remote shutter release, if you're planning on taking extra long exposures. For family photos, you'll be fine with the camera timer.

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One option worth mentioning are monopods. They require you to hold your camera with your hands, which in turn means you can't break your camera by trusting the support system support it and it failing to do that. Some of them are very inexpensive and they fold into smaller space than any tripod.

Obviously they don't offer stability equal to good tripod, but they still offer stability superior to just holding the camera in hand.

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I would not risk even a flash on such a tripod. If you want a useable tripod at less than a hundred bucks, you have to steal one.

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Now, this is an overstatement. A cheap Walmart tripod is definitely a good lightstand that can easily support a flash and an umbrella (some weight may be needed on the legs if shooting with umbrella outdoors, but this is true for every lightstand). –  ysap Sep 13 '11 at 13:31
    
Not to mention that my perfectly adequate lightstands cost under USD30 each. –  AJ Finch Sep 13 '11 at 13:54
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The idea of stealing one shows a creative approach to the problem which I can't help but admire... –  AJ Finch Sep 13 '11 at 13:54
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Or buy a used one, I have a nice tripod that I paid about $50 used that retailed back in the day for several hundred dollars. Not quite as light as modern carbon fiber ones, but it doesn't go anywhere once I set it up. –  rob Sep 13 '11 at 16:09
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Rob Z: A bit of dead weight is not such a bad thing in a tripod. –  Staale S Sep 13 '11 at 17:10

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