My current tripod (Slik) doesn't do heavy lenses very well.

I am looking for a heavy duty tripod. One that can handle lens that weighs more than 2 pounds (907.18 grams)

Any recommendations?

My budget for a tripod is $100.00.

  • What is your camera and your heaviest lens? Oct 12 '10 at 18:49
  • 1
    Welcome to photo.SE! We need more detail about your equipment and intended uses, though, in order to properly answer your question.
    – Reid
    Oct 12 '10 at 23:08
  • See also: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/2505/… Oct 13 '10 at 11:58
  • Currently I am having a SIGMA 300 mm lens. The trouble with my tripod is that it cannot hold the lens in evrey position as it can do with my 17mm - 85 mm CANON lens. I own a REBEL XT. My budget for a tripod is 100 dollars.
    – abhi
    Oct 13 '10 at 12:50
  • 3
    Can you explain further what you mean "cannot hold the lens in every position"? What positions do you need it to be held in? Also, are you mounting the lens with a tripod ring to the tripod, or the camera to the tripod? Most of the time, you need to mount telephoto lenses directly, rather than the camera, to get proper mobility and stability. As for cost...$100 really isn't going to get you much of anything...thats not even enough for a half-way decent head, let alone a decent 'pod. :\
    – jrista
    Oct 13 '10 at 18:39

Generally speaking, two pounds is very lightweight duty. Heavy duty would be something that could mount a nice, sturdy gymbal head, a large fully-body camera (i.e. Canon 1D/Nikin D3), and a hefty telephoto lens (i.e. wide 600mm or 800mm). Such a setup could way a good 15-20 pounds or more, some ten times the weight your looking for. A tripod to handle 20 pounds would be pretty heavy itself, a couple/few pounds at least, plus maybe a pound or so for the gymbal head. Thats a lot of weight.

I have a Gitzo setup that uses the Gitzo GT0541 tripod and the Gitzo GH1780QR ball head. The tripod itself weighs in at a little over a pound, and the head weighs just under one pound. The tripod itself can handle 11 pounds worth of load, and the head can handle 22 pounds of load, so the setup can handle 11 pounds total. It works beautifully with my Canon 450D and 100-400mm Telephoto Zoom lens, which weighs about 4 pounds total. The mere two and a half pound weight of the tropod/head makes it a dream to hike around with, and it cost less than $700. Hooking some weight on the hook at the bottom of the tripod takes care of any instability (there is a little bit of give due to its lightweight construction.)

The above can be contrasted with the Gitzo GT5561SGT, a tripod designed for "heavy duty" work. It is capable of handling 55 pounds of load, weighs in at almost 8 pounds itself excluding any head (and its carbon fiber to boot!). The tripod itself costs almost $1300. Throw in a head capable of handling 45-55 pounds of load, and you tack on a couple more pounds, for a total cost of around $2000 or so. This puppy with a Wimberly gymbal head is capable of handling Canon's biggest lens, the 1200mm super telephoto, which weighs almost 40 pounds itself.

There are some middle ground tripods from various manufacturers that can handle load in the range of 25, 35, and 45 pounds. Sometimes, more than load limit, you need to look at how sturdy a tripod is. Lighter weight 'pods that can handle 11lb may be able to handle plenty of weight, but may just be too flimsy. A pod that is more rigid may be what your looking for, regardless of its load limit. Various tripod heads, including panning heads, ball heads, and gymbal heads exist for similar load ranges. It is important to note that the lowest weight capacity is the most you can handle, so putting a 45lb head on an 11lb tripod is useless, as you'll still only be able to handle 11lb worth of load.

Before you shell out any money on a "heavy duty" tripod (which could cost a small fortune), I would figure out the maximum weight of the equipment you wish to mount on it. Even a 500mm f/5.6 telephoto lens on a 1D/D3 type body still weighs considerably less than the 22-35lb load limit of most middle-ground tripods. Something like a Gitzo GT3531 @ $750, a good middle range 'pod, might offer you the sturdy build you need, even though it can support nearly 40lbs worth of weight (which is probably way more than you need.)

  • Nice. How is the GH1780QR locking mechanism? Screw? Do you have to unscrew to make small adjustements? Oct 12 '10 at 23:52
  • It is a ball head, so there is a knob that you can loosen, then you have full freedom. There is a nice vertical flip notch in case you want to change from horizontal to vertical with a lens that does not have a tripod ring. There is a simple quick-flip screw that you loosen (I just use my thumb to flip it up or down) to enable panning. It is a very nice head, with degree notches around the panning ring, and three bubble levels in the head itself for gravity leveling. It is also a quick-release head, but it is "safe", and prevents the camera from just falling out like some manfrotto heads.
    – jrista
    Oct 13 '10 at 0:39
  • That GT0541 looks really nice ad light, but its maximum height is 55.91 in (142 cm) as opposed to my Manfrotto which extends to 70.08 in (180cm). I'm 6'3", the less I bend over, the better :) Nov 9 '10 at 6:02
  • I think I'm going to pull the trigger on the GT0541. Would you mind giving me your opinion on the GH1781QR head? The GH1780QR you have has been around for a while (introduced on Amazon in 2003, goo.gl/WPLcs), and the GH1781QR is much newer (on Amazon in 2010, goo.gl/cCbas). Both specs on Gitzo.com look completely identical (goo.gl/V9StI vs. goo.gl/hZuBj), which seems to indicate the GH1781 is the new iteration. Links to B&H pages too: goo.gl/Okwx8 vs. goo.gl/P5Ye2 ; I would be inclined to buy the more modern version. What do you think? Thanks. Nov 22 '10 at 22:13
  • I like the ball head. It is very easy to use, and the quick release is "safe" (i.e. using it won't allow the camera to simply fall out of the head and hit the ground). I believe the new version, the 1781, is identical. Gitzo released a new series of 'pods, and I think the newer ball head was simply updated to match. I got the older one because it was a little cheaper, that was pretty much all the reason to it.
    – jrista
    Nov 23 '10 at 3:43

There are literally dozens of tripods that can handle more than two pounds. Popular brands include Manfrotto and Gitzo.

Without knowing further details of what you require (number of leg segments, size, budget, etc) it's hard to make a specific recommendation.

  • 1
    +1: also worth mentioning that heads and legs have varying supported weight specifications.
    – Alan
    Oct 12 '10 at 18:30

In general it is difficult to satisfy those 3 important properties at the same time: light weight, sturdiness, and cheap. Without more information, I can only refer to my own case but I'm really interested in the answers because my tripod is heavy.

I have a Camera 5D Mark II which weighs about 895 g / 31.6 oz / 1.97 lbs (body + battery). My heaviest lens is a Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS, at about 1470 g / 51.9 oz. / 3.2 lbs (pounds). Both together, this amounts to a nice 2365 g / 83.4 oz. / 5.2 lbs.

To support this combo, I use a Manfrotto 055XB Tripod that supports 7 kg / 15.4 lbs. I attach the tripod directly to the lens, since it's heavier than the camera. The tripod weighs 2.3 kg / 5 lbs, and you can get it for around $175. You still need a tripod head. My camera is a video DSLR, so I went for a Manfrotto 501HDV Video Head for smooth pan and tilt. The head costs around $180, can support 6 kg / 13 lbs and weighs 1.6 kg / 3.53 lbs. If you are not interested in video, get a lighter head. You end up with quite a heavy combo that can support 6 kg / 13 lbs and weighs 3.9 kg / 8.6 lbs, for about $355. It's not light, but it's sturdy, and it doesn't bulge.

As you can see in jrista's comment, and to get back to my intro: you can get lighter, but for more money. His first combo using Gitzo gear can support 11 lbs but weighs 1/3rd of mine for twice the price. I'm actually tempted to buy that.


If you go to Mafrotto's website, they have a configuration utility. You enter the details of your body and lens and it'll tell you whether the tripod/head configuration you've selected is suitable for use.

  • I did visit their website after you posted this. That utility is very confusing. As I understand, I need to buy three separate parts for one tripod. Is that right?
    – abhi
    Oct 13 '10 at 12:55
  • That doesn't seem right to me. I have a 0555CXPRO4 base with a 808RC4 head and that will support my wildlife gear without any problems (just for reference it's a Nikon D200 with a Sigma 170-500 zoom lens). I put your details into the utility and my setup would be alright for your gear too. However, at UK prices, it would come to well over the $100 you've quoted. Oct 13 '10 at 18:06
  • It could easily be three (or four) pieces if a quick release system is part of the requirement: legs, head and QR assembly (or QR clamp and plate as separate components).
    – user2719
    Feb 19 '11 at 13:17

Most tripods in the Manfrotto 190 or 055 series should be sufficient (with the appropriate head).

  • Yeah, heads are important. But good ones can be expensive.
    – Staale S
    Feb 21 '11 at 12:28

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