I was looking for some tripods last year to replace some that had seen better days so I reached out to some advisers to see what advice they could give. Most said that tripods and SD cards were the death of them and they were still searching for good ones as well.
I did, however, have a few advisers share some that they had luck with. Here’s what I got:
- The Velbon 438 is inexpensive but mimics the workings of a more costly tripod. The downside is that the head is not replaceable (at least not in my experience) so when something does break, it makes the tripod unusable. That said — I have a dozen of these, used in a high school media lab, and they’ve lasted several years with only one broken. The head is smooth for the price point. The legs are sturdy enough for smaller cameras. It looks good and comes with a carry bag. My students can check these out for home use as well. – Rich Barnett
- The Sunpak 620 is a very inexpensive tripod. I use these in a middle school setting where I wanted one tripod for each of 30 students. They are remarkably well made for the price. Yes, they break. Probably one or two a year — often from student misuse. Sometimes they can be repaired. The head is smooth enough for basic work. Unfortunately, this model has changed over the past few years and isn’t as rugged or attractive as it was earlier. But it is still amazing for the price. – Rich Barnett
- The Whitney High Student Media staff uses BONFOTO 671A Travel Aluminum Camera Tripod, Lightweight With Two 1/4″ Quick Release Plates Ball Head For Canon/Nikon/Sony/Samsung/Panasonic Olympus DSLR. While it’s considered a “budget” level piece of equipment rather than premium, it’s just fine for our needs. There’s no way we can afford the tripods out there at the higher price point. This runs about $70 and is totally durable and portable in student-friendly ways. We have three of them, all ordered from Amazon. Keep in mind, we do minimal video compared to some other programs, as we also have a 200-student separate broadcasting program at our school. My own staff has been doing much of their video from iPhone using our Osmo gimbal. – Sarah Nichols
- They are a little pricey, but I HIGHLY recommend the Cartoni Focus 8 Fluid Head single stage tripod. They are about $700 edu pricing from B&H. We bought ten of them in the Fall of 2005 (when they were a little cheaper) and ALL of them are still in use. They are very smooth with tilts and pans just plain hold up to high school student use. – Albert Dupont
- We love the magnus VT-4000 because they are really easy to use and are very sturdy. The tripod has a level and you can level it easy by adjusting the ball head. They have withstood a beating and still do the job! – Chris Slaton
There are some great recommendations there. If you’ve got one you like, please add it to the comments below.