Choosing the right tripod for nature photography can be difficult. In this article, we compare carbon fiber and aluminum tripods based on a wide range of criteria like tripod weight, stability, stiffness and price, and more.
Should you Choose Aluminum vs Carbon Fiber Summary
As a quick summary, here is our assessment of whether to choose an aluminum tripod or a carbon fiber tripod.
|Weight and Portability||Carbon Fiber|
|Corrosion Resistance||Carbon Fiber|
Quick verdict: If you can afford it go for a carbon fiber tripod. If not choose a high-quality aluminum alloy tripod. Avoid cheap and low-quality tripods. You will usually have to replace it with a better one within the first year. A high-quality tripod can last for decades if you take good care of it. So this is by far the best way to spend your money.
Weight and Portability
If you are going to carry your tripod in order to get to your location you will need to carry all of your gear including your tripod. A bulky and heavy tripod will become a hassle to carry, resulting in your deciding to manage without on occasions where it could actually be useful to have it. Carbon fiber tripods are a fair deal lighter compared to their aluminum counterpart. In terms of portability, there is no difference between the two. A collapsible tripod is great, but avoid giving this higher priority than stability. Tripods with legs that have four sections are a little more unstable than those with legs divided into three sections. The weight savings you get from a carbon fiber tripod can be well worth it if you plan on carrying your tripod a lot or also use it as your travel tripod.
Winner: Carbon fiber
You will find that aluminum tripods generally have more stability for the same reason they lose in the category above: Added weight. Heavier tripods are more stable and not as easily moved due to wind. Because of their lightness carbon fiber tripods often end being top have when you place a heavy camera and a long lens on top of it. However, make sure you place the tripod firmly on the ground and use the hook at the bottom of the center column to hang your heavy camera bag to counteract this, to eliminate this drawback of carbon fiber tripods.
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Every slight vibration that travels from the ground through your tripod and up to your camera can result in camera shake. Since carbon fiber is much stronger than aluminum it also means it doesn’t transmit vibrations as easily. Even the tiniest amount of camera shake can result in a ruined photo, and after all, that is actually what you try to avoid in the first place by having a tripod. Carbon fiber tripods are stiffer
Winner: Carbon fiber
If you take care of your tripod it will outlive several camera models and lenses. High-quality tripods matter whether they are made from aluminum or carbon fiber can last a very long time. Even if you are a bit rough with it from time to time a tripod can take usually ensure it, however, carbon fiber is stronger. But with high-quality tripods s this is likely to close to call.
In landscape photography, it is not uncommon to position your tripod half submitted in water if this what it takes to get the shot. This also means that your exposure the tripod to the road of corrosion. Aluminum doesn’t corrode the same way as steel, however over time it will start to oxide, especially in scratches. Wiping down your tripod after exposing it to the elements and salt can help protect your tripod, and prolong the life of your tripod a great deal.
Winner: carbon fiber
Carbon fiber has a higher price tag than aluminum without a doubt and for a reason. But if you don’t have the extra money to spend then it doesn’t matter if the quality is better.
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Overall we suggest you get a carbon fiber tripod even though it is more expensive than aluminum. However, aluminum tripods are a great choice if you are just starting out in photography, and need to cash out for lens and camera as well. But avoid the cheapest tripods, as the saying goes: Buy quality once, garbage twice.
Hey I’m Peter. I’m the owner and editor of Photography-RAW. I make sure that you get the best articles about photography. Personally, I prefer to shoot landscape, nature and macro photography.
I hope you enjoy the site 🙂