Outdoor macro photography requires patience, dedication, and commitment. You need to create a good relationship with your subject and get accepted to its close vicinity. A macro photography tripod plays an important role in this process because it allows you to hold your camera steady, capture the tiniest details without disturbing the subject. You can’t just go with any ordinary travel tripod.
A good camera tripod for capturing macro photos provides support for a heavy DSLR plus a macro lens, stability for taking pictures in less than perfect lighting conditions, and flexibility for following the subject in its natural environment. Here is what you should consider when buying a tripod for macro photography.
A Tripod for Macro Photography Has a Low Minimum Height
To photograph small subjects such as flowers and insects, you often need to get close to the ground. It would be very uncomfortable to handhold the heavy camera and macro lens in this position. Not to mention that you could be there for a long time, trying to get the best focal point. Or that your subject might move and blur your photos.
Therefore, you need a tripod with a low minimum height to support the camera and keep it safe and stable.
Tripods for macro photography go as low as 3.5 inches (9 cm), providing you with all the artistic freedom you need.
Adjust the Leg Angle for each Leg
Most macro photographs are taken in a natural environment, where you can’t control the terrain. Your tripod for macro photography should be able to adapt to the existing conditions and provide stable support on uneven terrains. As a result, make sure you get a tripod that allows you to set the height and angle of each tripod’s legs separately.
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Removable Multi Angle Center Column
The center column allows you to set the height of the tripod with precision. Moreover, it provides stability for heavy cameras. In some models, the center column is also used for positioning the camera horizontally or above the subject. However, sometimes the center column gets in the way and stops you from getting close to your subject.
Tripods with removable center columns have a lower minimum height and allow you to position the camera very close to the ground.
Look for a Flexible Tripod Head
As you take photos in a natural environment, you want as much flexibility as you can get. Therefore, you should be able to fine-tune the tripod head and position the camera as you wish. A good tripod for macro photography usually has a ball head, which allows you to rotate the camera up to 360°pan and +/-90°tilt movement.
Ball heads may provide friction control, ball locking, pan and tilt locking, and other features. Make sure you choose a high-quality tripod head as it does most of the job.
Choose a Tripod with Rubber Feet
Rubber feet provide grip on all kinds of surfaces. You want a steady tripod on rock as well as on ground, grass, mud, snow, or sand. Remember, it holds heavy and expensive equipment. Besides, the slightest slip of the tripod translates into blurry photographs you can’t use.
The Maximum Payload Capacity is Important
A tripod for macro photography should be able to carry not only a DSLR and a macro lens but also a macro flash system and maybe a macro focusing rail. Add to that the lens hood, filters, and rain protection, and you’ll end up with quite a heavy ensemble. Make sure you choose a tripod that can support at least 7 – 8kg. Mini tripods are no good for carrying all this gear.
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Look for a Light Tripod
Although you want a solid tripod capable to handle a heavy load, you also want a light tripod. You’ll be carrying the tripod and the rest of your gear all day long. Every gram counts.
So look for solid build quality in either aluminum alloy or carbon fiber. Tripods made of carbon fiber are lighter than ones made of aluminum. For example, a Benro Tripster Travel Series 1 tripod weighs 2kg in aluminum and 1.36kg in carbon fiber. However, carbon fiber tripods are also more expensive.
Sometimes the Maximum Height of the Tripod Matters
The maximum height the tripod can reach is not very important for most macro photography, as the subject is often close to the ground. However, this isn’t always the case. You may want to photograph insects living above the ground level or the flowers of a tree. Or you may want to photograph the details of rocks, leaves, or tree bark.
A good tripod can reach above 1.5 meters and provide a broader range of perspectives and composition opportunities.
Also, you should consider the maximum height of the tripod if you want to use it for different purposes than macro photography.
Our Suggestions: Three Good Tripods for Macro Photography
There is a huge market for photography-related equipment. You can find plenty of tripods suitable for macro photography that fit your budget and preferences. Here are the top three picks that check all the boxes for us.
Manfrottto Befree GT XPRO Carbon
Manfrotto’s Befree GT XPRO is a tripod designed for macro photographers. It’s a carbon-fiber lightweight tripod that weighs only 1.76kg and can go from a minimum height of 9cm to a maximum height of 162cm while holding 10kg of equipment.
Befree GT XPRO has a ball head with friction control, ball locking, and independent pan lock. It also has rubber feet. You can adjust the height of the legs independently and the removable center column allows you to position the camera precisely as you want.
Vanguard ALTA PRO 2+ 263CB 100
ALTA PRO 2+ is also a carbon fiber tripod with a ball head and friction control. Unlike the Befree GT XPRO, ALTA PRO 2+ targets more than one photography genre, which comes with advantages and drawbacks. Its minimum height is 23cm, while its maximum height is 173.2cm. However, the removable center column, allows you to go as close to the ground as you prefer.
ALTA PRO 2+ weighs 2.1kg and can hold up to 7kg. On the plus side, it has four labeled multi-leg angle selections (20°, 40°, 60°, and 80°), 360° panning and 90° tilt, and rubber feet.
You can also opt for the Alta Pro 2 263ab100 which is made from aluminum instead of carbon and is a bit cheaper.
Benro Tripster 1 Series
Our third option, Benro Tripster 1 Series, comes both in aluminum and carbon fiber. It features rubber feet, a ball head, and the possibility to be transformed into a monopod.
Benro Tripster 1 Series weighs only 1.55kg and can hold up to 8kg. However, its minimum height is only 35.5cm, and the maximum height is only 156cm (with the center column extended). Because it’s light and small, Tripster 1 Series is suitable for traveling. It’s also much cheaper than the other two options, especially if you choose the aluminum one.
This is the least stable of the tripods we list here, so be sure that it can hold your equipment. The 4 section legs also mean a bit longer setup time, and a bit less stability, but if you use a smaller camera, this might be enough for you.
Related Macro Photography Articles:
- 10 Useful Camera Accessories for Macro Photography
- Guide to Choosing a Flash for Macro Photography
- 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Macro Photography
- Creating Stunning Macro Photography of Insects
Choosing a tripod for macro photography requires more attention than general-purpose tripods. It has to work in unpredictable weather and terrain conditions and provide the support and stability you need. It also has to be versatile, easy to handle, and light.
Although there are many things to consider, once you’ve found a good tripod for you, it will be a trustworthy lifetime friend. Therefore, it’s better to choose a reliable and resistant tripod from the beginning, even if it is more expensive.
Have you found the right tripod? Tell us what matters most for you when you choose a tripod for macro photography.
I’m a creative writer and photographer. For me, photography is a state of mind. It’s a way of living in the moment and transform it into memories. I photograph landscapes, wildflowers, and nature with my eyes and my heart. Through the viewfinder, I see the world free of any misconceptions.