Capturing the stars above is one of the most rewarding things todo as a photographer.
With the right gear and a little preparation, capturing awe-inspiring photos of the Milky Way is easier than ever. Essentially you need two pieces of gear to get started. First being a DSLR/Mirrorless camera and the second being a sturdy tripod. So maybe you have a camera, but now your wondering what are the best tripods for Astrophotography?
Why You Need A Tripod For Milky Way & Astrophotography
To keep your camera as still as possible there is no escaping the use of a tripod with Astrophotography. When you pair this up with other correct settings like mirror lock, shutter speed and lens focus, you will get the best results possible.
To be honest any tripod is better than nothing for when it comes to Astrophotography. So if you have that old clunky thing in the garage, pull it out and give it a whirl! However if you are looking for a upgrade or a new tripod for Astrophotography, i’ve got you covered.
How We Found The Best Tripods For Astrophotography
Let’s face it; photography isn’t the cheapest of hobbies to undertake. I wish someone told me this before I started, but I still doubt it would have persuaded me.
Since then I have owned three different cameras, two sets of lenses, two camera bags and one tripod. During these upgrading times my trusty tripod has outlasted all my other equipment.
Below I have included the criteria that I believe make up a great Astrophotography tripod and one that will outlast all your other camera gear.
- STABILITY, STABILTY, STABILTY: This is hands down the most important factor. Stability can come in the form of good build quality with aluminium or carbon fibre materials.
- Ball head movement: Trust me when I say pan heads are a pain in the arse when it comes to Astrophotography. Ball heads allow for a greater range of motion and are easier to frame.
- Lightweight: Need to hike or walk out to that perfect spot? The last thing you want is a heavy tripod. Ideally the weight should be less than 5 pounds.
- Load capacity: Having a tripod that has a decent load capacity will be able to handle any camera you throw at it regardless of the body or lens.
Some Useful Resources On Getting Started With Astrophotography
- Beginners guide to Astrophotography
- Using a star map to to plan the best time todo Milky Way photography
- Other useful equipment to use on a Astrophotography shoot
- How to edit great Milky Way photo in Lightroom
A Review Of The Best Tripods For Astrophotography
1. Dolica GX600B200 Proline GX Series
Dolica GX600B200 Proline GX Series Specifications
Weight: 3.4 lbs
Collapsed Height: 20″
Extended Height: 60″
Maximum Load: 15 lbs
Price: View the latest price on Amazon
Dolica GX600B200 Proline GX Series Review
In my opinion this Dolica GX600B200 is one the best tripods for Astrophotography on the market. To keep it short, it ticks all the required features that i mentioned above. This includes a extremely stable platform, strong aluminium lightweight build (3.4 pounds), ball head movement, load capacity of 15 pounds and a maximum extension of 60 inches.
What puts the cherry on top for me is that it’s usually on sale for around $50 on Amazon.
Ok so on paper this tripod seems like a great pick. But how does it stack up in real use when trying to capture those amazing shots of the galaxy?
In a summarised version this tripod has performed extremely well during the time i have owned it. Consistently it has assisted me to capture some stunning Astrophotography shots along the way (and a lot of bad ones from my learning days).
There are also some cool aspects of this Dolica GX600B200 that have benefited me during my astrophotography shoots. One that i found extremely useful was the retractable hook that i usually hung my backpack from for extra stability. Just be careful of windy conditions as this can actually make the tripod sway and give a blurry result.
One thing that did bother me about this package was the carry case. While it definitely is a useful addition, mine didn’t last very long as it was made out of cheap material and tore quite easily. This wasn’t really a big problem as i strap my tripod to my backpack, but it’s something to note for those who would use it for travel.
Overall the Dolica GX600B200 is a great addition to any Astrophotographers arsenal and any photographer for that matter. Its simply one of those products you will get a lifetime of use out of. In my opinion this is hands down one of the best tripods for Astrophotography. You wont be disappointed.
2. Sirui T-025X 52″ Carbon Fiber Tripod
Sirui T-025X 52″ Carbon Fiber Tripod Specifications
Collapsed Height: 12.2″
Extended Height: 58″
Maximum Load: 13 lbs
Price: View the latest price on Amazon
Sirui T-025X 52″ Carbon Fiber Tripod Review
Next in this lineup is the Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod. After using this product a hand full of times, i decided it definitely earned a spot on this best tripods for Astrophotography list.
This is actually a friend of mines tripod which he was kind enough to borrow while i was doing some recent overseas travel. One of the biggest reasons for me wanting to use his tripod was the insanely light weight and compact footprint which would be ideal for travelling. Thank god for carbon fiber and good design!
So after travelling half way across the world with my camera gear, i finally got to see if all the effort was worth it.
Well i sure wasn’t disappointed! New Zealand truly is a spectacular place.
Setting up the Sirui T-025X was my Canon 70D was super simple as it should be with any good tripod. Adjusting the legs for the shot was surprisingly easy with the twist lock mechanisms which i have never used. They seemed much easier and faster to adjust than normal tension clasps.
While this tripod is super light which was great to travel with, there was a flip side to the coin when shooting. I felt like a had to be extra careful when setting this tripod up to ensure it was on stable footings. This did take a bit longer to setup a shot but once everything was set it delivered some great results.
Overall this Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod was a great companion when doing Astrophotography due to its lightweight and smooth ball head. I also used this tripod for a lot of landscape and architecture photography so it was a good all round product. Im tempted to not give it back to my friend. A good pick.