Making videos for personal or business use is an effective way to get your message or product into the public view. Making a good video involves more than simply pointing a smartphone at a subject and uploading to YouTube. Making use of high quality video equipment, including the best tripods for camcorders, will help put your video ahead of the pack.
Even small hand tremors or your own breathing can translate on screen to a distracting movement. That’s why many serious videographers prefer tripods wherever practical.
What tripod head is best for camcorder and video use?
When you go tripod shopping, you see a lot of variation on the theme of tripods. Travel tripods, heavy duty tripods, macro tripods, and video tripods are common types. One of the things that set a video tripod apart from other tripods is the head. There are as many different types of heads as there are tripods.
Tripod head meant for use in cinematography or videography are generally differentiated from other heads by their smooth movements. A smooth movement Is desired for video.
Even the steadiest hand of the most coordinated photographer using a standard pan and tilt head or a three way head can’t match the smooth, predictable movement of a video head on a tripod.
The steady operation of a video head is generally accomplished by one of three methods. Friction, two surfaces move against each other, sometimes with a pad of special material being the contact point. Fluid, the change in one direction to another is dampened by a hydraulic liquid. Geared, a series of gears mesh together to create precise control over movements.
How I found the best tripods for camcorders
- Tripod head type. While a 3 way head can be very useful, I’m going to be looking for fluid tripod heads. Geared heads are great, but the price kind of rules them out for most of us.
- Tripod head quality. A fluid head that doesn’t work properly is worse for video than using a non video head. Quality also affects how durable the head is going to be.
- Size and weight. Height above ground is one factor for size. Being portable and yet sturdy enough is another. For lighter camcorders and field work, a smaller, lighter tripod might work out. If I’m using a DSLR for video or have a lot of accessories mounted on camera, I would want a heavier duty tripod.
- Quick release. Many of the best tripods for camcorders are designed with a quick release mounting system. They have to be easy to use and capable of securely holding the camera.
- Quality and features add to cost, but there isn’t any reason to spend more than necessary.
Top 5 Best Tripods For Camcorders & Video!
1. Magnus VT-300 Video Tripod with Fluid Head
Looking at all the bullet points above, this sub $100 tripod hits all of them.
It has a fluid head that is very smooth operating for its small size. It really isn’t that small, by the way, but it is more of what I would call medium. Medium size, medium duty, medium weight. The fluid head pan movement is smooth and predictable, without any stickiness or jerks. Tilt action is also fluid dampened making panning or tilting during a scene easy to watch.
That’s the important thing about using a fluid head for our videography. An interesting video with limited movement can capture attention of viewers. It makes the viewer engage with your video, thus making it more likely that whatever you’re promoting will be accepted. If it’s a product or service, that means a sale. If an idea or a cause, it could mean acceptance.
Spreader bars attached to the center column give it extra stability. The tripod and head are capable of holding gear up to 15 pounds. The legs lock and unlock by means of quick acting flip locks.
A quick release system allows for rapid changing between different cameras. The quick release securely attaches and unmounts with a fast acting thumb lever. It locks in nice and tight, holding the camera rig securely.
2. Neewer 64″ Tripod Monopod with 360 Degree Ball Head Review
Another fine product from Neewer, this sub $100 tripod has some nice extra features along with everything you want from the best tripods for camcorders.
Maximum height is 64 inches with center column fully extended. The legs adjust to multiple angles and the leg sections are locked and unlocked with twist lock knobs. The leg angles can be adjusted independently of each other. This enables the user to set this tripod up on uneven ground and still be safe and level.
The center column has a built in hook for hanging stabilizing weights underneath that can help dampen any movements being done during scenes. A heavier weight makes the platform stability rock solid. When pans and tilts are employed during a shot, this results in extremely smooth movement.
The quick release is strong and secure when locked, and easy to remove and reattach as needed. This tripod can hold cameras up to 22 pounds in weight.
A special feature of this tripod is the convertible function of using one removeable leg and the tripod head to make a monopod. This adds to the versatility of the kit, since a monopod can help steady shots when a tripod isn’t practical and yet the scene would film better with some sort of support.
3. Kamisafe KINGJOY VT-1500 65″ Video Tripod
Appearing to be a virtual carbon copy of the Magnus tripod above, it actually is slightly different while having very similar features and construction.
The very well made fluid head is removable and has adjustment for setting the drag in the panning movement. The quick release system is easy to use and locks in securely.
Though very smooth in the panning directions, I felt the tilt action wasn’t quite as smooth. This might be due to a different level of fluid or type of fluid. Working it up and down a bit before a shoot helps out, so maybe that might help the tilt smoothness for you, too.
4. Neewer Professional 61″ Aluminum Alloy Tripod Review
A true video tripod with no center column, this $110 video tripod holds the head in a video tripod bowl construction.
Using a bowl mount makes life easier for many film and video applications. The bowl lets you quickly level out your camera rig and provides a very stable base for the head to sit on.
This particular fluid head is well designed and has adjustable drag for the panning motion. The tilt motion is nicely dampened, feeling a slight bit smoother than other similarly priced video tripods. The quick release is simple to operate and locks down safe and sound with little effort.
One of the advantages to crutch style multi piece legs is their superior performance in regards to vibration dampening. This is important in video for creating the best platform to film from. The more prone a rig is to vibration, the more it can negatively affect the watchability of the final video. For very serious videographers, the best tripods for camcorders will be as vibration free as possible.
5. Albott 64 Inch Travel Tripod Review
Extremely lightweight, this tripod has a pan and tilt that looks like it might be fluid dampened, but it isn’t. It uses friction and your own steady hand. Under $35, this travel tripod can fill in as a video tripod for lighter camcorders or camera rigs.
With a geared center column and locking spreader at mid level, this tripod can hold up to 8 pounds of camera and extends up to 64 inches high. The flip-locks quickly secure the telescoping tripod legs, while the center brace adds stability by connecting the legs to make them more rigid. A geared elevation mechanism in the rapid center column allows quick and easy camera height adjustment.
Admittedly, this wouldn’t be my first choice for a stable video tripod. But for the price, this lightweight travel tripod could make the difference in certain situations for either filing hand held or a having a stable camera platform. All other things being equal, even a small tripod often adds just enough stability to make the shot doable.
The best tripods for camcorders don’t have to cost a lot of money, and yet they offer all of what most video camcorder users need in a tripod. A good set of legs, and a well made fluid head can make your videos stand out from the pack of lower quality hand held camera efforts.