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The 9 Best Tripods For Birds And Wildlife Photography
Best tripods for birds and wildlife photography

The 9 Best Tripods For Birds And Wildlife Photography

One of the most important tools in birds photography is certainly the tripod. This tool can be as useful as it is hated if you don’t carefully choose the one that best suits your needs.

The telephoto lenses used to photograph wildlife are heavy, they can range from a weight of 1 kg for a 300 F4 to 1.5-2.0 kg for a zoom such as a 100-400 up to 5-6 kg for a super telephoto lens (600 F4, 400 F 2.8 etc); this obviously doesn’t keep in consideration the weight of your camera and any other gear attached. The tripod must therefore hold considerable weights and must obviously be proportionate to the photographic equipment it will have to support.

The best tripods for nature photography are made of aluminum or carbon, the latter much more expensive; the use of aluminum or carbon makes it possible to have rather light but at the same time heavy duty tripods; compared to aluminum, carbon offers greater strength and even lower weights, and it’s therefore the material used for the best outdoor tripods on the market.

When choosing a tripod for outdoor photography you have to consider some fundamental parameters: Number of sections, construction material, type of closure of the sections and head attachment.

It’s important to keep all these factors into account when choosing the best tripod for heavy lenses. However, it is not always necessary to use heavy super telephoto lenses to photograph birds; in wildlife photography there are many other techniques that allow you to use smaller and lighter lenses such as tele zooms, or even macro or wide angle lenses. In these cases it is not necessary to use heavy and bulky tripods as you will have to support lighter equipment.

Here are the best tripods for birds and wildlife photography reviews 2021:

  1. Benro Travel Angel FTA28CV1
  2. Benro SystemGo FGP18A
  3. Manfrotto 055 MK055XPRO3-3W
  4. Manfrotto 695CX
  5. Manfrotto Befree Advanced MKBFRTA4BK-BHUS
  6. Gitzo Mountaineer Series 0 GT0532
  7. Gitzo Tripod Systematic GT5543LS
  8. Rollei Rock Solid Alpha Mark ll
  9. Vanguard Alta Pro 2 263AP

In birds photography, very long focal lengths are often used and the weight of the equipment rises dramatically, which is why the first thing to consider before buying a tripod is the load capacity based on your equipment. The best birding tripod is therefore built as a tripod for telephoto lenses, sturdy and stable yet maneuverable and quick to setup.

As for the tripod head, photographers in this category often prefer a ball head for rapid movements, let’s just say that following an animal in nature is not exactly like photographing a waterfall, unpredictability is just around the corner.

Another important factor is stability with long lenses, the risk of shake is even higher, so even small camera shakes can lead to ruining a shot. In this case you can decide to take a tripod with 2 or 3 sections, perhaps opting for a carbon one since you may have to move to take your shots.

1. Benro Travel Angel FTA28CV1

TheBenro Travel Angel FTA28CV1 is a tripod for medium and large size cameras, manufactured since 2013. It’s one of the best carbon tripod available from Benro, with ball head included. It has a weight of 1.8 kg and a maximum load of 10 kg; at maximum extension it reaches 170 cm in height.

When fully extended it reaches a remarkable height. Very handy is the hook located under the central column, here you can hang your photographic bag for extra stability.

Benro Travel Angel FTA28CV1 Tripod Kit Image credit: Benro Check Price on Amazon
  • Lightweight.
  • Stability.
  • Can be converted into a monopod, so 2 products in 1.
  • Price.

2. Benro SystemGo FGP18A

Fast, light-weight and very easy to use, as you’ll spend lots of time moving and hiking, this is one of the best tripod for outdoor photography. It’s obvious from the first use the sturdiness and quality of the aluminium and plastic this tripod is built with. Out shooting it performs well enough, and it’s quite stable also when the wind is strong.

In addition to the Allen key set for maintenance, there are also the metal spiked feet for the most difficult terrains. Like the Travel Angel, the GoPlus as well can be transformed from tripod to monopod very quickly making it an extremely versatile choice. The bag to contain it is well made. Coupled with a Benro B1 ball head it’s one of the best tripod for wildlife photography at this affordable price range.

Benro SystemGo FGP18A Tripod Only Image credit: Benro Check Price on Amazon
  • Build quality.
  • Stability.
  • Can be converted into a monopod, so 2 products in 1.
  • The only flaw is the stability with the central column raised to the maximum.

3. Manfrotto 055 MK055XPRO3-3W

It is certainly one of the most popular products in the professional world of wildlife photography tripod. It’s a suitable tripod for telephoto lenses, thanks to a greater sturdiness of structure (carrying 6 kg), the Manfrotto tripod is particularly useful with photographic systems that use powerful telephoto lenses or that tend to move away from the natural center of gravity of the tripod (e.g. long tele or digiscoping telescopes).

Despite its greater robustness, the 055CL nevertheless maintains the prerogatives of lightness, quick set-up, compactness and versatility typical of the latest generation Manfrotto products. The joystick head is a real jewel of precision and solidity, which combines the typical versatility of ball heads with real ergonomics of control and speed of use. The new design of the handle equipped with the control for the lever clutch, allows a perfect control of movements and the locking of the camera with one hand.

Manfrotto MK055XPRO3-3W 055 Kit Image credit: Manfrotto Check Price on Amazon
  • Build quality.
  • Versatility.
  • Tripod for heavy lens.
  • Can have a bit of flex when pushing on the fully extended legs.
  • The mechanism of the central column could be more smooth.

4. Manfrotto 695CX

Lightweight five-section carbon fibre monopod with magnesium sleeves. Extremely compact, with a minimum transport length of 46cm. The sections allow a quick stretch up to 160cm.

This monopod offers quick section locks, a wrist strap and a camera base with double fixing screw. The use of the 222 joystick head is the winning combination. The head is a real jewel of precision and solidity, which combines the typical versatility of ball heads with real ergonomics of control and speed of use, making it one of the best tripod head for wildlife photography.

Manfrotto 695CX Carbon Fiber Monopod 5 Section Image credit: Manfrotto Check Price on Amazon
  • Lightweight and compact.
  • Quick set up.
  • A bit pricy

5. Manfrotto Befree Advanced MKBFRTA4BK-BHUS

Another very well-made product from Manfrotto, this aluminum tripod is perfect for travel and it’s therefore one of the best tripod for nature photography; it has a weight of 1.49 kg and can support loads up to 8 kg; when closed it measures 40 cm and reaches a maximum height of 150 cm with the central column extended. It includes a small and sturdy aluminum ball head in the price.

Its lightweight and ease of transport make it a great wildlife tripod. There are many versions of the Manfrotto Befree, for example one with a lever foot closing system and one with a screw foot closing system. Also available in carbon.

Manfrotto Befree Advanced MKBFRTA4BK-BHUS Tripod Image credit: Manfrotto Check Price on Amazon
  • Light and easy to carry thanks to its aluminium construction.
  • Supplied with a padded shoulder bag for protection.
  • Can struggle a bit to support heavier lenses.
  • The lever of the plate is very hard to raise and lower.

6. Gitzo Mountaineer Series 0 GT0532

Realized in carbon fibre, designed for high reliability and ease of use even in extreme conditions, the Gitzo Mountaineer Sport 3S is one of the best tripods for wildlife photography. The main features are the remarkable technical and functional qualities, such as: quick and perfect locking, great sturdiness, maximum durability, excellent stability, high torsion resistance.

The carbon fibre tubes used for the tripod legs are 1.5mm thick. Made up of several layers of fibre intertwined and woven together. This construction technique allows them to increase their resistance to weight, obtain unsurpassed rigidity and minimize vibrations, making it one of the best tripod for heavy lenses available on the market.

Gitzo Mountaineer Series 0 GT0532 Carbon Fiber Tripod Image credit: Gitzo Check Price on Amazon
  • Reliable and durable.
  • Sturdiness.
  • Locking system.
  • No tripod case included.
  • Spiked feet to be purchased separately.

7. Gitzo Tripod Systematic GT5543LS

Tripod of the highest standard, the Gitzo Systematic GT 554 LS is one of the best tripod for heavy cameras. Built in high strength carbon and divided into 4 sections, it has a weight of 2.8 kg and can support a maximum load of 40 kg; when closed it measures 61 cm while at maximum extension it reaches 153 cm. The cost is not the most accessible but we are talking about a professional product of the highest level, and as this one of the best heavy dirt tripod out there, you can be sure it’s money well spent. There are several versions of this tripod, both with 3 and 5 sections.

Gitzo GT5543LS Series 5 Systematic Long Tripod Image credit: Gitzo Check Price on Amazon
  • Build quality.
  • A great tripod for heavy lenses.
  • Versatility thanks to all the possible add-ons.
  • Expensive.
  • It gets really hot if exposed to the sun for long time.

8. Rollei Rock Solid Alpha Mark ll

Rollei got us used to good quality tripods at really good prices. This 2.2 kg tripod made of 4-section carbon can support a maximum load of 24 kg. When closed it measures 57 cm reaching a maximum height of 156 cm. It has no central column. It’s sold without head. Combined with a ball head, like the Lion Rock 25, also from Rollei, it is an unparalleled tripod for bird photography at this price. There is also a larger version, which supports up to 60 kg of weight.

Rollei Rock Solid Alpha Mark ll 22652 Carbon Tripod Image credit: Rollei Check Price on Amazon
  • Lightweight.
  • Sturdy.
  • Affordable.
  • Designed to keep out sand and salt.
  • At this price range, none.

9. Vanguard Alta Pro 2 263AP

The Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ 263AP is a lightweight tripod of 26 mm and 3 aluminum profiles with a maximum load up to 5 kg. It features the MACC (multi-angle center column) which can be positioned at almost any corner (both upper and lower), offering an infinite number of possibilities and angles. The 3-way head and extendable handles gives a free 360 ° panoramic movement, friction control, spirit levels and Arca quick shoe system. Easy to setup, you’re ready to shoot within seconds.

The magnesium shell and aluminum legs make it a lightweight and durable tripod. The “Twist-Lock” system for opening the legs makes this operation very easy and quick. The folded height is 75.7 cm while extended it can reach 175.2cm. With a maximum recommended load: 5 kg this is not the best tripod for heavy cameras and lenses.

Vanguard Alta Pro 2 263AP Aluminum Tripod Image credit: Vanguard Check Price on Amazon
  • Bag included.
  • Backpack hook for extra stability.
  • Affordable.
  • Spiked feet to be purchased separately.
  • Not suitable for heavy loads.

The Right Head For The Right Use

The best tripod head for wildlife photography must allow you to hold heavy weights but at the same time move easily to follow action scenes such as flying birds or running animals; for these purposes, special heads called “balancer” or “gimbal” have been designed: this type of head allows you to handle very important weights but at the same time is very fluid and agile because it exploits balance; in fact, even a large telephoto lens such as a 600 mm F4 can be moved quickly and easily to photograph action scenes even with a single finger, without using almost any force. There are many models with different shapes of rocker heads, some more valid, others less so; it is not only the shape but also the construction materials that can make the difference between a good head and a less good one.

As we have already said for tripods, in birds photography there are many different photographic techniques and not all of them require highly performing heads like gimbals; very often, in fact, you shoot using fixed sets with cameras that are also fixed on a simple tripod and aimed at the point of passage of a subject or towards a perch. In this case, therefore, you can use simpler heads such as normal ball heads, which allow you to easily aim the camera and keep it locked and still in the chosen position. In many situations, if you do not use particularly heavy equipment, tripods with a built-in head are already fine, for example to support a camera with a macro or wide-angle lens.

Conclusion

Your photographic equipment will not be complete without a tripod and therefore do not force yourself to find other solutions to avoid purchasing it. Indeed, even if it is hard to believe, a good support for your camera can make the difference between a normal or even blurred photo and one of great impact. Getting the best tripod for bird photography that matches your needs and budget should be seen as an investment in your art and your photographic passion, in the same way as how you would evaluate the purchase of a lens or a backpack.