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Even though some photographers poo-poo the idea of using a tripod when traveling because they don't want to lug one around, the value of having a tripod cannot be dismissed.
Among other things, a solid, sturdy tripod will help stabilize your camera so you get sharper photos. That's certainly a bonus.
If you look for the right set of features, you can get a travel tripod that is easy to carry, easy to use, and won't get in your way, either.
With that in mind, here's a few pointers for picking up the ideal travel photography tripod.
Editor's Note: Sirui is one of the top photography tripod manufacturers in the world, with a line of tripods for every purpose. Their travel tripods are second-to-none when it comes to build quality and features. This article highlights some of those travel tripods. To learn more about these and other Sirui products, visit their website.
Travel Tripods Should Be Easy to Set up
Sometimes when you're traveling, time is definitely of the essence. The same is true of photography when the difference between an incredible photo and one that's just okay might be a couple of seconds.
That means you need a tripod that's easy to set up and takedown.
The Sirui ET-2004 is an ideal example of this concept.
The flip leg locks shown in the image above means the tripod can be set up and taken down in a matter of seconds.
But don't think that because the legs are easy to extend and lock that the tripod is somehow flimsy...
This tripod can hold over 26 pounds of gear - much more than you'd need for travel photography.
It's got retractable spiked feet for those occasions when you happen upon a nature or landscape scene but don't have even terrain to set up. Speaking of uneven terrain, each leg has three positioning angles to accommodate its stance to the angle of the ground.
The center column can be inverted for low-angle shots, too, giving you more flexibility for getting different types of photos of your travels.
This tripod is part of a kit that includes a ball head and a quick-release plate.
That means you can easily switch to video for some smooth panning shots, and if you need to remove your camera, you can do so in a flash.
In other words, you don't have time to waste fiddling with a complicated tripod when you travel. When buying a tripod, be sure it's something that you can use efficiently.
Travel Tripods Need to Have a Small Form Factor
When you're on the road, you want a full-size tripod, but you don't want to carry around a big, bulky tripod, either.
That's why a travel tripod is ideal because they extend to give you the height you need, but collapse into a small size for easy storage and carrying.
The Sirui T-2005X shown above has a maximum height of nearly 61-inches with the center column attached and its 5-section legs extended to their fullest.
However, the legs fold up to 180-degrees, giving the collapsed tripod a tiny length of just 14.6-inches.
What's more, this tripod weighs just 3.1-pounds, so you get the benefit of a full-sized tripod without having to carry a ton of extra weight.
And even though it's got a small form factor and is lightweight, it can still support over 26 pounds of gear.
That means that even if you shoot with a big full frame DSLR and a huge telephoto lens, this tripod can more than bear the weight.
Travel Tripods Should Be Lightweight
As I noted above, one of the best features of a travel tripod is that they're so lightweight.
In the old days when all tripods were made of aluminum, they most certainly had a weight problem.
But today, there are plenty of choices made of aluminum and carbon fiber that are featherlight.
One such tripod is the Sirui T-024X shown above and below.
This tripod is made of eight-layer carbon fiber, making it an ultralight 1.5 pounds.
That makes it one of the lightest full-size tripods you'll find...
But because it's made of carbon fiber, this tripod is also incredibly strong, resistant to vibrations, and has a high load capacity.
It'll easily support over 13 pounds, which is a lot given this tripod's svelte weight.
In the end, weight might be the biggest factor when you travel, so a carbon fiber tripod might just be right for you.
The important point here is to do your due diligence and find a tripod that meets your traveling needs.
Don't just look at price! Look at the features I've outlined here to find the best tripod for your situation.