If you are a fan of landscape photography (like me), then the question must be asked: what’s the best tripod for landscape photography? This is important because IF you are a landscape photographer, you are going to need to find the right sort of tripod.
You can’t be a good landscape photographer without a tripod. Simple as that. And for some types of photography, such as panoramic photography, you simply CANNOT take good quality without a tripod. Yes there may be some app that will stitch your hand help version of a panorama, but the composition and the quality won’t approach the same image take with a tripod.
So if you want to be a competent landscape photographer, the first order of things should be to get a high quality tripod that works for you. How do you go about choosing the right tripod for landscapes? Well it comes down to how heavy you want your tripod. If you are a landscape photographer who spends a lot of time in the field, climbing mountains, hiking, traveling to different countries, then you are going to need a lightweight tripod. In terms of lightweight, carbon fiber is the way to go. And the best carbon fiber tripods are made by Gitzo.
For the best lightweight travel tripod for landscape photography, I would say the Gitzo 1542T wins in terms of the weight, stability, size, and the load it can carry, features, and the quality. It’s not cheap though at nearly 700 or more USD. But it’s about the best you can find. There are of course other alternatives (cheaper ones too), that I’ll discuss in future tripod posts.
My preference when it comes to landscape photography is a tripod that I can carry wherever I go. What’s the point of having a tripod that you never use because it’s too heavy? The only cost here is the actual cost of the tripod — carbon fiber tripods are expensive and the Gitzo tripods the most expensive of all.
If you are more budget minded, then you can look at a heavier aluminum tripod. You can get a good Manfrotto Bogen tripod for about 150 bucks that’s stable as a rock and will last a lifetime. Mind you, it’s going to be heavy. If you do your landscape photography in locales where you don’t have to do much hiking (or you are close to your car), then this kind of tripod is a good, cheaper option.
Whatever you do, don’t spend 20-75 bucks for a cheap plastic tripod at your local Wall-Mart. These tripods will frustrate you more than they will help you!