For those of you looking to up your spotting game and have a rig that offers you unparalleled performance, then our round up of the best tripods is for you. We dive deep into the most popular tripods for spotting scope of 2019.
What are spotting scopes?
Spotting scopes are compact, movable telescopes with enhanced optics that display a straight image (compared to an upside-down or reverse image produced by an astronomical one). A spotting scope is high-powered, and designed to observe ground objects from a far distance. Spotting scopes are popular with outdoor activities, ranging from bird-watching to surveillance. It is often used in hunting or precision shooting sports, to accurately mark the placement of the shot. Because of this fact, the scope is often fog or water resistant.
One big difference between a spotting scope and a binocular is the magnification range, which is around 20x to 60x further. This allows for close observation of any object, without compromising on detail or focus. The diameter of the objective lens will determine what power the scope has in gathering light and capturing resolution. A lens of a spotting scope is usually around 50 to 80 mm wide. With the larger lenses costing and weighing more than a smaller one.
The type of spotting scope one would go for typically depends on the purpose, budget and conditions. Most spotting scopes are designed to be rugged and transportable. This means they are smaller in size compared to one for astronomy. However, some spotting scopes may be less portable due to weight.
Another thing to consider is the type of eyepiece mount, which can either be straight or angled. An angled layout is on the same axis as the body of the scope, whereas the angled layout sits at around 45 degrees to the body.
Using a spotting scope with a tripod
As a spotting scope is a complex, and highly-powerful tool, it needs to be paired with an equally impressive tripod. A tripod facilitates in supporting the scope, both because of its weight, and also to stable the scope for perfect spotting.
Regardless of the quality or build of the scope, it is not able to counteract the unsturdy hands of a user. It would be fruitless to try view or spot an object through the scope when held in your hands, as the movement would cause a blurry and inaccurate display.
When using a spotting scope, you should also take the atmospheric conditions into account. Things like weather, humidity, glare and air currents can affect the image and magnification quality.
Place the tripod on a level surface before heading out, and get comfortable with setting up the spotting scope on the tripod head. When you do head out to the shooting range, field or wilderness, trp pick a firm and flat ground. Always make sure your tripod is balanced and positioned properly before mounting the scope. Some tripods have bubble levels to help you ensure the placement is level. The last thing you want is to take a chance and your equipment crashes down!
Currently, we recommend the Ballachy 56″ as the best tripod for a spotting scope. It is exceptionally portable, has an elegant design, includes all the most in-demand features, and does not cost an arm or a leg. Ultimately, the right tripod for you will come down to your exact needs. Read on for a detailed list of all the top tripods for spotting scopes.
Top 10 Tripods for Spotting Scope in 2019
01. Ballachy 56″ Spotting Scope Tripod Stand
Simply the best, Ballachy is built for performance and packs a punch!
Main material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 18.9 inches (yes) | Weight: 1.9 lbs | Max operating height: 56 inches | Max load (legs, head): 3.2kgs(7lbs) | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 3 angles
Pros: Superb build quality and durability | Masterfully versatile feature set for professionals and enthusiasts | Designed for Scope
Cons: Higher price point | Limited load size
We think the best tripod right now is the Ballachy 56″. If you want to have pictures and videos of the highest quality and try new innovative photography techniques, then you need a decent tripod stand. The Ballachy 56” tripod stand will not only guarantee you the benefits mentioned above but will also ensure you shoot in the broader array of conditions, like when the ambient light is level is too low.
It has a 3- way flexible pan and tilt head that allows 360 degrees rotation panorama photographs ideal for communications projects and/or internet promotions. Such photos are also excellent for your Instagram and other social media platforms. Ballachy 56″ Tripod Stand has been designed with of lightweight aluminium that guarantees durability and good strength-to-weight ratio. It has adjustable height legs that allow for easy portability and a variation of height adjustments. The Ballachy 56” tripod is easy to set up, and the legs can be set apart to either 20-degree, 45-degree or 80-degree angles.
This fantastic lightweight tripod stand can support surprising weight, it can carry a camera of up to 7Lbs (3.2kgs). Unlike other tripod stands that wobble and flex when fully extended, the Ballachy 56” tripod stand remains sturdy even when fully extended. It’s DSLR tripod compatibility works with most video cameras, still cameras and digital cameras. The phone tripod is compatible with almost all smartphones. The spotting scope tripod works with most scopes in the market.
What sets Ballachy apart from its rivals is their focus on a wide range of lightweight and sturdy tripods for those who travel or need to carry their tripods a lot. Ballachy understands its consumers, and want to encourage using tripods for spotting scopes.
In 2015, Ballachy, as a means to give back to Earth as they have personally witnessed the man-made destruction over generations that has severely harmed our planet. As photographers, they have travelled the world to capture its beauty and were shocked by the tragedy of deforestation in several countries. With each tripod bought, they will contribute a percentage of the profit towards planting a tree.
This tripod stand comes in a beautiful sleek carry case that offers beauty, safety, and ease of carrying. The Ballachy 56” tripod is however mildly more expensive when compared to other tripod stands available in the market.
02. Swarovski Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod
This rugged, general-use tripod, will prove an invaluable companion in all weathers
Main material: Magnesium alloy | Folded height (leg inversion): 45cm (no) | Weight: 1.6kg | Max operating height: 165cm | Max load: 18kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 3
Solid and dependable | Hefty 18KG payload | Packs down really well | No carbon fibre option
Sporting a lightweight yet rugged carbon fibre construction, the Swarovski CF is the best lightweight tripod for spotting scopes whose users are continually on the move. The proprietary DH 101 head uses a clamping order that provides 85% better grip as compared to the older FH 101, so you don’t have to bother about accidental damage to your scope due to a drop even if it is huge.
The head’s Fast Mount System lets you attach/detach your scope quickly; you can adjust both vertical and horizontal axes with a single movement. Once you’ve got the scope positioned, a five-tooth locking mechanism keeps it from relocating out of position due to accidental movement, resulting in optimum stability.
The lightweight carbon fibre legs weigh only 3.1 lbs. on their own, and can be folded down to a mere 19.7 inches – perfect for birding, shooting and digiscoping applications needing frequent relocation. The legs have rubberized feet with retractable pegs to provide stability on any viable terrain – an integrated leveller helps you in placing the legs perfectly.
Going by user feedback, this tripod works exactly as advertised: it is ergonomic, lightweight, compact and durable. As you may have imagined, this makes it very expensive, so only consider it if you’re either invested in using a spotting scope or have a lot of cash to burn.
The tripod comes with an ‘extensive’ warranty from the manufacturer guaranteeing ‘100% quality’ of the product when you get it – upon doing some digging though, for tripod products, this amounts to 1 year coverage against defects in workmanship / materials, subject to normal use: a bit disappointing for a product this expensive.
03. MeFOTO GlobeTrotter
compact but ruthless, and fairly tall
Main material: Aluminium | Folded height (leg inversion): 41cm (yes) | Weight: 2.10kg | Max operating height: 165cm | Max load (legs, head): 12kg, 12kg | Sections per leg: 5 sections | Locking leg angles: 2
Pros: Very small carrying case | Hefty maximum load rating
Cons: No pivot function for central column | Only two alternative leg angles
Considering that this tripod folds down to just 41cm in length, it’s a little surprising that it weighs in at over two kilograms. However, the MeFoto GlobeTrotter has an impressive maximum load rating of 12kg for both the legs and the provided ball head and reaches a valuable maximum operating height of 165cm, thanks to having 5-section legs. Following the current vogue, the legs rotate up to reduce the carrying length, and one of them can be divided for monopod duty.
Interchangeable rubber pads and metal spikes are supplied with the kit, along with a smart full bag. All that’s really lacking is a shaft facility for the centre column, and there are only two lockable leg angles rather than three. A duplicate tripod in the carbon fibre edition of the kit is also available, which reduces the overall weight by 400g.
04. Vanguard ALTA PRO 2+
A tripod that literally bends over backwards, or forwards
Main material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 71cm (no) | Weight: 2.1kg | Max operating height: 172cm | Max load (legs, head): 7kg, 10kg | Sections per leg: 3 sections | Locking leg angles: 4
Pros: Centre column rotates 180-degrees | Fast setup
Cons: Relatively long when folded down | Supplied bag is not padded
With an emphasis on quick and easy setup rather than minimising the folded size, this Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ tripod has three sections per leg, and the legs don’t swing fully upwards for storage. That said, they do have four selectable lockable angles and, coupled with a full 180-degree pivot facility for the centre column, ultra-low-level shooting is a doddle. Another bonus is that, like in most recent Manfrotto tripods including current versions of the 055 and 190, there’s a 3/8-inch threaded socket for attaching accessories like an LED light. Build condition is very good throughout and the Vanguard is a joy to use, even if it doesn’t fold down very small.
05. Novo Explora T5
This is the best budget carbon fibre tripod
Main material: Carbon fibre | Folded height (leg inversion): 47cm (yes) | Weight: 1.43kg | Max operating height: 161cm | Max load (legs, head): 10kg, 10kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: 3
Spectacular value | Can be used as a monopod | No pivot facility for centre column | Not the tallest tripod around
Despite being an amazingly good value for a carbon fibre tripod, the Novo Explora 5 doesn’t cut any corners in build quality. It folds down nice and small with swing-up 4-section legs, has a respectable maximum operating height of 161cm and a hefty maximum load rating of 10kg for both the legs and the included ball head. The load limit is particularly impressive, given the relatively lightweight build compared with many similar tripods. There are two pan release knobs on the ball head, rather than the usual one, so you can pan the whole head or just the camera platform.
An innovative friction damper is also fitted, with an adjuster that’s built into the main clamping knob. There’s no pivot facility for the centre column but one leg can be unscrewed and used with the centre column as a monopod. Another neat trick is that the rubber foot pads can be removed to reveal metal spikes. All in all, it’s a superb tripod for the money.
06. Kenro Karoo Ultimate Travel Tripod (aluminium)
Could this really be the essential travel tripod?
Main material: Aluminium | Folded height (leg inversion): 48cm (yes) | Weight: 2.16kg | Max operating height: 190cm | Max load (legs, head): 10kg, 8kg | Sections per leg: 4 sections | Locking leg angles: : 3
Massive max height for travel tripod | 90-degree pivoting centre column
A permanent problem with travel tripods that fold down to space-saving dimensions is that they fail to give a decent maximum operating height, but the aluminium Kenro Karoo Ultimate Travel Tripod kit literally rises above that particular criticism. Despite folding down to just 48cm, courtesy of swing-up 4-section legs, it can reach a towering 190cm at full stretch. The extra height is due to an extending centre column, which also enables a 90-degree pivot facility for use as a horizontal boom.
The tripod is confidently rigid, as is the ball head that’s supplied as part of the kit. It comes complete with interchangeable metal spikes and rubber pads for the feet, and a padded carrying bag. The Kenro is excellent value at the price, and there’s also a carbon fibre version that isn’t much more expensive, although the saving in weight is fairly minimal.
How to Pick a Tripod for Spotting Scopes
The high magnification of the spotting range is prone to vibration instability, which is why most positioning ranges use a three-bar rack called a tripod. The tripod provides a stable base on which you can mount the oscilloscope for smooth, focused viewing even at magnifications greater than 60x.
If you’re looking to purchase a tripod, it is so crucial to do your research and understand what is available out there. The type of spotting scope tripod you’ll need is heavily-based off of: your price range, the intended use, and the conditions in where it will be used.
Understand what you need in the tripod
New technology and designs have extended the functionality and features of the available tripods. Even cheaper models are now able to offer similar features to leading brands. One such feature is the collapsable legs that swing inwards for stowage. Another usual feature is the pivoting centre column, which creates a horizontal or horizontal boom for usage. This means you are often able to settle for a lower-mid range tripod, especially if you are just starting out, rather than needing to invest in the most expensive ones.
When choosing a tripod, you have the option of going with a frame built from carbon fibre or aluminium. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, carbon fibre is a lot more expensive, but weighs less than aluminium. It is also as durable. So the question comes in to play around what your budget and purpose is. If you can afford to invest in a carbon fibre tripod frame, it has the potential to last longer and also make your overall carry weight less.
On getting the most value out of the tripod
A well-looked after aluminium frame can last many years too, but because it is often molded together using plastic parts, it opens up the chance of more rapid wear-and-tear. You can expect around a 20% saving in weight when comparing aluminium with carbon fibre. The only drawback is the cost associated with purchasing a frame made of carbon fibre. One should note that retailers often sell the tripod parts separately, to appear as more affordable. So keep an eye out for a tripod kit that does not include the head, or legs.
The main purpose of the tripod is to keep the camera completely stable with zero motion and vibration; however, the tripod is very far away from a photographic accessory that is suitable for everyone. And, although they all look like the same three legs, the attached camera parts, etc., there are many brands, styles and variations. Some differences focus on personal preferences, such as color; others are more focused on purpose.
Parts of a tripod
Almost all tripods can be divided into basic components. Almost every part has a different shape, size and material. All components work basically the same, and the overall goal of the tripod is the stability of the camera.
- The Head
There are three basic types of tripod heads. The main purpose of the tripod head is to provide a way to attach the camera to a tripod, allowing the camera to be repositioned to compose the image you want to capture, and then to keep the camera steady while taking the photo. The following is an overview of the tripod head options.
- The Legs
The head rests on three legs, which are collectively referred to as leg cuffs. Cheaper products (less than $100) are usually sold as a single, unchangeable unit, including the head and legs.
However, high-end products can be customized because you can combine head and leg combinations that are purchased separately.
- Types of Tripods
There are many different types of tripod heads that can be confusing depending on what you are shooting. I like it when my equipment complements my photography, not hindering or making my job harder. This is a subdivision of the most popular type of tripod head.
- Fluid Heads
The fluid head is essentially a translational and tilting head, but is suitable for video work. Although you can lock or unlock the pan and tilt, the fluid head also has a “drag” feature that controls the friction when panning or tilting. This makes it easy to get a smooth moving shot when recording a video.
- Ball Heads
The ball head is the most popular photography tripod head. Rotating the ball allows you to position the camera in almost any conceivable way and lock the ball in place with the locking screw. It gives you maximum flexibility to interact with the camera, but it’s hard to fine tune the position.
Although not a real tripod head, I think I will mention a monopod. If you walk around with a camera, it doesn’t always make sense to set up a tripod for the lens. Sports photographers use monopods instead of gimbals heads to support their long shots while chasing movements. Also, wedding photographers may use a monopod to stabilize their 70-200mm shots from behind the church or just to let their arms rest from carrying heavy shots. The cameraman uses a monopod to stabilize all the lenses as they move around the field to get different shots and angles.
Carbon fiber or Metal body?
Many high-end tripod models allow you to choose between aluminum and carbon fiber as the leg set.
There are many advantages to picking fibers on metal – first, the former has a superior strength-to-weight ratio, so you get a tripod that can handle heavy loads with less weight: this is for hiking/climbing to the destination.
Secondly, carbon fiber has better damping capacity than aluminum – those who ride on carbon fiber bikes will prove that they will not feel the slight bumps on the road compared to the aluminum model! Similarly, carbon fiber tripods will eliminate vibration, which may interfere with your positioning at higher magnifications.
Third, carbon fiber tripods are not subject to corrosion when exposed to salt water/salt gas: Obviously, better quality aluminum fiber tripods are subject to severe elemental damage before biting, but will eventually do so, while carbon fiber tripods will stick to it almost indefinitely.
Another benefit of choosing a fiber optic tripod is that a decent model (i.e. a compact, lightweight and sturdy model) will bring you considerable money. However, as more and more manufacturers begin to adopt the former, the price difference between fiber and metal products is rapidly shrinking.
One thing to note is that despite the increased volume and corrosive tendency, there is a solid reason to choose aluminum: once planted on the ground, it will not be deformed by bumps and convulsions due to its weight, which may be It is beneficial. You use a range of positioning in a crowded/windy place, and the weight of the CF tripod can be a burden.
Ease of adjustment
During the observation period, you will have to move your positioning range in the head. To this end, it is important to use a tripod head with a very smooth pan/tilt/rotation mechanism. In fact, if you want to observe fast-moving objects, I recommend using a tripod with a hydraulic head that uses a hydraulic damping system to provide stable and uniform motion.
Also, you should be able to access the positioning controls without forcing you away from the scope.
A word on complementary tripods
In order to increase the value of their products, some positioning range manufacturers have begun to include free desktop tripods with their positioning range. Although this is a good gesture, it is not very useful from a practical point of view.
These tripods are made of aluminum – but not the kind of tripod that is known for its rigidity. Therefore, they are only suitable for controlled environments, such as shooting ranges, and even then, you may be able to reduce your range from the impact of shooting high speed/reverse circles.
In short, no serious professional/fans will use them to stabilize their range because of their fragile, unreliable nature.
To round off
Finally, good research and an understanding of your requirements are required to make the correct purchase. A spotting scope is a big investment and a highly-powerful device. In order to support its proper use, you need an equally good tripod. Choose a tripod for your spotting scope using resources like the one above. Make sure the tripod has a good rating, offers the features you require and is within your price range. We have personally used and can recommend the Ballachy 56″ tripod. Lastly, all the above tripods have positive ratings and are recommended. You can be confident in your purchase by using our list above. Happy spotting!