Tripods, monopods and stabilisers

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Updated 12 February 2019

It’s essential to be able to keep your camera still. And camera movements look better if they’re smooth. Some recent cameras have very good in-body stabilisation, but you’ll still probably need some form of camera support. If your camera doesn’t have stabilisation, it’s essential: handheld shots with anything other than an ultrawide lens will look terrible.

Most filmmakers will need a tripod.

You could also use

  •  a monopod: more compact, and quicker to set up, than a tripod
  • slider, dolly (or wheelchair) for tracking forwards, backwards or sideways
  • a jib for vertical crane moves
  •  an electronic stabiliser for flowing Steadicam-type shots

Tripods and monopods

Your tripod must be solid enough to keep your camera completely still. Make sure it’s tall enough: it should at least reach your eye level. If it’s taller than you, it’ll give you the option of filming high-angle shots.

More expensive tripods are sturdier and quicker to set up, and they allow for smoother and more controlled movements.

Under $100/£80

At this price, you won’t get ultra-smooth pans and tilts, but you can get a quick release plate for easily attaching the camera, and a pan and tilt head for adjusting the shot.

Many budget video tripods don’t reach normal eye level, but the Velbon 638F extends to 5.61 ft/171 cm.

Check price/buy Adorama (US) | | Amazon UK

Under $200/£150

Spending a bit more gets you two important features:

  • A fluid head makes pans and tilts much smoother.
  • A bowl head lets you level the head quickly without having to adjust the legs every time.

In the USA, the aluminium alloy Davis and Sandford ProVista 7518B is good value.

Check price/buy Adorama (US) |

In Europe, the Ravelli AVTP Professional is similar in price and specification.

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Under $500/£400

As you spend more, tripods are more solidly built and quicker to set up, with adjustable drag on the pan and tilt.

The Manfrotto 502 aluminium tripod has a pro fluid head.

Check price/buy Adorama (US) | |

Over $500/£400

Sachtler’s ACE M is a professional tripod designed for SLRs and smaller camcorders. The head has 5 counterbalance steps for different sizes of camera and lens.

Check price/buy Adorama (US) | | Amazon UK


A video monopod with feet is another option. They’re quicker to set up and take up less space, but they won’t stand up on their own. They’re really useful in some situations, but not when you need to change lenses singlehanded.

The Manfrotto XPro video monopod is sturdy and extends to a really useful 80″ (230cm) height. I use a similar, older version for working quickly and in restricted spaces.

Check price/buy Adorama (US) | | Amazon UK

For travelling and phone filming I use the very affordable Manbily A-222 and M-1 combination. It’s versatile, light, and small enough to go in cabin luggage. You can use it as a monopod alone, attach the feet for more stability, and even reverse it to use it as a boom pole or selfie stick. You’ll need to buy a ball or pan and tilt head.

Check price/buy | Amazon UK

Sliders and dollies

You can mount a slider on a tripod or the floor for smooth tracking shots (forwards, backwards or sideways). As a cheap alternative, put your tripod on a rug and drag it across a smooth floor.

The RatRig V-Slider comes in a range of lengths and can be mounted on a tripod. You can also add legs or a motorised kit.

Check price/buy Adorama (US) | | Amazon UK

If you’re working on a smooth service, you can also mount your tripod on a wheeled dolly for longer and more flexible camera movements. I use an old wheelchair instead.


Electronic stabilisers allow you to film long, flowing sequence shots with complex camera moves. One-handed stabilisers are also useful as a compact alternative to a tripod.

DJI Ronin SC stabiliser

The DJI Ronin SC is an affordable stabiliser for mirrorless cameras. It works with a smartphone app and includes Active Track (so it can lock onto a subject).  DJI have a list of compatible cameras on their site. Many other cameras will work but without full compatibility. With my Panasonic  G80 (G85) I had to buy a separate control cable, and mount the optional focus motor; the GH5 I hired recently was fully compatible so I just needed the focus wheel.

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The DJI Ronin-S can handle heavier cameras but doesn’t have the Active Track function..

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The two-handled DJI Ronin M can handle larger cameras, but it’s a lot bigger.

Check price/buy: Adorama | |

DJI smartphone stabiliser

You can also get stabilisers such as the DJI Osmo Mobile 3  for smartphones.

Check price/buy


For vertical crane shots, you can mount your camera on a jib. With light cameras and phones, you can get crane shots by mounting a stabiliser on a monopod or boom pole.

The ProAm Orion Jr DVC60 is a reasonably priced jib for DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and camcorders. They also make longer versions.

Check price/buy Adorama |

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