Video tripod vs. Photo tripod: Are they Really Different?

Is a Video tripod really different from a photo tripod?

Will my videos suffer if I shoot from a Photo tripod?

To help you shoot great videos, you should know what’s the difference. In recent times, with the surge in tripod sales, you may end up buying a tripod that may not serve the intended purpose well or at all.

So for a videographer, it is essential to understand the difference between a video tripod and a photo tripod.

So let’s understand this.

Why do you need a tripod?

As far as videos and photographs are concerned, a tripod a three-legged stand, usually portable, that offers your camera, the support that it needs.

So Why do you need them? For two primary reasons:

  1. Accuracy
  2. Stability

So, the market offers a number of models. All models may look similar but have many differences to ensure that all photographers and videographers have something that suits their needs as well as tastes. That’s regardless of their work, techniques, or cameras.

How Tripod Differs:

They differ in several ways. First, the design is different when it comes to the various tripods.

When it comes to spreaders, some have ground-level ones.

Others have mid-level ones.

And others lack them totally.

Talking of weight capacity, some can handle heavy cameras while others can only accommodate the light ones.

We have portable tripods that are easy to fold and pack when in the move.

When it comes to locking mechanisms, expect several options there too.

From twist lock to horizontal to vertical levers, one has a lot to choose from when buying a tripod. Feet also differ where some are flat while others are spiked.

Others are also removable and replaceable. With all those differences, one cannot help but ask a few questions.

So, as a videographer, how do you know that what you are settling for is a video tripod? What is a photo tripod? Let’s find out.

VideoTripod and Photo Tripod:

Tripods come in two parts –

  1. Head
  2. Legs

Tripods differ from each other broadly based on these terms and so are the video and photo tripods.

What is a photo tripod?

A photo tripod can be any tripod that you come across. These are the light pods that the photographers carry along wherever you find them shooting your family portraits.

They look simple in design and has a ball-like head on which the camera rests. The photographer has greater control as he can shoot the pictures in any direction. Yes even vertically!

That’s because there is no particular format to a photograph, unlike videos.  Here, you will be capturing shots that are not only fixed but also the subjects are non-moving unless you are shooting a high-speed car race or running gazelle. 

So you need a tripod which is lightand easy to carry. The sketch shown below is what a usual photo tripod looks like.

Video tripod vs. Photo tripod

What is a video tripod?

On the other hand, a video tripod, as the name suggests, is a stand ideal for videographers. Its design ensures that you can quickly move your camera when taking a shot. After all, the filmmakers assume that the camera will be moving when filming with them.

Videos or movies are shot horizontally. So, a tripod that offers a good pan and an excellent tilt, is what all you need for your video. So their base comes with those options.  Also, the video cameras are heavy and you need sturdiness to have a smooth movement of the video

The below sketch is a video tripod:

So, what is the real difference between a video tripod and a photo tripod? So let’s break the suspense. Read on!

Video tripod vs. Photo tripod: What’s the difference, really?

There are some reasons why you cannot settle for any tripod as a videographer. So Video tripods are significantly different from the photo tripod.

However, it may not be mentioned bythe vendor, but as a videographer or a filmmaker, you should make a checkliston the functions, it should provide.

They include the following.

Tilting and Panning:

When buying a video tripod, ensure that it can handle the stress associated with panning and tilting. That’s because, unlike the photo tripod ideal for shooting still photos, they capture moving pictures. 


A video tripod is heavier than a photo tripod. It is also sturdier to make sure that it stays intact despite the many tilts and pans. Heavy pods help in stabilizing your videos as well.

The fact that ever since time immemorial the video cameras are more cumbersome than photo camera also explains the logic behind the substantial weight. 

Pls, Note: When it comes to most video cameras, they also come with baggage. For instance, the video DSLRs have monitors, follow focus, barn doors, loupes, and battery packs.


When it comes to design, good video tripods do not have a center post. That’s because it tends to bring about judder and unnecessary movement during panning. Nevertheless, that is an ideal feature for a photo tripod.


The head of video tripods has to pan as well as tilt. Preferably, they usually pan up to an angle of 360 degrees continuously. In addition to that, they tilt backward and forward up to an angle of 75 degrees. 

Mostof the video, tripods have fluid heads. With the help of acombination of the fluid dampening system and viscous fluid, it becomes easy topan and tilt. As a result of the corresponding resistance, you are in control.If that is not the case, expect settings that allow you to adjust theposition. 

While the head of the video tripod is a rolling ball head that moves smoothly and easily. Also, a photo tripod locks itself in a particular place. 

When it comes to photo tripod, the side loafing plates resemble a typical plate. At the same time, they are elongated in video tripods.

Counter Balance

Imagine a tripod that pans and tilts but doesn’t stop when you want it to? That can be frustrating and could annihilate the video shoot. That’s when the counterbalance feature comes in. 

With it, you don’t have to worry about the camera tilting too much. It sees to it that you are at liberty to increase or decrease the resistance around the head. Consequently, you are in full control when it comes to tilting and spanning. 


There are other things that a video tripod possesses. Most of them have legs with either twist collars or flip locks. Their materials are usually aluminum and carbon fiber.

In rare cases, especially the old models, video tripods have crutch-style legs. Others have rubber legs. When choosing the ideal video tripod, think about how you will use it to determine the right legs.

Additional Features

To ease movement when in action, they have accessory dollies. It is possible to lock then in position during panning thanks to the ball heads.

Stability is also ample because of the likes of the leg strut, illuminate bubble levels, and extended platforms. They offer support, ideal positioning, and optimal balance. 

In addition to that, they form a center of gravity that is not only lower but also stable.


It is essential to use a video tripod for videography and a photo tripod for photography. That’s because failure to do so has dire consequences. 

A video tripod will be too heavy for the person to take photos, making work hard and uncomfortable. 

On the other hand, a photo tripod may not pan and tilt. If it does, it might either shake or move, which can destroy the quality of the video. It also lacks essential video extensions such as dolly wheels and slider lack. 

Final Words

From the above discussion, we believe that now it will be easy for you to distinguish between a video tripod and a photo tripod. Never make a mistake of buying one if you intend to use it for the other purpose. Equally important, don’t underestimate its importance and assume that you can do the great shooting, especially videography, without a tripod.

You should be willing to spend a lot on fluid heads to avoid leakage. Ensure that what you settle for can accommodate the weight of your camera.

Besides, ensure that you have optimal control and stability. That way, you will definitely take your photography and videography to the next level. If you intend to grab one, use this guide to buy the best video tripod for yourself. All the best!

Also Read : 25 Essential Filmmaking Equipment List for Beginners

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