Have you tested tripod X?

Every tripod that I have tested is listed on the site.  If it doesn’t show up in the rankings or under the page for that manufacturer’s tripods, I haven’t tested it.

Why haven’t you tested tripods from brand X?

Ideally, I would test and review all tripods, I have neither the time or money to do so.  I have been trying to test the most popular tripod brands first, and those tripods I believe will perform best.

When looking for the next tripods to test, I look for three things:  1) An interesting or unique new design, 2)  A coherent lineup of tripods across the brand, and 3) Brand stability.  The first is the most obvious motivation.  New designs tend to perform better than old ones and a unique design has the most potential to perform outside of expectations.  When looking at a brand’s lineup of tripods, I like to see a thoughtful attempt to make the best product possible for each use case.  Some companies seem to take the shotgun approach and make many different tripods, most of which are pretty similar or are a simply re-branded generic tripods.  This is why for example, I haven’t approached Vanguard tripods yet.  Their product lineup is baffling.  Finally, if I am going to test a tripod I want to see a brand that is stable so that the tested tripod will remain on the market for awhile.  There are a lot of brands (mostly coming out of China) that exist for a year or two then disappear.  I see this as an attempt at deliberate obfuscation in the market, and it is not possible for this site to keep up.

How much stiffness and damping do I need for my gear?

This is a more complicated question that it first appears and The Center Column does not yet have a specific recommended gear limit for tripods.  The exact answer depends on the prevailing conditions and shooting technique, which of course vary.  The more general answer is a judgement call that requires more data.

What about wooden tripods?

Wood is known for having excellent damping properties and thus seems a logical material for building tripods.  Unfortunately, the stiffness/weight ratio for wood is much worse than either aluminum or carbon fiber.  Wooden tripods are thus very heavy compared to their aluminum or carbon fiber equivalents.