Best Tripod for Overhead Shots and Food Photography – a Buyer’s Guide

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Finding the right angle for your photoshoots can be difficult at the best of times. When it comes to product or food photography, the stakes get pushed up a notch. Taking photos for clients and your audience takes a huge amount of attention to detail. Finding the right tripod for product photography is an absolute must.

Fortunately, your options are far from limited; there’s a ton of choice out there with a broad spectrum of different brands to choose from. The trick is knowing what exactly you should look out for when shopping.

In 2021, the amount of choice can actually be fairly overwhelming. How are you supposed to know when a tripod is right for your setup? Different photographers have different goals and means when it comes to food/products shots. How do you even make sense of it all?

Don’t worry, help is at hand. This page is our guide to the world of overhead tripods and product photography accessories. We’ve trawled through Amazon listings, considering customer reviews, feature sets, and prices to find the best options available online.

Be sure to check out our tips for finding the right tripod too!

Manfrotto MT190XPRO4 Aluminum 4-Section Tripod ,Black

So Why Do You Need a Tripod?

If you’re wondering why you even need a tripod, this section is definitely for you. Many newcomers overlook the utility of a good overhead or standard tripod. In our opinion, they’re basically indispensable if you want to take your photography seriously.

We outline the main benefits to using a tripod below.

Guaranteed Stability

Taking photos handheld provides a degree of flexibility, but it means that camera shake and motion blur are inevitable. This can quickly undermine the quality of your food photography. A good tripod will guarantee you some stability when working.

Taking the time to find the right angle, set it with your tripod, and then getting to work can dramatically elevate the final results of your images. If you’ve never worked with an overhead tripod before, we strongly recommend giving it a go.

Consistent Results

One key to product photography is consistency. If you can’t guarantee that you’ll get similar quality results every time, you may struggle to keep or even find clients. The tripods that we recommend below are all designed to improve your chances of getting the results you need every time.

When it comes to shooting professionally, flexibility and consistency will be two of your most important assets. A tripod can help improve both!

They Provide the Vantage Point you Need

Getting killer food or product photos calls for more inventive vantage points than you may be used to. Overhead shots are very popular in these photography categories. This angle makes it easy to capture your chosen subject in all of its glory.

Without a decent overhead tripod, you’ll really struggle to take this kind of photo. You can of course ‘cheat’ by holding the camera yourself, but this will be very difficult to maintain without any camera shake getting in the way.

They Boost the Rest of Your Skills

Working with a high-quality tripod means you have one less thing to worry about when shooting. Once you’re familiar with your equipment, the stability of your setup will require far less attention than before.

This frees up valuable energy that you can focus on the more important aspects of your shoot. The increased degree of control you’ll have at your disposal will also make it much easier to fine-tune the composition of your food photography.

Sharper Focus

As mentioned earlier, camera shake can quickly impact the quality of your product photos. When taking photos professionally, it’s important to make sure that your subject really ‘pops’ in your images.

Editing software can certainly help with this, but the best approach is to make sure every aspect of your shooting environment is well optimized for success. This includes maintaining a sharp focus for your shots.

A tripod is the best way to do this in our opinion.

How to Find the Best Tripod for Overhead Shots and Food Photography

We’ve found some excellent recommendations for the best overhead tripods. They’re featured a little further down this page. Before we jump into our suggestions, however, it’s worth exploring how to find a high-quality product on your own.

The more you understand about this kind of tripod, the easier it will be to find an option that works for you. Check out our tips below to become a savvy shopper!

Price

How much did you spend on your camera and lenses? Are the tripods you’re considering priced proportionately? There’s no point going over budget on a tripod until you have a very good reason to buy a specific model. There are plenty of excellent options out there that won’t break the bank any time soon.

Take some time to consider your own circumstances. How much are you willing to spend on a new accessory? Set a max limit for yourself before shopping to keep costs down. Your specific requirements will also influence this decision.

A professional working with clients will need a more expensive tripod than a beginner, for example.

Weight Capacity

This is an important one that many newbies overlook. The max weight capacity of a tripod tells you how much weight it’s able to hold before it starts to topple over. Consider the weight of your camera body and the lenses that you use for your food photography.

Make sure that any overhead tripod you consider can handle the weight of your existing gear. The last thing you want is to damage your expensive equipment – trust us!

Other Accessories – Tripod for Shooting Straight Down

For product photography and food photos, there are a few extra accessories that can come in handy when working with your tripod. For overhead shots in particular, you may need some of the extras listed below.

Extending Arms

An extending arm is usually designed to fit universally with most pro-grade tripods. They make it much easier to achieve the overhead vantage point you may be looking for. Good models are easy to adjust and fit securely in place once you’ve found the angle you need.

Weighting Equipment

Things like sandbags and weighted bags can be critical in professional shoots. They can either be hooked onto some tripods or placed around the feet of your accessory. This makes it possible to add even more weight to your setup.

If you want to take photos with a particularly heavy lens, for example, you’ll need an accessory like this.

L Brackets

L brackets, as you may have guessed, are L-shaped plates that fit onto an existing tripod. They make it much easier for users to shoot in both vertical and horizontal orientations with ease.

More importantly, they make it much simpler to switch between both orientations. For tweaking your setup effortlessly on the fly, an L-bracket might just be the answer. They can be super helpful.

Adjustability

When taking photos of food or other products, you’ll likely be making tweaks constantly as you work. For this reason, any tripod you consider should be as easy as possible to adjust. Our recommendations below are all effortless to tweak to your heart’s content.

Durability

There’s no point picking up a new accessory if it’s just going to break down on you a couple of months down the line. While most tripods out there are at least reasonably durable, there are definitely options out there that will disappoint quickly.

Look for high-quality materials and build qualities that are made to last.

Max and Min Height

Much like weight capacity, this is one factor that some new photographers fail to consider. The maximum and minimum height of your tripod will determine the kind of work you’re able to do with it. What are you looking for with your overhead shoots?

Choose a tripod with the heights that fit your requirements.

Stability

Rubber feet are a must with most tripods in our opinion. The whole point of buying this kind of camera accessory is to improve the stability of your shoot. This put stable, ‘unshakeable’ tripods at the top of our list.

Compatibility

When buying a new tripod arm for overhead shots, it’s important to make sure that it’s actually going to work with your existing gear. Most camera accessories are fairly universal, but manufacturers like Sony and Canon sometimes use proprietary systems for their hot switching plates.

Double-check the compatibility of any model you consider.

Quick Food Photography Tips

When taking photos of food, there are a few basic principles to keep in mind. Check out our tips in this section to keep your photos looking awesome.

Lighting

Lighting is the most important aspect of practically all photography. If you can nail your lighting environment, you’re much more likely to nail your final scene. Experiment with how you light your food, use as much soft diffused light as you possibly can.

Spot lighting and reflectors can also help to boost your available light when shooting.

Use the Right Gear

Do you want to use a macro lens for super close-up shots? Maybe a versatile 50mm lens instead? It all comes down to the specific results you’re looking for. Whatever your goals, make sure you’re using the right gear for the job.

For overhead shots, you’ll want a sturdy tripod with a high weight capacity and compatibility with extendable arms/ L brackets.

Think Twice About Flash

For food photos, flash shouldn’t ever be necessary. It can make meals look quite ‘washed out’ and unappetizing. Whenever possible, try to ensure that your shooting environment is bright enough that you don’t need to rely on flash.

Take Advantage of Food Hacks

Remember that the food you see in most commercials and posters isn’t as real as it seems. If you want to keep your subject ‘photo ready’ for longer, you’ll have to take advantage of some common hacks.

Practice Your Composition

Composition is everything when it comes to taking a great photo. Remember the rule of thirds when working and frame your food to make it look as delicious as possible. How can you draw attention to the meal you’re shooting?

What’s the best way to make the food really shine? If you want more in-depth composition tips, check out our guide here.

The Best Tripod for Food Photography and Overhead Shooting

Let’s get into it! We’ve curated a list of seven awesome tripods that we think would be amazing for both food and product photography. They would also come in useful for any kind of overhead shoot you might be involved with.

We’ve picked options from a range of brands and price points, so there should be something for almost everyone here! Read on to find your new shooting companion.

How We’ve Found These Recommendations

At Photography Focus, we’re dedicated to writing reviews with genuinely useful recommendations. The products featured on this page were found by comparing online reviews, comparisons and customer feedback.

Each listing is very highly reviewed on Amazon and offers a tripod that’s excellent for overhead shooting.

Manfrotto MT190XPRO4 Aluminum 4-Section Tripod

Manfrotto MT190XPRO4 Aluminum 4-Section Tripod ,Black

First up is this fantastic option from Manfrotto. If you haven’t encountered the Manfrotto name before, you’re in for a treat here. The brand has an excellent track record for producing some of the best camera tripods the industry has to offer.

They’re not the cheapest options out there, but they are some of the best. This model is compatible with a ton of L brackets and extending arms so you can shoot your overhead food shots to your heart’s content.

One thing we love about this calibre of tripod is how sturdy and stable it feels. Even a clumsy photographer should have little to worry about here. It’s also remarkably simple to adjust your setup with this tripod. You’ll be able to tweak your equipment with ease.

Why We Love it:

  • Easy to adjust
  • Compatible with overhead accessories
  • Sturdy design
  • Reliable Manfrotto brand

Some Drawbacks:

  • Quite expensive

Overhead Tripod for DSLR Cameras

Overhead Tripod for DSLR Cameras, Heavy Duty Camera Desk Mount Stand with Flexible Articulating Boom Arm, Camera Holder Table Clamp for Canon Nikon Sony Fuji SLR Mirrorless Cam Video Photography

This cheap and cheerful option won’t be perfect for everyone. For those on a budget, though, it could prove indispensable. It’s designed to clip onto most desks and gives your DSLR camera the overhead vantage point you’re looking for.

The adjustable crane arm doesn’t have quite the versatility that some pros will need, but it should be more than enough for most overhead food shots. With a max load of 5lbs, most mid to small camera setups should be just fine.

If you make content for TikTok or produce cooking content for YouTube, this kind of mount can be super useful. Throw in the fact that it costs comfortably less than $40 and you’re looking at an absolute steal in our opinion.

Why We Love it:

  • A great budget option
  • A simple way to get an overhead shot
  • Clips onto basically any desk

Some Drawbacks:

  • Not quite as versatile as a pro-grade tripod
  • The max load could be a bit higher

Geekoto Tripod for Food Photography

GEEKOTO Tripod, Camera Tripod for DSLR, Aluminum Tripod with 360-Degree Ball Head and Rotatable Center Column, 75-Inch Professional Tripod for Travel and Work

We’re huge fans of this premium tripod from Geekoto. It’s versatile, easy to adjust, and very sturdy when working. For overhead product photography, there’s a ton of compatibility with L brackets and extending arms. The 360° swivel base will also come in handy here.

Photographers who need a tripod that can handle anything will love what this tripod has to offer. It comes with a huge height range of 19-79 inches and can function as both a tripod and detachable monopod mount.

If you work in a studio that’s constantly changing its approach, you may want to consider this option closely. With a weight limit of 26.9lbs, this thing can handle practically anything you throw at it. It gets a huge thumbs up from us.

Why We Love it:

  • Very versatile and adjustable
  • Sturdy when working
  • 360° swivel head
  • Great for overhead accessories

Some Drawbacks:

  • Not the cheapest option out there

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AP Aluminium Tripod with Multi-Angle Column and PH-32 Pan Head

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AP Aluminium Tripod with Multi-Angle Column and PH-32 Pan Head

Vanguard is one of those names that just keeps delivering results time after time. The brand’s line of camera accessories has reached legendary status with photographers around the world. This multi-angle option certainly lives up to the hype.

The central column of this tripod is what makes it so special. It can be adjusted through a huge spectrum of different angles. In simple terms, this makes it possible to achieve vantage points with your camera that other tripods just can’t match.

For overhead food shots or experimental photographs, this one is a no-brainer in our opinion. The height range, max load, and durability here also all seem excellent. We strongly recommend checking this one out if you’re a professional or enthusiast.

Why We Love it:

  • Super versatile central column
  • Very durable and stable
  • Legendary Vanguard quality

Some Drawbacks:

  • It’s pretty expensive

Peak Design Travel Tripod

Peak Design Travel Tripod (5 Section Aluminum Camera Tripod)

This is our suggestion for those who prioritize portability when working. This tripod offers pro-grade performance while maintaining the ability to fold away to practically nothing. If your equipment bag is already packed full, you won’t think twice about adding this accessory.

If you’re hoping to add an adjustable arm for overhead shots, you’re in luck. The built-in weighting hooks with this model make it trivial to stabilize your setup for more experimental shots. Your product photography is about to get a welcome boost!

With a max load capacity of about 20lbs, this thing can handle most shooting equipment with ease. For portable, versatile shooting on the go, it’s hard to go wrong with this one. It gets a big endorsement from us.

K&F Concept TM2515T Professional 67 inch Camera Tripod

K&F Concept TM2515T1 Professional 67 inch Camera Tripod Horizontal Aluminum Tripods Portable Monopod with 360 Degree Ball Head Quick Release Plate for DSLR Cameras

This is another fantastic option that features a 360° swivel base. If you’ve never worked with this range of movement before, it can really elevate your work in certain circumstances. The ability to effortlessly adjust your gear to any angle can be a real Godsend.

K&F makes tripods that are tough and sturdy – it’s as simple as that. Even if you’re lugging this thing around from set to set, you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. The quick-release hot switch works well with most common DSLR brands and makes adjusting things much simpler.

At around $125, this isn’t the cheapest option on the list. In our opinion, though, it’s well worth the investment. If you’re looking for something that can take your food photography to the next level, we think this option is worth considering.

ChromLives Overhead Video Stand Phone Holder Articulating Arm Phone Mount

Overhead Video Stand Phone Holder Articulating Arm Phone Mount Table Top ChromLives Scissor Boom Arm Articulating Phone Stand Tablet Phone Holder for Streaming Phone Baking Crafting

Last, but certainly not least, is this overhead phone stand from ChromLives. Listen, this thing isn’t going to fare very well with most bulky DSLRs. The thing is, a huge amount of contemporary video content is filmed with smartphones at home.

Plenty of professional studios making web content make use of high-end smartphones rather than more traditional cameras. If this sounds like you, we think this tripod clamp is worth a look.

It’s designed to fit seamlessly onto most tables and provides an adjustable overhead vantage point for your food or product photography. The anti-slip rubber pads seem to grip very well and the construction seems reasonably well made.

At comfortably less than $30, we think this one’s a steal.

Best Tripod for Overhead Shots

We hope you’ve found our tips and recommendations on this page helpful. Remember that everyone’s needs are different. The goals you have as a photographer will determine the tripod that works best for you.

Consider your requirements, budget, and shooting environment closely when shopping. Whichever option you choose, we hope it serves you well for many years to come! Happy clicking.