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The 5 Best Tripods For Over-Head Shots in 2022

Overhead photography, is also known as flatlay photography. Simply put as the name implies, it is an image shot directly from above, think of it as a bird’s eye view.

You will see this type mostly in food and product photography and from time to time in movies, for example, the cover picture of the famous movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.

While a well-prepared meal can increase your sales, a perfectly photographed meal will skyrocket them.

Food or product photography in general, always have played a huge role in marketing. No wonder why Coca Cola or Pepsi has such a huge success.

Anyway, let’s leave the marketing behind, and let me introduce you to what I know the best.

To get those great shots of your product, you will need a good tripod that can be suitable in different positions; a handheld shot might be adequate, but it will never match an overhead tripod. 

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Best Value
Neewer 2-in-1 Camera Tripod
Neewer 2-in-1 Camera Tripod
10
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Best For Most People
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AP
Vanguard Alta Pro 263AP
9
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Best Carbon Fiber
Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 Tripod
Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 Tripod
8.6
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Best For Travel
Peak Design Travel Tripod
Peak Design Travel Tripod
8.5
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Best Build Quality
Gitzo GT2542 Series 2
Gitzo GT2542 Series 2
8.6
Check Price On Amazon

Yet again, not all tripods are capable of capturing overhead content. That’s why I am here to make things easier, by listing what I think are the best overhead tripod.

Top 5 Best Overhead Tripods:

5. Neewer 2-in-1 Camera Tripod – Best Value

Let’s start things with an affordable and interesting pick from Neewer, the Neewer 2-in-1 Camera Tripod.

Neewer is not a very known brand, but day by day they are climbing the ladder, thanks to their cost-effective camera tools.

This tripod from Neewer made it on my list thanks to the manufacturer’s forward-thinking features like a rotating ball head and flexible central column.

Despite coming at an affordable price, this tripod will give you the chance to take better low-angle, macro, and panoramic shots.

It sports a magnesium-aluminum alloy body, making it heavier than competition carbon-fiber versions.

While we should not cry for the heavyweight, we should cherish it instead, it will add extra stability support to our camera.

When you think of it most DSLR cameras are heavy, anyway, which means the Neewer tripod can keep your precious camera safely intact.

Also, something worth mentioning is that you can use one of the legs as a monopod and that is done by removing one of its four legs. What’s more, you can also use the monopod as a walking or climbing stick!
This tripod from Neewer is one tough boy that is capable of holding up to 33 pounds.

Whether you’re new to overhead photography or simply want a versatile tripod, the Neewer 2-in-1 Camera Tripod is your cost-friendly option for overhead shots and more.

Key Features of the Neewer Tripod:

  • 2-in-1
  • 360-degree Rotatable Ball Head
  • Supports Weight of 33 Pounds.

4. Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB – Best For Most People

The next tripod in the list is a well known one among photographers. It comes with an ultra-sturdy built and plenty of angle options that reward in great versatility for studio/overhead photography, and that’s none other than the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB.

Just like the rest of the Vanguard line up of tripods, it comes in a mostly black design with slick metallic silver accents and some nice orange touch that gives the tripod good aesthetics. The design will blend in with anything that is modern, including your camera.

The center hexagonal rod provides great versatility due to it being capable of a full height of over 68 inches and you can pivot it up to 180 degrees, while when it goes in folded mode or say minimum height, 28.1 inches.

Vanguard in general is known for its robust products, so it’s no surprise for the Alta Pro to inherit the same traits.

There’s also the 360 degree ball that is among the best ball heads currently and at the same time it is so smooth to work with. Although, Alta Pro is on the heavy side, weighing as much as 2.44 Kilograms,  at the same time it can support a weight of 15.4 pounds.

No doubt, that the Alta pro is a good bet if you need a studio tripod to perform your flatlay photography

Key Features of the Vanguard Alta Pro 263AB:

  • Made of aluminum alloy
  • Multi-Angle Central Column
  • Instant Swivel Stop-n-Lock System
  • Friendly Price

3. Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 – Best Carbon Fiber

Next on the list, we have a prominent brand Manfrotto that made a name for themself, thanks to the top-notch tripods they provide. Besides that this one is also one of the best tripods from the Manfrotto lineup.

It ticks all boxes a photographer needs. Something that we should expect from Manfrotto, it hasn’t been an industry-leading brand for no reason.

I like to bill this tripod as a tripod that can do everything and that thanks to its weight and height. While being a perfect workhorse in many situations and aspects it is also quite portable.

It weighs 4.4 pounds and it can withstand a weight of 19.8 lbs (9Kg). As far as extension goes, it can reach a maximum height of 66.93 inches (170cm) and a minimum of 3.5 inches (9cm).

The major selling point of the MT055CXPRO3 must be the uncanny method of leg angle selection. Instead of the traditional pull-out tab that you find on a standard tripod, this one pulls down on the outside of each leg section. This is a slick and swift technology that gives us faster leg angle adjustments, way faster than a traditional tripod.

No that’s not all, another thing that separates this bad boy from the competition, is the horizontal center column.

It is a 90-degree column, that gives freedom to the column to be extended vertically or horizontally.

Switching between vertical and horizontal column orientation is quite easy, so don’t worry you will be able to do it can even with the camera attached.

If you are looking for a tripod that has some nifty features under its sleeves, this one from Manfrotto will be more than happy to accompany you during, the overhead photography.

Key Features of the Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3

  • 90 Degree Column
  • Carbon Fiber Build
  • Leg Angle Selection

2. Peak Design Travel Tripod (Carbon Fiber Model ) – Best For Travel

While the name says travel tripod, this tripod from Peak Design is exceptionally good for food photography, or overhead photography in general; after all, it’s Peak Design who made it. There’s also the aluminum model, but I decided this time to include the carbon fiber one.

Back when Peak Design travel tripod debuted, it created some huge waves on Kickstarter – so if you consider yourself a photographer and never heard of it you must have been under a rock.

The Travel name comes from its unique 5 telescoping leg sections. Just like the above option from Manfrotto, instead of using traditional cylindrical legs, Peak decided to shape the legs in a way for the center column to be nested close with the folded legs.

The minimum height it can achieve goes to 14 cm (5.5 inches) while the maximum one up to 152 cm (60 inches). And the maximum weight it can support sits at 9.1 kg (20 lbs), which is more than enough for a compact and lightweight tripod.

Its uniqueness doesn’t stop only at the legs. The built-in ball head is built in a way to be extremely light and low-profile when collapsed and its strength is quite impressive, you can freely lock any heavy DSLR on it at almost any angle.No doubt, that this is a very capable head.

While I look like a paid reviewer, hyping this tripod so much, that’s not only me, you will encounter this bad boy in almost any list that has to do with a tripod. However, you should also know that it comes at a painful price which is understandable.

  • Key Features of the Peak Design Travel Tripod 
  • Pro Level Stability
  • It eliminates the volume of the tripod when packed down
  • Ergonomic ball head 
  • Premium Carbon Fiber Build

1. Gitzo GT2542 Series 2 Mountaineer Tripod – Best Build Quality

If you found Peak Design expensive, wait till you see the price of this one – just be careful of falling from the chair, because I did the first time I saw it.

The Gitzo GT2542 Mountaineer Carbon Fiber is a tripod that was designed with professionals in mind, hence the insane price. Nevertheless, this promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime investment since tripods are not like a camera; they need to be replaced often due to the technology improving day by day.

Fun Fact: I know photographers who haven’t changed their tripods since the late ’80s and ’90s.

Anyway, this is a really well-built tripod that comes in a carbon fiber design. What makes this tripod special, is its capability to hold up to 40lbs, it can go toe to toe with your gym buddy.

Jokes aside, this is a 4 section tripod that sits at 22-inch length when folded, and thanks to the Carbon eXact tubes and the magnesium finish, it weighs little as 3.7 lbs, making it quite a traveling companion.

If you think about it, this is among the lightest tripods, and at the same time, it is one of the strongest. Tripods from the competition struggle to support less than half of the weight Gitzo can, while not being as compact.

If money is not a concern, and you are willing to pursue photography in professional grades, you simply can’t go wrong with this indestructible tripod.

Key Features of the Gitzo Mountaineer:

  • Insanely High Payload
  • Premium Build
  • Carbon eXact tubes
  • G-lock Ultra system

 

Things To Keep In Mind When Shopping for an Overhead Tripod

Size of the Tripod

Not just for overhead photography, but in general you need a tripod that is big enough to handle the height that is needed and sturdy enough to hold your camera. Since photography doesn’t have to do with traveling around and all that, a heavy and big tripod would be the choice you need to consider the most.

Sturdiness and Stability

The most essential requirement would be its stability and how well the tripod is built. You need a tripod that can handle the weight of your camera and every other equipment like lenses or extra lights.

Yet again, I would advise avoiding cheap and lightweight tripods. It does no good on saving money for a cheap tripod that will end up costing more in the long run and even might break your camera and equipment along with it.

Tripod Head

The Tripod head is the part where the camera sits, for overhead photography, there are two types of tripods that you should consider.

The Ball Head:

This type comes in different forms and provides faster and more accurate rotation. Basically, it keeps the ball from moving around when you want it in one position.

For those with a bit more money, you should look at our geared tripod head roundup.

The Pan-Tilt Head

As the name implies, this one allows you to rotate your camera right left and up or down, just note that this one costs more, if you can bypass the price this actually might be the best solution.

You might need to buy the ball separately, so take that into account. 

Tripod Legs and Feet

You will find tripod legs mostly in aluminum and carbon fiber, with the latter being the best.

You also want to make sure that you’re tripod has stable, and preferably rubber feet; so they can prevent it from slipping.

How to capture overhead shots?

Simply extend your tripod to its highest setting and aim the camera as down as it goes.

Stabilize Your Tripod

After setting the tripod up, the first and most important thing you need to do is to stabilize it. You don’t want it to learn in the wrong direction or even fall over the product.

Look Through

Before you start shooting, make sure that first, you look through the viewfinder. Basically what I mean is do a quick walk-through, a test.

Battery-Life

There’s nothing more annoying than having to stop the process, just because your battery ran out. So try to make sure that there’s an outlet close by, or fully charge it before you start shooting.

Closing Thoughts

Overhead photography is a great way to capture great content for product photography or everything in general, it gives a pleasing aesthetic feeling to your photos. But you should also know that it is not an easy task to do, that’s why I hope that this article gave you guys some insight on what to do and what tripod to pick.

Further Reading

If you need some extra equipments, like a softbox, you can read my article regarding the Best softbox for food photography, or if you need a backpack for your camera you can go through Best Camera Backpacks.

If you need a walkthrough of some cameras that you might need in the future, you have Best Cameras For Youtube or something that might pique your interest even more Best Cameras For Food Photography.

This is it folks, hope everything was clear.