back to top

6 Best Tripod Heads in 2024 (Ball, Fluid, Pan & Tilt)

Last updated: January 19, 2024 - 18 min read
ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little money. Need more info? See how it all works here.
Subscribe Below to Download the Article Immediately

You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training:

Your privacy is safe! We will never share your information.

Having the best tripod head helps you achieve your photography goals. But different tripod heads are better for different types of photography, so you need a head that suits your style. 

Do you need a versatile ball head? Are you looking for a panning tripod head for panoramas? Or would a smooth-motion fluid head be better suited to your photography and videography needs? Thankfully, we have all these tripods heads and more in this article.

The NEEWER Ball Head is our choice as the best tripod head in 2024. It’s strong, versatile, and affordable. It can hold most camera models comfortably. And it gives you smooth motion for panning and tilting when the camera is mounted. 

Our Top 3 Choices for the Best Tripod Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
 

What Is the Best Tripod Head?

The best tripod head is the one that helps you take the types of photos and videos you want to shoot. That’s why thinking about your style and genre of photography will help you find the best tripod head.

There are several types of tripod heads available. And each type of tripod head has strengths that help when shooting different types of photography. Photographers in many fields use tripods. But the key is finding the right tripod head for you.

Ball heads give you a wide range of motion, allowing you to pan and tilt in nearly any direction. They are probably the most popular tripod head with modern photographers. You also have panning or panoramic tripod heads. These give you 360 degrees of horizontal rotation.

Tilt & pan (or “3-way tripod heads”) give you even more freedom of movement. You can mount your camera at pretty much any angle.

Fluid tripod heads give you super smooth panning and tilting motions. They’re designed to allow you to move the camera while it’s mounted, which is why they are popular with video makers. And then you have gimbal tripod heads. They are also popular with videographers thanks to their range of motion and smooth adjustability.

Here’s a quick rundown of all the best tripod heads in 2024. Scroll down a little further to see each tripod head in more detail. Or you can skip down to the FAQ section at the end for more information on tripod heads.

Best Ball Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
  • Quick setup with 1/4" release plate
  • Enhanced position perception with dual-bubble level
  • Versatile angle movement with smooth ball joint
  • Strong load capacity of 17.6 lbs / 8 kg
Best Panning Base
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
  • Supports a hefty 22.05 lbs, accommodating GoPros, DSLRs, and more
  • Finely crafted aluminum alloy ensures durability and efficient shock absorption
  • Includes easy-to-read bubble level for balanced camera positioning
  • Offers 360-degree scale for full panorama shots
Best 3-Way Tripod Head
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
  • High-precision knobs for accurate movement
  • Enhances shooting efficiency with fine-tuning
  • Durable, high-quality aluminum construction
  • Versatile for various photography scenes
Best Fluid Tripod Head
Avella V504 Tripod Fluid Head
Avella V504 Tripod Fluid Head
Avella V504 Tripod Fluid Head
  • Smooth panning and tilting when camera is mounted
  • Control handle for precision movements
  • 13.2 lb / 6 kg maximum weight limit
  • 360-degree panning and +90 to -50 degrees of tilting
Best Heavy-Duty Tripod Head
3 Legged Thing AirHed Pro
3 Legged Thing AirHed Pro
3 Legged Thing AirHed Pro
  • Incredible 88 lb / 40 kg maximum weight limit
  • Ball joint allows a wide range of tilting
  • Panning base with ruled markings
  • Arca-Swiss quick-release plate for easy mounting
Best Gimbal Tripod Head
NEEWER GM101 Gimbal Tripod Head
NEEWER GM101 Gimbal Tripod Head
NEEWER GM101 Gimbal Tripod Head
  • Swinging gimbal arm helps you achieve a perfectly balanced mount
  • 360-degree panning and wide tilting range
  • Solid construction and 30 lb / 13.6 kg load limit
  • Weather resistant for outdoor use

6 Best Tripod Heads in 2024

This section examines all the best tripod heads in more detail. We look at the best tripod head in each category. And we’ll see which heads match your style of photography. Remember, if you need more info on different types of tripod heads, skip to the FAQ section at the bottom.

1. NEEWER Tripod Ball Head

Neewer Tripod Ball Head
Brand
Brand
NEEWER
Tripod Head Type
Tripod Head Type
Ball head
Material
Material
Aluminum alloy
Dimensions
Dimensions
6 x 4 x 8 inches / 15.2 x 10.2 x 20.3 cm
Head Weight
Head Weight
0.95 lb / 431 g
Max Load Capacity
Max Load Capacity
17.6 lbs / 8 kg
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Bubble level, quick-release plate, dampening knobs, panning base
Best For
Best For
Photographers looking for a versatile head with panning and tilting adjustability

Tripod ball heads have become the most popular type of tripod head in recent years. The wide panning and tilting range makes them versatile, which is why they are used by everyone from landscape photographers to videographers.

The NEEWER Tripod Ball Head is the perfect place to start with this type of head. The construction is excellent thanks to the durable aluminum alloy material. It’s lightweight, weighing just 0.95 lb / 431 g. But it can hold any camera setup up to 17.6 lbs / 8 kg. That’s strong enough for full-frame DSLRs with a large lens. 

The ball joint gives you small tilting and panning controls. And you have several dampening knobs that allow you to get the perfect control for any type of shot. You can move the camera while it’s attached. Or it can hold the camera in any position. You can even mount the camera vertically, thanks to the U-shaped groove. 

With an Arca-Swiss quick-release plate, mounting and dismounting the camera is quick and easy. And the built-in bubble level helps you align with the horizon. That’s really useful when you’re shooting on uneven ground.

Shooting panoramas is easy, thanks to the panning base and ruled markings. With this precision, stitching images together is far easier when using photo editing software.

The NEEWER Ball Head is an easy pick for the best tripod head. It’s strong, versatile, and affordable.

And if you want to see more tripod ball heads, check out our full list of the best tripod ball heads

 

2. NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base

NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
Brand
Brand
NEEWER
Tripod Head Type
Tripod Head Type
Panning / panoramic
Material
Material
Aluminum alloy
Dimensions
Dimensions
3.5 x 2.8 x 1.2 inches / 9 x 7.1 x 3 cm
Head Weight
Head Weight
0.32 lb / 147 g
Max Load Capacity
Max Load Capacity
22 lbs / 10 kg
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Bubble level, 360-degree ruled markings, dampening knob
Best For
Best For
Landscape and panorama photography

Panning tripod heads are perfect for shooting broad landscapes and sweeping panoramas. And if that’s what you love to shoot, the NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base is the best tripod head for you. 

As with the NEEWER ball head, this panning base has fantastic build quality. Made of strong aluminum alloy, it’s a sturdy piece of kit. It’s so sturdy it can support any load up to 22 lbs / 10 kg. That’s strong enough for any full-frame camera, whether mirrorless or DSLR. And you can even use it with a professional medium-format camera.

Rotating a full 360 degrees, you have the freedom to shoot the entire scene around you. And the ruled degree markings help you make precise adjustments when aligning your camera. That makes it much easier to stitch panoramas together in post-processing.

The base has a dampening knob, allowing you to control the camera when mounted. You can tighten the knob so it holds its position. Or you can loosen it, allowing the camera to be panned while still attached.

You also have a built-in bubble level, helping you stay level when working on uneven ground. It makes a huge difference when shooting landscapes on rough terrain.

Simple yet highly effective, the NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base is the best panning tripod head. It’s one of the strongest tripod heads on this list. And it’s also one of the most affordable. It’s an ideal choice for landscape photographers. 

If you want to see more, take a look at our full article on the best panning tripod heads.

 

3. K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head

K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
Brand
Brand
K&F Concept
Tripod Head Type
Tripod Head Type
Pan and tilt / 3-way
Material
Material
Aluminum
Dimensions
Dimensions
5.1 x 5.5 x 4.5 inches / 13 x 14 x 11.4 cm
Head Weight
Head Weight
1.7 lbs / 800 g
Max Load Capacity
Max Load Capacity
13.2 lbs / 6 kg
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Precise control knobs, quick-release plate, bubble level
Best For
Best For
Secure camera mounting at unusual angles

Three-way tripod heads give you incredible mounting options. Allowing you to tilt on several different axes, you can mount your camera securely at nearly any angle imaginable.

If you’re looking for secure, multi-angle mounting, the K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head is exactly what you need.

It’s one of the larger tripod heads on this list. But the large size is due to the three adjustable angle joints. And despite the larger size, it remains lightweight and easy to transport. That’s because it’s made of strong, lightweight aluminum materials.

The vari-angle mounting does limit the load capacity slightly. But it can still hold a camera setup weighing up to 13.2 lbs / 6 kg. You have nothing to worry about if you’re using a mirrorless camera. And even DSLRs should be fine with this head.

Thanks to the control knobs, it’s easy to adjust and securely fasten the head just how you need it. Adjusting the head on three axes gives you a world of possibilities. And you can safely change the position while the camera is still attached.

Mounting and dismounting the camera is easy with the Arca-Swiss quick-release plate. That’s really handy if you need to make changes to the camera but don’t want to move the tripod. The bubble level built into the head also helps you with your alignments.

The K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head is the best if you need precise, multi-angle mounting. You can use it for everything from portraits to landscapes. It’s so precise you can even use it for night sky photography.

 

4. Avella V504 Tripod Fluid Head

Avella V504 Tripod Fluid Head
Brand
Brand
Avella
Tripod Head Type
Tripod Head Type
Fluid head
Material
Material
Aluminum
Dimensions
Dimensions
3.7 x 3 x 4 inches / 9.4 x 8 x 10.4 cm
Head Weight
Head Weight
1.6 lbs / 0.75 kg
Max Load Capacity
Max Load Capacity
13.2 lbs / 6 kg
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Control handle, quick-release plate, bubble level, dampening control knob
Best For
Best For
Tracking subjects and shooting video

Fluid tripod heads are becoming more and more popular. The smooth panning and tilting motions make them ideal for photographers who track moving targets. It’s great for wildlife photographers and is also the top choice of many videographers.

If smooth tracking control is what you’re after, the Avella V504 Tripod Fluid Head should be at the top of your shopping list. It gives you silky motion control for photography and video. And it’s a reliable and affordable piece of kit.

Fluid heads can be on the heavy side. While it is one of the heavier heads on our list at 1.6 lbs / 0.75 kg, it is relatively light compared to other fluid heads.

It’s also strong enough for most mirrorless and DSLR cameras, with a maximum capacity of 13.2 lbs / 6 kg. You can also use it with many of the best videography cameras.

The control handle helps you move the camera while shooting. And there’s a dampening knob to give you more control. Other handy features also include the Arca-Swiss quick-release plate and the bubble level.

You can rotate the head 360 degrees when loaded. And it gives you a tilting range of +90 degrees to -50 degrees. That gives you excellent freedom of movement when shooting.

The Avella V504 Tripod Fluid Head offers excellent value for money. It’s one of the most affordable fluid tripod heads on the market. And it’s strong, versatile, and reliable.

 

5. 3 Legged Thing AirHed Pro

3 Legged Thing AirHed Pro
Brand
Brand
3 Legged Thing
Tripod Head Type
Tripod Head Type
Heavy-duty ball head
Material
Material
Aerospace-grade magnesium alloy
Dimensions
Dimensions
4.8 x 4.1 x 4 inches / 12.2 x 12.4 x 10.2 cm
Head Weight
Head Weight
0.7 lb / 323 g
Max Load Capacity
Max Load Capacity
88 lbs / 40 kg
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Quick-release plate, bubble level, dampening knobs
Best For
Best For
Photographers using heavy equipment

Restrictive weight limitations of most tripod heads can be a problem for photographers with heavy gear. Using a standard tripod head with heavy equipment is very risky. That’s why we recommend a heavy-duty tripod head when you need that extra support.

The 3 Legged Thing AirHed Pro is the best heavy-duty tripod head. When we say this tripod head is strong, we are not joking. It can carry any gear setup weighing up to 88 lbs / 40 kg. It makes the others look like wimps. 

Made from durable aerospace-grade magnesium alloy, the build quality is exceptional. It can survive attacks with a hammer. And you can use it outside for long periods in any weather without it rusting or deteriorating.

Dampening knobs allow you to control the movement of the ball joint and the camera plate. It’s an Arca-Swiss quick-release plate, so mounting couldn’t be easier. And it has a universal 1/4-inch screw.

With a ruled rotating base, it’s great for landscapes and panoramas. And thanks to the huge weight capacity, it’s a great option for astrophotography.

The 3 Legged Thing AirHed Pro doesn’t have many bells and whistles. But it doesn’t need them. The top selling point is the incredible 88 lbs / 40 kg load capacity. No camera or lens setup is too heavy. And considering the strength, it’s an absolute bargain.

 

6. NEEWER GM101 Gimbal Tripod Head

NEEWER GM101 Gimbal Tripod Head
Brand
Brand
NEEWER
Tripod Head Type
Tripod Head Type
Gimbal head
Material
Material
Aluminum
Dimensions
Dimensions
11.34 x 10 x 2.9 inches / 28.8 x 25.4 x 7.4 cm
Head Weight
Head Weight
3.75 lbs / 1.7 kg
Max Load Capacity
Max Load Capacity
30 lbs / 13.6 kg
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Quick-release plate, panning base, swinging arm mount, dampening knobs
Best For
Best For
Photographers and videographers looking for smooth, vari-angle mounting and movement when using big lenses

A gimbal tripod head allows you to balance the camera and lens when mounted, helping you move the camera horizontally and vertically. When perfectly balanced, panning and tilting are smooth and easy. That’s why they are popular with sports and wildlife photographers as well as filmmakers.

The NEEWER GM101 Gimbal Tripod Head is one of the best options if you need better balance when mounting your tripod. It has excellent build quality, which we’ve come to expect from NEEWER. It’s strong and reliable. And it’s an affordable gimbal head that does exactly what you need it to.

All the main parts are made of solid aluminum. That does mean it’s slightly heavy at 3.75 lbs / 1.7 kg. But at least you know it will give you many years of use.

Designed to carry heavy cameras and large lenses, gimbal heads have to be strong. And this model allows you to mount any setup up to 30 lbs / 13.6 kg. That means full-frame cameras with super-telephoto lenses are no problem for this gimbal tripod head.

The gimbal mounting arm gives you a wide tilting range. However, this is sometimes limited by the size of the lens you’re using.

You can rotate the head 360 degrees thanks to the panning base. And the ruled degree markings help you with accuracy when panning.

You can control the ease of movement on the arm and base with the two control knobs. And there’s an Arca-Swiss quick-release plate for easy camera mounting. You can mount and dismount the camera without changing the position of the gimbal.

Whether you’re shooting wildlife photography or cinematic videos, the NEEWER GM101 Gimbal Tripod Head is a great choice. 

Camera mounted on a tripod with a ball head
© Christian Wiediger
 

FAQs on the Best Tripod Heads

Finding the best tripod head for you can be complicated, but knowing the right info will make it much easier. That’s why we’ve answered some of the most frequently answered questions on the topic. 

Which Type of Tripod Head Is Best for Me?

With so many tripod head types to choose from, finding one that works for you can be tricky. A tripod head should help you nail the shots you want to capture, improving your results. 

Below you can read about each type of tripod head to help you find the one that suits your photography.

Ball Head

Tripod ball heads have become the most popular type of tripod head. They get their name from the ball joint that connects the camera plate to the main body of the tripod.

The ball joint allows you to move and tilt the camera while it’s mounted. This helps stay level on uneven ground. And it allows you to shoot from different angles, improving flexibility when shooting.

Due to the shape, the ball joint also gives you smooth movements. You can pan and tilt the camera without jerks. And you can vary the resistance the ball provides to give you smooth movement. This helps you align shots, track subjects, and shoot videos.

Tripod ball heads are one of the most versatile head types. You can use them for anything from portraits to landscapes. You can also use them for wildlife photography and videography.

Panning / Panoramic Head

Panning bases or panoramic tripod heads give you 360 degrees of horizontal movement. And thanks to the degree markings on the base, you can accurately pan your camera in precise intervals.

They also allow for some tilting, helping you stay level to the horizon. Good ones also have a bubble level to give you more help in this department.

Panning heads are not the most versatile. They are mostly used by landscape photographers, particularly those shooting panoramas. The accurate panning is ideal for creating broad panoramic images.

Pan & Tilt / 3-Way Head

Pan and tilt tripod heads give you secure mounting at virtually any angle. Thanks to the two joints, you have a wide tilting range for both up-and-down and side-to-side movements. Then, you can lock each joint in position to hold your camera at the exact angle you need.

This type of tripod head is useful for landscape photography, especially if you’re shooting on rugged terrain. They are great when shooting rocky coastlines or mountainsides. 

The precision angled mounting is also helpful with product or food photography. When you’re shooting close-ups, you need the camera to be as steady as possible, which isn’t easy when shooting at an angle. A 3-way head is the perfect solution.

Night sky photographers also use 3-way tripod heads. They give them the stability they need to capture long exposures with their camera pointing to the skies. They can also be used for standard long-exposure photography and time-lapse photography.

Fluid Head

A fluid tripod head gets its name from the fluid inside the joints. The fluid-filled joints allow you to move the head with incredible smoothness. You can tilt in all directions and rotate the camera. And you can do all this when the camera is attached to the tripod.

Due to the smoothness of the movement and the amount of control the user has, fluid heads are popular with videographers. They help you shoot moving shots, like when you track a subject across the scene.

The range and smoothness of movement also make them popular with wildlife photographers. They need to track their subjects as they move, and a fluid head helps them do that without losing sight of them.

You can use fluid tripod heads for sports photography and videography. They are useful whenever you need to move the camera when you’re shooting or recording.

Heavy-Duty Head

Heavy-duty heads can hold heavy loads without breaking a sweat. Every tripod head has a maximum load capacity. And it’s always good practice to stay well within those limits. That’s a problem if you have heavy equipment that needs mounting.

A heavy-duty head can be any type of tripod head. They can be panning or ball-joint heads. And you can even get heavy-duty 3-way and fluid tripod heads.

Often, heavy-duty tripod heads have a weight limit that’s overkill. It’s often far more than people need. But when you’re using hefty, expensive gear, you can never be too careful.

Gimbal Heads

Gimbal tripod heads work in much the same way as a handheld camera gimbal. They are mainly used by photographers using large lenses. The gimbal helps them achieve the perfect balance when mounting, allowing for smooth movement and subject tracking.

You mount the camera on a swinging arm, which you can lock into position. The arm gives you a wide range of tilting motion, so you can shoot securely from a variety of angles.

Most gimbal heads also have a panning base. And the base and arm together give you a wide range of movement. This is how you achieve the perfect balance when the camera and lens are mounted to the head.

Thanks to the wide range of motion and the smooth panning and tilting, gimbal tripod heads are popular with wildlife photographers. You can also use gimbal heads for sports photography. And their popularity is growing within the videography community.

 

Which Tripod Head Is Best for Beginners?

The best tripod head for beginners has to be the ball head. They are compact and easy to set up, especially if they have a quick-release plate. And they are the most versatile of the main head types. 

It won’t take you long to get to grips with a tripod ball head, even if you are a beginner. The ball-joint system is easy to understand. And if it has a U-shaped groove, it’s easy to shoot with a portrait orientation. That’s great for shooting portraits and vlogs.

Ball heads are also relatively inexpensive. Of course, there are good ones and bad ones. But you can buy good ball heads at reasonable prices. The NEEWER Tripod Ball Head is the perfect example.

Which Type of Tripod Is Best for Me?

Much like tripod heads, different types of tripods are better suited to different types of photography. We don’t have time to go into all the details here. But you can see some of our favorite articles on the best tripods below.

Conclusion: The Best Tripod Head

With the best tripod head, photography becomes a whole lot easier. Once you’ve found the right tripod head for your style of photography, you can begin capturing perfect shots.

You can go for a versatile tripod ball head. Perhaps you’ll choose a 3-way head for angled mounting. Or maybe the gimbal tripod head is what you need. But no matter which one is right for you, you now have the best tripod head in your kit bag.

The NEEWER Tripod Ball Head is our top choice. It’s strong, reliable, and versatile. And while it doesn’t cost much, it’ll make a huge difference to the way you take pictures. 

Our Top 3 Choices for the Best Tripod Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
Neewer Tripod Ball Head
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
NEEWER Panoramic Panning Base
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head
K&F Concept 3-Way Geared Tripod Head