The best tripod dolly

From bestreviews.com
By
Allen Foster
BestReviews

Before placing any camera equipment on a tripod dolly, first, secure your tripod to the dolly and test its reliability. If the tripod slips off the dolly, that could be a costly accident.

If you’re involved in photography or videography, you're likely already familiar with how important a tripod is for getting that perfect shot. However, you may not realize that you can add wheels to your tripod to get that perfect shot from a variety of angles. A tripod dolly is the gear you use to make that happen.

Since your camera is expensive, you want a tripod dolly that’s stable and secure to keep your gear safe. We love Dolica LT-D100 Professional Tripod Dolly for its ease of use and affordability. To learn more about what a tripod dolly can be used for and how to find the best one for your needs, keep reading.

What to know before buying a tripod dolly

What is the purpose of a tripod dolly?

A tripod dolly adds mobility to your tripod. Once you take the time to set up a shot, a tripod dolly allows you to quickly move your camera to a new location while maintaining a number of the same parameters. Alternatively, if you’re working on a smooth floor or using a dolly track, you can use the tripod dolly to keep the camera steady while it’s moving. Some of the most dramatic scenes in Hollywood are filmed this way.

Do I need a tripod dolly?

In most instances, you don’t need a tripod dolly; you can move the camera and the tripod around by hand and reset the camera every time you want to move it to a slightly different angle. However, once you learn how to properly use a tripod dolly, you may wonder why you waited so long to purchase one. A tripod dolly can greatly increase your productivity. You can also use a tripod dolly for anything that might be mounted to a tripod such as lights or a telescope.

Tripod dolly features

Weight capacity

Not all tripod dollies are built the same. You need a rugged model that locks in place after it has been assembled and that’s tough enough to support the full weight of your equipment.

Wheels

The most important feature of a tripod dolly is its wheels. If the wheels don’t roll smoothly or they don’t lock securely in place, your tripod dolly won't be of much use to you. Additionally, larger, rubber wheels are better for imperfect surfaces, but smaller, high-quality wheels are fine for smooth floors such as glossy concrete.

Clamps

The clamps are what secure the tripod to the dolly. Choose something durable that screws in place so once fastened, the tripod legs cannot loosen or move in any way.

Adjustability

While tripod dollies are fairly universal, stick with a model that’s adjustable so it can accommodate any tripod.

Portability

While a tripod dolly increases your productivity, it’s another piece of equipment that you have to carry. Look for a lightweight model that folds flat and has a built-in handle for the easiest transport. Alternatively, a tripod dolly that has its own case will work just as well.

Tripod dolly cost

If you’re on a budget, you can get a decent tripod dolly for $35-$80. However, if you have the resources, a tripod dolly that costs $100-$200 can support more weight and is often more adaptable to provide a better fit for your tripod.

Tripod dolly FAQ

What is the difference between a zoom shot and a dolly shot?

A. When you zoom in on a subject, you’re not moving the camera, so it’s a magnification, which can look unnatural. With a dolly shot, the camera actually moves closer to the subject (just like your eyes would when you walk closer to something), so it looks much more natural. Most of the shots that people call zoom shots are actually dolly shots.

Can you only move a tripod dolly closer or farther away during a shot?

A. While a dolly shot typically moves closer to or farther from a subject or tracks that subject (moves parallel with the action) through a scene, you can use a tripod dolly in any way you'd like. Let your creativity guide you to find the best way to achieve your vision.

Which tripod dolly should I get?

Best of the best tripod dolly

Dolica LT-D100 Professional Tripod Dolly: available at Amazon

Our take: Priced to please, this highly adaptable tripod dolly will serve the photographer and videographer well.

What we like: Manufactured using lightweight aluminum, this model features adjustable clamps to accept a wide variety of tripods. The built-in handle makes it easy to transport or store when not in use.

What we dislike: This option is better suited for taking static shots at different angles than moving while shooting, though that’s possible as well.

Best bang for your buck tripod dolly

Neewer NW-600 Heavy-Duty Tripod Dolly: available at Amazon

Our take: An affordable option that performs extremely well in studio photography and videography.

What we like: The metal ball bearing casters and non-marring wheels on this unit deliver a smooth performance on most hard surfaces. This model has screw-in clamps that keep the feet in place and individual wheel locks to keep the dolly secure.

What we dislike: Some users wished this model had slightly larger wheels.

Honorable mention tripod dolly

PROAIM Swift Camera Track Dolly System: available at Amazon 

Our take: If you’re serious about getting that smooth tracking shot, this is the type of dolly you need.

What we like: Light enough to be carried by one person but sturdy enough to support 350 pounds of gear, this tripod dolly is specifically designed to be used with a dolly track. It features silent wheels and can be set up quickly.

What we dislike: Just be aware that the dolly track is not included with this purchase, it’s only the tripod dolly.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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