I like to take photographs, and have done ever since I started hiking more than 40 years ago.
Over the years I have always upgraded to better cameras and now that I have arrived in the Digital age it is easier to obtain a relatively lightweight camera which will produce photos of the quality I desire. My current setup is an Olympus EPL 5 combined with a 12 to 40 mm F2. lens, with a total weight 810 gms.
Most of the time I will adopt a point a shoot approach, however, there are times when a tripod or other stable mount is preferable, such as low light photography, “selfies” as well as those occasions where is windy conditions or other aspects that will affect the stability of the camera.
Over the years I have tried many different tripods including the ultimate in Ultra light supports, rocks, trees, fence posts etc., but these natural supports are not always available.
When considering a tripod I want;
1. Easy and fast setup,
3. Robust/stable which will support a load of up to 1 kg,
4. Adjustable legs for uneven terrain,
5. Preferably with a ballhead.
Over the years in my search for the ideal lightweight solution, I have experimented with the following;
- SticPic (16 gms)
- PacerPole Camera mount (16 gms)
- Pedco Ultra Pod (46 gms)
- Joby Gorilla (SLR) model (162 gms)
- TrailPix (with Ballhead) (110 gms)
- Velbon Vpod Tripod (296 gms)
I have written my thoughts on the use of each of the tripods/monopods below.
SticPic, is a nifty device which is attached to a walking pole, but it is limited to lighter cameras, and it is evident to me that anything over 500 gms presents problems in a hand held setup.
PacerPole Camera mount: The mount fits into a hole at the top of the handle of a Pacer Pole and has a standard 1/4” thread on top which enables a ball head to be used. Most of the time I do not use a ballhead.
The Pacer Pole camera mount is always in my pack and it converts a Pacer Pole into a stable monopod. Having perfected the knack of using my left hand to hold the pacer pole while my right hand controls the shutter I have been happy with the results, especially in windy conditions .
Pedco UltraPod Mini: This mini pod, the orange tripod above, is a nice unit, and with the double sided omni tape can be used to attach it to a trekking pole etc. But as a tripod its application is limited especially for the size and weight camera I use. The UltraPod 2 may be a better option, but I have not tried one.
The TrailPix: The TrailPix, originated as a Kickstarter project and requires the use of 3 poles (trekking poles) to support it. There is a lot to like about the design and I have used it on several trips, but have needed to carry a “third leg” such as the base section of a Pacer Pole (about 100 gms for the Carbon Fibre ones) There are of course benefits in carrying an extra pole on long trips in remote areas when your trekking poles are also used as your tent poles.
Recently, I have made a lightweight set of legs for the TrailPix from Carbon Fibre tent poles, these legs have a total weight of 78 grams. The legs provide an alternative for walking poles, especially when the poles are being used to hold up your shelter in the evenings. The downside of this arrangement is that the height of the tripod is not adjustable, though the shock corded connected sections can be separated, lowering the tripod by approximately 30 cm each time.
The photograph below, taken in Norway last summer using the TraiPix and a timer. With the arrival of a wifi remote for the camera I will no longer need to make the dash to the designated location for the “selfie”
The Joby Gorilla (SLR model) is an obvious choice when looking for Tripods and I have experimented with it a few times including adding a ball head to it, but whilst it works okay I have never really found it worked for me, there were times that I could set it up that suited the picture, and as a result it is one of those items that sits in my cupboard.
Velbon Vpod: Robin, at Blogpackinglight wrote about the Velbon Vpod in 2009 and it was about the same time that I became aware of them and purchased one. With a weight of just under 300 grams., the Vpod has accompanied me on many a long trip, and whilst I have had to make a couple of minor repairs to the tripod, it remains my preferred tripod.
The following photo was taken with the Vpod at ISO 800 with a shutter speed of 0.6 second.