The Perfect Tripod?

The perfect tripod is rugged, offers rock solid stability, is compact, light, extends very high and can be made to shoot almost at ground level. It has to have a head that allows unrestricted movements and smooth operation. The legs have to open in an instant and close just as fast.

The perfect tripod does not exist.

Instead, I have found that I own a variety of tripods that offer different aspects of what I need and use them at the appropriate time.

Since switching to a mirrorless camera system, I have found that my rock-solid tripods are overkill and I need something that does not need to support a heavy camera with a long telephoto.

My quest took me to the showroom of B&H Camera and Video in New York and there I was overwhelmed with choices in tripods. I thought it might be useful to look at a few compact tripods and compare them.

One particular tripod caught my eye, the Mefoto Backpacker. The backpacker is a five-section tripod that is light, well-built and looks really cool. Initially I was taken by the variety of colors available, but upon closer inspection I found that the tripod screamed quality. I take my equipment seriously, and despite the fun colors, this tripod is not a toy. It is well-designed and the build quality is extremely impressive .  The maximum load is 8.8 pounds, strong enough for most DSLRs and certainly more than I need for my mirrorless camera. The maximum height is a bit low for me, only coming up to 51.2 inches (1.30 m), but it is one of the things I am prepared to sacrifice in order to get a small compact tripod. When the Backpacker’ twist lock legs are retracted, it measures a tiny 12.6 inches (32 cm). The tripod only weighs 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg), a very light addition to a photographer’s backpack. Well done Mefoto!

traverse553-228_short-folded_72Another tripod, which I was not able to test, but nevertheless looks impressive from the specs is the Traverse TR-553-228 Super Compact Tripod with Ball Head made by Davis & Sanford. With similar specs to the Mefoto, but with perhaps a lower street price, the Traverse TR-553-228 has the same weight and almost the same extended height of 53 inches. The folded length is 12 inches and it is rated at a 10 pound weight capacity. Black anodized aluminum has a movable center post.

Both tripods have a suggested price of under $140.

Beyond the specs, the most important feature of a tripod is will you have it when you need it, so creating small, light portable tripods was a brilliant move by these two companies.

I will do a further review if I buy one of these tripods and test it in action.