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!
Another 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.