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Ideal Travel Tripod - seldom considered

Robert Watcher

Active member
Although I don’t often use a tripod in my travel and street photography, last December Before heading back to Central America, I decided to see if there was something available that was truly compact, light weight and most importantly durable. Something that I could use from time to time that would support the very small and lightweight needs of my Olympus micro 4/3 gear.

There were a lot of inexpensive light weight tripods available at box stores, but if my choice was one of them I wouldn’t bother. At the other extreme were a lot of quite expensive specialty compact travel tripods being promoted as the best options on review websites, on YouTube and photography forums. But again if my choice was one of them, I wouldn’t bother. Been making out fine without having to spend any money.

One day I noticed an online ad from a guy selling damaged box tripods from Manfrotto. I am a long time user of Manfrotto tripods and lightstands, so the ad caught my attention. The problem was that I had never heard mention of this model on any of the reviews, and so was sceptical. Nevertheless, I met up with him and got a hands on feeling of it’s usefulness.

So a couple things that were significant for my needs, was that it easily fit in the center pocket of the simple backpack that I have on me every day as I walk the streets. This is not a camera bag, but a simple Swiss Gear pack that I picked up for $20. It has pouches galore - a pocket for my iPad, half pocket in front for my camera when I don’t have it strapped to my wrist, side pockets that hold a couple extra lenses or chargers when I want to take them along, as well as perfectly sized pockets for our thermos’ and ultimately a tripod of some sort - as well it is a space to load up groceries for the mile walk home.

















 

Robert Watcher

Active member
I am actually quite surprised at how strong this little skinny legged tripod is. I have come to really appreciate the joystick head with scroll wheel locking mechanism. And the crazy little quick release button for attaching the camera - something I was very sceptical about - is really quite amazing, non-obtrusive and as you can see in pics, even will hold a camera in vertical position. To prove this to myself, I used the tripod for a paid indoor family portrait last week, that required supporting a fairly heavy setup - my Olympus E-M1 with vertical grip (2 batteries) and the heavy 11-22 four thirds lens and adaptor mounted.

For my work, I am so thankful that I made this choice and investment (retail around $100 CDN) of $70. It is the Manfrotto MKCOMPACTACN-BK Compact Action tripod. Definitely it won’t suit everyone or every need, but worth a look.

Here are some pics of my use. Last night I had it at the local fair and just walked around with E-M10 and kit lens attached, for use in some Live Composite night light shots. The setup was so light and I just grabbed the joystick to grip, and used it like a walking stick:




















 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Robert,

I may also have this tripod or something close, but what’s so impressive here is the ability to swing over the camera and have it fixed and reliably stay put. Also advantageous is the huge handle.

Does that massive adapter with the tiny ball-joint come with the tripod for free?






When you say “Swiss”, (referring to the backpack), do you mean the brand that makes those red Swiss-Army knives?



Asher
 

Robert Watcher

Active member
Robert,

I may also have this tripod or something close, but what’s so impressive here is the ability to swing over the camera and have it fixed and reliably stay put. Also advantageous is the huge handle.

Does that massive adapter with the tiny ball-joint come with the tripod for free?






When you say “Swiss”, (referring to the backpack), do you mean the brand that makes those red Swiss-Army knives?



Asher
The head comes with the tripod.

Swiss Gear is a popular luggage company. I don’t think it has anything to do with the army knife.
 

Robert Watcher

Active member
How large do you think the tripod head’s ball is?

Seems very effective, anyway!

Asher
I don’t have anything to measure with at the moment, but I would say 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches. It has a horizontal 1/4 square groove around the middle to accommodate the lever for restricting to horizontal panning.


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actual the "ideal" travel tripod has been discussed ad nauseam on many a site dealing in photography. I have my favorite another individual has theirs you have yours. the concept will vary by design, quality and price.
even the head and its particular design and attachment type is part of that swirling whirling "conversation".
so many brands and styles. I have 3 tripods I use regularly. 2 of them I consider "travelable". my definition is relative size, both retracted and deployed. relative weight to that size. rigidity in use. Versatility. I, truthfully, am not as cost sensitive because I'm trying not to purchase these "relatively often" as new ones come on the scene. with the ones I own at this time I have not seen newer products come close enough to peak my interest. I use tripods quite often these days.
as to the attachment system I use with my heads is a type that is unified in nature and has easy sourcing. it also does not interfere with the camera body operation or fitment. it is in the Arca Swiss type clamping and I have been using it since 1991. the ballhead sizes are 30/40/55mm
after all a tripod is a tool of composition so a bit of thought should be put into its purchase.
 

Robert Watcher

Active member
actual the "ideal" travel tripod has been discussed ad nauseam on many a site dealing in photography. I have my favorite another individual has theirs you have yours. the concept will vary by design, quality and price.
even the head and its particular design and attachment type is part of that swirling whirling "conversation".
so many brands and styles. I have 3 tripods I use regularly. 2 of them I consider "travelable". my definition is relative size, both retracted and deployed. relative weight to that size. rigidity in use. Versatility. I, truthfully, am not as cost sensitive because I'm trying not to purchase these "relatively often" as new ones come on the scene. with the ones I own at this time I have not seen newer products come close enough to peak my interest. I use tripods quite often these days.
as to the attachment system I use with my heads is a type that is unified in nature and has easy sourcing. it also does not interfere with the camera body operation or fitment. it is in the Arca Swiss type clamping and I have been using it since 1991. the ballhead sizes are 30/40/55mm
after all a tripod is a tool of composition so a bit of thought should be put into its purchase.
You may have misconstrued what I referred to by saying in the title “seldom considered”. I was referring to this particular tripod model from Manfrotto, which has never been in a discussion that I have seen. It fits perfectly into my style of minimal unobtrusive shooting. Sharing my experience with it.


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