As a follow up to my Tripods for Mirrorless Cameras article I will now also take a look at some of the Mini tripods available (often referred to as table top tripods). Even the smallest tripod is better than no tripod at all, so let’s have a look at some ridiculously small ones you won’t find an excuse not to carry around all the time 🙂
- Why would I want to use a mini tripod?
- Mini Tripods I have used
- Mini tripods I know of but didn’t use (much)
- Further Reading
Why would I want to use a mini tripod?
Many of you might have never even thought about using a mini tripod. I think there are many good arguments to have one in the bag and here are my top 3 reasons why you should have and use one:
Before: handheld waist level shooting | After: camera on Manfrotto Pocket sitting on the ground
This is the reason I am carrying around one of these small tripods all the time even when having a real tripod strapped to my backpack. Waist level shooting is not always favourable for the composition, take a look at the example above and decide for yourself which perspective you would prefer.
With most travel tripods it is somewhat possible to get to ground level by mounting the center column upside down or doing some funny things with the legs but most of the time you will avoid the hassle and pass on what might be a nice shot. Nothing is more convenient for ground level shooting than a ground level tripod.
3. Go where bigger tripods don’t go
There are places where bigger tripods are not allowed due to security (or whatever other) reasons. With mini tripods you ususally won’t encounter any problems in churches, museums and other tourist hotspots.
Mini Tripods I have used
1. Joby Gorillapod Hybrid
There are several different versions of the Gorillapod, this is the Hybrid which is still rather portable, has a non detachable ballhead with a quick release system built in and is said to hold cameras up to 1000g.
This is more of a wobbly mini tripod, you can use it for your A7 cameras with small lenses but be sure it isn’t windy and you use the 10sec self release and of course EFC all the time.
I merely use it with smaller cameras like compacts or for my flashes.
+ you can mount it on rails or branches
– rather bulky for a mini tripod
Cost: 33$ for Gorillapod Hybrid with built in Ballhead*, weighs 190g (*affiliate links)
2. Novoflex Micropod + Ball 19p
Novoflex really likes to produce tripods where you can detach the legs. I am not a fan of this approach as it costs too much time in the field so I only (and rarely) use this small tripod for my flashes. The legs only have one angle which further reduces the usefulness. The ballhead Ball 19p is quite okay but in this combination the dedicated panning function is only useful on a flat surface, as you can’t use the legs to level the tripod.
+ if you disassemble it very small
– takes too long to set up
– legs can’t be posed
3. Manfrotto Pocket + Arca quick release clamp
This is the one I am mostly using nowadays. While it is not as easily posable as the Joby Micropod Hybrid it holds much more weight, I was even using this with the A7rII + Voigtlander 10mm 5.6 + 150mm Filtersystem. I paired it with a “low budget” Neewer Arca Swiss compatible quick release clamp as can be seen in the photos above.
+ very small
+ gets your camera very close to the ground
– posing the legs is not straightforwareded and needs some practice
4. Joby Micro 800 + Kirk QRC-1
If they ever make a slightly bigger version it would be my first choice. According to Joby this one is suitable for cameras with a maximum weight of 800g which is quite realistic. It works well with smaller lenses like the Loxias (21, 35, 50) and also relatively light ones like the FE lenses 28mm 2.0, 35mm 2.8 and 50mm 1.8. I paired it with the Kirk QRC-1 Arca Swiss compatible clamp which was once the smallest available. I still use it from time to time but prefer the Manfrotto Pocket most of the time because it is somewhat sturdier.
+ very small/lightweight
+ camera easily posable
+ gets your camera very close to the ground
– not for bigger lenses
Cost: 18$ for Joby Micro 800* + 40$ for Kirk QRC-1 (cheaper clamps available now), weights 107g (*affiliate links)
5. Ball Pod (red)
Albeit this thing costs next to nothing it was a total waste of money for me. It is not possible to align any camera, regardless of weight and size.
+ nothing, really
– camera can’t be aligned, carefully composing a frame is next to impossible
Cost: ~8$, weighs 280g
Mini tripods I know of but didn’t use (much)
In case the 5 aforementioned mini tripods are not what you are looking for here are a few more that might be worth a look. I came across these during my workshops or on my hunt for a mini tripod. Remember though I haven’t used them (as much) as the ones mentioned before.
6. Manfrotto Pixi EVO 2
I got the chance to take a closer look during a workshop at one of these and it does not look bad at first sight. This is the second incarnation of the Pixi and the length of the legs is now adjustable which makes this tripod much more versatile than the first version. Unfortunately I have now read many reports stating the screw for mounting the camera tends to come off, so I really can’t recommend this one.
Cost: 50$ at amazon.com*, weighs 260g (*affiliate link)
7. RRS TFA-01 Pocket Pod
Quite expensive and not very flexible but I expect very good build quality and sturdiness.
Cost: 100$, weighs 146g
8. Sunwayfoto T1A10 Mini Tripod
Similar to RRS TFA-01, but this one is way cheaper.
Cost: 33$ at amazon.com*, weighs 171g (*affiliate link)
9. FLM CP10-A1 Tabletop Tripod
Has a clever “memory” function for the legs (you can set the desired angle for each leg, close it and next time it will open up to the same angles), but it is even more expensive compared to the RRS.
Cost: 140$ at amazon.com*, weighs 140g (*affiliate link)
10. Novoflex Basic Ball
As already stated above Novoflex loves tripods with detachable legs. This is the bigger, more expensive and more stable brother of the Micropod. There are 3 angles for the legs but it is still rather unflexible and a pain to set up.
Cost: 100$ at amazon.com*, weighs 390g (*affiliate link)
|Joby GP Hybrid*||Novoflex Micropod*
||Manfrotto Pocket*||Joby Micro 800*||ThePod Ballpod Red||Manfrotto Pixi Evo 2*||RRS TFA-01||Sunwayfoto T1A10*||FLM CP10-A1*||Novoflex BasicBall*|
|Flexibility of legs:||++||––||+||–||––||+||–||–||o||o|
I tried to summarize my findings in the table above. Some ratings are of course rather subjective and also keep in mind I haven’t used the tripods numbered 6-9 as much as the others.
My test setup consists of an A7MKII body and smaller manual lenses up to a 90mm 2.0 (lens + adapter ~ 600g), the stability ratings are based on this setup. Compared to tripods 1-6 you can mount much heavier setups on tripods 7-10, including heavier tele lenses (when featuring a tripod mount).
Flexibility of the legs is important for me as it is possible to pass on a dedicated head when having posable legs, which will also get you closer to the ground.
I mostly use theses mini tripods alongside a full fledged travel tripod (see also this article) so saving weight as well as a small folded size are very important for me as well.
I hope you find this article useful and may have spotted a mini tripod for your needs. In case you think I have missed one please tell me in the comment section, I am always looking for new and better ones 🙂
- Filters for digital photography
- User guide to wide angle lenses for A7 series
- Manual lenses on the A7 cameras – A beginner’s guide