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18/02/08 – The Ultimate Ultra Compact Tripod For Traveling!
My goal when packing is almost always to get whatever I need packed into the smallest possible carry-on bag. This is a challenge that I face constantly. I hate checking bags, and I generally hate traveling with two bags as carry on. Why do I dislike two bags for carry on? I dislike it because it is one more bag I potentially need to be hauling while shooting something.
For years I have been searching for the perfect travel tripod. While I may not have found the “perfect” travel tripod I found a pretty damn good, and extremely cost effective, tripod that can meet a good portion of my quick-n-dirty travel needs.
To meet my needs for the past few years I have been using the Gitzo 0012 compact tripod, which was recently discontinued. The Gitzo 0012 is a compact profession tripod, it did a good job, but it was a bit big, it was not all that stable due to the restriction of the spread of the legs, it was heavy for it’s size and hard to shove inside a packed bag.
Recently I have been leaving my Gitzo 0012 behind and wishing I had a tripod that was compact, lightweight and that could easily be tossed into a bag. My solution was an answer that was in front of my eyes very often, but I believed to fall under the “to good to be true” category”……………….the solution? The Ultrapod II.
I know, the Ultrapod II looks like a toy, but I have tried it in various configurations with the Canon 1Ds and some lenses and it held the 1Ds in place, as advertised! These body & leg configurations where at the suggested weight threshold (and in some cases slightly over), according to the manufacturers suggested “maximum safe load.” The Ultrapod II has a small multi-directional ball head and can be used as short table top tripod, or it can be laid against a pole or a fence and secured tightly into place using the supplied lashing velcro strap. Playing with both the tripod and “lashed down” set ups I used my Canon 1Ds, with NP-E3 battery, the Canon 50f1.4 with the Canon EF-12II macro tube, as well as the Canon 85f1.8 and Canon 14f2.8. All of these set ups put the UltraPod II over the suggested “maximum design load” or 4lbs and close to or slightly over the “maximum safe load” of 6lbs.
I have been extremely impressed with this little tripod!
Ultra Pod II
Folded Length : 7.5″
Weight: : 0.25lbs
While the Gitzo 0012 has some great advantages over the UltraPod II, at a cost savings of US$358.05, a weight savings of 1.84lbs, and a space saving of 5.5 inches, I see the UltraPod II as a fantastic tool!
With many photographers, especially traveling photographers, using the smaller, lighter , lower center of gravity bodies, such as the Canon 40D/5D and Nikon D300 bodies, the UltraPod II is something I think everyone should explore.
I’ll admit it, there are times I need, and use a full-size tripod. I have a few in the basement that are long,heavy, have extremely heavy ball-heads, and they have their purpose………and that purpose is not to be easily carried around and used while shooting on the fly.
At under $20 , can you really go wrong with a compact travel tripod, that is versatile, has it’s own ball-head and that can support up-to 6lbs very easily?
Below is a a photo of the UltraPod II supporting my Canon 1Ds w/Canon 50f1.4 and Canon EF-12II extension tube and a photo of the UltraPod II all folded up next to the 1Ds with Canon 85f1.8 just to show the size of the item.