10 things to watch out for When you’re travelling with your camera kit, be aware of your tripod’s size and weight – and other factors…
1 Mind your weight
A popular trick to increase stability in breezy conditions is to hang a weighted bag from the tripod. However, beware that you don’t exceed the maximum load rating of relatively lightweight travel tripods – you don’t want to buckle the legs.
2 Up and over
The recent design trend for legs that swing vertically upwards for stowage typically reduces a tripod’s carrying height by about 10cm (four inches).
3 Pads and spikes
Some tripods enable you to swap the padded feet for spikes, which can help give a firmer footing on loose ground. This is the case with all the Benro tripods in our group.
4 Have a ball
Ball heads are more compact, quicker and easier to use, more in keeping with what most users want from travel tripods. However, three-way heads can be better for very precise adjustments.
5 Spirits and bubbles
Spirit or bubble levels, where featured (see the comparison table on page 98) can be a useful aid for ensuring the camera is completely level.
6 Get and angle
All the tripods in our test group include two or three alternative lockable angles between the legs and centre column. This helps for shooting on tricky terrain, as well as for stability in low-level set ups.
7 Better protected
Most tripods on test come with a padded carry bag to help take the knocks in transit. The Velbon has an unpadded bag and the Slik has no bag at all.
8 Extra sections
Extra leg sections mean more clamps needing to be loosened and retightened, but usually give the advantage of a smaller carrying size.
9 Clip or twist?
Twist grips for leg section clamps tend to be just as quick and easy to use as the clip fasteners more usually fitted to full-sized tripods.
10 Bag it
It’s perfectly possible to stow some of the smallest tripods on test inside a photo backpack, so you can keep all your kit protected and in one place.