If you’re like me the holidays present a bit of a balancing act. What gifts do you get your friends and loved ones that still fit within your budget? It usually takes me forever to make these decisions because I weigh the pros and cons back and forth ad infinitum.
This year let me help you by suggesting the gift of a mini tripod for your action camera enthusiast.
Here I present to you three mini tripods. From left to right, a 7-inch flexible tripod; the Veho DuoPod; and an 11-inch flexible tripod. These can serve action camera users well in a number of conditions that could otherwise prove quite challenging and each one can easily fit within most budgets. Let’s start with the Veho DuoPod.
Among the three tripods, the Veho DuoPod is both the least flexible and most flexible, i.e., it’s not bendable like the others but it’s easily the most versatile. For one thing it’s more than just a tripod as the name suggests. It can also be used as a selfie stick and a hand grip for your action camera, smartphone or lightweight point-and-shoot digital camera. That’s because the extendable portion can be used with the tripod or removed and used separately.
It has two integral pull-out extensions that allow you to vary the length from about 6-inches to 14-inches (15cm to 35cm) plus a bit more with the ball head. When collapsed it makes an excellent hand grip and while extended it makes a good (if slightly short) selfie stick. It’s also good for getting your camera up above the crowd for concerts, parades and the like.
The tripod is also quite nice. The legs are extendable like the straight portion with two integral pull-out extensions so you can choose one, two or three sections for the legs. They can be set wide apart for the most stable base or closer together to give maximum height. When the legs are set for maximum height and the straight portion is attached and fully extended, you can get a total height of about 26-inches (66cm).
But be careful: when fully extended the whole assembly can be a bit wobbly with anything heaver than an action cam or smartphone. Even a point-and-shoot camera is almost too much. Another issue is that the ball head can slip if you don’t tighten it very firmly.
The entire product is well made and the straight portion has a durable foam grip for comfort. I bought my Veho DuoPod a year ago from B&H Photo, a bricks-and-clicks retailer in the US, for $22 with free shipping and no sales tax.
They don’t sell it anymore but it is available from Adorama, another US bricks-and-clicks retailer, for $25 plus $5 shipping. It’s also available on Amazon (but still through Adorama) though the shipping is more. I also checked Amazon UK and Germany – it’s available on both. It’s not available on Amazon Italy or Australia.
An alternative to a standard tripod is the flexible tripod. I have two – one is 7-inches long and the other is 11-inches long (about 18cm and 28cm). Both have flexible foam-covered legs and include a ball head. The 11-inch version is quite beefy with legs that are just the right combination of stiff yet flexible. It offers a firm base when used as a tripod.
The foam covering provides good grip when mounting it on slippery railings or posts. It has a detachable plate for mounting your camera then reattaching it to the ball head – a nice feature commonly found on standard tripods.
The ball head can’t be tilted to 90 degrees but it is surprisingly firm if you tighten it sufficiently. I’ve used it with my point-and-shoot camera.
The 7-inch flexible tripod is just too short and insubstantial. You can mount your bare action camera on it if the camera has a simple clip but even the added weight of the waterproof enclosure causes the ball head to slip.
It was a comical scene when I tried it with my smartphone and a clip: it slowly tilted down as if it was nodding off to sleep! At least the legs seem well made. Like the larger one they’re the right combination of stiff yet flexible and the foam covering seems durable. Unfortunately they’re just not long enough. As you can see they barely grip a 2 x 4.
I’ve seen flexible tripods in a range of heights from 6-inches to 14-inches (15cm to 36cm). The price range is quite large. I saw a 7-inch tripod on Geek Buying for $2.29 and a 14-inch Joby GorillaPod at an online photo shop for $56.
I suggest staying away from anything smaller than about 9-inches. Some people swear by GorillaPod but I’ve been quite happy with my 11-inch, $12 off-brand alternative.
Unfortunately it’s impossible to predict the quality of off-brand items and people’s customer service experiences with various retailers, especially the Chinese sellers, seems to be all over the place. Often you’ll find flexible tripods bundled with a smartphone clip or sometimes an adapter for GoPro-style mounting accessories. They can also be found as part of a larger accessories kit.
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I can definitely recommend the Veho DuoPod. I frequently turn to it because it’s easy to use, flexible, convenient and well made. If its $30 cost is more than you’d like to spend then consider a flexible tripod for your action cam enthusiast. At $10 to $15 they’re pretty cheap. They’re versatile enough to mount pretty much anywhere that has an available post, railing or tree limb and kids love playing with the bendy legs when it’s not in use!
Happy Holidays from all of us at Pevly. 🙂