As some of you may remember, a while back I (finally) upgraded my older camera with a Panasonic Lumix GF2. Since then, I have enjoyed playing around with a camera that offers a few more buttons and options than those found on a typical P&S camera. As well, during this “transition period” I have also figured out that a tripod is quite an invaluable tool when trying to capture certain shots. I have been using the Joby GorillaPod for sometime now (and have been extremely happy with it), but I found myself wanting something a bit taller now…
A few months ago I came across a post by Hendrik (from Hiking in Finland) in which he claimed that the Velbon V-Pod is “probably the world’s lightest tripod.” The tripod looked promising, and Hendrik had some good things to say about it, however, I did not run off and purchase one at the time. To begin with, I could not find a site in the US that sold them, so that meant it would have to be shipped from over the pond, which would likely be a bit on the expensive side as far as shipping is concerned. As well, while there were still a few sites (from across the way) that still sold them, the V-Pod’s were becoming more and more scarce as it seems that Velbon may not be making this model tripod any longer (?). Despite all of this though, I still held off.
In the mean time, I continued to use my trusty Joby Gorillapod, and even picked up an Ultrapod to give a try. As well, I have another tripod that I have been playing around with that I will write-up in a while. While all of these tripods worked (some better than others) I still felt that I would be happier with an actual tripod that was a bit taller, and more simple to use. So, a few days ago, I finally decided to look around and see if I could still find the infamous Velbon V-Pods for sale, and check out the cost on them…
Luckily I found some. They are still available at Amazon.co.uk, however, as the Amazon sites tend to do, the prices seem to fluctuate daily, as well as the inventory that is listed on the product page. I also found that many of the companies listed would not ship to the US, so I had to add a few to the cart before finding one that would ship to the US. In the end, I ended up paying £25.80 for the actual tripod, and I choose “Priority” shipping, which was an additional £22.58 (I know… that is quite a bit of $$). This came to a total of £48.38, or $77.08 in US dollars. Of course, I could have chosen the standard shipping method which would have cost about £10.00 less, but it would have also taken about 10 days or so longer to get to me… Anyway, these are also available at a few other places, but I tend to trust Amazon a bit more than some of the other places I have found them at.
So, I placed the order on Tuesday night (7/30) and it shipped out from France the next morning. It was delivered to my house Friday afternoon (8/2). So, I can say the transaction went rather smooth.
So, how about the tripod…
As can be seen in the photo directly above, lying next to the standard 1L Nalgene bottle, the tripod does indeed pack down quite small. When closed for storage, the tripod measures a mere 11.5 inches in length. This will make it quite easy to pack away either in my front pack pocket, or even in one of my side pack pockets.
With the V-Pod fully extended, I measured 39.5 inches from the ground to the top of the base plate where the camera will mount. While I admit, at 39.5 inches tall, this is not quite a full height tripod, but I must say that it is a huge step above both my Joby GorillaPod, as well as the Ultrapod (despite that these 2 tripods can be attached to items at different heights). However, I have a feeling that this will still be tall enough for me to be quite happy with it… I’ll find out anyway!
As for the weight:
- Velbon V-Pod Tripod: 9.8 oz
- Supplied Stuff Sack: 0.4 oz
- Clamp for Cell Phone: 0.9 oz
I don’t plan on carrying the clamp for the cell phone, however, I believe that I will be carrying the supplied stuff sack… both to protect the tripod, as well as my cuben fiber backpacks. This means the total weight for this tripod will be a whopping 10.2 oz!
Now, I will admit, this much weight has been a bit hard for me to add back in… As many of my readers know, I have worked quite hard in cutting weight from my pack over the last few years, and now here I am adding in almost 3/4 lb of weight with just a tripod! Nevermind the 3/4 pound camera that I will be attaching to it, or the other near half pound of extra batteries, a camera pouch, a filter and Loksaks (complete with silica dry packs) to store them in! All of my camera gear now comes in at 30.5 oz (that’s almost 2 lbs!), and while it may not be near what other’s camera gear weight is, it is definitely more than the 5 oz of camera and batteries I was previously carrying.
But, being that I have already cut out so much (useless) weight in my pack, I think that I am going to be ok when adding this 2 lbs of camera gear back into my pack. I am currently working on a gear list for a hike in the Olympics National Park coming up, and even with the extra camera weight, I am still only at 10.74 lb base pack weight.
But, back to the tripod…
Using the tripod is quite easy. In fact it is even easier than I had initially anticipated. The tripod erects pretty much like any other standard tripod does. To begin with, spread the 3 legs apart. There are metal brackets’ that connect each leg to the center pole, which helps to maintain the tripod’s stance, as well as provide a bit more overall stabilization. As well, when the tripod is fully erected, weight can be clipped to these bracket’s to help weigh the tripod down if in windy situations.
Each leg is made up of 4 sections, the first one housing the bottom 3. To extend the bottom sections of the legs, I simply pull on the foot of each leg. The 2 bottom-most sections of the legs lock with a button release when fully extended. The second section of the leg (from the top) must be twisted (in either direction) after fully extending to lock in place. To release the locks, a plastic release button at the junction of the first and second leg must be pressed and held while telescoping the legs back up.
There is also a key screw that can be loosened to allow the head of the tripod to be lifted further up, and then locked into place by tightening the key screw back down.
As for the head of the tripod, there is a single handle which juts out from the head. This handle can be turned to tighten or loosen a clamp around a swivel ball. This is what allows the head to swivel in order to position my camera in multiple positions.
I will admit, I was a bit bummed that this did not come with a quick-release plate like one of my other inexpensive tripods came with, however, after realizing how easy it is to actually attach my camera, I am actually happy it didn’t come with the extra plate. Connecting the camera is as easy as lining up the screw seen n the above photo with the screw hole in the bottom of the camera. Then, I just give the dial directly below the plate a few turns, and the camera is securely locked into place. This probably does take a couple of extra seconds more to mount the camera than a quick release plate, however, this is a very simple thing to do. Plus, I don’t have to carry the weight of an extra plate, or leave the extra plate attached to the bottom of my camera. In all honesty, I really like this way better… although, to be fair, that may change once I use it a few times in the field. But, at the moment, I am just really excited about this particular feature… so, we will see.
Now, I will admit, the tripod does seem to be quite a bit flimsy when fully extended. I have found that by pulling on the bottom of the legs a bit to make sure that they are spread completely apart does help this a little bit. However, once it is set, and I have attached my camera to the top of it, I am happy with the amount of stability it provides.
Initially, I am pretty excited about this tripod, and despite the whopping 10.2 oz weight penalty, I am looking forward to taking this out on the trail with me. To recap, some things that I like about this tripod:
- packs small
- is very easy to set-up
- love the way the camera mounts to the head
- is many times taller than my previous tripods
- is very likely the lightest actual tripod of this size
My camera gear now comes in at a total of 30.5 oz. This includes this tripod with the stuff sack, my camera with 3 batteries, 2 SD cards, 1 LP filter, Loksaks w/ Silicon Dri Packs and an OPTECH camera pouch. This is definitely a step up from the 5 oz camera & battery that I previously carried, but like I mentioned above, I am really enjoying learning some new things with my camera. Because of this, I am happy to have the Velbon V-Pod as part of my arsenal now!
And I leave you with a photo of it all packed up:
So, now everyone on FaceBook know that it is not:
- tent stakes
- a gator
- a bike horn
- a UL hammock (or any other hammock)
- collapsible Black Diamond poles
- a water filter
- a give away prize (sorry folks…)
- tent poles
- tent poles that double as a fly rod
- a trapped spirit harnessed while using a Ouija board (those things creep me out)
- a unicorn horn…
- a bong! (Haha…)
- Disney Cruise tickets
- a stool
- bag filler
- a camp stove
- the final scene in the movie Seven
- a traveling curling iron
- a ti stove
- a pot
- a chair
- a Portable Atmospheric Moisture Extraction System
- a stir stick for purple malts
- a collapsed cane
- a tent
- a pair of really expensive sun glasses
- an umbrella
- a flash light
Those were all really good guesses though! I enjoyed reading through them… Thanks for the laughs everyone, and of course, for your support. I appreciate it.
And I leave you with this unboxing video I made yesterday when the package arrived:
Disclaimer: I paid for this with real money.