Is the Peak Design Travel Tripod actually portable and good for everyday use?
DISCLAIMER: ALL CONTENTS ARE FROM NYLON SINGAPORE. OSTSOME DOES NOT OWN ANY RIGHTS TO THIS REVIEW.
A good tripod is a much needed accessory for any photographer, whether one shoots professionally, or as a hobby or passion. For years, the NYLON office has been using basic tripod models from Manfrotto; and they’ve generally served us well — until something breaks. Or gets sticky. Or won’t lock. But to be fair to Manfrotto, they are a very comprehensive tripod brand, and the models we bought were on the more affordable side (less than $300). Also, now that the team is working out of office and mainly on the go, I’ve been meaning to get a good travel tripod to use on our location shoots. I’ve had my eye on the one from Peak Design ever since I’ve been reading about the brand’s success on Kickstarter. Also, I like a brand who’s focused — and Peak Design is just that, offering a small selection of camera accessories, including tripods, and there are just two of them.
The Peak Design tripod is a travel tripod that comes in either aluminium or carbon fibre. Here’s what they look like:
ABOVE: THE PEAK DESIGN TRAVEL TRIPOD IN ALUMINIUM (LEFT) AND CARBON FIBRE (RIGHT). PHOTOS TAKEN FROM THE PEAK DESIGN WEBSITE.
ALUMINIUM VS. CARBON FIBRE
There’s really no difference between the two models aside from the materials they are made in. The obvious advantage of the aluminium option would be its price. It retails at $569, compared to the carbon fibre’s price of $969. As for the carbon fibre version, its main benefit would be its lighter weight. It weighs just 1.29kg, compared to the aluminium’s weight of 1.56kg — but this also means that the aluminium model will be more stable because of its increased weight. Carbon fibre is also a much stronger material than aluminium, and will be better able to withstand drops and being thrown about.
So when choosing between the two, it really comes down to your own photography needs. If you’re shooting in a studio or indoors most of the time, you can get away with the heavier, but much cheaper ($400 less!) aluminium version. But since I’ll be moving about for my upcoming shoots, I need to travel as light as possible; and for this reason, I reviewed the carbon fibre model.
ABOVE: THE BOX PACKAGING FOR THE TRIPOD IS PRETTY SLEEK. IT’S ALSO MADE OF RECYCLED MATERIAL, AND IS ITSELF RECYCLABLE.
ABOVE: THE TRIPOD COMES INSIDE A FABRIC CARRY CASE WITH STRAPS AND LOOPS FOR SLINGING IT ON TO YOUR OTHER BAGS. IT’S A VERY PRACTICAL STORAGE AND TRAVEL BUDDY.
ABOVE: THE PEAK DESIGN TRIPOD IN CARBON FIBRE! THERE’S THAT “RACE CAR” WEAVE PATTERN, AND THE ENTIRE THING CLOSED MEASURES JUST 38.5CM IN LENGTH.
ABOVE: FOR A TRIPOD THAT CAN EXTEND TO A MAXIMUM HEIGHT OF 152.4CM, IT’S PRETTY COMPACT IN THE HAND.
ABOVE: THERE’S AN OMNIDIRECTIONAL ERGONOMIC BALL HEAD AND STANDARD PLATE INCLUDED. MANY TRIPODS SELL THE BALL HEAD SEPARATELY, SO CONSIDERING THIS, THE PRICE OF THE PEAK DESIGN IS NOT UNREASONABLE.
ABOVE: THE BALL HEAD CAN BE OPERATED WITH ONE HAND. IT’S A SIMPLE TWIST TO LOOSEN, AND REVERSE TWIST TO TIGHTEN. MOVEMENT IS SMOOTH BUT NOT LOOSE. AND LIKE ALL GOOD STANDARD TRIPODS, THERE’S A BUILT-IN SPIRIT LEVEL.
ABOVE: THE QUICK RELEASE IS ALSO WELL THOUGHT OUT; IT LOCKS IN PLACE WITH A TURN OF THE CENTRE RING, AND RELEASES EASILY TOO. NOTHING TO REALLY GET USED TO HERE BECAUSE IT’S FAST AND INTUITIVE TO FIGURE OUT.
ABOVE: I PARTICULARLY LOVE THE KNOB TO ADJUST THE HEIGHT OF THE CENTRE COLUMN; IT’S SIMPLE AND FAST TO USE, AND IT FEELS SECURE ONCE LOCKED IN PLACE.
ABOVE: ONE OF THE SIMPLE BUT CLEVER FEATURES IS AN INTEGRATED MOBILE MOUNT. THIS IS HIDDEN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE CENTRE COLUMN. JUST POP OUT THE HOOK AND FIND IT INSIDE.
ABOVE: THERE ARE FIVE LEG SECTIONS, WHICH IS IMPRESSIVE FOR SUCH A COMPACT TRIPOD.
ABOVE: THEY OPEN AND CLOSE VIA FLIP LEG LOCKS, AND CAN ALL BE DEPLOYED AT THE SAME TIME. I PREFER THESE TO TWIST LOCKS BECAUSE THEY’RE FASTER TO USE. MANY TRIPOD USERS ARGUE THAT TWIST LOCKS HAVE BETTER SEALING, BUT YOU REALLY NEED TO TWIST THEM ON TIGHT FOR THIS TO BE TRUE.
ABOVE: A 4MM + 2.5 HEX WRENCH IS INCLUDED WITH THE TRIPOD AND CLIPS ON TO THE LEG. YOU CAN REMOVE THIS AS WELL IF YOU’RE AFRAID TO LOSE IT IN THE FIELD.
ABOVE: THE RUBBER FEET ARE NICE AND GRIPPY. IF YOU NEED EXTRA STABILITY ON ICE, ROCKS OR LOOSE GRAVEL, PEAK DESIGN HAS A SPIKE FEET SET THAT YOU CAN PURCHASE SEPARATELY.
ABOVE: ANOTHER GOOD THING TO NOTE IS THAT THE LEGS NOT JUST DEPLOY IN SECONDS, YOU DON’T HAVE TO FLIP THEM OVER LIKE MANY OTHER TRAVEL TRIPOD LEGS. THESE SMALL DETAILS REALLY MATTER WHEN MOVING ABOUT AND SHOOTING ON LOCATION.
Peak Design’s Travel Tripod in carbon fibre isn’t cheap by any means, but you can justify the cost because it includes the ball head, and there are some really great features on it like the quick release and easy to deploy leg locks. But ultimately, it’s designed as a travel tripod and that’s what it is; when fully collapsed, it is really compact and hence portable. I can just toss this in my backpack or sling it on my back and be on my way. And at 1.29kg, it’s pretty light for a decent tripod that I’d trust my camera on. The ball head is also smooth and is nice to use. I can rotate my camera in portrait mode to get all those beauty shots I love, or I can flip it to look down and shoot product flat lays that we need as a magazine. If you’re not sold yet, Peak Design offers a lifetime warranty on their tripods.
Here are the full specs taken from Peak Design’s website: