Try Pod

I get asked what the wee camera tripod that I use is quite a lot, and being me I can’t remember what the model is. So after a wee query from Flickr I thought I would track the bugger down so I’d know for future reference. It turns out it’s a Velbon VTP-815, packs down very small but weighs about 17kg.

My searching turned up something else which immediately caused an eyebrow to raise and my PayPal password to be remembered. That item is above, somewhat resembling a dried up spider found in the dusty old web across the skylight in the attic. It’s a Tamrac (Yes, I’m already saying tarmac involuntarily) ZipShot.

It compares well for pack-size with the blue Velbon tripod and a Mountain King Trail Blaze trekking pole below. The weight’s in the middle at 314g and it goes from 15″ to 44″. It’s very like the Trail Blaze, being essentially three tent poles with wee rubber feet and a mounting doodah at the top (note to self, edit that bit when the real name of the fitting becomes available).
Setting it up and attaching the camera is really quick and the top swivels about like a mad thing so it’s easy to adjust the angle, even getting the camera right on its side which I couldn’t do before.
The bungees that keep it together when it’s stowed are a neat touch, it works well and the plastic parts are attached to the leg section, so no slippage should occur.
The legs aren’t height adjustable, so I’ll see how that goes on steep ground. Durability is also an unknown, it has the potential to be awfy fragile. I’m hoping my daft wee point and click LX3 won’t stress it too much.

You can get the ZipShot for a little over £40 on ebay, in real shops it seems to be up to twice that which is frankly ludicrous.
Still, I have high hopes, and I’m losing something like two or three hundred grams packing this thing instead of the Velbon IronLegs.

23 thoughts on “Try Pod”

  1. It looks very neat – but I rather suspect three equal, none-adjustable legs could be somewhat limiting on mountain terrain. I hope I’m wrong.

    I’ve got one of those little Velbon thingies at the back of a drawer somewhere – it hasn’t been out for years. A while ago they did a really nice range of ‘proper’ but fairly light tripods at reasonable (i.e. not carbon fibre) prices, and I got a one – a Velbon Ultra Maxi XF iirc, but it’s probably discontinued now. I take that if I’m feeling serious and just an Ultrapod if I’m not.

  2. I saw that one Andy, I think tripods without completely independant legs are very unwieldy on rough ground and slopes. Too much setting up time, that’s whey I went for the two above. Both are very quick-draw!

    But as Matt says the unadjustable legs might be a nightmare. I’m hoping the 360 degree “ball head” (I found out the right name) will help with that.
    Ach, we’ll see.

    Matt, that one is discontinued. Replaced by the Ultra Luxi SF at £170!

  3. I was looking at this and the v-pod recently, but doubt either would be sufficient to handle my camera/lens combo. I’d be intriged to know the heaviest weight the v-pod could handle with careful handling.

    Pacer poles and the camera mount might be a decent solution, but I’m not sure if this would allow for shooting portrait orientation, which I tend to do a lot…

    So I went for a distinctly non-lightweight [although it is considered lightweight in photography circles] Giottos Carbon Fibre job. I don’t really mind carrying this weight in summer, but coupled with additional winter kit, is really too much, so I’m still on the lookout for a winter compromise.
    More at if anyone is interested.

    The Tamrac might be OK in softish snow, when you can level it by pushing one leg deeper into the snow.

  4. Vorlich, that thing’s got a terrifying amount of adjustment on it :o)

    I can bend out leg sections on the Tarmac as well to really change the angle, but just how long the bungees will last doing that…

    By the way folks, click onto Vorlich’s page, them’s proper photies.

  5. Just reading this and thanks Matt for reminding me i had an ultrapod (had it for years) but totally forgot about it. Managed to find it and it can stay in my sac from now on as i could have done with it recently.

  6. I used to carry wee bendy legged version of that. It weighed heehaw, and I think might cover some of the ZipShot’s potential shortcomings in some situations.

    See, I need you folks to keep me right.

  7. Aye ,just had a butchers at Vorlichs Flikr, some good work there for sure. I had a link to a lightweight tripod web page but have lost it in the ether, i’ll post if i come across it again.
    That tamrac looks ‘interesting’ ,like others i’d be a bit concerned about the lack of adjustment, suck it and see eh .

  8. Aye to all points.

    We shall see. If I come home with 132 photies of the sky as the tripod constantly falls backwards I’ll be talking about it at length.

  9. Ah thanks Peter for that wee advert :)

    Another interesting option which might be of interest is the Trek-tech Optera. It’s kind of like a grown-up gorilla-pod, but it’s relatively heavy compared to the options you’ve mentioned, but possibly better suited for SLR users.

    Unfortunately, it requires lying on you belly to compose through the viewfinder, unless you can find a suitable object to wrap the legs around. Still doesn’t seem to address the portrait issue either…

    Seem the quest for a lightweight tripod is all about compromise…

  10. That Optera is a very er, organic looking?

    I think you’re right about compromise, surely there’s a market for a properly light adjustable tripod?
    Maybe the weight of DSLR’s are stopping them bothering.

  11. In answer to Vorlichs question re the capacity of the v-pod, I guess it depends on what you want to do with it. I don’t think its stable enough for real long exposure work with a DSLR under any circumstances. For getting into the shot or giving yourself a few stops leeway in low light its fine with some ifs and buts. Although velbon claim 2kg, I reccon the v-pod will carry around a kilo effectively. I use a Velbon v-pod with my Oly E400. The E400 with my (much loved) 14-42 kit lens weighs 700g. If I fully extend the central column then it bounces around like a tree in the wind so, in my case the height is limited to about 80cm (20cm less than max)so there’s one limitation already. The other biggy is that I think the legs might “spontaneously stow themselves” if you put much more than a kilo on top (the locking mechs on the legs are a bit tender for my liking). Other than that, if you accept its limitations then its a lovely bit of kit. WOuld work very well with one of those new fangled micro 4/3 cameras I guess.

  12. Thanks for that detailed response Dave. You’ve pretty much confirmed my suspicions, it doesn’t quite sound like it will fit my needs [my lens alone is over 700g], which is a shame, given it’s so inexpensive.

    As it happens, Mrs Vorlich has an Olympus E-620, but she’d never let me borrow it :)

  13. Just got the Tamrac Zipshot on Amazon for £19 including postage, a proper bargain!

    Thanks for the pointer, I was sick of lying in the snow trying to compose a summit shot which included me…

  14. Got myself a zipshot yesterday :D Got fed up with finding a post to fit the gorrilla pod to!

  15. I’ve had a Zipshot for some time, which I use with my smaller camera, but I find having to screw the camera to the ballhead and then unscrew it every time is very inconvenient. Have yo found a quick-release plate that goes well with the Zipshot?

    I have one for my DSLR and my bigger tripod but it’s a bit big and heavy for the Zipshot…

    Or maybe that would be overkill, what do you think?


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