Excellent Lightweight Travel Tripod


This image was taken on a 5D MKII. This is not a light weight camera but the Tripod was the lightest I have used. Read on to find out more.

My recent Light weight photography has been a little unusual in that it has required me to use a tripod. Ordinarily I can get away without a tripod as I can shoot with a wider aperture because of the GX1’s greater depth of field. In fact I recently mentioned that I had trouble slowing the GX1’s shutter speed to blur water motion and ended up buying a 4 stop Neutral Density filter.

Now I’m sure if you have been involved in photography for more than a few months you will have purchased a tripod. I will also push my luck and suggest that the tripod falls into one of two broad categories:

  1. The all in one tripod which is very lightweight, has a head attached that can’t be removed and tends to be cheap. These are the typical first tripods people tend to buy often because they can’t see the value in a more expensive make. They also tend to break easily but before they break they are incredibly frustrating to use. I will refer to these as amateur tripods purely to distinguish them from my description of the next category.
  2. The professional class of tripod will be quite different from the above. It will comprise a separate head and legs for which there are a number of different designs and manufacturers. The head will tend to have a quick release plate for fast attachment or removal of cameras. These tripods are far more sturdy and reliable as well as being easy to use. A good one will last years and will probably set you back quite a bit of money.

Any serious photographer will I’m sure gravitate towards the second professional class of tripod. The only problem is that these seem to be larger tripods that are HEAVY. Sure you can get carbon fibre tripods if you have deep pockets and by the time you have attached a head they are still HEAVY. Worst of all, if you want to travel with your tripod most are too large to fit in your case as well as being too HEAVY.

About a year back I came across a solution to the problems of size and weight that surprised me. The tripod legs were made by Velbon (it’s a Rexi L) and the head is made by Manfrotto (it’s a 3 way pan Magnesium alloy). Paired together these weigh less than most carbon fibre legs. More astonishing still is that the tripod legs are about 30cm when collapsed yet extend to be a full sized tripod – this is also my ideal travel tripod. And did I forget to tell you about the very reasonable price for this kit. I paid less for the legs and head on Amazon than I did for my full sized Manfrotto legs (which aren’t even carbon fibre).

What really surprised me however is that Velbon was the manufacturer. You see they tend to make a lot of tripod that fall in the amateur class but the Rexi L is completely different. This clever size trick is achieved by having multiple section legs which often makes tripods unstable. No so the Rexi L which is very steady and supports my 5D no problem. My friend who also has one of these uses it with his Medium Format kit.

Recently I had cause to use my Manfrotto 055 side by side with the Velbon Rexi and I was shocked to find the Velbon was steadier, easier to use and I preferred it. In the end I left the Manfrotto in the car and just used the Velbon. So if your current tripod is too large or just too heavy take a look at the Velbon Rexi L. The links to Amazon are shown below.
Velbon Ultra Rexi L Travel Tripod

Manfrotto 460MG 3-Way Magnesium Head

7 thoughts on “Excellent Lightweight Travel Tripod

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  1. I really like my Benro Travel Angel A1690. Compact, sturdy, very well made, and the ball head locks solidly, even with a DSLR in portrait orientation. At $179, it’s a great deal. The Slik Sprint Pro is lighter and cheaper – a good option for MFT – but not as sturdy.

  2. Robin,

    Great review! It’s nice to see some real enthusiasm for a sensibly priced tripod.
    As I don’t have a 5D (currently a Sony Rx100; soon a 4:3 mirrorless system), do you think an even lighter tripod might be appropriate?

    Steve

    1. The two keys to getting a good tripod are stability and ease of use. The items in the review provide these in a compact and relatively light package. I should also mention the Velbon is a full sized tripod. I have used it with my LX5 (which looked small when mounted) and GX1 which are about the size of the cameras you mention. I cant vouch for other tripods and heads without field testing them. The RexiL and 3 way head is the first lightweight solution I have found satisfies my needs.

  3. Hi there,

    A few weeks back I came across your article when looking for a lightweight, compact travel tripod for my 5D and as a result I bought the legs and head mentioned in the article. Unfortunately though when I pulled both out of their boxes and attempted to set the tripod up I found that the two pieces do not fit together and seem to require some sort of adapter to join the two together which I’m hoping exists.. Did you have this same issue? If yes, what adapter did you use to connect the two together?

    Thanks

    Cari

    1. Hi Cari,

      No I didn’t have this problem with mine as the screw in the tripod legs is the same size as the head. It is however a fairly common occurrence for the two to be different sizes and it can easily be corrected. There are two sizes of screw that can be used on tripods; 1/4″ and 3/8″ (the 1/4″ being the smaller one). It’s a common design for this screw to be reversible so check the leg section to see if there is a nut at the base of the screw. If there is this may sometimes be used to remove the screw and then turn the screw upside down to reveal a different sized thread. There are some other mechanisms which manufacturers use so check the tripod instructions. If the tripod came with the smaller 1/4″ thread don’t worry as there is a solution.

      The threaded hole in the tripod head tends to be the larger 3/8″ hole. If you need to make this a 1/4″ hole there is a threaded tripod adapter you can buy (very cheap). Here is a link to some on Amazon to show what I mean

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/SMALLRIG-Convert-Adapter-Tripod-Release/dp/B0089TYEIS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414943359&sr=8-1&keywords=tripod+thread+adapter

      This is like a hollow thread that you screw into the tripod head hole and then tighten with a screwdriver. It converts the 3/8″ hole in the head into a 1/4″ hole.

      Now if you find your legs have a 3/8″ screw but the head has a 1/4″ screw there are also adapters to convert this, just search Amazon for “tripod thread adapter” but be sure to check the sizes of the conversion i.e. 3/8″ to 1/4″. Before you do that though, check the hole in the tripod head carefully as it may already have a 3/8″ to 1/4″ adapter screwed in. If it has you should be able to see the slots at the edge where you can use a screwdriver to unscrew it. I suspect this may be your problem as my head came with one of these (I think) which I needed to remove before attaching the legs.

      Hopefully this resolves your problem but let me know if you are still having problems and I will try to help.

      Regards
      Robin

      1. Thankyou so much Robin for your quick and comprehensive response, I really appreciate it 🙂 Will look into the options you have given and I’m sure one of them will do the trick! Thanks so much!

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