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Peak Design’s new tripod is full-featured but surprisingly compact

Peak Design’s new tripod is full-featured but surprisingly compact

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The Travel Tripod is as slim as a can of soda but big enough for real cameras

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Image: Peak Design

Peak Design just announced its latest product: the new Peak Design Travel Tripod. The five-section Travel Tripod is available in either aluminum or carbon fiber and comes with Peak Design’s custom ball head attached. Peak Design is launching the tripod through a Kickstarter campaign today, with pricing set at $349.95 for the aluminum version and $599.95 for the carbon fiber model. It is expected to ship to retailers for the holiday season this year.

Like Peak Design’s popular bags and other camera accessories, the Travel Tripod is full of clever design and engineering bits. Since it’s designed to be as portable as possible, the tripod can compact down into a very small footprint and easily fit in the side pockets of many of Peak Design’s backpacks. When closed, the whole tripod is roughly the diameter of a soda can, making it significantly slimmer than other options.

Image: Peak Design

Despite measuring just 15.5 inches when closed, the Travel Tripod is still a full-sized tripod when fully extended, reaching 60 inches at its highest point. Both the aluminum and carbon fiber models share the same designs and features. The differences between them are solely in weight: 3.44 pounds for the aluminum version and just 2.81 pounds for the carbon fiber model. Both models can support cameras up to 20 pounds in weight, which covers most full-frame cameras and telephoto lenses. The legs can be fully extended very quickly, thanks to their quick-locking cams and no need to fold or flip like other travel tripod designs.

A note on crowdfunding:

Crowdfunding is a chaotic field by nature: companies looking for funding tend to make big promises. According to a study run by Kickstarter in 2015, roughly 1 in 10 “successful” products that reach their funding goals fail to actually deliver rewards. Of the ones that do deliver, delays, missed deadlines, or overpromised ideas mean that there’s often disappointment in store for those products that do get done.

The best defense is to use your best judgment. Ask yourself: does the product look legitimate? Is the company making outlandish claims? Is there a working prototype? Does the company mention existing plans to manufacture and ship finished products? Has it completed a Kickstarter before? And remember: you’re not necessarily buying a product when you back it on a crowdfunding site.

The ball head design is similarly compact. It’s free of the usual knobs and levers that most tripod heads use for adjustment, instead relying on a single adjustment ring to tighten and loosen the head. It comes with Peak Design’s quick-release plate and is compatible with most Arca-type plates and brackets. It also has a built-in omnidirectional bubble level.

The Travel Tripod can be configured for low-angle mounting as well as inverted setups for various positioning. It has a hook for load balancing as well as attachment points for Peak Design straps. Inside the center column is a phone bracket, which can snap into the ball head and hold most smartphones. Peak Design is shipping the tripod with a neoprene carrying sleeve, and it claims that all of the parts and components are weather resistant, fully serviceable, cleanable, and replaceable.

Verge video director Vjeran Pavic had a chance to test out the Travel Tripod ahead of today’s launch, and he noted that the ball head is extremely easy to use, even while framing a shot through the viewfinder. But switching between the tripod’s various configurations is a bit slower and clumsier than other brands, and the cam-locks for the legs could prove to be less durable and harder to clean than the twist-lock designs used in other tripods. Additionally, though the Travel Tripod’s light weight and compact size are great for carrying it around everywhere, they make it less stable when fully extended, especially if it is windy outside and you have larger camera gear.

Image: Peak Design

As Peak Design’s first tripod, the Travel Tripod is impressive. It’s surprisingly compact and light (if you opt for the carbon fiber model), yet it’s also versatile and easy to use. While many amateur photographers might balk at the Tripod’s price tag, it’s not out of line with options from popular professional tripod manufacturers such as Gitzo. Videographers will likely want a few different things, such as a fluid head for panning shots, but stills photographers have a lot to like here.

Image: Peak Design

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