Searching for the "perfect" mini tripod - XILETU XS-20 as a finallist? What's Yours?

billca

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The whole reason for M4/3 is the small size; 1/2 size camera body + 1/4 frame sensor +1/4 size and weight of lenses = 4 times as many lenses in the same bag compared to my Nikon FF system....hooray!

With such a lightweight camera kit - the accessories have to be small too. I use step up rings to keep to one filter size, have searched out the smallest slave flashguns and triggers, shrunk the size of my tripod and monopod - but still want something more - the "perfect" mini "table top" tripod.

With the English winter now fully here - its a time of biting cold winds, grey skies at noon, and 1/4 second exposures......so time to be carrying a tripod if you want to keep the sensor ISO low.

Minitripod - mania:
I have lost count of the ones I have tried, and the many that I have bought, ranging in price from no-name Chinese micro-size tripods at £1/$1.25 to beautifully made but functionally useless Giotto's at more than £45/$55. However, my latest "best find" has turned out to be one of the cheapest. It is forgetably called a XILETU XS-20, and cost all of $8.00, postage paid, and has come in 2.5 weeks after ordering from a well-known Chinese Buying website. It arrived today, and after a good try out I am very impressed.
  • Please note - I spend my own hard-earned money on photography - and have no connection with the maker or seller
View attachment 790435


For the price I paid - this XILETU XS-20 has to be the best value of all my tripod finds - so far!
Plus points:
  1. It has a ball head - meaning that with uneven surfaces you can always level up the shot
    • now you know why in practice I hate the Giotto with its 5 degree stepping "click stop" head - what posessed me to buy it I cannt fathom
  2. The ball head is far larger than on most mini-tripods - meaning that it it is smooth in use and will lock to hold a Lumix with a 40-150 zoom without drooping under gravity.
  3. The ball head can be adjusted 90-degrees to come parallell to the ground - meaning you can shoot in portrait format.
  4. The legs have two locking positions - set by twisting the grey ring by 30-degrees, so it can be set up either 11 or 14 cm from the surface
  5. Although this is mainly "ABS" type plastic the degree of flex with a micro 4/3 camera and lens is small. Even with a lot of arm weight the most flex I have achieved is 4mm today.
    • ABS plastic goes brittle with age - so I am under no illusions that in a decade's time it might crack if dropped
  6. Weight is 143g
  7. Folded - it is 20cm long - ideal for a space in the corner of my small size camera bag or for throwning in the outside pocket of a rucksack.
  8. It is fixed together with phillips' head screws/bolts - so can be tightened up easily with a screwdriver or swiss-army knife if you need it
  9. At this price, I can afford to pack it, use it and potentially loose it
View attachment 790441

For just $8, with the ball head (a mobile phone holder is a dollar or two more) I think this has to be amongst the best price / weight / rigidity/ utility mini-tripods I have got.
Is the 1/4 inch camera screw part of the ball head or a separate screw in nipple. Thanks
 

Paul C

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Ah ha -- and yes - another one on my top 10 shortlist. I also have this one too - from my lifetime of trying for the "just a bit better / just a bit different" mini tripod - but mine was from the era before the ball head when it came with a traditinal "video head' style system.

The Slik is made of aluminumum and plastic so is lighter than it looks - but all those sticking out bits and bulk means it keeps getting tangled up in my rucksacks.

Interestingly - there are now several "generic versions" of this design available from China at bargain prices so this style may be about to reappear on the street - since perhaps you, like me, can always be tempted by a new bargain.........
 

Paul C

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That one went on sale on Adorama a year or two back for something like $14 or some such and it was posted here. I picked one up. I actually use it for off camera flash work in cemeteries. I mount my old Oly FL-36 on top of a cheapo radio trigger receiver and then than on top of this OctoPad. I can then then plop it down on the ground to the side and slightly in front of old grave stones to side light them during the day. It can really make the inscription POP when normally it would be virtually unreadable. Very handy.
yes - another great reason for a mini tripod is to set up the off camera flash. This is why I "recycle" my last two "best buy" mini tripods into my flash bag.

For wildlife photograpghers, cemeteries are really interesting - in my experience, animals seem undistrubed for much of the day there and are often about in daylight and seem to ignore lone humans more than on the streets and even in the countryside. Being a cemetry - perhaps many of the lone humans are too deep in thought to disturb the wildlife?
 
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Paul C

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Yes - this one - and yours for the price of a caffe latte and a biscuit !

Just check before you buy - some sellers sell the head separately, and offer a mobile phone grip as well - the head screws off if you want to go really lightweight or have an alternative that you prefer.
 

Paul C

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Is the 1/4 inch camera screw part of the ball head or a separate screw in nipple. Thanks
no - the screw thread is fixed to the ball. However - the ball head can unscrew - so you can fit an alternative - though at the price that I paid a new ball head probably costs more than the tripod!
 
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About 5 years ago I splurged for the Really Right Stuff Table Top/Travel Tripod https://www.reallyrightstuff.com/Pocket-Pod-Packages?quantity=1&custcol34=3&custcol35=13 and I have not regretted it one bit. I use it backpacking for long exposure at night, etc.
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RAH

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The Benro PP1 PocketPod looks very much like the initial tripod in this thread, the XILETU XS-20. The Benro is a little more expensive (about $20) and its head is not removable, but it is marketed by a mainstream company and available easily at B&H. I like it a lot and the fit and finish seem excellent for such a small item. It works very well as a hand-holding device too:
https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1093158-REG/benro_pp1_pocketpod_tabletop_tripod.html
 

AllanG

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Really pleased with my recent purchase. Extremely solid and you can extend the centre region with a length of 20mm aluminium tubing. Several images of this Bexin V30 that I'm happy with.
18cm when folded up and 50 cm when opened up. Should say I paid $70 AUD for it.

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ToxicTabasco

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I have a few small ones for various heights and cameras. This is the smallest one I have. Used mostly with the GX85 or D5500 for timelapse.
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LarTram

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I use an old Minox tripod. Fits in any pocket, only slightly bigger than a pencil. Designed for their tiny spy-camaeras, but strong enough to hold a DSLR. Beautiful with the PEN F mounted!
.
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Paul C

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I use an old Minox tripod. Fits in any pocket, only slightly bigger than a pencil. Designed for their tiny spy-camaeras, but strong enough to hold a DSLR. Beautiful with the PEN F mounted!
.
View attachment 793020
Wow - that is a thing of beauty. It looks as if "Q" dreamed it up for James Bond! You have set me up researching this - Walter Zapp’s original 1951 pocket tripod is an exceptionally clever piece of design. Being tube metal and the 3 legs screwed together rather than "folded open" I guess it must be pretty rigid with an M4/3 camera on top. I love that the shutter releaae cable slots inside it all.
  • So here is yet another design that I haven't seen before and now want to try myself !
  • It seems that the "minature" and "half frame" photography eras also stimuated a burst of associated creativity that small format digital seems to have managed today.
  • even more exciting (and bad for my pocket) it seems that Minox may be making it new today - see the homage to this wonderful piece of kit at -- https://www.macfilos.com/2016/08/23...and-function-combined-in-a-delicious-veteran/

That mini-tripod perfectly fits the M4/3 idea of shrinking the capability of interchangeable lens photography to such a scale that a camera bag full of lenses is with you at all times.
 

betamax

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Joby gorilla pod for me. Though you need to be creative when finding a suitable spot to locate it....
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Paul C

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Really pleased with my recent purchase. Extremely solid and you can extend the centre region with a length of 20mm aluminium tubing. Several images of this Bexin V30 that I'm happy with.
18cm when folded up and 50 cm when opened up. Should say I paid $70 AUD for it.
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Now that is an interesting set up that AlanG has shown - being able to extend a mini-tripod to 50cm height suddenly means that you could put an M4/3 camera on the ground and be sufficiently clear of grass and bumps when you are in the countryside for landscape photography.....

For a while I carried a "Gorilla-Pod" for that sort of wild places travel photography but could never find a suitable tree branch when and where I wanted it....this 4-section leg tripod solution suddenly looks a good option for long exposure landscapes/clodscapes if it is rigid enough and not too lightweight to be blown over.
 

AllanG

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You can actually increase the height with a 20mm aluminium tube to over 90cm and still have a rigid and stable platform to do long exposures etc. You could also modify the end of the extension tube to add a hook to hold a weight giving even more stability
The total weight is 710gm and very well made.

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comment23

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You can actually increase the height with a 20mm aluminium tube to over 90cm and still have a rigid and stable platform to do long exposures etc. You could also modify the end of the extension tube to add a hook to hold a weight giving even more stability
The total weight is 710gm and very well made.

View attachment 793518
How low can it go? Is the whole centre column removeable? I’d be interested in a picture of that if you are able to show us 😊
 

AllanG

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All details I are here https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/AU-BEXI...067222?hash=item41998d95d6:g:OfYAAOSwjVVVpMqL
The lowest it goes is 15cm in this configuration and the whole centre column is removable by undoing a small metal cap enabling me to add the white aluminium tube after screwing it into the centre column.

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comment23

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I’ve been using a Manfrotto 345 for a while. Here’s a decade old review. Not the most versatile but very good on a flat surface. If you’re just looking for some stability on a non level surface and don’t mind placing your hand on one of the legs to prevent it tipping/sliding.
 

stratokaster

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The Pedco Ultrapods are wonderful. They are super light, small ball head mini tripods. They come with a Velcro strap that allows you to attach the tripod to objects such as branches, posts, or railings too.

[snip]

More info: https://www.industrialrev.com/pedco
I agree, I have the Ultrapod II and it lives in my camera bag. A very useful little thing. Very well designed, too: the tilting part of the head is ratcheted and stays firm if you unscrew the head just a bit to slightly adjust the ball. If you need to adjust the tilt, just unscrew it some more.
 
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I like this mini tripod by Cullmann (Cullmann Magnesit Copter Multistativ inkl. CB2.7 Kugelkopf). It is very well made, relatively slim compared to some others... has a rotating head as well and you could even use it to hold your camera similar to a gimbal. It goes really well with the 10L sling from peak design, since I can put it into the front compartment together with a small umbrella or 0.5L water bottle. Could also be useful for an off camera flash...

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I have one of these, and it is very well made. The legs do get a bit 'floppy' after a while. There's a hex screw in the middle that can be tightened. It's also good for "vlogging" type grip. The ball head isn't too great. The screw socket that the base attaches to is loose when the pivot screw is loose, so it can be a bit tricky to screw the base onto the ball head.

Recently, I bought a Sirui 3T-35K, which is a bit more versatile. The feet fold up, the main shaft extends and the camera mount is compatible with many common arca-swiss type plates. The only silly thing is that it has a pan ring with degree indicators, but the only tension screw controls the ball mount AND the pan ring... so you can't pan without loosening the camera mount... and once you loosen the camera mount, you can just twist it freely anyway. I'll probably replace the ball head with one that does have a separate pan screw. Overall it's only about an inch longer than the Cullmann, and it's more versatile.

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