New Products Of 2012: Tripods And Camera Supports: Lightweight Tripods Are The Standouts

The trend in tripods is toward more compact and lighter-weight tripods, with an increasing number of entries in carbon fiber. Is carbon fiber the ultimate lightweight tripod? The jury is still out, although everyone seems to want one. And along with tripods, various ball heads grabbed our attention. We even found a portable copy stand.


Acratech specializes in tripod heads, among them the open-architecture ball head that stays grit-free in adverse environments. Responding to the trend of folding tripods—where the legs fold in on themselves to reduce carrying size—this company introduced a more compact version of their GP ball head, the GP-SS ($379), featuring the small diameter base of the GP-S, and a smaller quick-release clamp than their other ball heads. It weighs less than 14 oz, but boasts the same 1.5” ball and 25-lb capacity. In response to a related need, Acratech debuted the Allen Wing ($19), which can be attached to (or easily disconnected from) a camera bag and is always at the ready—for those of us who need an Allen wrench with Arca-Swiss quick-release systems.

Acratech GP-SS

Argraph Corp. introduced a new camera support line that caught my eye: Sirui (pronounced Sue-Ray), consisting of a wide range of tripods and ball heads. The tripods are both compact and full-size, and open effortlessly. When it comes to carbon fiber, Sirui makes its own multilayered leg tubes. Model T-2205X ($311) is 14.6” when folded 180˚, but extends (with center column) to 56.9” and weighs 2.6 lbs while supporting up to 26.4 lbs.

Left: Sirui Ball Head. Right: Sirui Tripod Model T-2205X.

Clik Elite has entered the field with the Redged line of camera support gear. Included is a complete tripod line, with strong emphasis on carbon-fiber models, plus monopods, ball heads, and gimbal heads (“swing heads” in their vernacular). The TSC-424 Elite Ultimate Travel Tripod Carbon features quick set up. This four-section tripod folds down to 13.4”, with min. and max. heights, respectively, 10.2” and 47.2”, and weighing just 2.2 lbs, with a 17.6-lb load capacity.

Redged TSC-424 Elite Ultimate Travel Tripod Carbon

HP Marketing Corp. showed the new Giottos GTL9242B-S2 tripod system, which comes bundled with a Giottos three-section lightweight tripod with three-section lever lock, non-twist legs, and MH7503 single-lever ball head and MH630 double-action lever lock quick release; tripod bag included. Folds down to 22.4”; min./max. height: 16”/56.3” column extended; and weighs 2.7 lbs with a capacity of 6.6 lbs. Also new and noteworthy is the Kaiser R2N CP Image Capturing Set, which consists of a portable copy stand and adjustable, cold light fluorescent copy lights. Features hand-cranked height adjustment and horizontally adjustable camera arm. Column folds down on baseboard for storage or transport (case included). Baseboard: 15.7x1x16.5”; 23.6” high; maximum load: 3.3 lbs.

Giottos GTL9242B-S2

Kaiser R2N CP Image Capturing Set

International Supplies introduced the Photo Clam line of multilayered carbon-fiber tripods and heads. The PT Series tripods each feature ground-hugging capability, while achieving compactness for travel (15.6”) with the legs folding in on themselves. Load varies from 19.8 to 37.4 lbs depending on model, weighing from 2.42 to 3.74 lbs. Maximum height with column extended is 69.6”. Photo Clam’s Professional Ballheads weigh less than a pound, supporting from 66 to 200 lbs. They feature a single knob release and lock system with separate friction control and panorama locking knob.

Left: Photo Clam PT Series Tripod. Right: Photo Clam Pro Ballhead

The Parazzio is a dual-camera support system holding two D-SLRs or one D-SLR and one camcorder. Featuring rugged, all-aluminum construction, it can be tripod-mounted or handheld for run-and-gun shooting. The Papa Parazzio ($995) measures 16x3.5” and weighs 2.5 lbs. It comes with quad comfort grips and a contoured comfort strap. Also available in a scaled-down version ($795).

Papa Parazzio

Vanguard unveiled the GH-200 pistol grip ball head ($169), which improves upon the original GH-100, most notably with an Arca-like quick-release system. Other than that, the grip features a low center of gravity for greater stability and a full range of movements, with secure locking mechanisms. The benefit to a pistol grip is one-handed operation. Also new is the top-of-the-line, lightweight magnesium BBH Series ball head (three sizes, weighing 16 to 23 oz; $169 to $249). In addition to the same QR system as the GH-200, it features a Rapid Level System. The head features two bubble levels for quick right-angle alignment and level 360˚ panoramas.

Vanguard GH-200

Vanguard BBH-200

In tripods, Vanguard debuted the Nivelo 244BK and 245BK ($139/$149). These are compact and lightweight supports that quickly fold flat. The articulated center column facilitates ground-hugging work together with the vari-angle legs. The legs lock and unlock with the simple twist of the feet. These pods support cameras to 6.6 lbs (head included). The 245BK folds down to 14.6” and extends to 63.4”.

Vanguard Nivelo 245BK


Argraph Corp.:

Clik Elite:

HP Marketing Corp.:

International Supplies:


Vanguard USA: