PMA Show Reports; Tripods, Monopods, And Heads; This Year The Focus Is On Travel-Worthy Support

While there are no revolutionary designs in tripods, monopods, and heads this year (unlike the introduction of the Novoflex four-legged tripod last year), manufacturers have not sat idly. They continue to address the needs of studio photographers but appear to be placing even greater emphasis on travel photography.

Notably, we’re beginning to see more subcompact tripods follow Gitzo’s lead. These “folding tripods,” for want of a better term, fold in upon themselves, with legs practically wrapping around a ball head, giving you a very compact support that opens to a comfortable working height. What’s more, these new folding designs and select standard-sized tripods now convert to a monopod by joining the removable center column with one of the legs—an approach I’ve seen before in a JTL tripod. How easy and quick all these newfangled gizmos are to actually set up and use in the field is yet to be determined, but they certainly piqued my interest. On the face of it, these new pods grab your attention and one was noteworthy enough to garner my top pick of the show in this genre.

Note: Travelers beware. Even though the tripod may be a subcompact, retractable spikes may prevent you from taking it as carryon on commercial airliners (check with the airline or governing agency in your neck of the woods before boarding).

Acratech’s new GP-s ball head has all of the benefits and features of their full-sized GP ball head, including the ability to function as a gimbal head (with lenses to 400mm f/4) and as a panoramic head. However, the new head was designed with a smaller base diameter and relocated panning knob to enable it to work with the new generation of folding tripods, which essentially wrap the folded legs around the head. Weighing less than 1 lb with quick-release clamp, it will hold cameras to 25 lbs at any angle. It features a fully adjustable tension control and satin black anodized finish and laser-engraved degree markings. This head fits all standard tripods (1⁄4 or 3⁄8) and can be used with any Arca-Swiss-compatible quick-release plates. A key trait of these heads: the ball will not shift when tightened.

Acratech GP-s Ball Head

Cullmann (RTS) added the all-metal 525M tripod ($149), which converts to a monopod and reaches 66”.

Weighing slightly over 5 lbs, this tripod features a quick-release head. The aluminum-legged 528 ($109) reaches 69” and weighs just over 4 lbs. Magnesit tripods are made with magnesium-alloy components for added durability, each with variable-position legs.

Cullmann Magnesit 528 Tripod

Davis & Sanford (Tiffen) introduced the compact Traverse folding tripod, with a choice of BHQ8 or BH11 ball head. Collapsing down to 16”, this tripod opens to 57”. Weighing only 3.3 lbs, the tripod features leg sections constructed of lightweight aluminum with quick-twist rubberized collet locks and can be positioned for ground-level shooting. The Traverse also has foam leg warmers, removable center column hook, and retractable rubber feet. A padded tripod bag is included. Street price with BHQ8 ball head: $119; with BH11: $169. Also new is the Vista Voyager Lite tripod with BHQ8 ball head ($59—carrying bag included). Folding down to 21”, this 3-lb aluminum tripod extends to 63” (7.5” minimum height) and features three-position legs, spirit level, compass, center column tensioning adjustment, quick snap-lock legs, foam leg warmers, removable center column hook, two-section center column, and retractable rubber spiked feet.

Davis & Sanford Traverse Folding Tripod

Dot Line Corp. debuted the STX Pro 72. This three-section tripod reaches a height of 74.5”, with a minimum operating height of 22.5”, collapsing down to 33” and weighing under 6 lbs. Maximum load capacity is 8.8 lbs on its three-way pan/tilt head with quick-release plate. This aluminum-alloy tripod offers three leg angle positions, built-in spirit level, compass, and double-safety lock; supplied with carrying bag. Also new is the STX Pro 52, which weighs a mere 24 oz and reaches a height of 55”, with three-way head. If you’d prefer a monopod, there are also the new three-section STX MP1 and four-section MP2 supports, each with flip-lock legs and retractable spike. The MP1 extends to 68.5”, collapsing to 26”, and weighs 12 oz, whereas the MP2 adds 1” of height, and is slightly longer collapsed, weighing 21 oz.

Dot Line Corp. STX Pro 72