Pedco Ultrapod 2 Review
Lightweight travel tripod
A lot of our work involves photography or video, either on one of our Nikon DSLRs or Fujifilm compacts, or via a smartphone. It has always been a big part of our trips in the UK and overseas, and we always end up taking more camera equipment with us than we probably need – but with the penalty of extra weight and it taking up valuable space.
Our friend Alex Roddie used a Pedco Ultrapod 2 on his recent Tour de Monte Rosa trip, and it inspired me to get my hands on one to see how it would fit in with our kit.
Although it appears to be slightly plastic and flimsy, this thing is tough. The majority of the components are glass-filled nylon or aluminium, with rubber feet and a velcro strap for attachment to other objects. The main section is an L-bracket with two slightly shorter ‘legs’ folding out from the top. When these legs are deployed it sits as a tripod on flat or uneven surfaces. When folded the legs still leave room for attachment to round or square objects such as trees, railing or, in my test, walking poles. At the top of the bracket is a double ball-joint mechanism with a single thumbscrew adjuster and a standard 1/4″ thread camera mount. There is no quick-release (QR) mechanism as you find on other travel tripods (EDIT: a QR plate for the Ultrapod is sold seperately, see link below) such as the Gorillapod.
Despite the metal components this tripod is still very lightweight, at only 120g. My gloves weigh more than that…
Real World Testing
The first outing for this travel tripod was on an ascent of Ben Cruachan, a Munro sitting above the Pass of Brander between Tyndrum and Oban. When packing my rucksack the evening before I threw the Ultrapod into the lid of my rucksack along with the remote trigger and a few other DSLR accessories.
Halfway up we passed a waterfall cascade, with a series of plungepools and narrow channels, just crying out for a long exposure to add a little blur to the water. This would be too much for a hand-held shot, so I reached for the Ultrapod.
The lack of a QR plate means that the entire tripod has to be screwed on to the base of the camera. The tripod is by no means bulky so this isn’t much of a problem, but it does add a few seconds onto the setup time for each new set of photos.
Once screwed in I found a suitable rock and unfolded the legs. Rather than sitting on the flat the ultrapod seems to actually prefer a slightly uneven surface. The rubber feet gripped the wet rock well and I felt confident leaving my DSLR perched precariously over the water.
The double ball-joint mechanism is stronger than my first guess – the lower ball joint is notched , and the upper joint smooth to allow fine adjustment for pitch and level. The thumbscrew is fine, although a bit fiddly when underneath the DSLR body.
Photograph composed and tripod safely placed I plugged in the remote shutter release and took the shots.
Next up was a mountaineer-selfie (I know, I know…) with the Ultrapod strapped to the handle of a trekking pole. I’ve tried this before with other travel tripods and it is normally a little fiddly to get the tripod mounted securely. This was also the case with the Ultrapod, and highlighted the other minor flaw with the design – the velcro strap. This is about as basic as you can get, and mine is already starting to fray along the edges from rubbing around inside the various bags I’ve carried it in. The hook/loop patches are also strangely placed as well, and require some careful thought to ensure everything lines up as it needs to. Part of the entire design of this tripod seems to be simplicity, but I can’t help feeling that double-sided velcro or another strap system would work better. That said, I prefer this arrangement to the wrap-around legs of the Gorillapod.
I like it. It is rugged, few moving parts to break/lose and is light and small enough to not notice but to always carry with you. Like most smaller travel tripods it sits low to the ground, requiring a suitable rock, wall or tree to be found if you want to raise the camera off the deck. It is more than solid enough to hold a DSLR steady, and we tried it with up to 2.5kg without even a wobble.
Apart from the velcro strap the overall build quality and finish is to a high standard. I feel confident in trusting nearly £1,000 of camera body, lens and other gear to it without constantly checking it – something I cannot say about other tripods I own.
There are only two configurations for use, legs folded and unfolded, but the range of motion in the ball joints is more than enough to overcome most situations.
Camera gear for outdoor adventures should be tough, lightweight and small enough to not have a negative impact on the adventure itself. For me the Pedco Ultrapod II ticks all of these boxes, and at a price that is more than reasonable. It will probably find its way into my camera bag or rucksack for a while to come – but maybe alongside a better strap.
|Materials:||Glass-filled Nylon, Aluminium, Rubber|
|Pan Adjustment:||360 degrees|
|Tilt Adjustment:||+/- 90 degrees|
|Angular Adjustmnent:||+/- 20 degrees|
|All measurements based on tested product or manufacturer specifications|