If ever the phrase “the best (insert piece of kit here) is the one you have with you” rang true with me, it is for the small but well-built Velbon Ultra Maxi Mini tripod. I am the kind of person to worm out of carrying a large tripod around all day if at all possible. True, on some shoots it is unavoidable, therefore I have to endure rather than enjoy their use on these occasions.
But for those instances when I go out for the day on a photography walk, the thought of hauling the extra bulk of a full-size tripod around for several hours fills me with dread, hence my search for something as unobtrusive as possible.
Enter the Velbon Ultra Maxi Mini; what an incredible little thing. Folded up, it is a tad under 20cm and extends, via a twist action on each leg segment, to almost 50cm. Not particularly high I know, but high enough to get behind and compose via a viewfinder at an uncomfortable push. If your camera has a tilting screen, then this is not a problem. Having said that, none of my cameras have this luxury, and I have managed fine as the tripod is small enough to stand on rocks, logs, tables etc.
The legs seem very wobbly when released, but once tightened they are surprisingly stable and can be widened to provide a lower but more stable platform. The lower section of the centre column can be unscrewed to allow the legs to expand even further, so the camera rests just a few cm’s from the ground, giving it a footprint of almost a metre across.
This brings me to the head, which is of the ball and socket type and very well made. Sat atop this is a small quick release plate, of which spare ones can be purchased independently. The maximum load is rated at 1.5 kilos which is fine for my gear, as a pre-requisite of any camera/lens combination I use is that it has to be as small and portable as possible. My largest camera was an old Olympus E-1 with 11-22 lens mounted and the Velbon supports them fine. But it really shines when used with my smaller Leica T and X113, providing the perfect lightweight support.
Finally, I should mention the weight; it comes in at 590g making it possible to include in carry-on luggage on aircraft. Thrown in a suitcase it will quickly disappear amongst clothing, adding little to the overall weight of hold luggage.
My example is a few years old now, and it has certainly seen more use in this time than all others combined. It has become my go to tripod for all but those occasional circumstances when only a full-size example will do. It has started to show some wear now, but remains functionally perfect.
I reiterate…an awesome little tripod!