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The quest for a small, light tripod.

The short version: This is a great, if rather expensive small tripod setup.

For too long I've been on a passive hunt for a small tripod that is light yet stable, and small but can still hold a decent amount of weight. I don't like the ubiquitous gorilla pod. They are just too fussy, always bending a little, checking to see if it was enough, bending a little more, and the moment is gone or I'm not enjoying photography anymore. The simplicity and price of the Ultrapod II ($16.50) made it an easy choice, and it did get the job done, but is very prone to "lens sag". Eventually I accidentally left it, and the hunt was on for something superior. Skimming a few articles I found the Cullman Magnesit Copter ($35) The attachment point on the ball head can be flipped over to allow mounting a flash. Reading this I assumed it had a quick release plate. It doesn't come with a quick release plate, instead like most small tripods it screws into the bottom of the camera, which is never a fun process.

Outside of not having a quick release head it's a fine travel tripod, although larger than the Ultrapod II in bulk, it actually folds a bit shorter and fits in the waist bag of my MindShift Panorama. Next up was finding a small quick release plate and mount. Sunwayfoto just came out with the PT-26 ($12); the smallest Arca-Swiss compatible tripod plate and only .4oz. Perfect for mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7 or A6000 series, it doesn't block battery doors or extend beyond the bottom of the camera. The Sunwayfoto DDC-26 ($23) is the matching clamp at a svelte 1.6oz. They are on to something here, as these are both extremely light yet well made, with one small issue. The DDC-26 is truly designed to be mounted on a traditional tripod, with the screw going from the top of the mount into the tripod. On the underside the 1/4" threads are recessed, and a the Magnesit 1/4" post just barely threads on. Thankfully the original "mount" can be unscrewed and replaced with a washer so the post can thread to full, secure depth.

The Sony A7 mounted the Cullman Magnesit Copter and Sunwayfoto mount.

It's easy to secure the camera and much more stable than the Ultrapod II.

Although it's the smallest Arca-Swiss compatable plate on the market, it does block the rear screen from tilting down, or if rotated 90 degrees the knob on the clamp is awkwardly placed under the camera.

At $70 total it's not what I'd call cheap, but it's stable, easy to setup and can handle the A7 and Nikon 180mm f/2.8 ED attached to the TC-201, a rather front heavy combination. Each item is well made. The plate is even smaller than it looks in the above image, it's the first tripod plate that's small enough to leave on my camera full time.

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