Peak Design Travel Tripod

As mentioned in a recent review of another travel tripod  – we hate tripods. Anyone that enjoys lugging around a tripod for 12+ hours a day, as we quite often do, is simply a masochist. We’ve been doing it for 30+ years but only because we have to, not because we enjoy it.

When we look to purchase a travel tripod, we always consider 5 things – weight, size, standing height (without centre column raised), stability, and price.

For the last few years, we have used a relatively unknown brand of carbon fibre tripod by Freelander (model C-820) which meets our criteria. These tripods are not perfect but have been fantastic performers and have never let us down. Would we cast these aside for another tripod?

When Peak Design announced their foray into the competitive tripod market by launching a travel tripod on Kickstarter we were quite surprised. We mean, really, what could you possibly design these days that would revolutionise the travel tripod industry (see image below).

Peak Design was kind enough to send us the Carbon Fibre version of the tripod for this review, however, as always this review is completely transparent and the opinions expressed are ours alone. Read on…

Photography Planner

The Tripod Floor at Yodobashi Camera in Shinjuku, Tokyo – Japan

We love Peak Design products. If you have read any of our other posts, you’ll understand why. They have always lead the way with innovative, high-quality, practical products for photographers in a market where there is a lot of competition.

The Peak Design Everyday Sling Bag 10L  (both V1 & V2) camera bag is used almost exclusively in favour of our backpack camera bags these days. All our cameras are supported by the Slide Strap and on the odd occasion, we will use the Capture Clip, LensKit, Shell, and Clutch products, depending on our shooting requirements.

The Packaging

Peak Design never cuts corners on their product packaging – and this product is no exception. The attractive rigid recyclable cardboard tube (Climate Neutral certified) that contains the tripod (below left), is also encased in shrink-wrapped plastic. The lid is held on by two stretchy 1″ elastic fasteners on opposite sides. This assures that the lid will not be lost easily. It is removed by pulling it upwards which in turn stretches the elastic until the lid clears the opening of the tube. The tripod fits snugly within its own bag inside the tube (below middle). We found the easiest way to remove it from the tube is to hold the tube upside down and let it slide out.

Above Left: The Packaging Above Middle: Tripod Bag  and Bushing Removal Tool Above Right: Tripod

The Bag

The tripod bag itself is made out of a similar durable material that is used in their camera bags such as the Everyday Sling Bag and Everyday Backpack products.

As mentioned, the tripod fits very snugly within the bag (above middle). Access to the tripod is via the zipper that extends across one end of the bag and about halfway down one side. This design makes it more of a sheath than a bag, but call it what you may.

The bag fits so snugly that you may want to consider keeping the tripod in the bag when attached to your preferred camera bag. The bag really doesn’t make the size of the tripod that much bigger. This is a great idea, as our current tripods are attached to our Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L bags without the tripod bag due to its bulkiness. This way, the tripod is even more protected from bumps, scratches, and the elements.

If you want to carry the bag using a carry strap there are connection points at both ends of the bag.

On the inside of the bag, near the top, is a small pocket that houses the Bushing Removal Tool. This is a small pincer type tool that allows you to remove the bushings when removing the legs for either cleaning or to replace a spare part. If you want to watch an in-depth video on how to remove the legs and use this tool check out this link – https://youtu.be/9nWZIuiMRzw.

Note: We have been reading that many photographers are losing the hex tools that attach to one of the legs. If you are carrying the tripod using the bag we suggest you use the same pocket as the Bushing Removal Tool to store the hex tool.

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod – Head

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod 
Mobile Phone Mount

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The Tripod Legs

Apparently, it took 4 years of designing from the ground up to get to the production stage and boy does it show. There’s an amazing amount of design that went into this tripod. In order for the tripod to maintain its sleek profile the legs were designed like no other tripod – none that we’ve ever seen, at least. The big problem with tripods in the past is that there has always been so much ‘dead space’ when the legs are together due to their shape. Peak Design cleverly designed the legs so that this ‘dead space’ was utilised (see image below). On the left is Peak Design’ revolutionary leg design and on the right is the standard leg design of most tripods.

Above: The Peak Design Travel Tripod is on the left and our current tripod on the right

Above: The Peak Design Travel Tripod without the centre column extended

The legs are constructed from Carbon Fibre or Anodised Aluminium Alloy depending on which version you buy. The centre column on the Carbon Fibre model is also constructed from Anodised Aluminium Alloy. After thorough research Peak Design discovered that the aluminium centre column provided more stability than a carbon fibre centre column.

Each leg has 4 sections which are locked into place with Cam Levers (see image below). Generally, we have always preferred the rotating locks on the legs as we have found that lever locking clamps on tripod legs can break. However, due to the shape of the legs, it would have been difficult to fit these with rotating locks. The tripod has a Lifetime Warranty so it shouldn’t be a problem getting replacement Cam Levers should one break (as a matter of fact, the lifetime warranty covers you for any manufacturers defect or malfunction of any part of the tripod under normal use). If you want to adjust the tension of the Cam Lever simply tighten with the provided 2.5mm hex tool that can be found attached to the tripod legs (to avoid losing this tool, see our note earlier in this post). Each leg also has the usual angle adjusters at the top of each leg.

The tripod feet are constructed from high grip rubber. Each foot can be removed with the provided 4mm hex tool. Should you want spiked feet for better grip in some locations then these can be purchased separately.

The Centre Column

The centre column, as mentioned previously, is constructed from Anodised Aluminium Alloy on both versions. To raise the column, pull out the deployable centre column knob located at the top of the legs then loosen by rotating. Raise the head then tighten the knob and push back in.

Important: If you want to rotate the ball head of the tripod you will always need to raise the centre column slightly.

As per usual for most tripods, there is a hook at the bottom of the centre column (see image below) for hanging a camera bag or any other weighted object to give the tripod added stability, especially if it is windy. If you remove the hook by pulling the collar downwards and rotating in either direction the interior of the centre column will reveal a removable mobile phone mount (see the previous diagram). The opposite end of the hook is magnetised which allows easy removal of the mount. What a great idea! To replace the hook simply insert it into the centre column by pushing the hook upwards and then rotate either direction to lock into position. You will also have to remove the hook from the bottom of the centre column if you are configuring the tripod to shoot low to the ground (Low Mode or Inverted Mode).

Lastly, there are 2 anchor points should you want to attach a strap to carry the tripod without the bag. One is located at the end of the hook on the Centre Column and the other is on the collar at the top of the Center Column. These are primarily designed to be used with the Peak Design Anchors to attach a Slide or Leash Strap, neither of which are provided with the tripod.

TIP

We suggest you avoid raising the centre column all the way on any tripod as this adds increased instability. If we ever raise our centre column then we will usually only raise it halfway. If it is windy, then we would suggest not raising it at all. This may vary from tripod to tripod.

ON1 Photo RAW 2020

Ball Tripod Head

The low profile ball head is well constructed. There is an Adjustment Ring that will need to be loosened to rotate the ball head. Once the ball head is in the required position you can lock it into position by tightening the Adjustment Ring.

To mount a camera you must either attach the provided Quick Release plate to your camera or use an L Bracket attached to your camera. Rotate the Locking Ring to the unlocked position, then either hold down the Quick Release Tab while inserting the camera or alternatively, insert front edge of Quick Release plate and then push down on the camera to click in place. Once in place rotate the Locking Ring to the locked position (closed padlock icon).

If you would prefer to slide the camera into the head you can also remove the 2 small pegs on the head with the 2.5mm hex tool that is provided (see image below). The head also has a small bubble level to help you level the tripod.

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod with Sony A7R III fitted with an L Bracket and FE 24-105 f/4 lens

Specs

For all the specifications click here

Tripod Dimensions:
Packed Height- 39.4 cm / 15.5 in
Packed Width – 7.9 cm / 3.1 in
Height – 130.2 cm / 51.3 in with Centre Column down or 152.4 cm / 60 in with the Centre Column extended

Weight: Carbon: 1.27 kgs (2.81 lbs), Alloy: 1.56 kg (3.44 lbs)
Load: 9.1 kgs (20 lbs)
Price: USD$349.00/AUD$556.00 for Aluminium or USD$599.95/AUD$952.00 for Carbon Fibre (at time of writing 14th April 2020. Prices exclude taxes and AUD prices vary based on the exchange rate). To purchase the Peak Design Travel Tripod –  Buy at Peak Design / Buy in Australia

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod with bag attached to the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L V2

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod without its bag attached to the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L V2

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod in its bag attached to the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L V1

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod without its bag attached to the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L V1

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod in its bag attached to the Vanguard Alta Rise 45 Backpack Bag

Above: Peak Design Travel Tripod without its bag attached to the Vanguard Alta Rise 45 Backpack Bag

We would recommend carrying the tripod in its bag to attach to the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L V2, as we have found that without the bag, the tripod does not fit as securely due to the configuration of the tripod attachment straps. This is not a problem on the Peak Design Everyday Sling 10L V1 and we assume no issue for the smaller 3L & 6L versions of the bag.

The tripod (with or without the bag) sits well in the Peak Design Everyday & Travel Backpack bags. Due to its size, it would not be an issue for other brands of camera backpacks that have dedicated holders for tripods.

Field Testing

There hasn’t been an opportunity to comprehensively test the tripod in the field yet as we are writing this amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We are really looking forward to some normalcy so that we can give the tripod a really good workout in the field.

Compared to our current tripod, it is a bit quicker to erect as we do not need to invert the legs or adjust the centre column. However, if the tripod is kept in its bag then it takes about the same time to erect. We’re never really in that much of a hurry, so this is not a concern.

The legs are easy to expand and adjust as needed. Just unlatch all the cam levers in one go, extend the legs to the desired length then lock cam levers into place. Mounting the camera is a quick process. We have L-Brackets on our cameras and these are easy to mount in the Arca-Swiss mount of the ball head and lock in place. If not using an L-Plate on your camera, use the supplied hex tool to attach the provided quick-release plate (same plates used on other Peak Design products) to your camera. Any Arca-Swiss plate can be used, however, depending on the size of the plate you may need to remove the two small pegs on the head with the provided 2.5mm hex tool (see the image the in Ball Tripod Head section).

There is a small bubble level on the top of the ball head. We found it easier to level the tripod before placing the camera in the mount. It is also quite small and difficult to see depending on the plate or size of camera/lens being used.

As mentioned previously, you need to lift the centre column slightly to be able to adjust the ball head. With just one Adjustment Ring you can adjust the ball head forward/back and left/right position. This did take a little getting used to, as our current tripods have 2 knobs that can be used separately to adjust the position of the ball head and head rotation. If you frequently shoot images to stitch into a panorama, then the tripod is not ideal as there isn’t a separate knob to adjust the left/right (panning). For best results, a panoramic tripod head would be required.

We found no issues with the stability of the tripod when mounted with the Sony A7R III & Sony 24-105mm f4 lens. We also tested the tripod with the Sony A7R III & Sony 70-200mm f4 (via the lens collar) as this is our heaviest combination, and that was rock solid as well.

Converting the tripod into Low Mode or Inverted Mode (see images above) requires some effort. Low Mode is great for getting shots from a low perspective while Inverted Mode is ideal for getting shots pointing directly down.

The Low Mode requires you to remove the hook and remove the centre column. Use the provided hex tool to separate the two sections that make up the column (via the ball head). Then re-insert the ball head with the smaller section of the column and re-insert into the centre column position.

Using in the Inverted Mode is a little easier, you just need to remove the hook and remove the centre column then re-insert the centre column in the inverted position.

Accessories

You can also purchase the following tripod accessories, and if interested, click here to see a video on how to install the accessories –

  • Ultralight Conversion Kit – the kit basically turns the tripod into a table-top tripod that is a lot lighter than the original tripod. This is achieved by removing several sections of each leg and replacing with plastic foot plugs. A great idea if you want an even lighter tripod. Not an accessory that we would ever use. 
  • Universal Head Adapter – this accessory is ideal for those that want to use their own tripod head. This would be useful for those that want to use their own head for panorama shooting as the existing head is not ideal. Alternatively, use the existing head with a panoramic tripod head.
  • Spiked Feet Set – for those that want that extra grip for the feet of the tripod on difficult surfaces. 
  • Standard Plate – a camera tripod plate that comes with Capture, Travel Tripod, and Clutch camera strap.

Verdict

As Travel Photographers the Peak Design Travel Tripod, in our opinion, is the Rolls Royce of travel tripods. We have never seen a better-designed tripod in this class. The tripod is sleek, light, sturdy, high quality, and packed with features that every photographer loves in a tripod. As Travel Photographers or any other type of photographer that wants to cut down weight without compromising on functionality, this is a tripod that you will be happy to carry around all day. The only caveat is the price, it is expensive, however, keep in mind that this may possibly be the last tripod you will ever need to buy. If you are a photographer that wants a premium quality tripod that will last a lifetime then this tripod is the one to get. The only issue we have with the tripod is that we will probably be fighting over which one of us gets to use itsealed  

Below are some Pros & Cons of the tripod. In all honesty, the CONS are all minor issues (except for the price) and they may not be an issue for everyone.

PROS

  • Extremely well designed
  • Light
  • Compact
  • Sturdy
  • Good standing height
  • Mobile Phone adapter
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Perfect for travel

CONS

  • Expensive (for us anyway)
  • Not ideal for panning or taking a series of shots for stitching a panorama
  • Unlike our current tripod, does not convert to a monopod
  • Again unlike our current tripod, removal of legs for cleaning or repair is more complex

We rate this product as HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. If you are interested in reading our other review of this product titled “Peak Design Travel Tripod – Is this the best travel tripod?” then click here.

To purchase the Peak Design Travel Tripod –  Buy at Peak Design / Buy in Australia or to purchase any other Peak Design products not mentioned in this post, click here to view on Peak Design or Buy in  Australia

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