As photographers and videographers, we search far and wide for the right gear that allow us to be able to get the job done, and be able to do it right. And as far as YouTube goes, our tripod needs are a little...shall we say, smaller. Table top-sized, in fact. Knowing this, SmallRig created two new table top tripods and were kind enough to send them both to me so that I could review them.
Right off the bat, neither of them has a specific name; only their model numbers are a title differentiator: the smaller one without a head is the 2288 and the larger, with a ball head, is the 2287.
I'm going to break these down one at a time for you, so you can get both the cons and pros of both. Because the specs of these tripods are in the links provided, I'll be giving you each thought I had from every aspect that the tripods give us...something that most of us, as creators, would rather have anyway: first hand experience.
Table top tripod 2288
The rubber pads on the bottom of each leg don't wrap around...at all really. And because of that, the pads aren't exactly enough to grip the surface if the legs are spread out even a little more than half-way. On that same note, the pads are a little too slippery as a whole, and I'd be hesitant to put a mirrorless camera on this tripod for fear of the weight being too much for them, but I'd still be completely comfortable having a light or an action camera on it.
The rubber pad is what's sitting on the rock itself
Beyond the pads, the legs are held in place by a single allen bolt and mine didn't come as tight as they could have been, which is what made my legs cave out under the stress of the weight.
The fact that this tiny tripod only has those few "cons" is fantastic. Because, as you'll soon find, the "pros" far outweighs these.
Staying on the point of the allen bolt, the problem is quite easily fixed: just tighten it with an allen wrench. The legs won't give out anywhere near as easily...though it still doesn't help with the rubber pads issue.
The tripod is WAY tougher in my hands than it looked in the pictures, and the fact that it's so skinny makes it super lightweight.
Each leg has a single 1/4 20mm hole (which is fantastic for mounting those lightweight accessories), though I feel that the placement of the holes is just too far down on each leg for vloggers to be able to use this specific tripod as a handheld option and still be able to use the holes. So, as far as using it on for table top/on any surface, the holes can definitely be utilized.
Female 1/4 20mm mounts
The top of the tripod has a 1/4 20mm mount for you to be able to use most ball head options...or phone clamps/mounts, or action camera mounts. Basically, that means you can make your table top rig completely customized.
Aputure H-198c LED on top
Table top tripod 2287
Okay...so I opened the box (after already having opened the 2288) and immediately noticed that the larger of the two tripods does not have female 1/4 20mm mounts on the legs. I find that a bit strange, but I'm sure SmallRig had their reasons.
Though the individual allen bolts were already good and tight on each leg, they're still bolts. Bolts that I would have to tighten or loosen with an allen wrench in order to have the legs to my liking/needs, which means always having one on me.
The screw that comes inserted into the arca swiss plate is a basic 1/4 20mm that you would need a flathead screwdriver or nickel (because we've all done it) to tighten or loosen it. I find it strange that it couldn't come with a d-ring 1/4 20mm (that SmallRig already makes) so that it could be handled with a single hand instead of another tool.
On the last "con" note, the screw that is holding the ball head onto the tripod is a 3/8 instead of 1/4 20mm. It's not so much that it's bad, but it does limit your mounting options if you want to switch out the head for another one, but I do like that a 3/8 does tend to give more strength to the joint...so it's kind of bad and good at the same time.
Yes, that's right, there's an interesting note to this tripod...specifically it's about the ball head. Actually, it's even more than that: the knobs on the ball head. The knobs have TENSION RELEASE ability! What I mean by that is: after you tighten the knobs for panning and the ball head position, you can pull the knobs straight out and turn them without tightening or loosening, and then let it go and they'll pull back in. Basically, what that means is that you can have the knobs be in other positions after they've been tightened so that they're not in the way of cables...or, if you have OCD like me, it's nice to not have them in odd positions or facing different ways.
Both knobs are able to be pulled out after tightening them
It comes with the allen wrench that you'll need to tighten or loosen the bolt for each leg so that you won't have to buy one.
It comes with a ball head attached already (as you probably already gathered from one of my previous comments) that is fitted for arca swiss...and also has it's own plate ready for mounting.
The rubber pads on the bottom are definitely big enough to have the legs sit in almost any position and have great amounts of grip to all indoor surfaces and most outdoor ones, too. One caveat, however: I wish the pads fully encompassed the bottoms of the legs so that there would be grip in all positions, not just most.
Just like the smaller model, this thing is INSANELY robust. This is a huge note because I feel that the most obvious competitor is the batch of mini tripods that Manfrotto has out that (in my opinion) all look like they'd break under the strain of a single camera and decent lens.
Though small, both have massive potential. I will probably use the smaller (2288) model sparingly...perhaps to hold a LED (as shown above) or mic; whereas with the larger (2287) model (and this is me being honest with how absolutely surprised I am with it), I believe it's going to replace my Joby gorillapod. Yes, you read that right.
Sony A6000 with a 18-105 on top with no issues
My reasons are simple: I don't use the versatility of the gorillapod's legs as others might. For most of my footage (both for myself and through collaborations), I use it mainly for its vlogging ability. And because we all know that the legs of the gorillapods give out over time (much more quickly for some of us than others), I'd rather have my expensive gear be sitting on something a little more stable, and much quicker to get the legs into position on.
Are they worth your small investments? That depends on your needs. SmallRig: nice job! Keep up the good work. And I hope you will consider my thoughts for your next table top tripod design.