Dan Bailey's Adventure Photography BlogPosted on by Dan
Chalk this one up to the “how did I miss this one category.” In all my lightweight tripod reviews and blog posts, I somehow overlooked the Vanguard 225CT carbon fiber tripod.
With 5 screw lock leg sections, the Vanguard 225CT closes down to a mere 13.5″ and only weighs 1.79 lbs without head.
In my book, that makes this an excellent choice for a ultra lightweight backpacking or travel tripod. It’s small enough to fit on the side of just about any pack or camera bag, light enough not to slow you down, and relatively sturdy for being so light.
The Vanguard 225CT also has a reversible center column and a hook for hanging weight to help stability. If there’s a downside, it’s that the 225CT only extends to 41″, so it’s a little on the short side. However, if you’re shooting landscapes, this may not be much of an issue. The getting it closer to the ground thing is much more critical for most outdoor photography applications.
At $259, the Vanguard 225CT costs nearly one third as much as some Gitzo tripods, and for roughly the same price, it’s lighter than just about all of the Manfrotto models, plus it gets great reviews. I got to check it out for myself at PhotoPlus this year, and after fiddling with the legs and locks for a while, it seems like the thing is built pretty well. It’s certainly sturdy enough for just about any light to moderate weight DSLR and lens combo, but it’s probably not the one you want if you’re shooting a lot with a bigger, heavier lens or a batter grip body.
Lightweight, compact, affordable- Like I said, how did I miss this one? Fortunately, I ran across it at PhotoPlus this year and suddenly realize that I might have found my new favorite set of lightweight legs. Great. Now I’ll have to go back and change my “best lightweight tripod posts.”
But what if you’re going on an extended trip and plan to live out of a tent or your car for a few days or weeks? Sure, you can always charge your camera batteries when you stop at restaurants and rest stops, but realistically, how many outlets can you take up between all of your photography and mobile devices? Also, it takes a lot longer to charge an iPad than a camera battery.
The easiest solution for vehicle travel is a car charger with a 30-pin iPad/iPhone connector. The other option, especially if you’ll be on an extended backpacking, climbing or bike trip is getting a solar charger that will power your iPhone, iPad, GPS, and other battery powered or USB devices. Based on durability, reliability, size and compact design, here are the best 3 solar USB charging systems that you might find useful on your next outdoor photography road trip.
1. Joos Orange Personal Solar Charger
The Joos Orange is rated as the most powerful and durable solar charger on the market. It will charge smartphones, iPads, Kindles, some digital cameras and just about any other USB device. It can even power the Sanyo Eneloop AA travel USB battery charger. Think speedlight batteries.
It’s also waterproof and durable enough to be left in the sand and dirt, left outside to keep charging in light rain, and stuffed into your pack. At 8.5″ x 5.7″, it’s a pretty compact unit.
Seems like if you’re looking for a well made outdoor proof charging system, the Joos Orange Personal Solar Charger looks like the best option. Nonetheless, if you’re not ready to be done reading, here are two more possibilities.
2. Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Kit
The Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Kit is a an ultra-lightweight pocket sized complete USB solar charging system. It includes a solar panel, a 12v USB port, 4 rechargeable AA batteries, battery charger pack with LED light and a 12v car charging adaptor.
The batter kit is nice, because you can use them to power your camera flashes. And, if four is not enough, you can buy add on kits of extra batteries.
The Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure Kit is lighter, smaller and more powerful than the Brunton solar charger, which has been the standard option for a charger of this type. The whole kit folds up into a small flat bundle that you can easily throw into a pack, glovebox or even your camera bag and it seems like a great mobile charging option for outdoor and adventure photographers, and it’s a little more affordable than the Joos Orange.
The Soladec also features a LED lamp that is way brighter than most other devices of this type. It’s highly rated as a reliable, compact and durable unit for backpacking and backcountry travel charger that will withstand the rigors the outdoors.
Support this site: As always, buying gear through these links is like giving me a USB powered thumbs up for writing these tips and gear reviews. Thanks! -Dan
Dan Bailey's Adventure Photography BlogPosted on by Dan
Ever since I broke my lightweight backpacking tripod last fall, I’ve been looking for the perfect replacement. Of course, there is no such thing as perfect when it comes to outdoor photography gear, but you can sometimes get pretty darn close.
While there are quite a few tripods in the 3 lb. and above range, there are not very many quality choices in the under 3 lb. range. Most tripods that are super light weight just aren’t very sturdy. You might as well try to stack your camera on top of a set of twigs, which is essentially what you’re doing if you get one of those cheapo models. However, if you’re on a tighter budget, check out these 3 slightly more affordable lightweight carbon fiber tripod models.
When it comes to quality, though, here are three of the best options that I’ve found. If you’re the kind of photographer who likes to carry your equipment into the backcountry, who likes to go light, fast and unencumbered, and who isn’t afraid to spend decent money on a good tripod, you should definitely consider one of these. All are carbon fiber, which has excellent strength to weight ratio, and it doesn’t radiate cold on your hands in the winter like aluminum does.
Gitzo tripods are the cream of the crop when it comes to camera support. There is simply no finer tripod that you can buy. Whether you need ultralight or big lens support, you can never go wrong with a Gitzo.
At 2.3 lbs, the GT0532 Mountaineer offers excellent strength to weight ratio. It’s not quite as light as a feather, but it sure comes close. It’s also quite sturdy for how little it weighs. It’s rated to 17 lbs, and it while it won’t provide the same support of a heavier tripod if you’re using longer telephotos like 300 and 400mm, if you’re looking for a set of legs that feels like you’re carrying nothing at all, this is your best bet. Note: Right now there’s a $150 rebate deal on the this tripod.
The GT 0352 extends to 52″ and closes down to 20.9″. With the center column all the way down, it still extends to 42.5″ high.
@Danbaileyphoto I love my Gitzo Mountaineer.
My vote? Gitzo Mountaineer > RT @Danbaileyphoto: Great tripods for outdoor and landscape photography
At 2.1 lbs, the GT0545T Series 0 Traveler is exceptionally lightweight, and with leg sections that fold back, it packs very small- only 14″ long. The smallest model in the popular Traveler Series, the GT0545T is rated to hold 22lbs, which is way more than most other “lightweight” tripods on the market.
Yes, it costs more, but if you want the ultimate, ultralight, compact tripod with a beautiful streamlined design with no compromise in quality or stability, this may be the one.
All the Gitzo Traveler tripods have 2 options- either with the gorgeous 1382QD ball head, or without a head. They also come with a carrying strap and a short center column for ground level shooting.
Specs on the GT0545T are as follows: Max height: 48.2″, closed length: 14.4″, load capacity: 22 lbs, max height with center column all the way down: 41.7″.
Lovin' my Gitzo 1541 > RT @Danbaileyphoto: 3 Ultra Lightweight Tripods for Outdoor Photography http://t.co/IZurlQpJ
Next to the Gitzo GT0531, the Oben CT-3561 feels heavy, but at only 3.1 lbs, it’s still a contender. Oben is a lesser known brand, but they make high quality tripods that are both lightweight and affordable. The CT-3561 is a 5-section tripod that folds down to 16.8″, extends to 64.3″ and only weighs 3.1 lb.
It’s very compact because the legs fold back on themselves, making it an ideal choice as both a backpacking tripod and travel tripod. It’s also heavy duty enough for pro use, as it has a 12 lb. load capacity.
It’s got twist lock legs sections that allow for one handed operation, a center column hook that lets you attach a weighted pack or bag for added stability and a full pan and tilt ball Arca style quick release head.
Oben makes good tripods. Are they are good as the Gitzos? Some say yes, some say no, but there’s no question that they’re well made and great for all around use. Load capacity is listed as 16.8 lbs., (up from the previous CT-3500 model) which is certainly strong enough to hold most camera/lens combinations. It also has retractable spiked feet and an Arca style quick release plate on the head.