Peak Design´s Travel Tripod Review – Is It Good For Photo And Video?
Peak Design has been rethinking the camera accessory market for many years now. You’ve probably already seen their other highly innovative products on the market.
For many years they’ve been secretly brainstorming their most innovative, impressive, and most complex product to date: The Peak Design Travel Tripod. The company raised an incredible $12 million on Kickstarter when it was launched.
Do We Need Another Tripod?
The best travel tripods need to be adaptable and rigid, obviously, but they also need to be small, light, and portable. If you just want the best tripod all-around, it’s not so hard to find some great candidates, but if you want a tripod portable enough to take on your travels but still sturdy enough for night shots, selfies, and long exposures, the list gets a lot narrower.
Tripods are ultimately pretty simple devices, and for the most part, they don’t vary that much in their basic design. Differences in tube diameter, material, and the number of leg sections account for most of the differences we see between models. This is why the Peak Design Travel Tripod is a breath of fresh air in a stagnant market.
Pros and Cons
If you are in a rush and you want to know our opinion in a nutshell, here you go:
- Compact, space-saving leg design
- Very well built
- Concealed mobile stand
- Ingenious ball head design
- Fast Deployment
- Rigid and strong
Could Be Better
- The price tag is expensive
- Carbon Fiber version could be lighter
- Not the tallest
- No panning
- Yaw Stiffness 349 +/- 1 Nm/rad
- Yaw Damping 0.143 +/- 0.014 Js/rad
- Pitch Stiffness 1007.8 +/- 2 Nm/rad
- Pitch Damping 0.213 +/- 0.021 Js/rad
- Retail Price $600 (Adorama | B&H | Amazon | Peak Design)
- Weight 2.39 lbs (1.083 kgs)
- Manufacturer weight rating 20 lbs
- Maximum Height 50.5 in (128.3 cm)
- Minimum Height 2.8 in (7.1 cm)
- Max Height with Center Column 59.0 in (149.9 cm)
- Leg Material Carbon Fiber
- Leg Sections 5
- Primary Leg Angle 23.0 deg
- Leg Locks Flip
- Top Tube Diameter 36.3 mm
- Second Tube Diameter 30.5 mm
- Third Tube Diameter 24.8 mm
- Fourth Tube Diameter 19.2 mm
- Fifth Tube Diameter 11.7 mm
To minimize the folded size of the tripod, it features 5 telescoping leg sections that have a unique cross-sectional shape. Instead of using traditional cylindrical legs, Peak Design sought to shape the leg in such a way that the center column would be nested closely within the folded legs. When fully collapsed, there are barely any gaps between the legs, leg locks, and column. This clever outside-the-box thinking has truly produced one of the most compact full-sized travel tripods that ever existed.
Carbon Vs. Aluminum
There are some differences between both models, not only in the $250 variance in the price tag.
The carbon version costs $599.95 and weighs 1307g in the standard configuration. On the other hand, the aluminum version has a price of $349.85 and weighs 1,613g in the standard configuration. If you are fast in Math, you will notice that for every gram of weight you save, you spend an extra 83cents. Choosing the carbon version means expending extra cash, but is it worth it?
The answer depends on the use you will have for this tripod. Will you be shooting in tough conditions, with larger, heavier telephoto lenses? the carbon fiber model will be your ideal companion.
Will you be shooting more casually, with a compact lightweight setup at normal focal lengths? You’ll be fine with either tripod.
Owners of the carbon version can rest safe in the knowledge that they bought the best of the best, whereas aluminum owners can sleep safely knowing they probably got the better deal and spent their money wisely.
Regarding the center column, it’s easy to get fixated on the maximum height of a tripod with its column extended – 153 cm in this case. But the reality is that if you want the sharpest images, you will spend more time using the tripod with the column lowered. In this case, giving you a max height of 131 cm.
For this head, Peak Design concentrated on making something that would be extremely light and low-profile when the tripod is collapsed.
Controls for the head are simple. There is an outer locking ring that loosens the jaws around the ball and gives you the traditional tilt and roll movements of a ball head. There’s also a small lever that locks the jaws of the head to prevent accidental release of your camera. This clamp is Arca-Swiss compatible, so it will work with any of your existing tripod plates and L brackets when the two stopper screws are removed.
The downside to the low-profile head design is that it doesn’t have an independent panning base. This feature could be useful for panoramic photographs, for instance.
One of Peak Design‘s chief aims has been to cut down on wasted space, or volume when the tripod is packed away. It’s achieved this with legs and a center column that dovetail precisely when the tripod is folded, and aren’t just a bunch of tubes pushed together.
There are five leg sections per leg, which means four locks per leg, and they’re lever-lock, not twist-lock.
The cam locks on the legs are right next to each other so you can release them all at the same time with one hand to extend the leg sections. The rubber feet on the end have chamfered edges to offer a flat surface regardless of leg angle, even with the legs outstretched in the low angle mode.
Height and Weight
The short length has been achieved with 5-section legs, which helps achieve a maximum height of 153cm with the center column extended or 131cm without, as we mentioned before. The carbon fiber version tested here weighs 1.27kg. There is a much cheaper aluminum version with all the same design features but a little less stiffness and vibration damping (Peak Design reckons the carbon fiber version is around 20% stiffer).
Despite its odd leg and head design, the verdict comes easy: Not only does the tripod do a great job of holding a camera perfectly still, but the highly unique ball head design still affords a decent amount of precision and easy operation.
I have been testing the tripod extensively with heavy DSLR´s such as the Canon 5D IV and lighter equipment, like the Canon R. Both using PolarPro´s Summit System, a landscape kit that I highly recommend due to its high performance and beautiful ascetics that matches with the elegance of the carbon tripod.
[Related Reading: Peak Design Unveils The “Next Generation” of Camera Tripods]
It´s Not Perfect
Nothing in life is perfect, and the Peak Design Travel Tripod isn’t either. This is probably not a good tripod as it ships for videographers. It doesn’t have a fluid ball head, and smooth pans are out of the question. Still, as I’ve noted, you can put a video-friendly head on this tripod if you like.
The Travel Tripod includes a phone adapter that can be used on the ball head to hold your phone. YouTube creators will likely find it handy for behind-the-scenes shots, b-roll, and time-lapses. The foldable phone holder is cleverly hidden inside the center column, accessible by rotating and removing the center column’s bottom hook.
Peak Design has created a bespoke mini multitool that can be stored in your bag or attached to the leg of the tripod in a removable plastic sheath. It’s these kinds of small details that set Peak Design apart from everyone else.
There’s also a bag that offers a very snug fit, loop attachments for a shoulder strap or backpack strap, and an inner pocket containing a special tool for maintaining the cam locks on the legs, should they need it. As part of Peak Design´s ecosystem, the bag is compatible with their Everyday Backpack, either in 20L or 30L.
If you want to use your ball head on the Peak Design Travel Tripod, the included inverted ball head can be quickly removed and replaced with the Universal Ball Head Adapter.
The Ultralight Conversion Kit converts your Peak Design Travel Tripod into a tabletop tripod. You can choose to still use the center column, or it can be removed. With this kit and the center column removed, the carbon tripod weighs just 601g. The height with the conversion kit is as follows:
- Max height (center column down): 36cm
- Max height (center column up): 58cm
The Spike Feet set for the Travel Tripod is designed for use on softer ground, such as ice, smooth rocks, and loose dirt or gravel. Also, great when using the Travel Tripod with heavier photo or video rigs.
This tripod is also compatible with the Peak Design Anchor System that allows a strap to be quickly disconnected, so you can swap it from the tripod to the tripod bag in a few seconds if need be. The Leash or the Slide Liteeveryday makes the most sense.
Most of the time, we think that a tripod is just a simple tool that can be used instantly out of the case without extra complication. The engineering behind the Peak Design Travel Tripod is more complex as this tripod differs from any other available option. Therefore, I highly recommend reading the manual and invest some time looking at the tutorials to understand how it works properly and all the possibilities you can achieve with it.
It’s encouraging to see brands jumping into new product categories and genuinely trying to innovate and improve. With the Peak Design Travel Tripod, there’s no doubt the price alone will have people turning up their noses. But innovation and research don’t come cheap when delivering a quality product that will guarantee an efficient performance with ground-breaking engineering solutions.
If you’re invested in Peak Design, love their products, and are looking for a solid long-term investment into a tripod, this is one that you’ll buy now and probably never have to look at another tripod for a very long time.
The Peak Design Travel Tripod is not the perfect videographer tripod, but it can be adapted to a fluid head. It’s well built, sturdy with normal use, innovative in construction and features, and it has become my daily tripod for landscape photography.