Daven Mathies/Digital TrendsPeak Design’s first product, the Capture digital camera clip system, launched on Kickstarter in 2011 and earned a cool $360,000. The product, which let photographers connect a digital camera to a belt or backpack strap, provided a easy answer to a typical downside, and the marketing campaign blew previous expectations. Then lightning struck twice. Then once more, and once more, and once more…
By the time of its eighth Kickstarter marketing campaign in July 2018, which launched a line of journey baggage and equipment, Peak Design was a family title amongst extra than simply photographers. That marketing campaign raised over $5 million from greater than 13,000 backers.
The firm now delivers 1000’s of merchandise day by day to prospects world wide. Peak Design isn’t only a Kickstarter success story — it’s a poster little one for the American dream.
It’s no shock, then, that Peak Design returned to Kickstarter to launch its newest product, the Travel Tripod. Billed as a “ground-up reexamination of camera tripod design,” it claims to be probably the most volumetrically environment friendly tripod ever made that may nonetheless assist full-size cameras and lenses.
But what may presumably be so thrilling a few tripod? Well, greater than it’s possible you’ll notice. I’ve spent a short while with a preproduction mannequin of the Travel Tripod, and whereas some issues could change between now and the ultimate model, I’m already very impressed with it. It is thinner, quicker to arrange, and far simpler to hold (both in a bag or by hand) than my MeFoto BackPacker, which has served as my major take-anywhere tripod for years. That that is Peak Design’s first tripod makes it all of the extra spectacular.
The Travel Tripod’s origins will be traced again to Peak Design CEO and founder Peter Dering’s frustration with the shortage of a very good light-weight tripod that didn’t take up an excessive amount of area in a bag. While improvements like reversible legs and carbon fiber had performed their half to make tripods smaller and lighter, all of them nonetheless had one massive downside: Four cylindrical tubes (three legs, one middle column) merely don’t collapse in an environment friendly method. No matter the way you attempt to shove them collectively, there’s an excessive amount of unused unfavorable area left over.
Peak Design solved this downside in the obvious method doable: By not making the tubes spherical. The Travel Tripod has a roughly triangular middle column with a really slender diameter; the legs are molded to suit almost flush in opposition to it when closed. Not solely does this save area, nevertheless it makes the tripod rather more comfy to carry in your hand.
Another factor Peak Design did was take away all of the knobs that usually jut out from a tripod head, opting as an alternative for a single locking dial that encircles the mounting plate and tightens or loosens the top onto the ball joint. Some photographers could discover the shortage of an impartial pan management to be a small difficulty, however Peak Design’s method has cleaned up the ball head significantly; in the case of sliding the Travel Tripod right into a tripod collar on a backpack, there are not any arduous factors to catch on the material or straps.
There is one knob that continues to be, which is used to lift or decrease the middle column, however it will probably retract to lie nearly flush with the legs when the tripod is collapsed.
The fast launch mount is suitable with in style Arca Swiss plates in addition to the Peak Design Capture plate, so you’ll be able to unclip your digital camera out of your backpack and snap it into the tripod with out altering plates. The head will also be fully faraway from the middle column and mounted on to the legs for “low boy” operation. Alternately, the middle column can merely be inverted for low-angle or downward-facing photographs. Spread width is managed by spring-loaded locks on the high of the legs.
But the good innovation — if I do chortle at myself barely for saying this — is the common telephone mount that’s constructed into the middle column. At the bottom of the column you’ll discover a counterweight hook; many tripods have these, however Peak Design’s is totally different. Pull down on a spring-loaded collar across the hook and you’ll rotate it and pop it misplaced. You’ll discover it’s hooked up to a magnet, which pulls what seems to be to be a easy black bar a pair inches lengthy out of the middle column. This bar unfolds right into a telephone clamp that clips straight onto the tripod head.
This is probably the most over-engineered answer to placing a telephone on a tripod that I’ve ever seen, and I adore it.
As for precise cameras, the Travel Tripod can assist a payload of 33 kilos (this can be a conservative estimate — as Peak Design defined to press at their flagship retailer in San Francisco, the middle column received’t truly slip till 80 kilos, however “capacity” is a considerably obscure time period within the tripod world, decided by many components). The carbon fiber model I examined weighs simply 3.4 kilos and measures 15.4 inches when collapsed. With the legs absolutely prolonged and middle column raised, it’s 60 inches tall.
The collapsed size is a bit longer than another journey tripods, however as a result of Peak Design’s doesn’t depend on reversible legs, it may be deployed rather more rapidly. It additionally makes use of lever locks in comparison with the slower twist locks, though each camps have their supporters (because the Travel Tripod’s legs aren’t spherical, twist locks in all probability weren’t an possibility right here).
While light-weight tripods won’t ever exchange heavy obligation fashions for probably the most demanding studio functions, I used to be happy with the steadiness and power of the Travel Tripod. The legs sit vast and there may be little or no play between the sections, even absolutely prolonged. It is designed to assist full-frame DSLRs with telephoto lenses, and naturally works nice for smaller mirrorless cameras, as properly.
The middle column does look worryingly slender, however I discovered it to be surprisingly secure and safe. It’s the key to the Travel Tripod’s volumetric effectivity, and it doesn’t seem to have come at a price to stability.
Can a tripod actually be thrilling?
There’s a purpose Peak Design’s bag campaigns have performed so properly. People love baggage. We need purposeful baggage, fashionable baggage, journey baggage, new baggage, retro baggage, small baggage, massive baggage — however tripods? We tolerate them. We’d fairly not have to hold one in any respect. A tripod exists as a result of there are issues a digital camera can’t do with out one, like long-exposures and time-lapses, however no one ever buys a tripod as a result of it’s cool.
Daven Mathies/Digital TrendsThe Travel Tripod is excellent — wonderful, even — however I can’t think about its Kickstarter marketing campaign will draw the identical fervent enthusiasm that Peak Design’s baggage have. Still, in the event you’re a photographer on the transfer who hasn’t been capable of finding an acceptable tripod in your life-style, the Travel Tripod could also be simply what you’ve been ready for. If you’ll be able to afford it.
You can choose it up at a reduction by backing the Kickstarter marketing campaign (even with Peak Design’s profitable historical past, you must be mindful the inherent dangers of crowdfunding earlier than you do), however in the event you’d fairly look ahead to retail, it should price you. The carbon fiber model (examined) will promote for $600, whereas the aluminum mannequin will go for $350.
For comparability, the MeFoto GlobeTrotter, which provides comparable size and capability specs, is simply $350 for the carbon fiber model and about $200 for the aluminum. The Travel Tripod is probably extra pretty in comparison with the higher-end Gitzo Traveler sequence, which retails for as much as $1,000. Gitzo has its diehard followers, and the Travel Tripod seems to stack up properly in opposition to it.
But whether or not it earns $300,000 or $5 million on Kickstarter, one of the best factor in regards to the Travel Tripod is that it brings contemporary concepts to a fairly stale product class. (Update: Just 2 hours after going dwell, the marketing campaign has earned over $1 million in pledges, already twice its objective — whoa.) Peak Design has discovered a strategy to innovate the place others have left properly sufficient alone, and that’s one thing value getting enthusiastic about.