Monday, December 16, 2013
Our review of the MeFoto travel tripod...
Today we have the pleasure of a review of the MeFoto tripod from long time friend of Weekly Photo Tips, Paula Apro. Paula is a digital artist with an affinity for cameras, yoga, bikes, greyhounds, and traveling.
I know personally she never had a good thing to say about a tripod, that is until she got her MeFoto travel tripod.
Here is her review, enjoy.
My Love/Hate Relationship With Tripods
There is no question that I sometimes love and hate tripods and I admit... it's has been mostly hate. Well, I should say it has been mostly hate up until this year. I even pride myself on the reputation that I've built up over the years at photo workshops. At first the instructors would work very hard at convincing me that I MUST use a tripod. They'd preach endlessly about the importance of using one until finally they would come to the realization that they are wasting their time and their breath. Not only was I stubborn and stuck to all the reasons why I don't like using them, but in the end my creativity of my images would almost made them re-think their own strict rules on using what I refer to as "those creativity stifling devices." Pretty soon I became known as that "rogue photographer" or the "the anti-tripod" and although the jokes were many, the preaching has since stopped. I proved that I was good at hand holding a camera.
Just to be clear, my flat out refusal to use a tripod doesn't apply to conditions that truly warrant needing one, i.e., shooting a long exposure. There is a time and place for everything and when the real need arises I would comply and (grudgingly) use the proper tools, but I can't remember a time when I was happy about doing it. Taking a tripod out of the bag was soon followed by a bit of grumbling and maybe even a non family friendly word (or two). There has even been a time when actual tears where involved - when my heavy 70-200mm pivoted on the bullhead and came crashing down, pinning my finger between the lens and the tripod. This example pretty much illustrates a typical day using a tripod for me.
I also felt that using a tripod was work, so much work in fact that it would cause me to quickly lose interest. This is why I was so surprised and delighted when I discovered a tripod that I not only didn't dread using, I enjoyed it!
This year I bought a new MeFoto travel tripod for a recent trip overseas. I guess you can say that I downgraded from a carbon fiber Manfrotto to a much less expensive ($189) aluminum MeFoto. As I REALLY needed a tripod for this trip I decided to give it one more try, plus the darn thing was just too good looking to pass up. It comes in a variety of beautiful anodized colors (mine is blue) and packed into the smallest tripod bag I ever saw (just over a foot). The most brilliant part of this design over my old travel Manfrotto is the fact that the legs fold up backwards so you no longer have the big bulky head sticking out beyond the length of the collapsed legs. It's hard for me to believe that it took tripod manufacturers this long to come up with such a brilliant idea.
The other thing that I love about this tripod is just how "buttery smooth" the ballhead is. Now please keep in mind that I wasn't moving from a cheap no-name tripod. I had been using a top of the line carbon fiber Manfrotto and the smoothness of the MeFoto ballhead simply blew away my Manfrotto, even made it feel "sticky". I think the "sticky" ballhead issue alone is why I always disliked using tripods. It was always a struggle for me to get the adjustment just right. I would loosen the ballhead and either push too much or not enough. That is NOT a problem with my MeFoto.
It's got all sorts of cool features, like the different leg angle positions and 360 panning, but the thing that excites me the most is the fact that I can put my hand over all four extension tubes at once and in one single twist of my wrist either loosen them all up or tighten them all back down. These tubes are similar to the Gitzo style tripod and very different from the individual knobs on my old Manfrotto. I have 4 sections on three legs that need to be loosened and then tightened with every use. You do the math. That's a lot of time wasted twisting knobs. And when your assistant insists on over-tightening all of them, well it gets old and frustrating really fast.
I didn't think there was a tripod out there that could make me anything but cranky when attempting to use it, but this cute little number has done the trick, to the point where I see more long exposure photos in my future.
In closing let me say you get three important things with the MeFoto travel tripod, functionality, affordability, and portability. Okay, make that four things, because it is an extremely good looking tripod as well.