Tamrac ZipShot Tripod
$59 / £54 www.tamrac.com

Low weight, portability and ease of use are not words and phrases used to describe the average mid-size tripod, but the Tamrac ZipShot is designed to satisfy all three requirements. Unlike conventional 'telescoping' leg tripods, the ZipShot is constructed of thin, circular aluminum legs that are segmented in four places and strung together via a hefty elastic band. When the two maroon safety bands are released, the tripod's legs will fall, snapping into place in an instant. The Tamrac ZipShot is an odd piece of equipment by traditional standards, but at a street price of around $50, it might be the ideal solution for those who like to pack lightly.

Undoubtedly, the ZipShot's key feature is its simplicity. In just over five seconds the tripod can be fully deployed, awaiting a camera to be mounted to its omni-directional ball head. Tamrac offers a Quick Release accessory kit for an additional $10 that comes with attachments for a point-and-shoot and a DSLR, enabling photographers to snap a camera into place within seconds. With the Quick Release system, I was able to setup the ZipShot with a point-and-shoot mounted in under 10 seconds.

The Tamrac ZipShot deploys automatically in seconds. The ZipShot measures 15" in length, making it highly portable.

As for bulk and dimensions, the Tamrac ZipShot weighs 11 oz. and measures 15" in length when folded down for storage. The tripod can easily be tossed into a backpack. When the ZipShot is fully deployed, it offers a shooting height of 44" (1.1m). This is a decent height to shoot from, but keep in mind that the legs do not telescope, so it's fixed. The ZipShot can also be used as a monopod by bundling the legs together with the maroon safety straps, which increases total elevation by an additional four inches.

Of course, the ZipShot's travel-friendly traits come at a price. Since the aluminum legs of the tripod are thin, the ZipShot isn't as solid as you'd expect from a more conventional design. This was not as much of an issue with a little point-and-shoot mounted on top, but a Canon EOS 5D Mark III? Forget about it. Tamrac claims the ZipShot can handle up to three pounds of camera/lens, but in my testing, the unit isn't up to supporting anything bigger than a low-end interchangeable lens camera. You can shoot with a small DSLR and lightweight kit zoom atop the ZipShot, but you'd better have a remote shutter or 10-second Self-Timer activated, and hope that it's a windless day.

A smaller version, the ZipShot mini, costs $10 less and is more suitable for compact cameras and smartphones.

The Zipshot's head can tilt up to 180-degrees and swivel a full 360-degrees. Tamrac's Quick Release kit ($10) reduces setup time even further.

I thought lack of adjustability would be the ZipShot's achilles heel, but actually during my testing I found that it was fairly easy to get a level shot. The omni-directional ball head is not the most technically advanced mechanism in the tripod world, but it can tilt a full 180-degrees to accommodate portraits. The head can also swivel a full 360-degrees and the legs of the tripod can be brought in slightly to assist with leveling. Don't expect much versatility from the Tamrac ZipShot, but it gets the job done.

Summing Up

The Tamrac ZipShot is a great tool for photographers who pack lightly, thanks to its light weight and compact size. The unit can be fully assembled and ready to shoot with in a matter of seconds, and certainly draws a crowd during the process. Adjustability is easy, and the Zipshot can even be used as a monopod. On the downside, the lightweight ZipShot is only really suitable for compact cameras and small ILCs.

What we like: Ultimate portability, weighs next to nothing, lightning quick setup.

What we don't like: Unstable for larger cameras, fixed height.

This product is available on Amazon.com