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Reviews > Cameras > Photography Accessories > StickPic > Test Report by Mark McLauchlin

The StickPic

Initial Report 13th September 2008
Long-Term Report 24th November 2008

By Mark McLauchlin

StickPicStickPicStickPic


* Reviewer InformationInstructions
Name: Mark McLauchlin
Age: 30
Gender: Male
Height: 1.76 m (5 9)
Weight: 80 kg (176 lb)
Email: mark at swanvalleyit.com.au
City: Perth, Western Australia

* Backpacking Background
I have been hiking since 2006 with most of my hiking consisting
of day walks averaging 16 - 22 km (10 - 14 mi) and short overnight trips where possible.

I consider myself to be a light hiker with an average pack weight of
13 kg (29 lb).

My preference is for hot dinners, breakfasts of cereals with fresh fruit,
and lunches usually of bars and sandwiches.

* Product Information
The StickPic is a tiny, ultralight and purely awesome camera mount designed for trekking pole use to allow a hiker to take a self-portrait. This is one of those things where you just
say, "why didn't I think of that?"

Manufacturer: Rodney Java and David Lopez / A Hiking Innovations Company
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: www.thestickpic.com
Listed Weight:10.8 g or 0.38 oz
Measured Weight:10 g or 0.35 oz
MSRP: USD$14.99

* Initial Impressions
The StickPic arrived in a small resealable plastic bag measuring 5 cm x 9 cm (2 in x 3.5 in) with a set of instructions and letter from the inventors explaining where the idea for the product came from and how to use it.

My initial impressions of the StickPic were simply amazement at the size and simplicity.

The construction of the StickPic seems very good. There are no rough or unfinished edges on any of the components.

It is made from a plastic called Delrin also known as Acetal which gives the StickPic its light and robust characteristics.

Each StickPic is designed to fit specific models of trekking poles, the diameter of the mounting hole corresponds to a list of supported trekking pole models. At time of ordering, the user selects the brand and model of trekking pole the StickPic will be used on.

Initially I had intended to use the StickPic on a homemade hiking pole I have used for quite sometime. However when the StickPic arrived I was unable to get it on the end of my pole. I did however request the StickPic for the Leki brand of poles, which I now own and it fits this perfectly. The StickPic website lists approximately 40 brands and models of trekking poles that are currently supported, each with a corresponding StickPic model number. In my case a number 2. Rodney Java and David Lopez do however note that if your model trekking pole is not listed you can send in the diameter of the pole at a certain point indicated via an image on their website and they will make a custom one for you. Now that's customer service.

I am excited about testing this item and hope that it will enable me to take some photos of my journeys with myself included. Some good solo shots.

* Reading the Instructions
The Stickpic instructions are well presented and easily understood as can be seen from the image on the right hand side of this report. The instructions were folded inside the packaging of the StickPic and a larger version accompanied a letter written by Rodney Java who is one of the inventors of this neat little product.

The included letter also has some helpful hints for using the StickPic. Below is an excerpt which I have included to give the reader a better understanding as to how the StickPic does its job and why it was invented.

" The StickPic was invented with a compact digital camera in mind. However, the larger and light weight SLR cameras can still be used with some attention to the extra weight at the end of the trekking pole. We suggest shortening the length of the trekking pole for better stability.

Digital cameras are made with several different wide angle focal lengths. The angle which the camera is mounted on the StickPic fits perfectly in the middle of these different lens focal lengths. Depending on the type of camera and the length the trekking pole is extended, some part of the trekking pole may appear in the picture.

By simply shorting the length of the trekking pole or adjusting the focal length by ever so slightly zooming in, you can eliminate the trekking pole in the picture.

With the advent of youtube and myspace video, the StickPic is perfect for making video diary's.

Experiment wit holding the trekking pole high in the air or low to the ground when taking pictures. The possibilities are endless.

Feel safe by always using the wrist strap attached to the trekking pole.

Finally, practice makes perfect."

I found after reading the instruction and hints it took me less than one minute to set up the camera ready to take a photo.

My steps for using the StickPic are as follows.

Firstly screw the StickPic to the tripod socket on the camera.

Secondly adjust the black jam nut so that it is tight up against the base of my camera and the logo, "The StickPic" is facing the front of the camera or directly at the subject of the photo.

Thirdly wrap the camera wrist strap around the trekking pole above the basket.

Lastly slide the StickPic onto the end of the trekking pole (the end that would normally contact the ground when walking) and you are ready to go.

My camera has a 10 second self timer delay which seems to be about right, so I set that to shoot. Then hold the camera nice and high in the air, look straight into the lens and say "cheese".

The photo below was taken as my first attempt with no additional zoom or photo editing used, and guess what? You can't see the trekking pole.

On a gear safety note the instructions do recommend that you use the camera wrist strap and I would say so far that this is an absolute must. The first time I used the StickPic after taking the shot I lowered my trekking pole and the camera did slide off the end. This is caused by the weight of the camera simply pulling the StickPic off.

My digital camera tripod socket is also located off centre which does create a small balance issue, however if I push the StickPic onto the end of the pole firmly it does seem to work well and stay in place.

The photo below was also taken in quite high winds and there was a lot of pole movement however the photo still turned out well. I attribute this to the anti-shake function of the camera.

* Testing Strategy
Testing will be focused around day and overnight hikes along various trails in my home state of Western Australia.

My camera of choice will be a Pentax Optio M40 compact digital along with Leki Super Makalu ultra light poles. I will on occasion carry a second digital camera so that I am able to better show the use of the StickPic.
 

High in the sky Author
 

* Summary

Things I liked
Very small and light.
Basic, not much can go wrong with it.
Easy to attach to pole and camera.
Ability to take photos of myself and the scenery.

Things I disliked
Nothing at this stage.

This concludes my Initial Report.

 


Long-Term Report

Me in the rain

Over the course of the testing period the StickPic has proven to be the most regular part of my hiking gear list and has accompanied me on all my day and overnight hikes along the Coastal Plains and Bibbulmun Track. My average day hike length has been 23 km (14 miles) over four hikes and 22 km (13 miles) over two overnight hikes. Temperatures reached a low of 8 C (46 F) and a maximum of 17 C (63 F) and I experienced a medium amount precipitation on two occasions.

Taking photos with the StickPic has been a lot easier than I expected and this has possibly been one of the reasons I will continue to take it on all my hiking activities. Initially I thought that I would be continually adjusting the zoom and pole lengths to get the best shot that didn't show my trekking poles; however this has proven not to be the case. With the poles extended to my normal walking length of 130 cm (51 in) and by not utilizing the zoom at all I am able to get a great result. All of the photos contained in this report are taken in the same manner. Lining up a shot has been the most surprisingly easy part of the whole test. It's as easy as setting the timer, 10 seconds in my case, and looking straight down the lens.

The fact that my camera, as do most, has an off-centered tripod mounting which creates an imbalance has caused a few anxious moments with the camera spinning around the pole on several occasions. The first reaction is "Argh! my camera", then the safety of the lanyard kicks in and all ends well. It has taken a while to perfect the use of the StickPic; however the more I use it the more comfortable I become.

The StickPic has been a great item to test and in doing so I have been able to make a few recommendations on the use of the StickPic; these are listed below.

  • When fitting the StickPic wipe or clean the end of the trekking pole where the StickPic will be mounted. This seems to make the device fit a little better and reduces the risk of it slipping around. I also see this as reducing the amount of wear on the trekking pole as less friction between the pole and the StickPic occurs.
     

  • Rather that twisting the StickPic onto the trekking pole - again this can cause wear to the pole (see image below) - try to 'jimmy' it on using both hands. I have found this helps to ensure the StickPic doesn't come loose and slip, causing the camera either to spin around or - worse - fall off.

    Wear on trekking pole
     
  • The use of a lanyard, from the camera or another source, is an absolute must. Please do not forget this part as I can safely say that at some stage the StickPic and camera will fall off the end of the pole.
     
  • The lighter the camera the less chances there are of the StickPic coming loose and you having to spend time repositioning it for that great shot.

The fact the StickPic is so basic in construction with few moving parts has added to its durability. There have been a few occasions where the StickPic has been dropped in the dirt and I have not seen any noticeable damage, and functionality has not been affected. Cleaning it whist out in the field has been easy and only requires a wipe-off with the corner of my shirt or pants, paying a little more attention to the thread as this is more likely to pick up sand dirt particles. I don't want these to be transferred to my camera and cause possible damage to the internal thread which is made from a plastic material. I have generally stored the StickPic in my pocket while not in use as it does not fit into my camera case when attached to the camera. On one occasion I put the StickPic through the dishwasher to see how clean it would come out and had a great result, just like a new one.

The photos below show scenery firstly without me then the same with me in the picture and this is something that I have really enjoyed being able to do. I'm no artist or professional photographer, however I do feel that having someone in the picture really adds to the experience, the memories will remain longer and sharing these with friends and family are a lot more exciting.

Me and waterfall

Me and Trail Tunnel

* Summary

The StickPic is a great little device and I will continue to carry it with me. Its light weight and ease of use mean that there is no reason not to bring it along. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys taking photos while out on the trail and doesn't want the weight penalty associated with tripods.

Likes
All of my likes from my initial report are still valid with the addition of great durability and easy to clean.

Dislikes
Not a thing at all.

Thank you to Rod Java, David Lopez and BackpackGearTest.org for the privilege of testing The StickPic it has been great fun.



Read more reviews of StickPic gear
Read more gear reviews by Mark McLauchlin

Reviews > Cameras > Photography Accessories > StickPic > Test Report by Mark McLauchlin



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