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Reviews > Cameras > Photography Accessories > Ultra Pod Digital > Test Report by Edwin L. Morse

ULTRA POD DIGITAL
TEST SERIES BY EDWIN MORSE
LONG-TERM REPORT
September 21, 2008

CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE FIELD REPORT
CLICK HERE TO SKIP TO THE LONG-TERM REPORT

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Edwin Morse
EMAIL: ed dot morse at charter dot net
AGE: 70
LOCATION: Grawn, Michigan USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 8" (1.73 m)
WEIGHT: 145 lb (65.80 kg)

I started backpacking in 1979 with two weeks in northern Michigan along the Lake Superior shore. My gear was cheap, heavy and sometimes painful. My starting pack weight was 70 lbs (32 kg) with food but no water. Since that first time I have made one and two week trips in Michigan, Maine, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. Late last summer I did a 2 week hike on Isle Royale. My starting pack weight was 32 lbs (14.5 kg), including 10 days of food and 3 qt (2.8 l) of water. I am slowly learning what lighter gear works for me.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Item tested: Ultrapod digital
Manufacturer: Pedco (Product Engineering and Development Company)
Merged with Industrial Revolution in April of 2008
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.pedcopods.com/
Manufacturer's Website:http://industrialrev.com/
MSRP: US$24.95
Listed Weight: NA
Measured Weight: 4.2 oz (119 g)
Other details:
Folded length: 7.3 in (18.5 cm)
Length of Velcro strap from tripod leg: 15.68 in (39.8 cm)
Total length of Velcro strap:16 3/8 or 16.375 in (41.6 cm)
Lowest height of camera base on extended Ultra Pod: 5 in (12.7 cm)

While the two links above lead to different websites I find the same information and pictures about the tripods on both sites, just a different arrangement. I found it very interesting that each website has a link to the other.

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

The Ultra Pod Digital arrived in the Ultra Pod II blister pack as stated on the website. This was very confusing to me. I had to check a few times to be sure I had the right product. The literature in the blister pack does state Ultra Pod Digital. On one leg of the tripod is stamped "ultra-pod II".
Ultra Pod Digital with blister pack
Ultra Pod Digital with blister pack


The blister pack was ready to hang on a display rack. It was easy to open once I removed the 2 staples. One of my concerns was that the Ultrapod Digital would have sharp edges to snag on my pack or a stuff sack. The tripod is very smooth with no sharp edges. The silver feet, while not really sticky, do resist sliding on the smooth wood surface of my desk.

I was pleased to see the stamp "MADE IN U.S.A.".

According to the website and the literature in the blister pack the Ultra Pod Digital is "Molded in metallic silver nylon resin with silver feet, and a blue "edge glow" knob and thumb wheel."
IMAGE 2
Ultra Pod Digital

The tripod easily holds my 4.4 oz (125 g) Nikon digital camera or the heavier 14.7 oz (417 g) FinePix digital camera (which I've only carried backpacking once).

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Instructions are given on the website for the Ultrapod II, along with illustrations. The same instructions and illustrations are printed on a sheet folded inside the blister pack. No separate instructions were given for the Ultrapod digital, which is a different but very similar product.

Following are the scanned instructions that came in the blister package. The only difference I can see between the Ultrapod II and the Ultra Pod Digital is that the Digital has no Cinch Ring.

Ultrapod II instructions
Ultrapod II instructions


The tripod seemed very easy, almost intuitive, to operate. I had the tripod set up with my Nikon camera before I read the instructions. The tripod seems to work well on an uneven surface with my smaller camera. There is a 2 in (64 mm) drop from one part of my computer desk to another level. I set the camera and tripod up both with one leg up and then with two legs up on the higher surface. It was solid enough to take a picture in either position. Based on many years using other tripods I would not recommend setting up any tripod with two legs higher, it is much more stable to have two legs lower, especially on a slanted surface such as I usually find in the woods.

TRYING IT OUT

My first experience with the Ultra Pod Digital was in my office room where I set it up first with the Nikon L3 that I usually carry backpacking. Then I set it up with the heavier FinePix digital. The little tripod worked just fine with either camera.

Then I took the Ultra Pod Digital and the heavier FinePix camera to the backyard where I first try all my new backpacking gear. I took 3 pictures with the camera mounted on the tripod. The first one I set the tripod up on the picnic table. This was no challenge but I have to start with the easy ones first. Then I set the tripod and camera up on top of a bird feeder, the kind with a sloping roof on both sides. This was a little more challenge but still something I could do with my other small tripod. The Ultra Pod Digital had no tendency to slide on the sloping surface as my other tripod has done a few times.

Finally I picked a small tree the Velcro would just reach around far enough fasten. I leveled the camera, set the timer and focused on another tree. Everything worked very well. I could not have done this with my other small tripod.


SUMMARY

The Ultra Pod Digital looks to me like a well designed and well made little tripod. The legs work smoothly with just enough resistance to hold a camera in place when not fully extended. It has worked very well so far. I think this is going to be another fun test experimenting with ways to use the Ultra Pod Digital.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

All my experience with the Ultrapod Digital tripod in the last two months has been in northern Lower Michigan. The weather has varied from a low of 45 F (7 C) to a high of 85 F (29 C) and from bright and sunny to driving rain.

The hiking and backpacking was on both easy and well maintained trails to poorly marked and poorly maintained trails. The terrain has varied from sandy hills with pine and oak forests to wet swamp and thick underbrush.

I've used the Ultrapod Digital while on one day hike on easy and well maintained trails. I have also used the Ultrapod Digital on two backpacking trips: one short overnight mostly to see if my ankle could stand to walk with a backpack again, and a seven-night, eight-day hike on the High Country Pathway (HCP) in northeast Lower Michigan.


PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The day hike was with a new friend on the North Country Trail in the Pere Marquette State Forest. We stopped at Sand Lakes for lunch, after walking just over 5 miles. I explained a little about Backpack Gear Testing and that I was testing two items I had with me. I took off the low gaiters so I could get a picture of the Tevas. Then I got out the Ultra Pod Digital tripod to take our picture. While I was getting the tripod set up Duane made the comment that it would be more useful with a little tripod to be able to fasten it in a tree so it would be up higher. I looked around for useable trees but there were none close enough. So I grabbed one of my hiking poles and jabbed it hard into the sandy ground. Then I wrapped the Velcro around the hiking pole and took our picture again. Duane took a picture of me getting the camera set up.
Setting up Ultrapod and camera
Setting up the Ultrapod and camera
setting up camera and Ultrapod for a picture
I had not thought about using a hiking pole until that moment but it worked just fine.
Here is one of the pictures I took with the camera strapped to the hiking pole.
Lunch at Sand Lakes
Lunch break

The overnight trip, on the North Country Trail in the Manistee National Forest, was a solo trip starting July 10, 2008 and ending July 11, 2008. I needed pictures of other gear I'm testing. There were lots of trees around but none with branches low enough to use.
Here is another picture I took with the camera on the Ultrapod strapped to my hiking pole. Following that is another of the Ultrapod on the hiking pole.
Breakfast on overnight
Breakfast in the pines

This is where the camera was for the previous picture
Camera location for previous picture
Ultrapod on hiking Stix


The eight-day hike on the High Country Pathway was the biggest opportunity yet to test the Ultrapod and, I felt, my hardest hike ever on my out of shape body with a still healing ankle. I've done harder hikes but I was always in better physical shape when I started. I didn't take as many pictures on this hike as I had hoped. Initially it rained much of the first three days and I wanted to keep the camera dry. Then I was too busy searching for the trail to think about the pictures I should have taken. When I did take pictures on this trip using the Ultrapod I used it as a tripod. Here is a picture from early on the second day of my hike. I was camped at Grass Lake and it was still a little dark.
HCP 2nd day brealfast
HCP starting 2nd day


On the fourth hiking day I got out the Ultrapod and camera while I was resting and eating lunch.
HCP 4th day lunch
Lunch at a campground
HCP after lunch ready to hike
Ready to hike after lunch


The Ultrapod tripod has done very well for me. It is light and easy to pack. I've found a way to set it up and take pictures any time I've tried to do so.

SUMMARY

The Pedco Ultrapod Digital tripod has been a pleasure to take on my hikes. I'm sure I will find more and different ways to use the Ultrapod for my pictures.

Things I like:
Light weight,
Small,
The head adjusts easily in many positions.

Things I am doubtful about:
The head is best packed in one position or it is bulky,
The foot piece of the longer leg has started to come off but only when I pull it out of a pack pocket.

This concludes my field Report.


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

I've carried the Ultra pod Digital tripod on at least 20 day hikes and five trail building work days. I've used the tripod on two backpack hikes (one three day and one two day) and on three of the work days to get group pictures before the work started. I also loaned the tripod to a hike leader who wanted a group picture for her scrap book.
Paula getting set for group picture
Paula getting set for group picture

The backpack hikes and trail work days were in the Manistee National Forest (MNF) and on property of Consumers Energy (where we have just built a new section of trail) immediately north of the MNF. The weather, when the tripod was used, varied from a cloudy and threatening 55 F (13 C) to warm and sunny 72 F (22 C). On the first day, when it was cloudy and threatening, the rain started soon after I used the tripod and continued all day while we built a bridge. The terrain varied from hilly rolling pine and oak covered hills to low and swampy areas and streams where bridges were needed.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The Ultra pod Digital tripod has worked very well for me. Setting the tripod up on picnic tables or car trunks has been the way I've mostly used the tripod. I've used the tripod a few times with the Velcro strap wrapped around tree branches. I especially like the ability to set my trekking pole where I want the camera and mount the tripod and camera just where I want it to be. I've mostly used the tripod and camera to get pictures of gear in use that I'm testing.

With the next picture I found the trekking pole holding up my tent fly was just the right place to get a picture I needed. I asked my hiking buddy to get my picture while I was getting set up.
tripod on hiking Stix
setting up for a gear picture

This next picture was taken with the tripod and camera set up on the trekking pole.
gear testing
gear testing and backpacking

SUMMARY

The Ultra pod Digital tripod has proved to be a very useful addition to my pack. The only durability problem has been that the foot on the longest leg frequently falls off. This started when I pulled the tripod from a pack pocket and the leg foot stayed in the pack pocket. Sometimes I have put it back on, depending on the surface and how I will use the tripod that time. If I intend to use the Velcro to mount the tripod on a branch or hiking pole I just leave the loose foot in the pack pocket. I think a few drops of glue will eliminate this problem.

What I like: the light weight and small size make the tripod easy to pack, the tripod is very well made, the mounting head is very adaptable to different situations and I can usually take a picture from any place I can get to.

What I don't like: I can't think of many things to dislike, the mounting head is a little bulky which is both good and bad; the bulky head makes the tripod difficult to pack in some areas. I solved this by carrying the tripod in a side pocket and running a pack compression strap around the tripod and just under the mounting head. This way it is mostly in a pack pocket and held in place with the compression strap. On the other hand, that slightly bulky head is one of the features that makes the tripod so flexible and useful.

This concludes my Long Term Report.

I would like to thank BackpackGearTest.org and Pedco for giving me the opportunity to test the Ultra Pod Digital tripod.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

Read more reviews of Industrial Revolution gear
Read more gear reviews by Edwin L. Morse

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