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Reviews > Cameras > Photography Accessories > Ultra Pod Digital > Test Report by Rick Allnutt

 Industrial Revolution
UltraPod Digital Camera Tripod

Test Series by Rick Allnutt

ultrapod attached to a tree

Initial Report - May 20, 2008

Field Report - July 27, 2008

Long Term Report - September 23, 2008

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Rick Allnutt
EMAIL: rick@backpackgeartest.org
AGE: 54
LOCATION: Helotes, Texas
GENDER: male
HEIGHT: 6' 0" (1.8 m)
WEIGHT: 190 lb (86 kg)

Over the last several years, I have become an ultralight camper with a three-season base pack weight of about 8 lb (3.5 kg) and skin out weight of 17 lb (8 kg). I have completed many section hikes on the Appalachian Trail (AT) in all four seasons, and many trips to state parks, with a total mileage of about 1550 miles (2500 km). I am a gearhead, a hammock or tarp camper, and I make much of my own equipment. 

Trail Name: Risk

Risk's Ultralite Hiking Page: www.imrisk.com


INITIAL REPORT
May 20, 2008

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Industrial Revolution 
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: http://industrialrev.com/
MSRP: US$24.95
Listed Weight: 4 oz (113 g)
Measured Weight 4.2 oz (119 g) 

This is a small, lightweight, folding camera tripod with adjustable ball & socket head and Velcro securing strap. Details from the manufacturer as follows:

MECHANICAL:
Camera mounting screw: ¼-20 thread.
Pan Adjustment: 360 degrees.
Tilt Adjustment: +/- 90 degrees.
Angular Adjustment: +/- 20 degrees.

MATERIALS:
Body, Legs & Clamps: Injection molded glass reinforced Nylon thermoplastic resin.
Clamping Screw: Machined Aluminium alloy.
Velcro Strap: Woven Nylon.
Ball Mount: Molded Urethane with machined Aluminum alloy mounting screw molded in.
Feet: Molded Vinyl.

SPECIFICATIONS:
Size-Folded: 7½" long x 2" wide x 2½" high (19 x 5 x 6 cm)
Height-Open: 6¼" (16 cm) high
Footprint-Open: Triangular - 9" (23 cm) wide x 8½" (22 cm) long.
Maximum Design Load: 4 lb (1.8 kg)
Maximum Safe Load: 6 lb (2.7 kg)

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

ultrapod tripodI like to take pictures when I am hiking. I like to share photos and sometimes I like to be in the photo myself. A few years ago a friend showed me how a light weight tripod can be used for so many useful picture taking tasks that I began to carry the tripod on a regular basis. Suddenly I was more likely to show up in my own pictures. I also found that I was able to take pictures at night around a candle or campfire.

When I saw the description of this tripod, I realized that here was a better design than what I had carried before. The UltraPod was a little larger, but no heavier. It would be a little further away from the ground than the very small tripod I had been carrying. In addition, I was very interested in the Velcro strap.

I have taken photos in which I tried to prop a small tripod in the crotch between a limb and the tree trunk.  The security of such a set-up is usually a problem. Here was a novel idea: Attach the tripod to the tree without even opening the tripod legs.  Almost immediately, another idea popped into my head. I should be able to attach the tripod to the end of a walking stick and take a picture of myself from well beyond the length of my arm. I can even take a picture of me from above!  Maybe I will be able to make some short videos of me walking through the woods and offering sage advice or complaining about the rain!

When the time came to attach the tripod to a tree and take a picture of it for this report, it occurred to me that the tripod could either be even with, or below the camera. I took a picture with the tripod attached to a limb which came out at an angle and was still able to position the camera for a nice shot.

The single adjustment is a knob which holds the camera very securely. All the hardware seems to be first rate and durable. The small vinyl feet grip dry shiny surfaces well. They do not seem to be prone to accidentally come off the ends of the legs.


SUMMARY

The Ultrapod Digital is an easy to use, very light-weight tripod.  It has a real advantage for use in the woods of being able to easily be attached to tree branches and hiking sticks.

The things I really like about this package are:
- lightweight and secure
- the hardware is well constructed and easily adjusted
- it gives me new ideas for taking photos in different ways.

I thank Industrial Revolution and BackpackGearTest.org for selecting me for this test.


FIELD REPORT
July 27, 2008

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

demonstration of a hammockJuly 19, 2008 – Overnight in Government Canyon State Natural Area, altitude about 1000 ft (300 m). Afternoon high was 98 F (37 C) and overnight low about 72 F (22 C). Bright moon beginning after I went to bed. Hammock hanging, nice quiet night. 

June 28, 2008 – Overnight in Government Canyon. Afternoon high was 100 F (38 C) and the overnight low about 77 F (25 C). Lots of coyote yipping in the middle of the night. Clear night skies, no rain. I enjoyed sitting on the outside of the hammock and reading as the night drew in. The next morning, I made a couple short video clips while my camera was attached to the end of my hiking stick, pointed back at myself. 

June 19-21, 2008 – Trip to Fort Davis, TX and Carlsbad, NM. Day hiking in the state park at Fort Davis and between there and the national monument. Total of about 8 mi (13 km) of day hiking with temperature in the mid 90s F (near 35 C). Altitude was about 4000 ft (1200 m). On 21 June, we hiked about 4 mi (6 km) in Carlsbad Caverns, including a descent of 800 ft (250 m). The Ultrapod tripod was attached to railings in the cave many times to take photographs without flash.

May 30, 2008 – Another trip to Government Canyon. Afternoon temperature was 96 F (36 C). The night cooled off to 72 F (22 C). This was a windy dry night. The hiking spot was the same as the previous trip, though I reversed the walk in and the walk out, putting the longer hike in the heat of the afternoon. That made me thirsty!

May 23, 2008 – Government Canyon. The afternoon temperature was 99 F (37 C). Clear skies with just a little breeze. I backpacked with the Hennessy Hammock for the first time and took a number of photographs of it with the help of the Ultrapod tripod.   3 mi (5 km) hike in, with a 4 mi (6 km) hike out.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

Let it be known that there are a lot of difficulties in getting good outdoor photographs, especially of oneself when hiking solo. This is especially true when it is getting dark at the end of the day. During the Field portion of the testing of the Ultrapod, I have been able to do several things I had never before accomplished with a camera. Having the Ultrapod available brought new ideas into my mind the entire time I was involved in the field test.

The photograph of the hammock test above was taken in a dense portion of forest, near sunset. The lighting was perfect for a photograph, but the timing had to be just right. Being able to strap the Ultrapod to a handy tree branch allowed me to quickly set up the shot. Without the Ultrapod, I would have been left with trying to find a Y shaped branch that I might be able to wedge the camera into. Needless to say, being able to simply strap the camera holder to the branch made it faster and much easier to take this photograph.

Carlsbad CavernsAnother special application I used while hiking during the Field reporting period was to take a multi-mile hike in Carlsbad Caverns with my family. I saw many folks trying to get photographs in the caves, including the many people using built in flashes. I have used flashes in cave situations and have always been dissatisfied. Instead of returning home with nice pictures of stalactites and stalagmites, I had always gotten overexposed foregrounds and lots of black space behind something white in the foreground which is nearly impossible to recognize. 

Instead of all that trouble and frustration, this trip I took dozens of great looking photographs of the formations in the cave without flash, just by strapping the Ultrapod with camera attached onto the railing along the path. This allowed me to take crystal clear photographs without any motion blur, and I was able to take advantage of the theatrical lighting which played across the various formations.  

On several of my hiking trips, I took short video clips of myself discussing whatever came to mind. Taking the example of some solo video journalists, I attached the camera to the far end of my walking stick, utilizing the Ultrapod. Then I held onto the near end of the stick, focusing the camera on my face and upper body. I was able to record nice video snippets of my solo conversation while I was walking through the woods. While the background was moving, I was able to keep a steady camera on myself. It was a very pleasing effect which I enjoyed looking at afterwards. 

The Ultrapod has performed without any technical difficulty during this two month period. It has not lost its grip, has not been difficult to adjust, and has done everything I have asked it to do. Nothing has broken, no parts have come off. It looks brand new and works just like it did when I unpacked it. 

SUMMARY

Things I like thus far:

- Interesting new ways to be able to take photographs

- Physical reliability of the tripod

- The wonderful ability to strap the camera to a stick, branch, or railing extends the usefulness of this tripod well beyond any similar small tripod. 

I am excited about the possibilities of taking other new sorts of photographs using the Ultrapod during the upcoming two months. 

LONG TERM REPORT
September 23, 2008

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

September 17-19, 2008 – Three day, two night hike in the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico. The altitudes ranged from 6000 to 7400 ft (1800 - 2300 m). Temperatures were from 45 to 75 F (7 to 24 C). The weather included sun and rain. 

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

The tripod continued to be a valuable part of my field kit. I used it each day and evening of the Gila Wilderness hike. It worked for taking stable photographs of campfires in low light, and of sun rise on the peaks surrounding my campsites. I used the tripod to take photos of myself in front of a 700 year old dwelling and when I was crossing a stream.

The tripod, including the hook and loop material, continued to function just like it was new. I used the tripod on the ground and attached to branches with the strap. Flawless and faultless is my overall impression of this gear.

SUMMARY

Things I end of thinking of at the end of the testing process:

- I really like the possibilities of attaching a camera to a tree branch or sign post to take interesting photographs.

- The tripod is a little larger than some other tripods I have used and this brings it further above the ground. 

- The tripod is quite lightweight. 

I have enjoyed testing this tripod and will carry it on many of my overnight hikes in the future. I thank the manufacturer and BackpackGearTest for selecting me for this test.



Read more reviews of Industrial Revolution gear
Read more gear reviews by Rick Allnutt

Reviews > Cameras > Photography Accessories > Ultra Pod Digital > Test Report by Rick Allnutt



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