March 7, 2012

Fotomate V-Pod-S Table Top Tripod Review

Fotomate V-Pod-S Table Top Tripod opened
If you are looking for a small lightweight tripod that you can always carry around in your bag, then the Fotomate V-Pod-S might be a nice solution.

The new Fotomate V-Pod-S table top follows the design principle of well known table top tripods as for example the discontinued Manfrotto 709B or it is maybe a little closer to Giottos U-Pod 305/405 idea, which has an extendable center column but it may not be considered a clone of either.


V-Pod-S differs having arched legs which fold 180 degrees back forming a very uniform compact rod that can be also used as a grip.



The Pod
Manufacturer specification:
Min Height......... 4,0cm*
Max Height.........37,5cm**
Packed Size........19,5cm
Weight.............286g


*The min height of 4cm can only be realized without ball head and with the legs flat out with no brake which is useless.
**Includes ball head

Measured Specification: (Without ball head)
Leg angle 79o (flat)
Min Height......... 6,7cm
Max Height.........19,5cm (column retracted)
Max Height.........26,9cm (column extended)

Leg angle 45o
Min Height.........13,7cm
Max Height.........26,0cm (column retracted)
Max Height.........33,5cm (column extended)

Weight.............237g
Weight.............288g (with ball head)
Weight.............296g (with ball head and bag)


Ball head specification:
Height............. 5.0cm
Weight............. 51g


Fotomate V-Pod-S Table Top Tripod packaging
Fotomate V-Pod-S comes in the usual Fotomate blister pack with some operating instructions on the carton back.
Fotomate V-Pod-S Table Top Tripod unpacked
Unpacking reveals a compact aluminum rod, fitted with a small ball head and accompanied by a simple nylon fabric drawstring bag.
Fotomate V-Pod-S Table Top Tripod loosened
By rotating the top plate counter clockwise by 1/2 turn, the center column loosens and can be extended a little in order to allow the legs to unfold outwards.
Fotomate V-Pod-S Table Top Tripod unfolded
After unfolding the rubber tipped legs, the center ring with the notches should be turned clockwise (screwed) 1/3 of a turn, thus tightened, so the legs lay against its rim. In this position it acts as a brake not allowing them to fold back, resting at an angle of 45°. This is the leg angle that the pod can attain its maximum height. The center column is 12,3 cm tall and by loosening it and pulling it up, it extends to a total of 20 cm.
Fotomate V-Pod-S Table Top Tripod unfolded wide
The center leg hub ring/brake mentioned above, can be rotated counter clockwise (unscrewed) by 0,5cm allowing the legs to fold back more and rest at its maximum drive, at an angle of 79°. However, since the ring that acts as a brake moves on a thread, there is an almost unlimited number of angles between 45 and 79 degrees that the legs can be adjusted.
Fotomate V-Pod-S Table Top Tripod disassembled
The center column can be removed from the base...
Fotomate V-Pod-S w/ ball head directly on base
...and reach a very low shooting position by mounting the ball head directly on the base.
Fotomate V-Pod-S ball head closeup
I warn you this is a close up so do not misinterpret sizes! The factory fitted ball head to the V-POD-S is tiny, only capable to hold a Point and Shoot camera, a stand for your iPhone, or a Speedlite Flash at the maximum.

Triopo RS-3 v/s Fotomate V-Pod-S ball head comparison
Could be Mrs Ballhead going shopping with her kid... But no..., just for an idea of size, I put side by side, Triopo RS-3 and Fotomate tiny ball head. Considering that Triopo RS-3 is a medium to small sized ball head you may figure out how small the Fotomate is.



Adding a decent ball head
No matter how small the included ball head is, it is not a limiting factor, as it can be easily exchanged with something more appropriate. Fotomate V-POD-S may become a nice base for a small footprint ball head like the Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR in order to hold larger camera/lens combinations.

Fotomate V-Pod-S w/ Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR ball head
In this case an 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 converter bushing should be utilized so as the ball head be mounted on the 1/4"-20 Pod's stud.
Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR ball head on Fotomate V-Pod-S
Except for the table top use, this can prove to be a nice combination for very low level macros or shooting resting the pod on a car top. For some uses it is a far more versatile solution than a been bag and can handle quite heavy camera/lens setups.
Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR ball head on Fotomate V-Pod-S center column
For heavier setups, the center column may be also used but only retracted, otherwise the pod becomes wobbly and unstable. However, the setup can handle heavier equipment as long as the load is balanced, keeping the center of gravity the closer possible to the center hub.
Canon EOS50D+BG-EN2+EF70-200L-IS-USM on Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR/ Fotomate V-Pod-S combo
I've tested it quite successfully with a gripped Canon 50D + EF 70-200 f2.8 IS USM combination, which balances optimally on the lens collar foot.

Using the pod as a grip
By keeping the legs together the V-POD-S can become a very handy grip with many uses. Can hold an extra flash unit, a camera or a long lens either by its 1/4"-20 stud or by attaching a small Arca Swiss® compatible clamp on the top plate for faster exchange of equipment.

Fotomate V-Pod-S w/ Hejnar F61b as grip
The V-POD-S is shown above, with the Hejnar PHOTO F012A 1.5" clamp attached via an extra 1/4"-20 to 3/8"-16 conversion bushing. The F012A clamp is identical to the F012 clamp as described in my Hejnar Photo F010A & F012 Quick Release Clamps Review, except for the smaller black knob.

Pros
Very low price.
Good quality for the money.
Versatile removable center column.

Cons
I would mention the tiny ball head here but due to the fact that competitive products do not include a ball head at quite higher prices, then the small ball head may be considered a benefit as it can be used with an P&S camera or a flash.

Conclusion
In my opinion this is an affordable nice to have gadget, that can perform a lot of tasks other than the one originally intended by the manufacturer. So I can only judge it as such, even though it can perform well in many situations.
Is light weight and compact enough to keep it always in your bag just in case.

By the way, prices in the web vary a lot for the same product, but you shouldn't pay more than USD 19.00 (shipping with tracking number included).

I hope you found this review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2012 S.C.Vlachos

Availability:
The Fotomate V-Pod-S is available from Amazon.com or from eBay.com

If you are interested in the product please consider using above link(s) to make your purchase and help support this site.

Referenced Articles:
Triopo RS-3 Ball Head Review
Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR Traveler Ball Head Review
Hejnar Photo F010A & F012 Quick Release Clamps Review

Relevant Articles
Sunwayfoto Enters Tripod Market with T1A10 Tabletop Tripod
Sunwayfoto T1A20 Aluminium Ground Level Tripod Preview

2 comments :

  1. Hello Sotiris, found your blog with yet again a useful review with nice photos while searching specs for the Fotomate V-Pod-S.

    "Could be Mrs Ballhead going shopping with her kid..." - Funny & the comparison photo is informative.

    I wrote to Fleabay reseller greatfoto about the max load capacity as it's not mentioned in any Fotomate V-Pod-S product page I found so far and they replied "less than 2.5 kg" but according to your comment the tiny ball head seems to be "a lot" less than 2.5 kg. ;-) Thanks again for the REAL info. It's much appreciated in all your reviews.

    Questions:

    1- With your "gripped Canon 50D + EF 70-200 f2.8", what is the max stable height w/o the column vs. w/ the column but the legs spreaded more for stability as you mentioned? The question is if one carries the column what is the real height gain vs. saving weight w/o the column?

    2- What is the diameter of the column?

    3- What is the max base diameter of an alternate ball head that would still be able to fold the legs around it?

    4- Could the Velcro strap trick of the Ultrapod II to attach the mini tripod to a tree or post work with the Fotomate? Check the photo here: http://www.industrialrev.com/assets/images/products/p-up25.jpg

    FYI: I could not post w/ Firefox 4 for some reasons so I used Internet Explorer.

    Thanks again for the review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Joe, thanks for coming back!

      I guess a little humor is a relief from tension, even talking about ball heads... :)

      I would rate the whole pod for 2,5-3kg. Anything more seems to stress the leg joints. As for the tiny ball head 0,5kg is the maximum.

      Answers:

      1- The most stable state of the pod is w/o column and with the legs set at a slight angle. Forming a pyramid but with the maximum base possible. When the legs are spread flat out there is a small flex under load, while when they are in the highest position of 79o there is a possibility for the pod to flip over. However, using the column gives the ability for more tilt back/forth. The column weights only 45gr so its up to you to decide if you need it, and all depends on the gear to be used.

      2- The diameter of the column is 2cm

      3- Since the legs fold around the center column nothing more than 2cm wide can fit in there. So, not possible.

      4- It could be done but with the camera set in portrait position. The Ultrapod's head top is offset from its base by design, and fixed to the main leg.
      However, I wouldn't trust a velcro strap with anything more than a P&S camera. For heavier equipment check my Manfrotto Super Clamp 35 review: http://www.scvphotoideas.com/2010/12/manfrotto-super-clamp-35.html

      FYI: Either way, I found your post in the spam section and re-characterized it. It is possible that your post was initially rejected by blogger because your user ID has an embedded link and then considered as spam.

      Thank you in return for the interesting comments and questions.

      Delete

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