Tripods used to be relatively simple affairs, but there’s now a trend towards multi-functional designs capable of converting into desktop stands or monopods, as well as phone tripods. The latest MeFoto RoadTrip PRO might just be the most versatile Swiss Army knife of a support that we’ve ever seen.
In one single kit, you get a full-size tripod, a mini table-top tripod, a monopod and a boom arm. Even the camera quick release plate converts into a smartphone holder. Yet the entire kit weighs in at a travel-friendly 1.5kg, including the carry case.
MeFOTO RoadTrip PRO Carbon Fibre Tripod at a glance:
- $299 / £240
- 152.5cm max height
- 38.5cm packed length
- 1.37kg weight
- 8 kg rated load
MeFOTO RoadTrip PRO Carbon Fibre Tripod: Key features
- Phone clamp: The camera quick release plate can fold open to hold a smartphone up to 9cm wide
- Mini stand: A small table-top tripod is stored inside the centre column. It can be combined with the centre column, the removable leg or the head
- Tools: Two of the feet unscrew to reveal a screwdriver and hex-key. The third has a reversible 3/8in or 1/4in screw for connecting a camera or head
- Carry case: A lightweight but good quality nylon carrying case is included, with an external zipped pocket
When used as a conventional tripod, this is a carbon-fibre affair with five leg sections and a two-piece centre column, adjusted using quick and easy twist locks. The legs can be set independently to three different angles, and reverse folded around the head to give a relatively compact folded length. For low-angle work, the centre column can be reversed and the camera slung beneath the legs.
The included ball head has an Arca Swiss-compatible camera clamp, complete with a bubble level and its own panning mechanism.
One of the legs can be unscrewed and combined with the centre column to form a monopod, which reaches 156cm fully extended with the head attached. This should hold your camera at eye level unless you’re over 6 feet (1.83m) tall. If you unscrew this leg’s foot, you’ll find you can attach the head to the end to make a boom arm for a microphone or light, or an extended selfie stick.
Another area where this kit shows its versatility lies with the mini leg-set that stows inside the centre column. It can be combined with the head to form a table-top tripod, and the centre column added in between for extra height. You can even screw the removable leg on top to give a stand up to 161cm tall, which can be used to hold lightweight devices in confined spaces where the tripod wouldn’t fit.
There’s nothing to complain about in terms of build quality, with all the controls being easy to use and the various parts screwing together nicely in their multiple configurations. The tripod is impressively stable for its size, too, and I found it was perfectly capable of holding a full-frame mirrorless kit such as Sony A7-series model with a standard zoom.
As you might expect, though, it’s unwise to extend the centre column’s second section when you’re shooting with a larger telephoto lens. For the record, the maximum height with only the first section extended is about 133cm. With the column fully retracted (which is always the most stable configuration) it’s just 115.5cm.
I have a few gripes, but nothing too serious. The lack of a split or short centre column limits the minimum height to about 39cm, so you don’t really get the benefit of the legs’ flattest available angle. Of course, you can reverse the centre column for ground-level work, but in practice that’s always rather awkward.
There’s also a more general question about the real-world usefulness of being able to build a boom arm or stand at the expense of having a tripod for your camera. But the counter-argument is that extra versatility is never a disadvantage.
The MeFOTO RoadTrip PRO family
For those who’d like to save a little money, an aluminium version is available for $179 / £180. But it weighs an additional 270g and won’t be as good at dampening vibrations. Both versions come in three colours; along with the metallic blue of our review sample, there’s a choice of silver or all-black.
MeFOTO RoadTrip PRO Carbon Fibre Tripod: Our Verdict
Compact yet sturdy and well-made, the MeFoto Roadtrip Pro is a fine travel tripod, and quite probably the most versatile of its type you can buy, with a wide variety of uses possible.