Stealth Gear Double beanbag

Street price from around £25

Stealth Gear Double beanbagStealth Gear specialises in well-made, durable and waterproof outdoors products, making it a popular choice with wildlife photographers.

The company has a couple of beanbag camera supports in its range, with the Double beanbag the more versatile of the two.

The beanbag is large enough to support up to a professional DSLR camera with telephoto lens attached, which rests securely on the top thanks to the beanbag’s non-slip material.

Once filled with bird seed (or rice), the beanbag can weigh up to 5kg, so it is just as well that there is a shoulder strap to carry it comfortably.

Best tripod alternative score: Four out of five stars


Street price around £13

SteadePodThe SteadePod camera-steadying device is designed on the basic principle of using tension to reduce camera shake, just like the ‘string monopod’, where a piece of string is anchored by one’s foot and then attached to the tripod bush via a 1⁄4in bolt.

However, the SteadePod is much more intuitive than string. It attaches to a camera’s tripod bush via a 1⁄4in thread, then its retractable, lockable cable is extended, with the foot pad easily held under one’s foot or hooked to a belt.

With the cable tucked away, the SteadePod is small enough to slip into a pocket. Its effectiveness depends on the focal length being used, but at 100mm and without image stabilisation, it is possible to take sharp images at 1/15sec, which in this case is roughly a 3EV stabilisation.

Best tripod alternative score: Three out of five

Delkin Devices Fat Gecko Dual Suction Mount

Street price around £50

Delkin Devices Fat Gecko Dual Suction MountThe Delkin Devices Fat Gecko Dual Suction Mount uses suction cups to attach itself to a smooth, flat surface, such as a window or a car.

Its dual-lock suction cups fix to a surface securely, and are difficult to move once in place. To make removing the device easier, there is a small tab for each cup. Versatile and precise positioning of the camera is made possible through the central column.

This features two ball joints – one to adjust the direction of the column, while the other acts like a tripod head to position the camera.

Delkin claims the mount will hold camera kit up to 2.7kg, such as a pro DSLR with zoom lens, but for peace of mind I would suggest fitting only an enthusiast DSLR or smaller camera.

Best tripod alternative score: Four out of five

Manfrotto Small Hydro Kit

Street price around £150

Manfrotto Small Hydro Kit Manfrotto’s Small Hydro Kit comprises the 386B Nano Clamp and Small Hydrostatic Arm.

The clamp can carry up to 4kg, while being lightweight at 110g. Its grip range is 13-35mm, making it suitable for table edges and tubing.

The clamp is supplied with a 1⁄4in to 3⁄8in thread, so it can be used with most tripod heads and lighting stands. However, the Small Hydrostatic Arm in the kit works well with the clamp. It is made of two columns with a ball joint at each end for versatile positioning.

At one end a camera up to an entry-level SLR can be attached to the small head. Once positioned, all the joints of the arm can be secured simultaneously with the hydraulic lock, which is
the arm’s trump card.

Best tripod alternative score: Four out of five

Joby GorillaPod Focus with ballhead X

Street price around £85 (GorillaPod Focus) and £50 (ballhead X)

Joby GorillaPod Focus with ballhead X Each leg of the Joby GorillaPod is flexible at its joints so it can wrap around objects such as railings, branches and furniture.

The Focus is the largest in the range at 30cm. Joby claims it can support a weight of up to 5kg, making it suitable for a professional SLR camera with zoom lens attached.

Most tripod heads can be used with the Focus, but the company has its own ballhead X that is specifically designed for it. When placed at awkward angles, though, the head cannot support pro kit, but it will hold firm when horizontal or when used with enthusiast-level kit or smaller.

Made of aluminium, the Focus is lightweight and will slip into most kit bags. Both the Focus and ballhead X come with a 1⁄4in to 3⁄8in adapter.

Best tripod alternative score: Four out of five

Gitzo GM2541 Ultra Light Monopod

Street price around £185

Gitzo GM2541 Ultra Light MonopodMonopods may not offer the same degree of stabilisation as a tripod, but they are lightweight and there are many situations in which one is more suitable.

Gitzo has five carbon-fibre monopods in its range, with the four-section GM2541 a lightweight travel version with 12kg load capacity, which caters for most amateur users.

The monopod weighs just 500g, with a maximum height of 160cm and minimum height of 53cm. There is a hardened and durable foam grip on the shaft, and Gitzo’s trademark quick-twist leg locks.

The rubberised foot is removable and can be replaced with various others from the range, including spikes. Most importantly, the GM2541 is built to last, and its maximum height to closed-length ratio is impressive.

Best tripod alternative score: Five out of five