A tripod is one of the best investments you can make to improve the photos you take on your phone: by increasing the stability of the camera you can use a slower shutter speed, which opens up several new fields of photography.
The SmartPhoneSnap staff put several of our favourite tripods through a rigourous series of tests to find out which one is the best pick for a smartphone photographer to carry. Our favourite? The CamRah Flexible Pro Series Tripod, which combines portability and versatility to make it the tripod that will always be there when you need it.
ContentsWhy use a tripod with your phone?
What to look for in a tripod?
How we tested each tripod
What our tests showed
The best tripod for phone photography
Other great tripods
The bottom line
Why use a tripod with your phone?
One of the challenges of photography is to take non-blurry photographs. Unfortunately, as most cameras are handheld, they are naturally unstable. This instability can lead to blurry photographs.
Faster shutter speeds can reduce the blurring caused by camera shake, but introduces new problems. If the shutter is open for less time, then less light will reach the sensor. To avoid an overly dark photo, you will have to compensate by widening the aperture (which will reduce the depth of field) or raising the ISO (which will increase the graininess of the photo).
Landscape and low light photography are especially sensitive to camera shake. For example, in landscape photography you typically want a narrow aperture, so that both the foreground and background are in focus, and a low ISO so that the image is clear. However, this requires shutter speeds that are often too slow for a handheld camera.
Cameras are especially sensitive to hand shake because they tend to have narrow maximum apertures which require the camera to compensate by slowing the shutter speed (this is why phone photos taken in dark settings are often blurry). And tripods are also handy when you need to take a photo of a group and you want to be in the picture yourself!
What to look for in a tripod
There are two general styles of tripod to consider for a smartphone. The first category are miniature tripods, usually with flexible legs. These are small and portable, making them easy to carry around and their bendy legs mean that they can be positioned almost anywhere. However their small size can be a liability if you want to take a picture from a high viewpoint and there is nothing to test them on top of.
At the other end of the spectrum is the traditional telescoping tripod. This will be overkill for most smartphone photographers, but necessary for anyone who wants to get into landscape photography with their phone, as you will need to raise the camera futher off the ground than a mini tripod will allow.
The tripods we tested
There are a lot of phone compatible tripods available, with more released every day. All have their own pros and cons, and sorting through the all the options is enough to give anyone a headache.
Fortunately at SmartPhoneSnap we receive a lot of test products from manufacturers. Many of these are tripods and we get to test these and select the top contenders for your consideration.
For this comparison we have selected five of our favourite smartphone compatible tripods. They encompass a range of sizes, features, and prices to suit everyone from the budding amateur to the seasoned professional.
|LOHA Flexible Tripod|
|CamRah Flexible Pro Series Tripod|
|CamKix Mini Tripod Kit|
|TaoTronics Selfie Stick with Tripod|
|Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod & Monopod|
|AmazonBasics Lightweight Tripod|
How we tested each tripod
Stability: As this is likely your main reason for needing a tripod, it's an important feature to test. Unfortunately we don't have a wind tunnel at the SmartPhoneSnap HQ, so we had to get creative. We waited for a windy day and then took each tripod up to the top of a nearby hill where we compared how well each was able to minimize shake on a long exposure shot.
Ease of use: Probably the second most important feature of any tripod, because it's too much hassle to use then you will leave it at home. We used assessed how easy to use each tripod was with a timed assembly: how long does it take to go from packed in a bag to being ready to shoot?
Portability: Closely to related to how easy it is to use, because the advantage of a smartphone camera is its portability. A heavy tripod cancels out this advantage, so in this category we ranked each tripod by weight.
Height: While a small tripod may be more portable, you frequently need a high (i.e. eye level) vantage point for a picture, either for perspective or to avoid foreground obstacles. If there is nothing to rest your mini tripod on, then you risk missing a great shot here and there. We ranked our candidates from tallest on down.
|Tripod||Stability||Ease of use||Portabilty||Height||Quality||Total|
|CamRah Flexible Pro Series Tripod||7||7||10||4||9||37|
|Neewer Carbon Fiber Tripod & Monopod||10||3||3||10||10||36|
|LOHA Flexible Tripod||7||7||10||4||7||35|
|CamKix Mini Tripod Kit||6||6||9||4||8||33|
|AmazonBasics Lightweight Tripod||8||5||6||7||6||32|
|TaoTronics Selfie Stick with Tripod||2||7||8||5||7||29|
Our favourite tripod for smartphones
The CamRah flexible tripod was a narrow favourite in our tests, squeaking in ahead of the full-sized Neewer tripod on the basis of portability, and beating the similar LOHA tripod in quality.
The CamRah performed well in all our tests, holding our phone still despite the wind and giving us a sharp image despite the slow shutter speed. In fact our only gripe was that it was too close to the ground for some pictures that we wanted to take (a necessary trade off for portability).
We also liked that it included two different phone mounts, and a bluetooth shutter remote. A shutter remote is a button that you press to take a picture to avoid touching the phone while it is on the tripod. We would recommend a good shutter remote (such as this Gadgin model) whatever tripod you eventually pick.
Other good phone tripods
We loved the Neewer full sized tripod (which also comes with a monopod!), but even though it is made of lightweight carbon fiber, there is no getting around it's greater size. If you are looking for a serious tripod for your phone, or you want a tripod that can be used with both a DSLR and a smartphone, then this is our recommendation. Ultimately though, it's not something you will carry about with you everywhere, unlike a smaller tripod which can be stashed at the bottom of a bag.
Do note that you will need a phone adaptor to attach a smartphone to the Neewer tripod. These can be acquired fairly cheaply on Amazon.
The bottom line
Whatever tripod you decide to get, consider that it is only useful if you have it on you. When it comes to phone photography, portability is often the winning factor.