I bought some new camera accessories recently to help with the making of my outdoor sketching videos. This feels like the ultimate vlogging setup to me.
I bought the Simorr Multifunctional Live Streaming Tripod ST30 3376 for US $49.40 and the SmallRig Multifunctional Universal Metal Smartphone Holder 3559 for US $19.63 from the Smallrig online store. I had to pay an extra US $10 for shipping from Hong Kong to Singapore.
The Simorr ST30 tripod comes with three parts. There's the main tripod, a phone phone and a collapsible phone holder that can hold 3 phones.
These are the tripods that I have now, from top to bottom:
- Velbon Ultra Mini 353 (597g)
- Velbon Ultra Maxi L (990g)
- Simorr ST30 (569g)
I like these Velbon tripods because they have twist locking mechanism for the legs. Twist locking is much faster to setup compared to clip locking. The must-have feature for tripods for me is twist locking legs which the Simorr ST30 also has.
The Velbon Ultra Mini 353 is the tripod I use to record my outdoor sketching videos. The legs weigh 467g and together with the ball head it's 597g. The larger Velbon Ultra Maxi L is 990g. I don't bring the big tripod out because that's too heavy. The small tripod is lighter but more bulky and not suitable for selfie vlogging due to the design.
I've started to venture into recording with my iPhone so I've decided to get a more compact selfie tripod and I found the Simorr ST30.
Weight of this tripod is listed as 569g. The weight is probably not inclusive of the phone holders.
The tripod is mostly metal so the build quality is excellent. The base seems to open big enough so it's quite stable. It's more stable when the height is lower obviously due to lower centre of gravity.
When collapsed, it's 34.8cm. Due to its cylindrical design when folded, it's very compact and portable.
The height for this tripod is listed as 36cm to 1.65m. Due to the low base and thin body, this tripod is recommended for phones and small action cameras.
It is possible to mount a mirrorless camera but I don't recommend using the tripod higher than hip level. A top heavy tripod can topple over easily. The Panasonic GH5 and Olympus 12mm f/2 lens weigh 855g (725g + 130g) and is not inclusive of the lens hood and wireless mic I have.
If I use the GH5 and the ST30 tripod as a selfie stick, the total weight is slightly below 1.5kg and that's too heavy for comfortable use. Pairing the ST30 tripod with a phone is the better combo, and the weight will be less than 900g (569g + 240g iPhone Pro Max 14 + phone case).
One big problem with the mirrorless camera and ST30 combo is the height adjustment is controlled by this twisting mechanism. If you turn the selfie stick too hard, the twisting mechanism will unlock and the camera will turn. No matter how tight you lock the twisting mechanism, the mirrorless camera will still be prone to turning because of its weight. You don't get this problem when using with a phone because the phone is light. So if you're thinking of using the ST30 as a vlogging selfie stick, this could be one major problem.
This is the phone holder included with ST30.
The phone holder uses a collapsible holding mechanism.
It's wide enough to hold an iPhone 14 Pro Max (77.6mm width) with a phone case. The tension is tight so it's very unlikely for the phone to fall out even if the tripod hits the ground.
Adjustment for the phone holder is limited to changing the orientation. The vertical adjustment is stilted slightly so it's perfectly vertical. To make it perfectly vertical, you'll have to use this with a ballhead.
There are two 1/4 inch screw mount on both ends of the phone holder.
The other phone holder can hold 3 phones. This is probably for Youtuber reviewers who compare phones.
You just pull the two end caps to pull everything out. All phone mounts are collapsible.
There's a latching design to latch onto the main tripod and is quite stable.
Here's a close up on the latching design.
To deploy the main tripod, you have to unscrew the top cap first.
The legs are released by pushing the button at the bottom. Push further up and the legs will spread out more and increase the height of the tripod to the minimal height of 36cm. There are rubber padding beneath the feed for extra grip.
When the tripod is extended to the maximum height, the phone is actually higher than my eye level, and I'm 1.78m tall. So this tripod is actually higher than the listed height of 1.65m. You probably don't want to use the tripod this high due to stability issues and safety for your phone.
The ability to use this tripod as a selfie stick is one of the main selling points. Compared to other selfie tripods, the build quality for this is much better, and the wider base is more stable.
One important thing to note when folding the legs back is not to have your fingers get caught in the seams. Ouch!
That's the US $19 SmallRig metal phone holder compared to the US $49 Manfrotto TwistGrip Smartphone Clamp.
The SmallRight metal phone holder has adjustments for tilt, rotation but no swivel. You can tilt the phone holder forward and back, change the phone orientation, but can't turn the phone to face left or right.
The stiffness of the hinges is strong now but I'm not sure if they will be come loose in the future with usage.
Manfrotto TwistGrip can only hold the phone horizontally with no adjustments. Holding mechanism is with a turning knob which I prefer. This needs to be used with a tripod ballhead for adjustments.
SmallRig phone holder holding mechanism is with spring. The phone holder has two cold shoe mounts at both ends that can be used to attach accessories, e.g. flash, mics. At the bottom is another cold shoe mount that lets you attach this to other equipment, e.g. top of your camera. There's also a 1/4 inch screw mount underneath you can use to attach this to the top of a tripod.
Manfrotto TwistGrip has one cold shoe mount on top, and a 1/4 inch screw mount beneath.
The Manfrotto TwistGrip has to be used on a ballhead for adjustment. The upside here is ballhead allows for easy adjustment. The downside is the ballhead is additional weight. The other upside is the ballhead accepts tripod plates so you can use other equipment on the ballhead too.
This is my setup to record my sketching process.
And this is the view from the setup above. Previously when I was using the Velbon Ultra Mini 353 tripod, I just can't get it to go high enough to record my sketching process. I do have tripod extensions but that would mean having another item to bring out.
So this is now my compact outdoor recording kit with a phone, and it works really well.
If you're interested to get the tripod and phone holder, you can get them via these (affilaite) links: