Organizer
Gadget news
Peak Design Travel Tripod review – triumphant unique design
6:30 pm | February 24, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Accessories Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Editor's Note

• Original review date: June 2019
• Still available new, and still unique
• Launch price: $599 / £559 / AU$1,170
• Official price now: $599 / £559 / AU$1,170 (carbon fiber)

Update: February 2024. We first looked at the Peak Design Travel tripod during a hands-on review in 2019, and many years later there's still no design quite like it, which is a little surprising given how considered and successful the design concept has been delivered to create a super-compact tripod for your travels and one of the best travel tripods period. It remains available from retailers with a largely similar list price that goes all the way back to launch. 

Two-minute review

A tripod’s a tripod – three legs and a head to secure a camera – pretty simple really. So how do you improve on a tried and tested design? The Peak Design Travel Tripod undoubtedly follows this fundamental construction, but four years of research and development has delivered a unique travel tripod as well as being incredibly compact and lightweight; its folded footprint when compared to similar-sized travel tripods, is about half in terms of diameter.

The Peak Design’s legs fold in neatly thanks to their shape, which drastically reduces the profile of the tripod when folded making the diameter similar to that of a can of soda; it may not sound exciting, but it’s impressive and makes the Peak Design a highly portable travel tripod if you’re willing to pay the premium price the tripod commands.

The Peak Design Travel Tripod is available in two flavors with the carbon fibre leg option costing $600 / £560 / AU$1170, and the aluminum alternative coming in at a slightly more modest $380 / £350 / AU$670. But that’s still a high price for an aluminum travel tripod. To be fair, it certainly isn’t cheap, but the overall design is what you’re paying for and as well as looking pretty smart and, indeed unique, the Peak Design provides impressive stability despite the legs being made up of five sections.

Peak Design Travel Tripod carry bag

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Cost aside, the main difference between the carbon fibre and aluminum options is weight. The former comes in at just 2.81lbs / 1.27kg, while the latter is slightly heavier at 3.44lbs / 1.56kg. The aluminum model is still lightweight despite the legs being made of heavier material, so this remains an option worth considering if you can’t afford the carbon fiber version. All other aspects of the tripods are the same, including the folded length of 15.4in / 39.1cm with a 3.1in / 7.9cm diameter.

With such a lightweight and compact folded size, you may be thinking that this tripod is short and flimsy, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. These were my initial expectations, but I was hugely impressed with the overall sturdiness and the ability to shoot low to the ground with the center column inserted upside down into the legs or as high as 60in / 152.4cm with the center column fully extended. The center column also offers a hook for adding weight and there’s an integrated phone mount that stows away in the bottom of the center column above the bag hook for adding weight to the tripod to increase stability when required.

This is a tripod that’s intended for professional use and offers a maximum payload of 20lbs / 9.1kg, so it can handle a wide variety of camera and lens combinations. With this, you could get away with using some long telephoto lenses for wildlife photography, and the head can support the weight, but the design of the head wouldn’t provide the most efficient and comfortable shooting experience for this type of photography. Plus, the head isn’t interchangeable so you couldn’t swap it out for a gimbal head instead.

Image 1 of 4

Peak Design Travel Tripod folded on the ground

(Image credit: James Abbott)
Image 2 of 4

Peak Design Travel Tripod main leg locks

(Image credit: James Abbott)
Image 3 of 4

Peak Design Travel Tripod clip type leg lock

(Image credit: James Abbott)
Image 4 of 4

Peak Design Travel Tripod at minimum height

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Ultimately, this is no big deal because it’s clearly not a tripod that’s designed for this type of photography, but something to bear in mind if this would be an intended use. The head itself is low profile, which helps to reduce the overall bulkiness of the tripod and employs a novel design that takes getting used to if you’ve only experienced what you might call standard tripod heads in the past.

The head itself fulfils the clear desire to create something that’s compact and in keeping with the overall design of the tripod, but being a fixed head means that you have to be 100% sure that it’s something that you can get on with. What makes it different is that despite being a ball head, is that it provides two locking/adjustment rings; one for the ball mechanism and another for the tripod plate. Once you get used to which is which and you’ve used them a few times they do become intuitive, but they are undoubtedly a break from the norm.

Peak Design Travel Tripod low profile ball head

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The tripod plate uses the Arca Swiss design so it’s compatible with L brackets, which is great. And even if you don’t use an L bracket, the head and plate can be set vertically to the side for portrait format shooting with the notches of the socket providing additional stability. This is a clever design that mirrors that of the tripod as a whole.

When it comes to operation, the Peak Design is quick and easy to set up. And when I say quick, I really do mean quick because it simply needs to be extended rather than unfolded and then extended like many travel tripods. The leg locks are the older style clip locks rather than twist locks, but with the unique leg shape that facilitates the compact folding of the tripod, this is clearly the only option. It certainly doesn’t impact usability and these can be easily dismantled for cleaning and maintenance which is always useful.

Should I buy the Peak Design Travel Tripod?

Peak Design Travel Tripod at minimum height

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Peak Design Travel Tripod

The Peak Design Travel Tripod was tested over a period of time using several different camera and lens combinations to test how the tripod stood up to standard use in travel-oriented scenarios. Cameras used included a premium compact, an APS-C mirrorless camera and a full-frame mirrorless camera. The tripod was also carried around with other photographic kit in my 'f-stop' brand backpack to evaluate performance over longer shoots such as landscapes.

With nearly 30 years of photographic experience and 15 years working as a photography journalist, I’ve been covering photographic accessories such as tripods for many years. As a professional photographer I frequently use a range of accessories to enhance my photography and bring my working experience of using these to reviews where I can consider how effective photographic accessories are from both a professional and enthusiast point of view.

First reviewed February 2024

DJI Mic 2 review: simply smart first-rate audio
7:29 pm | January 18, 2024

Author: admin | Category: Camera Accessories Cameras Computers Gadgets | Tags: | Comments: Off

DJI Mic 2: Two-minute review

The DJI Mic 2 is a portable wireless mic system that delivers high-quality sound – especially clear vocals – without the fuss that often comes with complicated pro-level audio gear. 

Succeeding the DJI Mic, which is a TechRadar favorite for those creating video content on the go, this second-gen model is a big upgrade in a familiar package and boasts smart pro-level features, namely 32-bit float audio and AI-powered ‘intelligent noise reduction’. 

With reliable magnetic mounts for quick mic setup with your subjects, and instant sync between mic and receiver, plus optional lav mics available, you can start recording audio in the DJI Mic 2's auto mode, even in complex environments, without worrying about clipping, or unpredictable distracting noise around you.  

I'd definitely opt for the complete kit, which includes two transmitters (mics, with windshields) for dual-channel audio, and one receiver that attaches to your camera of choice. Two transmitters can cover two subjects, or a single subject with stereo sound, whatever your camera. These components come in a charging case that auto syncs what's inside, plus the necessary connectors, and it all squeezes into a tiny carry case. 

You can buy a single transmitter with receiver, or any of the individual components, but at $349 / £309 for the complete kit (about AU$530 – pricing for Australia is TBC), the DJI Mic 2 is a dream bit of gear for solo content creators and small video productions lacking a dedicated audio specialist on set. 

Competition-wise, the DJI Mic 2 most directly goes up against the Rode Wireless Pro; and thanks to its smart noise reduction feature and lower price, DJI's offering might just have the edge. 

Image 1 of 7

DJI Mic 2 complete kit in charging case with lid open

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 7

DJI Mic 2 charging case, closed

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 7

DJI Mic 2 complete kit in its carry case

(Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 7

Flat lay of the complete DJI Mic 2 kit on white table

(Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 7

DJI Mic 2 transmitter in the hand with wind shield attached

(Image credit: Future)
Image 6 of 7

DJI Mic 2 receiver in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
Image 7 of 7

DJI Mic 2 recevier in the hand

(Image credit: Future)

Let's unpack the headline feature: 32-bit float. This is all the rage in the video production world, and rightly so, as it affords great flexibility for small crews that need a mic that simply captures sound clearly, even when the volume gets super-loud all of a sudden, or if your main subject is painfully quiet. 

In technical speak, 32-bit has a dynamic range of 192db, but it's not a fixed frequency point, and can encode wider values with a potential range that covers up to 1,528dB. That's the flexibility I was just talking about. 

If your interviewee shouts into the mic, the audio won't clip; if they speak very quietly, you can raise the volume without introducing audio noise. Put simply, vocals should remain clear in any situation. Speaking from experience working on high-stress shoots with low resources, 32-bit float has been a lifesaver. 

By contrast, the highly capable first-gen DJI Mic 2 records 24-bit audio with a range up to 144.5dB, while mics that record in 16-bit only cover 96.3dB. If you set audio gain correctly from the start, 24-bit should sufficiently capture the required range of audio frequencies. However, the reality for many video productions is that audio simply cannot be monitored easily on set, where anything can happen, including sudden high-frequency incidents  (loud noises).

You can see the difference between using the DJI Mic 2 and a phone's built-in mic below…

@techradar

♬ just outside, you can see the northern lights - Daniel G. Harmann

Digital photography is a loose analogy, but it's a bit like the difference between shooting raw instead of JPEG. If you nail the exposure and color correctly at the point of capture, then JPEG is sufficient; if you don't – say your photo is too bright and detail in the sky is washed out – then that detail is lost. 

If you shoot in raw instead, you can recover way more high-quality detail that would otherwise be lost with JPEGs when the exposure is too bright or dark, and more easily correct color temperature when it’s off. So, even if you get it wrong at capture, you can still produce a decent final image.  

While shooting raw isn't quite the same as using 32-bit float, you get the picture. When things go wrong – which they often do on set and on location, no matter your skill level – then 32-bit float gives you the flexibility you need to handle the unexpected.

Image 1 of 5

Dji Mic 2 receiver mounted to a mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 5

DJI Mic 2 receiver attached to a mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 5

DJI Mic 2 receiver attached to a shirt pocket using its magnet

(Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 5

DJI Mic 2 receiver atttached to the DJI Osmo Pocket 3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 5

DJI Mic 2 receiver atttached to the DJI Osmo Pocket 3

(Image credit: Future)

While 32-bit float gives a wider dynamic range for complete sound and the flexibility to avoid clipping, it still needs a decent-quality mic, and to that degree DJI's omnidirectional mics have been lavished with AI noise reduction that effectively reduces environmental noise. 

Now you might want environmental noise in your audio for a richer viewer experience; however, if it overpowers vocals then you need to keep a lid on it. With the DJI Mic 2, you get to choose – the new AI noise reduction can be turned on and off in an instant with a simple tap of the icon on the 1.1-inch touchscreen. 

I've used the mic on a windy countryside walk, and in a noisy conference hall – though I haven't travel-vlogged from a bustling city street yet – and the new feature works really well. There's certainly a marked difference in quality between the DJI Mic 2 and the built-in mic of your smartphone or camera. 

I can tell that the smart noise reduction feature will be able to deal with the hum of road traffic or an air conditioner fan near an interviewee, ensuring maximum possible vocal clarity, and making this is a great kit for small teams that do lots of interview content. 

You can now also bypass the Mic 2's receiver altogether, using a direct Bluetooth connection between camera and transmitter – after all, there are times when you'd rather not plug the receiver into the underside of your phone (or your DJI Omso Pocket 3 / Osmo Action 4). You lose the ability to record in 32-bit float with this connection method, but it could be worth the compromise. 

You can also opt for Safety Track, which simultaneously records a backup second track at -6dB into the transmitter, which has 8BG of built-in storage that's sufficient for thousands of hours of audio content. It's a handy feature should there be severe audio spikes.

Image 1 of 3

DJI Mic 2 charging case from above with lid open and receiver removed

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 3

Profile of the DJI Mic 2 receiver in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 3

DJI Mic 2 receiver in the hand

(Image credit: Future)

Despite its pro-level features, you don’t need to be an audio expert to get started with the DJI Mic 2 – quite the opposite in fact. As I said before, the complete kit has everything you need: it includes a charging case, in which you can store and charge the two transmitters (mics) and one receiver, and in which all three devices are automatically paired, so they’re ready to go in an instant. 

It’s super-quick to set up the transmitters, using the strong magnets that securely fix them in place on clothing, or a clip if you'd rather not use the magnets. If the transmitters are a little bulky for your taste, an optional lav mic can be attached instead. 

You can use the Mic 2 transmitter as a standalone omnidirectional mic with noise reduction and record onto its 8GB built-in memory, but most people will use the mics with the receiver connected to a camera that has USB-C, Lightning, or a 3.5mm jack connectivity, with audio added directly to the video files. That camera could be your phone, one of the best vlogging cameras, like the DJI Pocket 3, or many mirrorless and DSLR cameras. 

Battery life has been upped from the first-gen model, too, from 15 hours to 18 hours, making this is an excellent bit of kit for extended time out in the field. 

If you want to produce engaging video content, great quality sound is vital, but achieving that is easier said than done. For vloggers and small video production outfits often working on high-pressure shoots with limited resources, the powerful, smart and no-fuss DJI Mic 2 is a superb option. 

DJI Mic 2: Price and release date

  • Available as a complete kit with charging case for $349 / £309 
  • Can be bought as one transmitter and receiver for $219 / £189

The DJI Mic 2 is available now, with the complete kit comprising two transmitters (in Black or Pearl White), one receiver, a charging case, Lightning and USB-C receiver connectors, two windshields, a lav mic, plus carry case, and costs $349 / £309 (about AU$530). If you only need a single receiver and no charging case, then it's $219 / £189 (about AU$330), while you can buy some of the items separately, like the transmitters for $99 / £89 (about AU$150). 

DJI Mic 2: Should I buy?

Dji Mic 2 receiver mounted to a mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

DJI Mic 2: How I tested

  • I had the DJI Mic 2 for several weeks 
  • Used with a smartphone, the DJI Osmo Pocket 3, and a mirrorless camera
  • I used it with and without 32-bit float and AI noise reduction

I used the DJI Mic 2 complete kit for several weeks, testing how easy it was to set up and connect to devices, as well as testing the quality of its audio recordings.

I've used its 32-bit float audio capture and other settings, and I've used it with the AI noise reduction turned on and off to make comparisons. I've used the mic outside on windy countryside walks, and in echoey interiors, and I also used it to record videos for TechRadar's TikTok channels. 

  • First reviewed January 2024
Pivo Max review: like having your own camera operator
8:00 pm | December 8, 2023

Author: admin | Category: Camera Accessories Cameras Computers Gadgets | Comments: Off

Two-minute review

The Pivo Max is a motorized head that can intelligently track subject movement, when paired to Pivo's free iOS / Android app. Put simply, it's like having your own camera operator, and could be the handiest smartphone accessory you ever purchase, particularly if you're a solo content creator. 

It's incredibly easy to get started with the Pivo Max app, and establish a connection between an Apple or Android device and the motorized head. Once a connection is active, the app recognizes a variety of subjects – both human and animal – and follow a subject's movement, keeping them in the selected portion of the frame. 

Most people use a smartphone to shoot content now, and many such people work alone, and the Pivo Max is going to be hugely useful if you want to bring life and extra production value to content, rather than relying on a static, locked-off shot.

Pivo Max with Android phone attached and the Pivo Max app active, in an office

(Image credit: Future)

Set-up is simple – after optionally attaching the head to a tripod or other support to achieve the required height (the head can also simply be placed on a table or other surface), you slot your smartphone or tablet into the removable holder on the top, screw it firmly in place, open the app and away you go. Your phone will reliably track your movement, with options for human face or body tracking, plus dog or horse tracking – a peculiar mix of subjects for sure.

What's more, there's an 'Auto Zoom' option – if you move further away from the camera, it can zoom in to maintain a similar composition, and zoom out again should you move closer to the camera once more.

You can also select one of three vertical zones – left, middle or right (see below) – in which the app can place the tracked subject. I suspect most people will select the middle portion of the frame, but I can also see a use for leaving space either side of yourself, for example when showcasing products by your side, or for leaving space in your shot to walk into when out and about, especially in scenic surroundings.

Pivo Max screenshots

(Image credit: Future)

Tracking speed can be adjusted for slow and steady movements, through to keeping up with quick movement, and the motor can indeed be smooth or snappy – whichever you need. A timer gives you a three-second countdown to get ready for a take, and there are photo, video, meet and webcam modes to choose between. 

The Pivo Max comes with a remote, too, so it's easy to adjust app settings from  distance – you don't have to initiate recording on the device's screen itself. However, if you're using a separate camera like a DSLR or mirrorless, you'll need to start recording directly on the camera itself.

Yes, you can mount a small camera such as an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless model, and use that instead of your phone, although you'll still need the app active to obtain the Pivo Max's functions, so you'll need to source a coldshoe mount to mount your phone on top of the camera (included in Pivo's pricier kits).

I only used the Pivo Max with a smartphone – and I expect the overwhelming majority of users will do the same – but it's nice to know that I could use it with one of my 'proper' cameras; it has a max payload of 2kg.

Image 1 of 5

Pivo Max in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 5

Pivo Max in the hand, top

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 5

Pivo Max in the hand, underside

(Image credit: Future)
Image 4 of 5

Pivo Max remote in the hand

(Image credit: Future)
Image 5 of 5

Pivo Max remote in the hand, with Pivo Max on a stand in the background

(Image credit: Future)

The device itself is compact, and lightweight at around 350g. It's well built, though I wouldn't want to expose it to inclement weather. Pivo says battery life is a generous 10-12 hours.

Naturally, I've wanted to test the Pivo Max app's effectiveness, trying a range of scenarios and subjects. Starting with a solo talking-head shot, I made subtle movements left and right, towards and away from the camera, and tracking is silky smooth, though the zoom is a little jerky. Crank up the tracking speed to 'turbo' and the motorized head will swiftly respond to quick sideways movements, doing an admirable job of keeping up. 

If you make quick movements when the tracking speed is set to slow / normal, the Pivo Max will lag behind. Conversely, set it to quick when making slow movements and it's more likely to be jerky. You're not always going to know your speed of movement, and for such scenarios an intelligent adaptive auto tracking speed would be great, as opposed to having to manually input the tracking speed (I generally kept the speed on the quicker side). 

As such, an element of planning is required before you hit record, to select the appropriate tracking speed for the anticipated speed of movement. However, the Pivo Max has an extra trick or two up its sleeve.

It's possible to create a path with a start and finish point, much like Waypoints for drones, and then to initiate that tracking movement. There's also predictive follow, although it wasn't immediately clear to me what additional benefit this function offered.

I've also tried to confuse the app by including multiple faces in the frame, and by covering my own face as the primary tracked subject – the app will then lock onto another face in the frame and make them the tracked subject instead. So long as a subject maintains line of sight with the camera, tracking is very reliable. 

If the tracked subject changes, the first tracked subject can move back into the middle of the shot and it'll lock onto them again. Tracking is in theory more reliable than an actual human camera operator, who may or may not be able to predict or keep up with your movement (or maintain concentration). 

Yes, the Pivo Max can be more effective that a human camera operator. A caveat is that the motorized head can only do panning movements (a full 360 degrees – you can literally run circles around it) but not tilt, which is a little limiting if the subject is positioned close to the camera. A pricier and heavier gimbal would offer this extra range of motion, but these devices are way more complicated to set up than the Pivo Max. While it lacks a full range of movement, I have full confidence in the abilities of the Pivo Max for panning shots.

Pivo Max with Android phone attached and theClose up of the Pivo Max app active, in an office

(Image credit: Future)

You're using the Pivo Max app to control the camera when shooting with a phone, and the options are more limited than most smartphone's camera functions. You can select exposure for your subject, or uncheck that option for the app to select brightness based on the entire frame. Basic self-timer modes are included, but otherwise, this is a point-and-shoot kind of experience. 

Naturally, it's easier to compose your shot using your phone's selfie camera, but if I wanted to use the better-quality front-facing camera I would happily rely on the Pivo Max's tracking capabilities, without needing to see the shot in real time on my phone's screen. 

Two areas for improvement would, as mentioned, be a tilt motion in addition to panning, and an auto tracking speed option. Otherwise, this is a super-useful accessory, and practically speaking, the zoom function somewhat makes up for the lack of tilt motion.

Overall, I can easily see an audience for the Pivo Max. It's a tad on the pricey side for what you're getting, but the value it can add to video production for solo content creators, together with its tiny form factor and quick setup, will allow many to justify the outlay. 

Pivo Max: price and release date

The Pivo Max is available now and costs $269.99 / £259.99 / AU$434.99. You'll need to buy a support separately, and Pivo sells an Essential kit for $369.99 / £354.99 / AU$594.99 that includes a tripod, although the Pivo Max can be mounted on any tripod or stand with standard 1/4-inch thread. I used a basic light stand for my testing. If you'd like to mount a camera, as well as a smartphone or tablet, you'll also need to pick up a phone-to-camera coldshoe adapter (included in the the Essential kit as well as the Starter kit that costs $299.99 / £284.99 / AU$484.99 that also contains a travel case and smart mount).

Should I buy the Pivo Max?

Pivo Max with Android phone attached and the Pivo Max app active, in an office

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if...

Don't buy it if...

How I tested the Pivo Max

I had the Pivo Max on test for a lengthy period, and I used the motorized head mainly for solo talking-to-camera videos indoors, recording onto an Android smartphone. I've tried the various in-app settings, making adjustments to the tracking speed and subject detection options, and tested the various shooting modes. 

First reviewed December 2023