If there’s one item of gear that’s been a constant in my camera bag over the years, it’s a mini tripod, otherwise known as a tabletop tripod.
In my opinion, they’re the one gadget that every photographer should own – from beginners through to professionals. (So it’s a good job they’re usually pretty cheap!)
Using a mini tripod for camera stability is much more simple and fast than using a regular camera tripod.
They’re so small and light, in fact, that many vloggers use them as grips for their cameras.
For something with 3 legs that’s one purpose is to hold your camera steady, there’s actually quite a lot of different options on the market…
That’s why I created this guide 🙂 So let’s dive right in with my recommendations.
Best Mini Tripod in 2021
Image Product Features Pedco UltraPod IIOUR #1 CHOICE
- Highly Versatile
- Great Value
- Simple to Use
View Price → Manfrotto PixiTOP RATED
- Attractive Design
- Great Value
- Simple to Use
View Price → GorillaPod 3k KitHIGHLY RECOMMENDED
- Highly Versatile
- Bubble Level
- Quick Release
View Price → Platypod MaxMOST COMPACT
- Simple Design
- Simple to Use
- Unique Operation
View Price → Neewer PortableTALLEST
- Taller Design
- Bubble Level
- Adjustable Height
- Quick Release
View Price →
All the mini tripod for DSLR, mirrorless and compact camera recommendations below are tried and tested products that are great choices for any level of photographer.
With the right mounts or adapters, you could possibly use them to support a smartphone, but due to their strength, they’re more suited to actual cameras.
According to our testing and research, here are the 5 best mini tripods of the year.
Top 5 Mini Tripods in 2021
1. Pedco Ultrapod II
Weight: 0.26 lbs (119 g) Max Capacity: 6 lbs (2.7 kg) Collapsed Height: 7″ (17.8 cm) Extended Height: 6″ (15.2 cm)
When we wrote our in-depth Pedco Ultrapod II review, we were amazed at the feedback – it seems that a lot of photographers from beginner through to professional were avid fans of this rather unusual mini tripod.
(Just a quick glance at the 990+ positive reviews on Amazon bear testament to its massive popularity too..)
So, in such a competitive market where smart designs are so often imitated, what is it that makes this unusual table top tripod so unique?
Well first off, let’s start with its price. At less than $20, this is definitely one camera accessory that’s accessible for every photographer’s budget.
The Pedco Ultrapod has been around for decades, much longer in fact than the Joby GorillaPod. It’s also much lighter, more compact, and less expensive too.
As long as your camera+lens set up weighs less than 2.7 kgs (6 lbs), you’re all set to go – just screw the Ultrapod into the 1/4″ socket on the base of your camera, and enjoy 360 degrees of panning and 90 degrees of tilt from the unique ball and socket head.
If you have any other gadget with the standard 1/4″ screw, such as a light, camcorder, action camera, etc., you’ll also be able to attach it to the tripod.
The legs and body are made from a black nylon resin that seems nice and durable. The legs are L-shaped and either fold out like a DSLR tripod or bundle up together, where they can be used with the velcro strap.
The legs are surprisingly stable and fit nicely on just about everything. The rubber tips on the ends of the feet keep it from slipping on just about every surface we tested it on.
One great feature of the legs on the Pedco Ultrapod II is that one is longer and heavier than the other two, allowing the use of longer/heavier zoom lenses.
Beyond the body and screw, the Ultrapod’s comes with a D-ring Velcro strap, which is what turns it into one of the most versatile mini-tripods available. Using the strap, you can attach it to any medium-sized tree, post, or railing.
The entire package is remarkably durable, considering how light it is. I’ve put mine through a bit of abuse already and it doesn’t yet have a scratch. (You’ll see reviews of these tough little tripods lasting well over 20 years and not once failing – even the Velcro!)
I was surprised to find that it held my camera and heavy 16-35mm f/2.8 lens firmly to a tree with just a little bit of Velcro attaching.
All-in-all, Pedco’s Ultrapod II is a simple yet surprisingly effective design. Its versatility, combined with its lightness and compactness make it an easy accessory to pack in your camera backpack for fast deployment.
2. Manfrotto Pixi
Weight: 0.26 lbs (190 g) Max Capacity: 2.2 lbs (1 kg) Height: 5.3″ (13.5 cm)
Now here’s a mini tripod design that you’ve no doubt seen already, whether in its original (and best) Manfrotto design, or by one of its imitators.
As one of the smallest and simplest mini tripods available in 2021, it’s also one of the most enjoyable to handle.
Manfrotto has been making tripods for decades, and evidently knows when they’re doing, especially when it comes to design. The Manfrotto Pixi is no exception, sporting a look that wouldn’t look out of place in a design museum.
With its smooth edges, perfectly curved legs, and ball head that can be locked/loosened at the press of the all-inviting red logo’d button, I have to say that the Manfrotto Pixi is my favourite mini tripod to use.
It’s certainly not the most versatile, however. There are no bendy legs, or velcro straps here. What you have instead is one perfectly engineered unit, which still impressively costs less than $20 – what a bargain!
Despite there being so many other products in this table top tripod category, the Pixi has managed to remain one of the most popular of the year – with over 1,500 positive Amazon reviews backing this up.
If you’re a photographer who likes to keep your camera attached to a tripod for the duration of a shoot (I do this sometimes, to save time), the Manfrotto Pixi has undoubtedly the most comfortable legs to grip – perfectly moulded to your hands, and just the right thickness to provide a secure grip.
At only 0.26 lbs (190 g), this is one accessory you can keep in your jacket pocket or bag every day without a second thought too.
In usage, it’s simplicity defined. When you’ve attached your device to its 1/4″ screw, it’s just a case of splaying the legs in one smooth movement, then placing the Pixi on your surface.
When you have it in place, press the red Manfrotto logo button to loosen the ball head and set your camera angle.
It’s worth noting that the Pixi has a holding capacity on paper of only 2.2 lbs (1 kg).
I love the push-button mechanism, which allows you to position and lock the head in one rapid, intuitive movement – I find myself playing with it constantly when in my pocket!
Thanks to the stainless steel build, the Manfrotto Pixi can be used at a maximum working temperature of around 60 degrees Celsius, and all the way down to -30… although your hands would probably be too cold to push any buttons by then :p
There are also a few attachments available for the Pixi to extend its usage, including a universal smartphone clamp and Go Pro adapter – click here and scroll down to check them all out.
All in all, this mini tripod is the epitome of Italian design – simple, beautiful (I never thought I’d say that about a tripod!), and effective. It’s also surprisingly affordable too.
3. GorillaPod 3k Kit
Weight: 0.86 lbs ( 393 g) Max Capacity: 6.6 lbs (3 kg) Height: 2.56 x 2.36 x 12.01″ (6.5 x 7.2 x 30 cm)
The Joby Gorillapod has become synonymous with flexible mini tripods, perhaps because it was the original to hit the market over a decade ago.
There are several models of Gorillapod on the market, and to add to the confusion, there’s been an update to the product lineup with new names too… but despite all this, I’d like to highlight what is in my opinion, the sweet spot in their current range.
The GorillaPod 3K Kit (previously known as the SLR-Zoom) has a maximum weight capacity of 6.6 lbs (3 kg), meaning that it’s strong enough to hold the majority of camera + lens combinations (even something monstrous like a Canon 1DX + 70-200 lens).
At its essence, a GorillaPod is a mini tripod with legs that can be bent and wrapped around various objects, such as street poles, table legs, fence posts, etc.
This makes it incredibly versatile when it comes to placing your camera, flash, or any other gadget with a 1/4″ screw mount in any number of places.
An example would be wrapping the legs of your GorillaPod around a fence post to take a long exposure shot of the stars at night.
Another situation may have you using a cold shoe mount + camera LED to throw some light in the corner of a room, by attaching the GorillaPod to a door handle.
Whatever the case, the GorillaPod does things that other tabletop tripods simply cannot, and the ‘Kit’ models further extend their usage with a high-quality ball head for finding and securing the right camera angle quickly.
The trademark bendy GorillaPod legs are machined from Japanese medical-grade ABS plastic and German TPE for firm, secure joints that you can reply one, even when fastening your expensive camera gear in obscure places!
The legs also provide a nice, textured grip for when you’re handing holding your camera on the end of the tripod – this is popular with many vloggers, who use the GorillaPod as a kind of grip/gimble when filming themselves.
Weighing in at only 0.86 lbs (393 g), the GorillaPod 3K Kit is a great balance of strength vs size/weight, and ideal for supporting a smartphone too.
While the bigger 5K Kit can support a heavier rig, it’s also twice the weight and its differences such as this that may lead to you leaving it out of your camera bag every day.
There’s also a built-in bubble level to help you find a perfectly flat support – a feature that doesn’t exist on any other GorillaPod, nor many other brand name mini tripods in fact.
Another unique benefit of the GorillaPod 3K Kit over other mini tripods reviewed here is the useful quick release plate, which allows you to attach/detach the tripod from your device quickly and easily, much like a full sized tripod.
At around half the price of the bigger 5K Kit, the 3K is a popular choice for both professionals and enthusiast photographers and videographers alike.
It’s double the price of some of the other mini tripods out there, but the high quality ball head coupled with the unique flexible legs make it a versatile product that’s well deserved of its modest price tag.
4. Platypod Max
Weight: 0.8 lbs (362 g) Max Capacity: 6 lbs (2.7 kg) Thickness: 0.19″ (5 mm)
I must admit that when the Platypod first hit the market a few years ago, I thought it was some kind of April Fool’s joke – after all, how on earth can you have a tripod’ with no legs?!
In fact, the Platypod was the first of a new breed of ‘Flat Tripod’, doing the job of stabilising your camera on uneven surfaces, while allowing you to adjust its angle by way of a ball head… and all packing down to something only a few mm thick!
Billing itself as the world’s most compact tripod, the Platypod is sold as just a base, onto which you can attach your existing tripod ball head, or purchase one separately.
Available in two sizes (the Ultra and the Max), I’ve chosen the Max to recommend here since it’s able to support anything up to an incredible 300 lbs (136 kgs) of equipment – cameras with huge lenses, studio lights, video cameras… anything that can be secured to a regular tripod.
At the size of a mini tablet and weighing in at only 0.8 lbs (362 g), the Platypod Max can slide into any camera bag, and is ideal if you’re already carrying another tripod, since you’ll be able to swap over the ball head and share it between the two.
Four legs under the Platypus grip surprisingly well on uneven surfaces – you can use the spikey ends for when you’re outside, and the rubber ends on wooden floors or ceramic tabletops or anything that may mark.
The legs are basically 2 inch long screws with locking nuts, so adjusting the angle is as simple as twisting the screws to adjust the height. I
t comes with 4 screws, meaning you can use them in conjunction, depending on the surface, or just one alone.
Although the Platypod Max doesn’t come with a strap, there are holes on the edges which allow you to thread through a hook and loop strap that you may have lying around, or you can purchase one in the Platypod accessory kit (which includes the silicone anti-slip pad, shown in the picture at the top).
There’s not much to the build since it’s basically a plate of black anodized aluminium, but it’s rated as ‘aircraft grade’ and could no doubt take a beating. There’s also a 5 year warranty, but I can’t really see you need it.
At just 5mm thick, the Platypod Max is the perfect gadget to have sitting in its included carrying bag, lying in wait in a recess of your camera bag. As long as you have a ball head handy, you’re ready to whip it out and set up your shot.
All in all, it’s admittedly a bit of a polarizing product – some people will see it and scratch their heads, while others will immediately understand just how useful it is.
At just under $100, it’s definitely not pocket change, but have a read of the numerous positive reviews on Amazon to see why so many photographers still consider it an essential in their photography arsenal.
5. Neewer Portable
Weight: 1.59 lbs (720 g) Max Capacity: 11 lbs (5 kg) Collapsed Height: 9.1″ (23cm) Extended Height: 19.7″ (50cm)
Neewer has become well known in the photography industry for producing cut-price, (mainly) high-quality camera accessories.
It’s a bit of an odd company, which seems to concentrate most of its marketing efforts on Amazon – this Neewer Portable table top tripod, for example, doesn’t even appear on their website, despite it being incredibly popular.
Made of aluminium alloy, this is a compact tripod that looks pretty much like a shrunk down version of a regular tripod – there’s the 3 legs that open and splay even further to provide a macro viewpoint, the adjustable ball head, quick release plate with separate tensioner, bubble level, rubber feet…
This is typical of the cheaper Chinese brands, which seem to attempt to squeeze in every feature of their competitors’ products into one product, then attempt to improve on it, and slash the price!
For around $40 (latest price here), the Neewer Portable is slightly more expensive than some of the other mini tripods mentioned here, but still great value for money, when you consider the included ball head and the overall quality.
Max load weight is an impressive 11 lbs (5kgs), meaning that even your heaviest camera + lens set up will be supported easily.
With an extended height of 19.7″ (50cm), this is the tallest product on test, but still with the ability to collapse down to 9.1″ (23cm), the Neewer Portable still remains well in the ‘table top tripod’ category.
Extending the legs is achieved by rotating each leg base counterclockwise to unlock, pulling it out, then rotating it clockwise to lock – pretty standard on regular tripods, but unique for a tabletop tripod, which usually would have a fixed leg length.
Splaying the legs to achieve an even lower angle is simple too – you also have to remove the centre column of the tripod to allow the camera to sit even closer to the ground.
This is the only one of the mini tripods that allow you to ‘customise’ the height in this way, making it somewhat of a stand-out in this respect.
I particularly like the 360-degree swivel head with quick release plate and bubble level built into the plate tensioner – everything feels secure when fastened, and glides well when loosened, allowing you to reposition your camera in a couple of easy movements.
I have to say that I was also surprised by the quality of this tripod – Neewer has done well to offer so much at an affordable price.
At 1.59 lbs (720 g), the Neewer Portable tripod is heavier than the other products recommended here, but it has to be said that it’s in a slightly different product class – it’s more of a scaled-down tripod, with the ability to shed some height when it needs to!
All in all, the Neewer Portable is great value for money, and if you’ve got the space for it in your camera bag and don’t mind craning over or lying down on the ground to get your shot composed, I recommend you check it out.
Why Use a Mini Tripod?
Tripod manufacturer Manfrotto defines the use of mini tripods as “small and unobtrusive solutions for professional and enthusiast photographers to use in situations in which they cannot have a full-length tripod with them.”
As the name suggests, a table top tripod is designed to support a camera, light, or any other accessory with a 1/4″ screw hole on its base, on a table or other surface.
Common usages on a table would be to hold a microphone for podcast recording, or a camera to talk into when recording a video of yourself.
When outside, a pocketable tripod can be used anywhere you want – whether that be ground-level shooting (getting a shot of a river in motion over a rock, for example), or balanced on a wall or on a car bonnet.
Some flexible mini tripods also allow you to attach the tripod to a fence post, table leg, or any other thin object that can accommodate its bendy legs.
For many photographers, carrying a full-sized tripod is just too much trouble – even lightweight travel tripods can still be rather bulky, and setting them up takes time. This is where a mini tripod can be handy.
In general too, the taller the tripod, the less stable it is for shooting, particularly in high winds or with a heavier camera. By using a compact tripod, you’re really limiting any movement that can occur after you press the shutter button.
Even if you don’t have a camera bag, it’s easy to have one of these tiny tripods in your coat pocket – trust me, invest in one and keep it close – it’ll open up new doors for creativity.
In the grand scheme of photography gadgets and gizmos, the humble tabletop tripod is refreshingly affordable and useful, no matter your level.
I recommend them to all photographers, at least to keep stashed away at the bottom of a camera bag for those certain times when they become essential.
Placing your camera on the ground, or balancing it on the top of a fence or wall is still an option, but stabilising it on a mini tripod, or securing it via some flexible legs or a velcro strap is much safer.
The added benefit of using a tripod of this size as an extended camera grip shouldn’t be under-estimated either, whether you intend to be the next famous YouTube vlogger or not!
I hope this guide has been helpful to you. Leave a comment if you have anything to add 🙂
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.