Feisol TT-15 Mark 2 Mini Tripod - A Review
The search for new photographic gear is often a tortuous one, with reviews to be read, decisions to be made, and bank balances to be considered. Buying a mini tripod is no different, and in my quest for a decent mini tripod I had variously considered the Manfrotto Pixi, Joby GorillaPod and, fleetingly, the Really Right Stuff Pocket 'Pod. Until, that is, I came across the Feisol TT-15 Mark 2.
The TT-15 comes with a 3/8 inch adapter, a nylon bag and two Allen keys. Curiously, there is no indication on the packaging, or the tripod itself, that this is the Mark 2 version of the TT-15.
The TT-15 is very well constructed, with a CNC-milled aluminium frame and fixed-length carbon fibre legs, which terminate in chunky rubber feet. The tripod, without head, weighs just 200g (0.44lb) and, despite its light weight, is reassuringly sturdy. Indeed, the legs on my copy were quite stiff and needed loosening ever so slightly with the supplied Allen keys.
The maximum height of the TT-15, with legs set to 25° (shown left), is 145mm (5.71in), whilst the minimum height at 75° is 57mm (2.24in). The folded height is 153mm (6.02in). The load rating of the tripod, according to the manufacturer, is 8kg (18lb) - it’s unlikely that most photographers would get anywhere near this weight limit.
The original version of the TT-15 had two preset leg angles (25° and 50°) - the Mark 2 version improves on this by adding an additional preset of 75°. The animation below shows the TT-15 Mark 2 at its various preset angles.
Feisol has also suggested that the TT-15 can be laid flat, with the legs at approximately 90°, however this relies purely on the tension in the hinges and isn't something I would necessarily recommend due to the potential loss of stability. The 75° setting is, I suspect, plenty low enough for most users. The independently adjustable nature of the legs means you can use different preset angles on each leg in order to accommodate uneven surfaces.
The aluminium frame is anodised to a high standard and would appear to be quite hard wearing. The fit and finish of the all components is excellent; the TT-15 certainly does not feel flimsy and inspires confidence. There is hardly any flex when the tripod is under load and I would feel comfortable loading it up with a large DSLR and 70-200 zoom lens (although you might want to use the 75° setting for reasons which will become obvious later). The rubber feet are firm but also quite grippy, therefore there shouldn’t be an issue with slippage.
The top plate is approximately 38mm (1.50in) in diameter, with a rubber pad measuring 30mm (1.18in) across and features a free-spinning captive 1/4 inch screw with a slotted head. Whilst a camera can be attached directly to the tripod, for maximum flexibility I would suggest using a tripod head. Feisol suggests their own CB-30D head would be an ideal partner for the TT-15, although any compact head with a base diameter of around 40mm (1.58in) would be an ideal fit. A note on the rubber pad; I’ve come across a few mentions in forums where criticism has been levelled at the pad. It has been suggested that compression of the rubber can lead to movement of the head, although I haven’t noticed this as an issue.
The free-spinning screw is another improvement over the original TT-15, which, I understand, had a fixed screw.
The slotted head of the free-spinning screw isn’t a deal-breaker (providing you have a coin handy), however I would have liked to have seen a screw head with an attached folding d-ring handle. I have a spare 1/4 inch screw (scavenged from from a Benro Arca-Swiss plate) which fulfills the above criteria (and also has a hex socket compatible with the size of Allen key provided with the tripod), although the screw portion is slightly shorter than the Feisol version.
Although you can attach a camera directly to the top plate I have chosen to use a head. Fortunately, I already had a ball head that was surplus to requirements (a Vanguard TBH-45 for the curious amongst you) and have mounted this, as you can see below. One minor point worth noting, the set-up below does fit in the supplied nylon bag.
Obviously, the addition of a head will change the centre of gravity, which will affect the balance of the tripod particularly at the 25° setting. I am using Fujifilm mirrorless cameras, therefore the load is quite light, nevertheless I wouldn’t be overly confident about using the 25° setting except when absolutely necessary. The pictures below show a Fujilm X-T1 with 35mm lens mounted on the TT-15 at the 75° (left) and 25° (right) settings. You will notice that the whole ensemble looks rather top heavy at 25°; with a longer lens there would be a significant risk of tipping. Nevertheless, it makes sense to position the lens over one of the legs in order to maximise stability. So far, in normal use, I have kept to the 50° and 75° settings as these offer the most stability.
The TT-15, like any other mini tripod, comes into its own where use of a full-size tripod isn't permitted or simply isn’t practical. The set up in the image below would have necessitated extension of the centre column on a full-size tripod, which leads to potential instability in windy conditions. Perched on a thick wall, the TT-15 is a much more stable solution.
The long exposure below was shot from Tower Bridge in moderately windy conditions. A full-size tripod would, again, have required exension of the centre column, and could potentially have been a trip hazard in what is a very busy location.
Clearly, the TT-15 Mark 2 sits at the higher end of the tabletop/mini tripod market. Whilst many mini tripods can be picked up for €30 or less (with many including a functional ball head), the TT-15 is higher priced at €69. Although not cheap, the cost is not unreasonable when you consider that Really Right Stuff’s Pocket ‘Pod is around €170 and the GorillaPod 5K (without head) is €120. The GorillaPod's advantage is its flexibility, whilst the RRS Pocket ‘Pod is capable of carrying a much greater weight.
I would certainly not hesitate to recommend the TT-15 to anyone with a need for a mini tripod. It is compact, lightweight, well built, practical and very stable. Overall, I cannot really fault this tripod; the real selling point for the TT-15 is that I can get a camera close to the ground quickly and with the minimum of fuss, and with a minimal footprint. The lack of adjustability in the length of the legs could be seen by some as a negative, however this would inevitably reduce stability and add complexity where it is not needed.
I purchased my TT-15 directly from Feisol Europe for €69, plus postage. It would appear to be somewhat hard to source from elsewhere in the EU; Amazon UK have it listed, however it’s on pre-order (and has been for a while).