A remarkable companion for photoshoots.
They say the best camera is the one you have with you. Well, for me, that usually ends up being my iPhone 12 Pro. In recent years, I do favor taking photos – even for professional uses – with my iPhone. That has led me to making sure I always have the best camera on my smartphone. In the past, I’ve tested out various lens adapters and accessories to enhance my iPhoneography, but most of the time, it’s just me and my iPhone. As I’ve delved more and more into artistic product photography, I have noticed that one thing that would really benefit my shots is a tripod. So, I turned to my favorite tripod brand – Manfrotto – and it just so happens that they have a tripod designed specifically for photographers like me — the Element MII Mobile Bluetooth Carbon tripod.
The Element MII Mobile tripod is designed for the hobbyist who uses a compact camera. It’s lightweight so it’s easy to carry around from place-to-place, but it’s also very stable. This tripod is the evolution of the Element Big range and offers high quality construction with some very valuable features. Because this tripod was created with compact cameras and smartphones in mind, it comes with Manfrotto’s Universal Smartphone Clamp and Bluetooth Remote control. The clamp screws onto the tripod via 1/4” female thread and it supports any smartphones up to 3.2” wide. The Bluetooth remote doesn’t require an app and can be used up to 27.5m away from the phone.
The tripod reaches up to 62.9 inches and folds down to a compact 16.7 inches. The tripod can hold payloads up to 17.6 pounds, which is more than enough to hold smartphones. In fact, depending on the lens it’s paired with, the Element MII can even accommodate a DSLR camera. The tripod has an aluminum ball head included, which provides smooth movements for users as they frame their shots. The head has a dual-lock design — one that controls the ball’s movements and one that engages the 360º independent pan. The head comes with a techno polymer 200PL-PRO Light plate, which is compatible with Arca-type Manfrotto RC2 head attachments. The tripod also comes with a padded carrying bag, which is great for on-the-go shoots.
|Min Height||16.93 in|
|Maximum Height (with center column down)||51.57 in|
|Base Diameter||1.57 in|
|Bubble Spirit Level (No.)||1|
|Head Type||Ball Head|
|Independent Tilt Lock||Yes|
|Leg Lock Type||Twist Lock|
|Maximum Working Temperature||158º F|
|Top Attachment||1/4″ screw|
|Base Type||1.57 in|
|Maximum Height||62.99 in|
|Closed Length||16.93 in|
|Safety Payload Weight||17.64 lbs|
|Independent Pan Lock||Yes|
|Leg Angles||25º, 35º|
|Material||Aluminum, Carbon Fiber|
|Minimum Working Temperature||-22º F|
The first thing I noticed about the tripod was its weight. Weighing less than 3 pounds, it’s a breeze to carry around. One of the first things I did was to take the tripod on an adventure. I packed up my Canon DSLR and my iPhone and went for a drive. We ended up at a local park area that was devoid of any other people. The park has a very cool old stone bridge and so we took advantage of the location to take some shots with this new tripod. I was grateful for the rugged location and isolation from others because it really gave me the freedom to put the Element MII through its paces.
SET-UP: The Element MII has a standard set-up. There was no assembly and the only parts I had to attach were the hook on the center column and the smartphone clamp. Out of the bag, you unfold the legs from the main column and lock them into place using the leg angle selectors. The legs extend using ergonomic twist-locks that can be opened using one hand if necessary. Each section of each leg has a twist-lock on it. While I am a big fan of the twist-locks, I did find myself having a little bit of an issue leveling out the tripod on the rugged terrain I found myself on. It would be nice if there is a level located on the body of the tripod and not just the head.
SMARTPHONE CLAMP: I’ve actually had the pleasure of working with the Manfrotto smartphone mount before. It’s very sturdy and it’s a great accessory for any smartphone user to have. It’s designed to be mounted onto tripod plate – so that’s what I did. I twisted the plate and the mount together until it was secure and then I extended the mount so that the phone would fit. My iPhone was quite secure and I was never worried about its safety. One thing that would be helpful is an accessory pouch or something to keep the mobile phone mount parts together. Even though the tripod has a carrying bag, it doesn’t have any pockets on it so it would be nice to have something to be able to store those pieces together with the tripod.
PERFORMANCE ON LOCATION: The tripod performed admirably. I didn’t have to worry about its balance because it was perfectly sturdy no matter what the ground beneath it was like. It was easy to swap the smartphone and DSLR back and forth and the adjustable ball head really came in handy, too.
Now, even though I had the opportunity to test out the tripod outdoors before the weather got too ugly here, that doesn’t mean I haven’t used it indoors, too – because I have. Just last week, I had some products to shoot for reviews and I ended up using my iPhone. I was trying to do them handheld and then realized how silly that was since I had this fabulous tripod sitting right next to me. I set the tripod up with the smartphone attached. One of the things that’s unique about this tripod is its weight. While its light weight is great for transportation, it’s also great for tabletop set-ups. I actually had the tripod leaning forward on its front two legs with the back leg extended upward to counterbalance the front side.
This worked great for the shots I was trying to get (overhead) and it was super easy to work with. During this shoot, I also used the Bluetooth remote that comes with the tripod. I was again grateful that Manfrotto decided to make this super user-friendly and not need the use of an app. You just pair to it like you would other Bluetooth devices and then press the shutter button on the remote when you are ready to capture the shot. After I had the tripod set up, it was much easier to use this remote to capture the shot rather than the buttons on the iPhone. I loved being able to stand back from the set-up and click the button to take the picture.
The Element MII is a great tripod for mobile photographers. Not only does it work great for compact cameras, but it’s also set-up perfectly for smartphones. It’s lightweight and durable, which makes it ideal for guerilla photography shoots and it’s very easy to to use. Once the tripod was set, I didn’t have to worry about it shifting. It is sturdy and a great companion for production.