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Although mini tripods can be purchased extremely cheaply, the majority are incredibly flimsy and can break with the merest persuasion. Today i'm looking the Hama Mini, which is one of the sturdier models on the market with a current retail price of just over £6 from Amazon.
Design and Appearance
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Constructed from aluminium, the mini tripod looks professional and feels well made. Regarding its size, the Hama will easily fit in to a pocket, and its light weight means that carrying it around really won't be an issue. Pre-leg extension, the tripod stands at around thirteen centimetres tall, and with the legs out said hight is elevated to just over twenty cms. The tripod will be compatible with the majority of digital cameras as it features the industry standard size screw thread.
The tripod in use
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The extendable legs pull downward in a smooth manner, and feature plastic feet to prevent slipping on most flat surfaces. It's important to note that the tripod won't be suitable for SLR cameras if you're using a heavy zoom lens - the weight will simply be too much for the Hama, and it will probably topple over - any digital compact should be fine though. On top of the tripod sits the ball head, which can be rotated through a range of angles, or simply locked in place. The movement of the ball is a little jerky however, so if you're planning to use the tripod for panning etc you may be disappointed. Regarding stability, i've found that the tripod is very impressive, and once locked in position is very stable.
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Overall, i'm very pleased with the performance of the Hama Mini, which turns out to be a versatile and pleasant looking tripod. There are cheaper tripods out there (many of which I own), but the Hama is certainly one of the better ones that I've used and therefore earns four out of five dooyoo stars.
What is it and what does it look like?
The Hama mini tripod is a silver coloured table top tripod, intended for use with compact cameras. It looks very similar to regular tripods but on a much scaled down size - it has 3 legs, a head (no quick release plate) and of course a crew thread to attach the camera to.
The construction is very lightweight which is excellent for transportation, plus it packs up small enough to fit in handbags and some bigger pockets. Despite the small size and lightweight construction, the tripod feels of sufficiently high quality.
How does it work?
As would be expected the 3 legs fold out to form a triangular base, however a there is no brace to keep them all in the same, fixed position, each leg needs to be pulled into position independantly. If you grip onto the rubber feet on the base of each leg and pull then it will extend further giving the tripd additional height (without extending the legs the tripod stands at 14cm tall, when the legs are extended it is 21cm tall).
The rubber feet on the base of the legs are well attached but don't seem to provide much grip against a smooth surface (table top) and considering the legs aren't braced you need to be careful you don't knock one of them or the whole thing is liable to topple over.
There is one screw adjustment on this tripod which is located on the side - this can be turned to allow movement of the head in it's ball and socket base as well as turning the head 360 degrees on its base. This allows for the camera to be set at all sorts of angles from vertical to horizontal and many inbetween. When the screw is tightened up, the head remains firmly in place even when significant pressure is applied.
When the head is placed so that the camera will sit horizontally, the tripod is capable of holding quite significant weight (it held a canon G12 with no bowing of the legs), however when the head is moved to put the camera in a vertical position, the weight is notso evenly distributed and so the total weight it can hold is reduced, this is reduced further still when the camera has been mounted to face straight down (eg. for macro shots) as the weight distribution is completely off centre - by this point the tripod will be capable of holding up regular sized compact cameras, but nothing as large as a Canon G12/ Nikon P7000.
What are the downsides?
As mentioned at the beginning of my review, this tripod doesn't feature a quick release plate, although I am aware that the overall size of this tripod wouldn't really allow for that possibility. However screwing the camera onto the tripod is a bit of a pain - you literally have to either place the tripod on the table and slowly spin the camera around on top of it, or fold the tripod down, turn the camera upside down and then twist the tripod onto the camera's base. I think this is a design flaw that could be rectified without too many problems.
Aside from that there is also no arm, for ease of movement such as panning, however again this is most likely due to trying to keep the size of the tripod down to a minimum so I won't mark it down for this.
Where to purchase and how much for:
This tripod can be purchased in many places from a variety of websites to many highstreet stores (camera based ones!) Invariably items will be cheaper to purchase online but this tripod can be purchased in the shops for an average of between £10 and £11, which I think is a fair price for what you get.
Overall I think this is a well make minature tripod - it has most of the essential parts, it's strong and well made. Of course it has only been designed foruse with small camera's and if you have anything Canon G12 sized or bigger, I'd recommend you went for a bigger tripod. I can't really think of many uses for a tripod of this size apart from taking family photos on a timer or photographing tiny items (stamps, old coins, earrings etc) for things like ebay. If you want to do anything of these things and own a compact camera then this is a good tripod to go for.