I have an ancient tripod, which must surely be a museum piece by now, given me by a very dear friend decades ago; but rarely used because of its spindly legs, making it very unstable when fully extended.
When I got my first camcorder, a heavy monster compared to today's models, I needed a sturdy tripod, one which wouldn't fall over at the slightest knock; fortunately however, I was able to borrow one on the odd occasion I needed it so never gave much thought to purchasing one for myself.
Eventually, having moved Westward, I decided to see if I could find a lightweight yet strong and stable tripod of my own. Once again, Lidls had just what I was looking for. I cannot remember exactly how much it cost, but was somewhere between £4 and £9 I see the exact same Hama model on Amazon for £9.87 now.
Hama produces several models; apart from the mini Hama tripod, they all look pretty much the same but vary mainly in price, height, weight and leg circumference. The model I bought and reviewing is the Hama Star 75 Tripod, which came with a strong, black denim carry case with adjustable shoulder strap.
Weight in carry bag: 715g
Minimum Height: 42cm
Maximum height: 126cm.
Largest leg diameter: 20mm
Smallest leg diameter: 11mm
The span between each leg at max. height: 75cm
The camera attachment thread: 6.4mm (1/4-inch)
As the name implies, the tripod has three legs, each having four sections, three of which are telescopically extendable with strong black, plastic locking levers for quick release. The main body is champagne coloured aluminium with the logo, star 75 printed on one of the legs.
The centre column is also adjustable and extends to a maximum of 17cms above the legs. The feet are of a ridged, non-slip rubber material so will not mark or slide along wooden floors.
Sitting on top of the centre column is the tripod head with a series of locking clamps to allow adjustments in three directions. The head can be turned 360 degrees on the horizontal plane and 95 degrees from the horizontal to the two vertical positions. A side arm extending from the head not only aids the altering of head positions, but also locks the head in the appropriate vertical angle. A spirit level at the side of the head makes it much easier to keep the camera or cam-corder level on uneven surfaces.
At the top of the head is a plate with a screw-like thread onto which the camera is attached. However, this plate, unlike those in tripods I have used in the past, is detachable, so that it can be fixed to the camera before attaching it to the tripod, a much easier and quicker process than twisting the camera around on the thread, whilst on the tripod. The plate is held firmly in place by another quick release clamp.
Purely out of interest, I compared the time it took to set up a camera on my ancient tripod, with that of the Hama Star75.
It took a fraction over a minute longer to set up the old tripod, than it did the Hama , it was the quick release legs and table, that made it significantly quicker to set up and if it were on uneven ground, the spirit level would have made the set-up time-gap between the two, even greater.
However, this is only a comparison between ancient and modern and not between different modern models.
In summary, The Hama Star75 is lightweight, stable, quick and easy to set up, pans smoothly at any angle and suitable for cameras and camcorders.
I am happy to recommend this to anyone interested in photography. As I said earlier, there are more expensive models costing anything up to about £40, designed I believe, for professional, or the more serious, photographers.
It's light it's durable it's cheap, but does it feel cheap? In my opinion no it doesn't, it looks and feels great. Although it's probably not made out of the best of quality materials it is very sturdy and great value for money. At only £8.99 on amazon with a free carry case it is a bargain!
I use this tripod for filming with a lightweight mini dv camcorder, i couldn't comment on what it is like to use with larger camcorders but for one the size of mine (Canon MD216) it is perfect. The quick release plate fits securely in place with a plastic clip. The head of the tripod can be tightened or loosened to suit the needs of the cameraman at the turn of a knob.
Other useful features are adjustable legs that enable you to collapse the tripod so that it is easy to carry around but also lock into place with plastic clips that enable you to change the height of the tripod. If the tripod is still not quite high enough after the legs are fully extended you can also adjust the height of the central column to make it even higher.
Probably the most useful tools for me are the inbuilt spirit level and bubble level. These enable you to make sure that the tripod head is central and legs are the same height so not to end up with shots that are leaning to one side.
Overall i think this tripod is really good value for money and a great alternative to more expensive tripods that do the same job but are made out of more expensive materials.
The Hama Star 75 tripod is a budget tripod featuring a 3-way tripod head, built-in spirit level and a quick release plate. The length is minimum 42.5cm and maximum 1.25m. It weights 620g and comes with a free carrying bag. The tripod is targeted at the very low end of the budget camcorder and camera market.
Tripods are commonly used for two reasons. With still photography, should you wish to decrease the shutter speed, such as would be necessary if wishing to take a photo in lower light conditions without using a flash, you will find that if you are holding the camera in your hand, it will almost be impossible to get a crisp photo. Light is needed in order to take a photo. When taking a photo in bright light or with flash, the camera can get enough light to generate a proper photo in an instant. However, when the camera needs to let in more natural light because there is not enough light in one instant, the time it will take to generate the photo can be noticable. It can take enough miliseconds that the tiny movements of your hand will render the photos blurry. With video, tripods are sometimes used for achieving smooth pans.
Cameras and camcorders that are tripod compatible, which happens to be most of them, have a sort of screwhole underneath. There is a scew in the quick release plate that comes with the tripod, so this plate can easily be attached onto the bottom of your camera or camcorder. The quick release plate, as the name implies, is easily attached to or released from the tripod. This ensures that you can switch from tripod mounted to hand held camera use in about five seconds, assuming you've already connected the release plate to your camera.
The tripod has 3 legs that can be extended. There are 2 additional legs inside each of the main legs, and a clamp to hold each leg in place once you've extended it as you would like. So if the tripod is minimized and you want to extend it all the way up, that is 3 clamps to open and close for each leg. So making bigger adjustments to the tripod can be a somewhat lengthy process, as in it might take you a minute and not five seconds.
At the top of the tripod next to the quick release plate is a spirit level. Should you not be acquainted with these, it's a horizontal transparent tube filled with liquid and a bubble. The middle of the tube is marked. If the tripod is completely even levelled, the bubble will be in the middle of the tube, where the mark is. Interestingly, when I got this tripod, I realized just how skewed my old house in London was. I knew it was bad, but I didn't know how bad it was until I acquired this tripod. I think is a very nice feature, although I happen not too care much myself how level the tripod is when I am filming.
You can adjust the height of the tripod, and you can achieve different angles by adjusting the legs differently. The head of the tripod can move 360 degrees horizontally, and you can also move it about 180 degrees or so vertically. Within the available space you are not limited in your movement of the head. There are screws to adjust should you wish to lock the tripod in place once you've got it set up the way you want it. This works reasonably well. With my old heavy mini DV camcorder I sometimes had the problem that even though I thought I had screwed everything in place just fine, the camera would slide forwards, until it was pointing at the ground. This is not an issue with my new and much lighter mini HD camcorder. One thing I was quite interested in when I initially got the tripod, was the ability to do smooth pans, letting the camera elegantly film from the left of the horizon to the right. This should be simple enough, and I think with a more expensive tripod it probably is simple. Maybe the Hama Star 75 tripod would perform better if the joints were oiled up a bit, but I don't do pans any more, just because it's not very easy to get them smooth with this tripod.
Being that the tripod weights only 620grams, is 42cm long at its minimal height, and comes with a carrying bag, it is reasonably portable, although big enough that it's sort of a nuissance to bring it with you. It depends how invested you are in the idea. If I know I'm going to do serious filming, I'll bring the tripod, but I won't be bringing it with me for any spontaneous filming I might be doing, unless if I had access to a car. I also feel it's that bit too big to bring with me on an airplane unless I have room for it in my suitcase.
This is probably one of the cheapest full size tripods you can get, and for the price it is a reasonable investment. In my experience it has worked best for still positions, as opposed to pans. I can recommend it as a budget tripod for still photos, and it's very light. There are better alternatives for those who want to be able to do smooth movements, and those who are more than amateurs, but for those of us who don't want to spend more than £10 for a tripod, this will do.
Good cameras and accessories can seem expensive for a novice photographer; I like to be confident that I will get my moneys worth out of new lenses or accessories. At my level, I naturally aimed to buy a tripod that would simply allow me to get me started. That is, one that does the job, doesn't have any fancy features, and wouldn't burn any holes in my pocket. At less than £9 the Hama Star 75 certainly seemed to tick all of these boxes.
I was a little worried after seeing comments that this tripod was flimsy. As you would expect, the legs of the tripod are comprised of tubes of metal, that slide inside of each other. When the legs are extended to maximum length, the grip holding the two tubes together is minimal. This means that there can be a bit of wobble in the joint. I found that this still provides enough stability to do the job - it really just gives you a bit of paranoia about the stability of your equipment and quality of your shot.
I found that this was resolved easily by extending each leg-segment to about 2cm below the maximum. This eliminated any looseness in the joints and made the legs very sturdy. It isn't important to get this perfect as the head allows you to adjust all angles of the camera. The built-in spirit level is very handy at getting level shots, although in most cases I found myself just shooting anyway.
I liked the fact that the tripod legs are very easy to adjust using plastic clips, rather than screws, making any adjustment quick and easy. The central column however still uses a screw for height adjustment. I would have liked the legs to have spikes rather than rubber feet, as this will help when using the tripod on a soft surface.
The tripod can easily support my camera and a standard lens, the head and screws hold it in place securely. However, the plastic used in the head and clips seem a bit cheap, and I can see the tripod experiencing wear over time. I would like to see extra security / stability if I was using longer / heavier lenses; but I'm happy to upgrade when my skills and usage improve to the extent that I am ready to invest in better accessories. The tripod greatly reduces in size, and is only 620g, making it very easy to transport and carry.
Overall, the tripod does exactly the job I needed it to. It is a fully functional product at a giveaway price. I feel that I have got much more value out of this item than what I paid for it. It isn't something that is going to last a lifetime, and I may want to trade up at some point, but this is a perfect starter / travel tripod.
I used the Hama Star 75 tripod last year for a short period of time before realising that it was unsuitable for my needs. I still have the slightly more expensive Hama Star 61 and in this review I have to some extent compared some of the features of this model with those of the Hama Star 75.
~~ The Importance of a Tripod in Photography ~~
There are a number of reasons why a photographer requires the use of a Tripod: it is useful for taking portraits; doing close up work, macro photography and low light or night time slow timed shots. Photographing certain weather subjects also requires a tripod-mounted camera: lightning, aurora, mesospheric clouds and twilight colours, the sun and moon, zodiacal light and star trails can only be done well with some sort of tripod. A tripod is also a must if you have a timer on your camera and you want to take self-portraits when there is no one else about. After the camera and lenses, the tripod is probably the most important piece of equipment. Using a tripod can also have a psychological effect. Not only do you automatically look like a serious photographer, using one also makes you think more about the subject matter you are trying to capture. You will end up giving your photography just that little bit more care and attention and as such, are bound to notice an improvement in the pictures you take.
Of course you can take decent pictures without a tripod, but as most professional photographers should know, holding a camera by hand is fine if the shutter speed is shorter than about the inverse of the focal length used (t < 1/f). What that means is, if you use a 50mm standard lens to photograph a scene, you can hold the camera when shooting if the shutter speed is about 1/50 second or less. Using a longer exposure time or a longer lens without a tripod increases the likelihood that the photo will be blurred. The choice of lens/tripod combination all depends on the type of subject matter you want to capture and the light conditions in which you operate.
~~ Appearance ~~
I would say that the Hama Star 75 is an entry level tripod suitable for beginners but also for those requiring a lightweight tripod that is not going to be too cumbersome to haul around. The Hama 75 is constructed from lightweight aluminium and is both stylish and durable. I really like the sleek appearance of this tripod. It comes in a kind of metallic tarnished champagne finish with black plastic trimmings. This makes a welcome change from the more common aluminium grey or black. At around £11 it might be cheap, but it doesn't look cheap.
~~ Weight Factor ~~
The Hama Star 75 is very much on the light side weighing in at 620g. This is a great advantage if you have to carry it around a lot but a lighter weight tripod ultimately means a less sturdy apparatus once set up. This is always an important factor to take into account when choosing a tripod. A heavy tripod can be a burden but will stand more steady on its feet. I didn't find the lightweight of the Hama 75 to be much of a problem when using small compact digital cameras or SLR cameras with short lenses. However, if you're going to use a large telephoto lens on your SLR or a large video camera of some sort, then you might struggle to keep the unit steady. When using a large 300mm telephoto lens the tripod did feel a little flimsy and top heavy when the legs and central column were fully extended. Although I never used it outdoors, I would not imagine it to be very sturdy when it's blowing a gale.
~~ Plus Points ~~
I did like the fact that the legs of the tripod could be manoeuvred independently. The legs are connected by a brace that moves up and down the central column as the tripod is extended or retracted. So you are guaranteed a certain amount of flexibility combined with a certain amount of sturdiness. Each leg is extended via quick-release hinged latches that clip and unclip easily - a mechanism that is far more preferable than a screw release mechanism. Quick-release hinged latches has the advantage of allowing you to set up more quickly. Although they don't support as much weight as screw-type leg locks, they are more than suitable for this tripod.
The tripod is equipped with a three-way head assembly and quick release plate. A three-way head provides three separate, screw-like controls to tighten each of the three X, Y, and Z axes (Up, Down and Sideways). In general this is preferable to a ball head assemble as it is easier to more precisely control your camera. For example, if the camera is not level with the horizon, you can use one of the head controls to level the camera without worrying about twisting it around in the other directions at the same time, as is often the case with a ball head.
The quick release plate is also an important feature that you should look out for when buying any new tripod. All tripods use a universal 1/4-inch screw that connects to the bottom of most cameras and camcorders. Therefore one tripod can be suitable for all of your cameras. The quick-release plate is lake a small rectangular pad encasing the screw that screws into the bottom of the camera. It can be permanently left attached to your camera whether your using the tripod or not. When you decide your tripod is necessary you simply snap and lock the plate (attached to your camera) into place. When you're finished a quick-release lever on the tripod head quickly releases the camera and plate from the tripod. There's nothing worse than having a tripod without a quick release plate so that you have to tediously thread your camera onto the top of the tripod every time you set up. Meanwhile the lighting conditions might have changed or your subject has wandered off into the distance.
The Hama Star range of tripods are the first ones I have seen that have in-built spirit levels to give you an indication if the shot is level with the horizon. This tripod has a spirit level on the tripod head to give you a good idea if your shot is going to be parallel with the horizon - especially useful when shooting landscapes. In practice however, I find that I seldom rely on the spirit level to any great extent and continue to rely on the camera viewfinder in order to determine how level the shot is going to be.
~~ Drawbacks ~~
The central column has a continuously variable height adjustment that is extended by a wind up knob. This is less user friendly than a wind-up handle that you can pull out. Such a feature would allow you to extend the column much more easily and more quickly. Unlike the Hama Star 61 tripod, there is no carry handle on the tripod stem. This might seem like a trivial point, but trying to carry a tripod for any length of time is never the easiest of tasks. A carry handle is very useful feature as it allows you to easily carry the tripod around without a case.
The feet of the Hama Star 75 are made of rubber but they are not as flexible as those on the Hama 61. They also lack protruding spikes that allow you to dig into soft ground. This was a feature on one of my previous tripods and provides that extra grip required if you're taking pictures of crocodiles on a muddy African riverbank or trying to capture some interesting scenery upon the sandy mounds of Bondi Beach. Another possible drawback is the height. Ideally a tripod should extend fully to your own height; this is not the case with me. I'm 180cm and the Hama Star 75 only extends to a height of about 125cm, so I find myself having to crouch and bend over a lot. On the plus side, the tripod does fold away neatly and is quite compact at a closed length of 42.5cm. Tripods are never the easiest pieces of kit to store away and it's a pity that, unlike the Hama 61, this tripod does not have a hook on the bottom of the central stem. This would allow you to turn the tripod upside down and conveniently hang it up in a cupboard for storage.
~~ Conclusion ~~
Despite some minor issues the Hama Star 75 Tripod is still a good buy and can be purchased at an excellent price online at Amazon for around £11. For a handy lightweight tripod I would recommend it at this price, but if you're prepared to fork out an extra few quid for a slightly heavier tripod, I would recommend instead the Hama Star 61 or 62.
3-way tripod head and spirit level and quick release plate
Diameter: 19.8 mm
Closed length: 42.5 cm
Fully extended length : 125 m
Weight: 620 g