When DigitalRev viewers and readers picture our office environment, I’m sure the first image that comes to mind is how our team is always buried underneath a cascading mountain of lenses and camera bodies for our infinite perusal and enjoyment.
Unfortunately, the reality is more that we have a small trickle of actual cameras and lenses, and rather, a deluge of filters, tripods, and other small accessories.
Many of them are from rather unknown brands, and while we would love to browse through all the inventions people create to aid photography, certain names always command trust amongst consumers.
Manfrotto for example, is an instantly recognisable brand for tripods, and when the company sent over a small one for us to try out, I took the chance to bring it along on a recent holiday. Manfrotto also sent over a set of ND filters, which piqued my curiosity, since I never knew the company made anything aside from tripods. You can view that review here.
PIXI Evo Mini Tripod
So let’s take a look at the obvious one first – the PIXI Evo Mini Tripod, which was introduced last year in October. We were sent the white version, and our Chinese editor Elton owns the black model; Manfrotto also offers version in a red finish. All of them are elegant, minimalist, and finished with a matte, high-grade plastic that is quite scratch resistant. Elton has used his for over half a year in many weather conditions without any visible damage, while I used it on rocky surfaces and carried it around my bag for over a week without any sign of a scuff or scratch.
It’s the successor to the PIXI Mini Table Top Tripod, which was introduced in 2013 and doesn’t have extendable legs. The original PIXI used a push button ball head adjustment, while the Evo has a standard integrated ball head.
According to Manfrotto, the Evo can support up to 2.5kg, which should be adequate for almost any DSLR with a normal-sized lens, or a full mirrorless kit. I used it with a Nikon D750 and a NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED, as well as with a Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and a variety of X-mount glass. Elton has previously even used it with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Sigma ART 50mm f/1.4, and although that is probably stretching the tripod to its limits, it could still support the kit when all the legs are extended.
However, the addition of the ball head in the Evo means that it is potentially less secure than the PIXI Mini Table Top Tripod, and I found that when tilting the camera or using it sideways in a portrait orientation, the Evo was not well balanced.
That said, it’s compact and easy to fit around in a rucksack or even a messenger bag. I kept it in the water bottle compartments to the side of my backpack during my travels, which fit it perfectly.
Points for portability, then, but the tripod isn’t what I’d call versatile due to the lack of grippable rubber on the bottom of each leg. There’s only a very small section to provide support, and none on the tips. I would definitely prefer a lot more rubber on the ends of each leg so that the tripod can support angles where it isn’t possible to fit all three legs on the same flat surface.
It’s also short – tall grass or other objects in nature will obstruct the perspective of the lens, and there’s no way to raise the tripod. While this is an issue with small tripods in general, tripods with flexible legs like the GorillaPod can attach to rails and other objects, the PIXI Evo Mini Tripod can pretty much only be used on flat surfaces.
In fact, it can’t even be stood up halfway for more height – it must be used either fully extended or flat down. So while it is light, well-built, and easy to use, personally I found it quite underwhelming when shooting outdoors. I’d either prefer to bring a fully-functioning tripod, or something more flexible like a GorillaPod for compacts, smartphones, mirrorless cameras, or small DSLRs.
The PIXI Evo Mini Tripod is available now for US$49.99, and despite its flaws, is still one of the more stylishly designed mini tripods around.