Strap Pod


Pocket-size stabilizer

The Strap Pod isn’t as steady as a monopod and nowhere near as steady as a heavy tripod or even a relatively light one like the previously-reviewed Tiltall Tripod. But when you want to pack something small, stealthy, quiet, and effective….voila! I’ve been using one for more than two years for when I shoot in low light and available light — which I do with some frequency (indoor sports, concerts, theater, etc.). The Strap Pod rolls up nicely, stashes easily in your pack, pocket or on your belt and — unlike a tripod or a monopod — it is very easy to deploy, use and remove quickly. Just drop the strap, step into the loop and shoot. No muss, no fuss, no twisting or flicking sections or wielding something that looks like a baton or a spear.

In the case of museums or some public spaces, tripods are simply not allowed (though you can sometimes get away with a monopod by pretending it is a ‘walking stick’). But hauling a monopod around is sometimes clumsy, frowned upon, or outright discouraged in certain environs. The Strap Pod is much less intrusive and bulky, so I’m more likely to toss it into my pocket or my camera bag and bring it along. If I go for an impromptu hike in the local woods as dusk approaches, for instance, my experience is that the Strap Pod seems to give me an additional one to two stops. This allows me to shoot without pushing the ISO too far, or shooting at too slow of a shutter speed as to blur any action. (Note: my 85mm prime lens is an f1.4 and my 70-200mm zoom is an f2.8 — the fastest lenses that allow ‘reach’ under low or available light ). Even with Virtual Reduction of shake functions in higher end DSLRs (in the lenses for Nikon, in the camera for Canon), having just that much more stability in your shot can open possibilities for a bigger range of useful f-stops. You could accomplish this with a classic, previously-mentioned “chain pod,” but if you’re in the woods shooting wildlife, the jangling of a chain is hardly stealthy.

Another benefit is that the Strap Pod is removed from a baseplate via a vice action — not the screwing and unscrewing of a threaded bolt — so it quickly and cleanly attaches/detaches. I have a camera worth more than the internal threading/tapped hole that accepts something like the chain pod. I’d rather not leave an eye bolt in my camera, because I often need to quickly shift from supported shot to free shot.

For serious support of camera and lens, I use a serious, lightweight, carbon-fiber monopod with a Kirk arca-mount plate, and a Gitzo Mountaineer model carbon fiber tripod with a Kirk ball head mount. I wouldn’t count on the Strap Pod to replace monopods or tripods, especially in critical shoots like weddings or commercial photography. That’s not the point. The Strap Pod is another tool for photographers to use to gain some helpful stability with their shots and maintain a more optimal ISO, while giving more options for creative control over f stop and shutter speed ranges.

-- Will Jennings 10/22/08