review

Joby RangePod Smart Review Twist Lock Tripod With 360 Ball Head Leveling Base

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Depending on what type of content you shoot, tripods are right up there in importance with cameras and lenses! Tripods are so vital and come in different ranges, including tabletop tripods, pocket tripods and vlogging bendy tripods such as the Freehold and the Gorillapod, which is probably the most versatile tripod ever made because of its flexible leg joints.
There is also video tripods (usually come with a 3-way pan/tilt head) and full size, travel/photography tripods such as the Joby RangePod Smart (pictured), which is a must for landscape photography as it comes with a 360 ball head leveling base (bubble spirit level built-in). You can pretty much get any shot you can think of with the Joby RangePod Smart because it can be adjusted very low to the ground and high up on the ground for standing photography.
And, it isn't just slr/dslr cameras, the Joby RangePod Smart comes with a Joby-branded phone holder adapter that weighs 41 grams. The phone adapter looks and feels good quality so, it's not flimsy at all, thanks to its solid hard plastic construction, stocky clamps and thick rubber arms, which keep the phone securely in place. The phone holder clamp has a spring loaded mechanism to accommodate phones 6cm wide to 10cm wide.
The phone holder clamp also has a small locking lever on the back of it designed to lock the spring loaded mechanism so, the clamping arms will not open accidentally. The Joby phone holder integrates two 1/4 inch female threads for portrait and landscape orientation. The Joby phone holder adapter measures 9cm long, 3cm wide and 2.5cm deep. 
In order to mount the phone holder onto the Joby RangePod Smart, you have to use the included camera quick release plate adapter, which is an x-shaped metal plate with a rubbery top and a 1/4 inch D-ring screw, running through it. The camera plate adapter weighs 28 grams and measures 4.5cm long and 4.5cm wide.
The Joby RangePod Smart collar, center column and legs are made of aluminium. One of the tripod legs has a thick textured rubber sleeve glued onto it that is designed to securely carry the tripod one-handed and also to provide a safe contact surface so, your bare hand wouldn't get stuck to the metal on a freezing day. 
All three legs have Joby branding throughout, as well as twist lock mechanisms for extending the height of the legs. The twist lock mechanism is one two types used on tripods with telescopic legs - the other being flip lock. The RangePod Smart has three twist lock rings per leg, all rubberized with a grippy dotted texture. At the base of each tripod leg, there is a thick and threaded rubber feet with a slant cut to it to help dig the legs into the ground.
With the legs fully retracted, the RangePod Smart tripod measures 42cm long and with the legs fully extended, the tripod measures 132cm long. With the centre column lifted all the way up, the total height of the RangePod Smart is 160cm. The height of the centre column alone is 41cm long (including the ball head mounting plate). Total weight of the RangePod Smart is 1.5kg (1535 grams), which is very light, thanks to its aluminium construction. The bottom section of the leg extension measures 30cm long, while the middle leg extension measures 27cm long.
Like most tripods, the Joby RangePod Smart has a ball head, which is the most important bit of kit in any tripod. The ball head stabilizes the gear, allowing you to quickly and smoothly rotate it without shaking. The tripod ball head works similarly to a 3-way pan/tilt tripod head, although adjusting angles is much easier with a ball head because it has a rotating ball-like joint that you can lock via a single knob.
The RangePod Smart ball head can support 8kg of weight and supports lateral tilt (+90°/-38°) and front tilt (+90°/-38). Pan drag is not supported; hence you cannot move the camera sideways while still filming like you can with a 3-way tripod head, which has three separate long control handles for each axis. The biggest drawback of 3-way tripod heads though, they are their weight, price and the long handles, which makes pan/tilt heads more cumbersome to carry.
Like most ball heads, the RangePod Smart ball head roll adjustment is more intuitive and while not as precise as a 3-way head, the RangePod ball head has two bubble spirit levels to help realign the camera when changing positions. 
One bubble spirit level is located on the front of the ball head lock knob and the other bubble spirit level is located on the top of the ball head mounting plate, which has a quick release clamp that is Arca-Swiss compatible. The RangePod Smart ball head also supports panoramic movement, thanks to its 360 degree rotating base, which is useful for landscape photography. 
The RangePod ball head knobs are rubberized with a hexagonal shape, which feels more comfortably to grip than a rounded thumb knob. There is also a plastic knob for locking the centre column, as well as three metal lug nuts for locking the angle of the legs. The RangePod leg angle locking system works by preventing the legs from spreading outward rather than automatically locking the legs into place. 
With the RangePod Smart, you have to manually twist each lug nut, which in turn spring up, preventing the legs from splaying. The angle lock lug nuts can be sprung up in two heights, letting you keep the tripod legs closer or further apart. The RangePod Smart tripod legs can also be set at a right angle (90 degrees) for close to ground photography.
The RangePod Smart center column has a round/square shape to it; hence the centre column is not entirely cylindrical like the legs. Etched onto the centre column, there is user information that includes the US patent number, model number, serial number and where it's made (in Italy). The centre column fits snugly inside the collar of the tripod so, there is no wiggle room. As the centre column slides up and down, it makes a very subtle metal sliding sound effect.
The Joby RangePod Smart tripod comes inside an unbranded tripod bag (weighs 90 grams) with a long cord and toggle spring for quick fastening. The long cord is looped around a plastic d-ring at the bottom, which lets you carry the tripod bag like a sling string bag. The tripod bag is padded all-around with a rugged base and, it has a coarse-weave polyester outer shell with a water resistant coat on it that makes water beads off the bag. 
The Joby tripod bag measures 47cm high so, it's long enough to fit the tripod when the centre column is pushed in and each leg is folded back on itself, which reduces the footprint of the RangePod Smart tripod down to 42cm long.
A small torx 25 key is included for adjusting the tensioning of the tripod collar, as well as a plastic hook, which screws into the bottom of the centre column. The tripod bag hook is actually a neat feature because not only it can keep a bag off the ground, you can use it to anchor something heavy and make the tripod more steady when it's windy. You can buy the Joby RangePod Smart from amazon.

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