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I have purchased many camera tripods in my time and they have all broke or developed a malfunction very soon after purchasing the item. Finding a reliable make or model can be hard. Another problem can be cost because if you want one to be more robust, made from either carbon fibre of aluminium. Then money and cost are very much a major factor in purchasing a decent tripod. This is the best camera tripod purchase I have ever made.

Rather than spending more money for a monopod, I wanted a tripod which could be potential to be separated and used as a monopod if the need arose. With large lenses becoming more and more heavy, carrying around your tripod can be sometimes cumbersome. I also wanted the option of being able to detach one of the legs and use it as a monopod. There are not many on the market which have the capability to detach one its legs, was one of my deciding factors for the ZoMei Z818. Buying the Tripod from a local photography store was not an option because they were outside my budget range. I had to look around by surfing the net. I did the find one brand which was not based in the UK, EU or USA, but made in China. I do tend to be wary of such brands but this time, my gut said I could trust this brand. The Tripod is a ZoMei – Z818 model had a  lot of Youtube reviews and I found a lot of satisfied customers. I did look at the negative comments and to be quite honest, the positive to negative comments were at a ratio of 10 to 1. The negative comments were mostly people having issues with the retailer more than the actual tripod itself.

The Best Camera Tripod Purchase I Have Ever Made, Why?

The ZoMei Z818 has five colours to choose from; Orange, Black, Blue, Silver and Gold. From the top left image, the image displays the tripod and one of the legs used as a monopod. When the package arrived, I opened it up like an eager little school boy, only to find one of the connecting screws were missing. I quickly contacted the eBay seller who promptly replied, he said he would order a new connecting screw from China, but it would take a few weeks to arrive. Without this connecting screw, I would not be able to use it a tall monopod. This minor disappointment hasn’t stopped me from using the tripod. This just means I am not able to fully utilise the monopod function as I would like to, or at least not yet anyway.

Dual-use Screw 1/4 & 3/8 Adapter Male Screw For Ball Head Tripod

With your second and spare duel purpose screw, can be used to connect the detachable leg to the main tripod poll. At either end, the poll has  3/8  inch (imperial) thread. Because I am missing the 2nd duel purpose screw, I have to improvise.

When the main pole and detachable leg are combined, the whole monopod stands at 161cm’s tall. With the Ball-Head attached, the monopod will then stand at 172cm’s tall. If I were a little taller, then I guess the monopod will have it’s use standing at 172cm’s tall. On the downside, having just the base plate and ball head attached to the single tripod leg, does mean I have to still crouch to look through my camera’s viewfinder. The prudent thing would be to connect the main tripod pole to the detachable leg, by adjusting the height of the overall monopod. This is achieved by twisting one of the lower segments, thus lowering the overall height of the monopod. The image below demonstrates the leg without the connecting pole with the base plate and dual purpose screw protruding from the base plate.

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Camera Attached to Ballhead

This is my camera mounted on the Ballhead. I also have my shoulder harness connected to the base of the camera and mounting plate. My shoulder harness is connected for added security. I connect the harness as a means of ensuring the camera does not hit the ground and smash into 1000 pieces.

Tripod Leg Adjustments

Ball Head Mount

Another feature I really enjoy for this tripod is the ball-head mount. I love panoramic photographs, however, I can never create one seamlessly. This tripod Ballhead mount allows me to this very easily. The head rotates very slowly depending on how tight the locking pin is secured. This rotating action is very smooth, just like an automatic car changes gear and you can bearly feel it. I am very impressed  how the 360-degree adjustment pin locks the head from turning in any direction. This allows me to take smooth panoramic photographs effortlessly, so it comes to merging my photographs. The time for photoshop or Lightroom to render the images is vastly reduced too.

The Ballhead mount has small grove cut into the Ballhead, this enables the camera to be moved into the portrait position. The Tilting head pin is bulkier and good reason. It has to secure the weight of the entire camera. All the securing pins must not be over tightened, however, finger tight is sufficient to secure the entire tripod making this tripod more enjoyable to use. The Ballhead is purported to be able to support up to 15kgs in weight. This means I would be able to mount a heavy 800mm Nikkor lens and camera without the tripod from falling, collapsing or giving way. That is one test I have not been able to carry out yet, as I don’t have an 800mm lens due to being VERY expensive (£11,000/$16,000just for one lens).

Tripod Legs and Adjustable Locks

Another reason I purchased this tripod was the fact that I could make adjustments to the tripod legs. There are some tripods on the market where the legs will only move and are hindered by a support strut. With ZoMei Z818 tripod, I have more control on how I can deploy each of the legs of the tripod. If I need to lie down in the prone position, I can adjust the tripod to suit my needs. With cheaper models I would not have this option. adjusting the legs to almost Ninety degrees, I can have more stability from the tripod and my camera when I am sat on a stool or folding chair.

Upon each leg of the tripod, there is a locking mechanism which stops the leg from folding back on itself. I exerted a large amount of pressure and there was absolutely no way I could bend the legs past the adjustable lock. To close the tripod so you can safely put in back in carry case, I would have to press the lock and hold while rotating the leg back into it’s 180 degrees packaging position.

Final Remarks

Pros: My overall view for the ZoMei Z818 Tripod is of 100% satisfaction and I am looking forward to many years of enjoyment with this tripod. To say this tripod brand is based in China does not take away from the fact, that the ZoMei Z818 Tripod is a very well manufactured. All of the positive comments I have found, back up how much of a good decision purchasing this tripod was. The prices range from £89 to £139 pounds depending the website (Prices compared on 17th Feb 2016).

Cons: Can’t find any, YET! The missing dual purpose screw was my only issue.

This is one purchase I have been very happy with.

John Milnes