The Manfrotto Brothers on tour
Three years ago I bought a mini tripod for about twenty euros: the Manfrotto Pixi. A very useful investment, because I have since then used this tripod thousands of times. In the blue hours, when taking HDR photos and sometimes in broad daylight, because even then it often improves the sharpness of the photos.
Due to its compactness, such a small tripod is extremely stable. In fact, there could only be one reason to use a larger tripod. And that is if you want a higher position than a few inches above ground level. But even then there are often walls, posts or trash cans to give you that extra height.
The big advantage of a mini tripod is of course that you can easily take it with you on holidays and day trips. As a result, this Pixi has been to many places in the Netherlands and neighboring countries. Here we see it, for example, in the English Lake District. It has another inseparable companion, my Nikon D5100, mounted on it.
The Pixi actually has only one drawback: the camera positions are limited. You can tilt the camera up or down about 30 degrees, but not further. And taking photos in portrait mode is not possible.
Manfrotto has a reputation for manufacturing sturdy and solid products. Yet even this Pixi turned out not to have eternal life. At the worst conceivable moment, the first day of my recent Iceland expedition, I discovered that the screw thread was worn out. But hey, I’ve been using it very intensively for three years.
The first thing I was inclined to do after returning home was running to the shop to purchase a new Pixi. But then I realized that this was the moment to investigate if there may be other mini tripods with which I could resolve the portrait mode issue. And yes, the Pixi appears to have a big brother, the Pixi Evo.
The Pixi Evo is a bit more expensive (43 to 24 euros). It’s also a bit heavier (250 grams to 180 grams). But this tripod has a notch in the ball head so that you can move the hinge all the way to the side, making vertical photos possible. And even with a fairly heavy telephoto lens on the D5100, it doesn’t topple. Although, to be honest, it almost does; it is wise to place it with some care on a flat surface.
Wheels and screws
There are a few other minor differences. For example, the Pixi Evo has a wheel that makes it easier to screw the camera on. Possibly this also means there’s less stress on the screw thread, making it wear less rapidly. But I can only say something sensible about that in about three years.
Another difference: with the Pixi Evo you fix the ball head with a rotating button. That is different from the push button on the little brother, but one gets used to that easily.
Furthermore, the Pixi Evo’s legs are extendable and there are two positions for the spread angle of the legs. In this way, the height of the camera above the surface can be varied slightly, from approximately 13 to 22 centimeters.
Summarizing: the small advantages of the Pixi Evo, and especially the portrait mode option, are worth the extra money and weight. But for those who just want to try a mini tripod, I can definitely recommend the little Pixi. And for the Manfrotto company I have one small point for improvement: see if you can make the screw thread stronger.