Tripods are essential photography tools, and the SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition for iPhone is one of the best I have ever used. Mobile photographers will appreciate its many useful features and thoughtful design, and those who rely on DSLR or mirrorless cameras will also find plenty to like.
Small enough to be quite portable, tall enough to be highly useful, and light enough to be hardly noticeable, this tripod checks almost every box on my list and includes one of the best iPhone mounts available. While the price might be a turn-off for some, the adage “You get what you pay for” certainly rings true here.
Of course, even the best tripods aren’t perfect for all photographers. I’ve now spent several weeks putting the tripod through its paces, and in this SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition review, I help you decide whether it’s the right purchase for you.
The SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition: overview
SANDMARC has been building photography gear for over a decade, and the company’s years of experience are certainly on display with the Tripod Carbon Edition for iPhone. It is, in many ways, exactly what you would expect from a traditional tripod, but it also includes some extras that make it ideal for mobile phone photography.
It’s not quite as diminutive as some of its travel-oriented peers, but it is far more useful and practical in situations where its competitors fall short – literally. With a center column that extends to nearly 64 in (162 cm) and a fully articulating ball head that can tilt, swivel, and lock in any position, this tripod is as easy to recommend as it is to use.
I’ve collected an assortment of tripods over the years: big, heavy models with tank-like construction; small, flexible iPhone tripods that can wrap around tree limbs; and travel tripods that have some great features but also deal-breaking compromises. The SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition for iPhone reaches, in many ways, the sweet spot. It offers a great balance of size, weight, functionality, and portability. Even though it’s marketed towards mobile photographers, I can easily recommend it to nearly anyone who just needs a solid tripod for taking pictures.
- The compact size and lightweight design make it great for travel
- Impressive height when fully extended
- The all-metal phone mount holds iPhones and almost every other mobile phone securely in place
- The ball head is easy to adjust
- More expensive than most of its peers
- Slightly cumbersome to return to its fully compact form
Design and details
The basic design of the SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition is hardly radical. It features three telescoping legs and a vertical center column that can be raised and lowered, as well as a ball head that can be tilted up to 90 degrees for vertical shooting. But it’s not the overall design that separates this tripod from others on the market; instead, it’s the various thoughtful choices and attention to detail.
The most striking feature of this tripod is its weight. Barely over 1 kg (2.28 lb), this tripod is hardly noticeable in a gear bag or backpack, and it’s significantly lighter than every other tripod in its class that I have ever used. This is due to the carbon fiber construction, which ensures that the tripod is sturdy without adding extra weight. It also raises the price significantly, but that’s a relatively small trade-off, especially if you plan to use the tripod for years.
In addition to being as light as a proverbial feather, the tripod is delightfully diminutive and collapses down to nearly the same size as my insulated 1 L water bottle. This portability is thanks to an innovative solution that allows the legs to be tilted all the way up along the raised center column, which is a stark contrast to how most of its counterparts are constructed. Most tripod legs collapse on the bottom while the ball head sticks up on top, but SANDMARC’s solution creates a more compact package size while also serving to protect the ball head.
With the legs and center column fully extended, the tripod soars to a height of over 63 in (161 cm), which is tall enough for the iPhone photography scenarios most users are likely to encounter on a daily basis. The legs can be locked into a horizontal position while leaving the center column protruding upward, which adds to the overall level of flexibility and customizability that this tripod offers. A weighted bag can be hung from the hook at the bottom of the center column to increase stability, and the locking mechanisms on the ball head tighten and loosen with a quick twist of the thumbs.
Ease of use and build
I found this tripod to be quite simple to use for daily shooting. It goes from fully compact to fully extended with a few quick twists of the collar locks on the legs, and it can be repositioned with very little effort. When you’re ready to frame your shots, the iPhone mount can be rapidly attached to the ball head by twisting the attached D-ring. The built-in level on the ball head helps ensure that your shots are straight, and adjustments to the position of your camera are quick and precise.
Once again, the key factors that set the tripod apart are its carbon-fiber construction and extra attention to detail. While many other tripods are similarly easy to use and roughly the same physical size, the SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition for iPhone is so light it barely registers when toting it from one location to the next.
Additionally, there is nary a plastic piece to be found, with sturdy metal hardware on every joint. Even the ballast hook is metal and built to last, plus it can be easily unscrewed and replaced with another hook or accessory as needed.
There are a few elements of this tripod that could be improved, but these are really just minor nits, not significant drawbacks. Folding the legs back to their fully inverted position takes a bit of effort because the securements that hold them in place have to be pulled out one by one. I never quite got the hang of how to do this quickly and easily, but other photographers might feel differently.
The ball head, while simple and easy to use, is also the source of some minor frustrations. The locking mechanism that secures the mounting plate to the ball head must be tightened and loosened by hand. It would be nice if the mounting plate could be snapped in place and released with a latch, but this is certainly not a deal-breaker.
Additionally, the ball head is not well suited to big DSLRs with battery grips and long lenses, but given that this tripod caters to mobile photographers, I’m not sure this really counts as a drawback. For those who want one single tripod that can meet all of their photography needs, while this tripod will almost always work, I might recommend another option for wildlife photographers lugging around 600mm lenses.
Ideal for mobile photography
If you want a nice tripod that works with nearly any camera in nearly any shooting condition, I can easily recommend the SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition for iPhone, though there are plenty of other options to consider.
However, if you are looking for a tripod that is ideally suited for mobile photography, it would be difficult to recommend any option except this one. Despite the Apple-centric name, the tripod’s sturdy all-metal mounting bracket easily accommodates nearly any mobile phone, and the tripod’s light weight, small size, and ease of use make it a great choice for nearly any type of mobile photographer.
The mobile phone mounting bracket on this tripod is, to put it plainly, the best one that I have ever used. It’s made of sturdy metal with no plastic to be found, has a confident and secure spring-loaded clamp, and features two threaded locations for attaching the included Arca-Swiss plate. Rubber pads on the inside of the bracket are designed to grip your smartphone and securely hold it in position.
I have worked with all manner of mobile phone mounts, and I’ve had myriad problems with them all. I’ve had mounts that cracked, bent, broke in half, or were just incredibly cumbersome to use. The SANDMARC iPhone mount is built to last for years, operates smoothly, and works exactly as you would expect every time you use it. The included carrying bag has a zipper pouch in its inner lining to store the mount when you don’t need it, and when you do, it’ll be ready to go in seconds.
All of this might sound a bit hyperbolic, but SANDMARC’s iPhone mount really is exceptional. When you combine it with all the rest of the features that this tripod has to offer, it quickly becomes clear why it’s such an easy piece of photography gear to recommend.
The SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition review: final words
The SANDMARC Tripod Carbon Edition for iPhone is a very impressive tool for photographers who use mobile phones, and it works great with most DSLR and mirrorless cameras, as well. Its lightweight carbon-fiber construction, small but versatile ball head, high-quality phone mount, and surprising portability ensure that it’s suited to a variety of photography types.
You can currently pre-order the tripod on SANDMARC’s website (the ship date is estimated for May 2023).
Now over to you:
What do you think of SANDMARC’s newest tripod? Are you impressed? Disappointed? Share your thoughts in the comments below!