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HEIPI Tripod Review – Is this the Best Budget Tripod for Mirrorless Cameras?

HEIPI Tripod Review – Is this the Best Budget Tripod for Mirrorless Cameras?

An honest review of the HEIPI 3-in-1 Travel Tripod in pursuit of the best budget tripod for Mirrorless Cameras.

Over the years of working as a professional adventure travel photographer, I’ve used and tested dozens of lightweight travel tripods in the field.

While, for a long time, these lightweight tripods didn’t offer the stability required to fulfill the needs of heavier, professional mirrorless camera systems– things have changed recently thanks to better construction materials and unique innovations in design.

One such innovation is the unique 3-in-1, three-pillar central column tripod offered by HEIPI’s impressive Kickstarter and Indigogo project. So, when they offered me the opportunity to review this budget tripod for my mirrorless camera setup, I was admittedly a little excited.

Update: I’ve updated this review with new insights and opinions after having used this tripod for hiking and landscape photography throughout 2023.

Full transparency: HEIPI sent me this tripod free of charge for review. However, as always, all opinions are my own, and I personally test all of my gear thoroughly before making any recommendations. Please review my Publishing Principles to learn about my review ethics.

Budget mirrorless camera tripod reviewer

About the HEIPI 3-in-1 Travel Tripod

HEIPI's tripod is a lightweight, carbon fiber travel tripod that on the surface, looks similar to the very popular Peak Design Travel Tripod. However, after closer inspection, you'll notice that this tripod incorporates some very unique and innovative features, and is very much a brand-new design.

Heipi budget camera tripod

Tripod Features

  • 3-in-1 System - integrated a main tripod, a removable sub tripod, and a removable ball head
  • Unique three-pillar central column - the sub tripod extends out to serve as a three-pillar column, increasing stability
  • Sturdy 50mm low-profile ball head - high quality, pro-grade ball head with panoramic pan (click or mute) and accommodates arca-swiss plates & portrait shooting
  • Unique leg locking levers - strong and quick-release clips for carbon fiber leg extensions
  • Adjustable leg angle adjustments
  • Rubber & spiked feet

Many of the features, including the pro-quality ball head, carbon fiber construction, and large weight capacity definitely aren't typical of budget mirrorless camera tripods and are typically features you'd need to pay a premium price for.

Others, like the removable sub-tripod and the three-pillar center column, are the first of their kind in photography tripods like this.

Heipi travel tripod

The HEIPI Travel Tripod Specs

  • Maximum Load: 25 kg (55 lb)
  • Maximum Height: 150 cm (59.44")
  • Folded Height: 44.4 cm (17.48")
  • Weight: 3-in-1: 1.4 kg (3.1 lb) |
  • Main tripod weight with head: 1.2 kg (2.65 lb)
  • Price: $399 ($319 for early backers)

The specs supplied are directly from the manufacturer and at first glance, are very impressive and certainly not typical of tripods in this price range.

The maximum load is extremely impressive, and in all honestly, I wasn't able to test it to this capacity. However, I did set this tripod up with my Canon R5 mirrorless camera & heavy 100-500mm RF telephoto lens (roughly 2.1 kg, or 4.6 lb load), and it did feel very solid, at least with the center column collapsed to the base.

The maximum height of this tripod reaches just over 1.5 meters, or 5 feet, which is typically more than adequate for most landscape photographers shopping for tripods in this price range.

In terms of portability, its folded height is just a little longer than my current favorite travel tripod, the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon GT. However, in real-world scenarios, what's more important is the overall packability. Similarly to the Peak Design Travel Tripod, HEIPI has managed to trim down the fat, making the packed diameter just 69 mm (2.7 in), which overall, makes it much easier to stow in a backpack.

Carbon fiber tripod

What to Look for When Buying a Budget Tripod for Mirrorless Cameras

Before I get into the HEIPI camera tripod review, here are what I believe to be the most crucial features when shopping for a budget tripod for mirrorless cameras.

  • Portability - weight & packability are important to many hobby and professional landscape shooters who need to carry their compact tripod for extended distances.
  • Stability - refers to how still the tripod can hold the camera & minimize shake, how easy & smooth the tripod head handles heavy loads, and the overall strength of the tripod legs
  • Versatility - refers to unique features, flexibility to incorporate different angles & camera orientations, minimum & maximum height, and overall ease-of-use
  • Durability - the overall build quality and expected performance of the tripod over time

In my review below, I'll cover all four of these points to help you decide if this is the best lightweight tripod for you.

Olly gaspar photographer in uganda jungle

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Here are my most comprehensive and up-to-date posts for purchasing camera gear in 2024.

Review of the HEIPI Tripod using a Professional Mirrorless Camera System

I've been using this tripod now for three weeks on a couple of different shoots. While this isn't a lot of time to really get a grip on the long-term performance of the tripod, it's given me a good understanding of what I can expect out of it.

Below is my honest opinion about how the HEIPI stacks up against the other premium and budget tripods I've used in the past. The photos are all from the most recent shoot at a forest waterfall in Australia.

Portability

The HEIPI camera comes with an included water-resistant carry case, which at first impression, has a premium feel to it. While I don't usually use these, it was an added bonus that I wasn't expecting out of a budget-friendly tripod.

Reviewing the heipi carbon fiber tripod
Budget tripod for mirrorless camera 1 5
The heipi tripod comes with a lightweight and premium carry bag that is easy to attach to camera backpacks

The first time that I took it out of the case I was very impressed. The design is extremely compact and reminded me of the popular option from Peak Design, one of the most portable and lightweight travel tripods– although with a price tag that doubles HEIPI's.

Due to how compact this tripod is, it feels just as heavy in the hand as other carbon fiber tripods like the Manfrotto BeFree GT Carbo– although it technically is lighter by a few hundred grams. However, as I mentioned above, when it cuts this close, counting grams isn't really a good measure of portability. In terms of overall packed size, the HEIPI is much slimmer than the Manfrotto, but slightly longer than the Peak Design.

Carbon fiber tripod review
I was impressed with the easy-to-use flip locks

In terms of overall portability, the HEIPI is very lightweight and compact when folded down, and certainly holds up in this regard against some of the premium tripods for mirrorless cameras.

Furthermore, once we got on-site, the quick-release flip locks felt very solid and opened up quickly. This allowed for full extension of the carbon fiber legs in around 10-15 seconds, which felt intuitive and made the overall experience of setting the tripod up a breeze.

Peak design camera clip with canon camera

The #1 Photography Accessory

I've used the Peak Design Capture Clip for years to quickly clip my camera to my backpack's shoulder strap. This is the most comfortable way to carry a camera and will save your neck a ton of strain.

Stability

Of course, one of the most crucial elements of a tripod is how well it holds our mirrorless cameras and limits any movement during long exposures.

Testing the Ball-Head Mount

I was thrilled to see that the HEIPI ball head accommodates Arca-swiss-style plates, which is a common industry standard and compatible with the Peak Design Capture Clip, an accessory I use every day on outdoor shoots.

The lock is quite unique, using a dual-safety system that requires a twist and lock toggle to ensure a secure mount and stable connection to DSLR and mirrorless bodies.

Tripod ball head for mirrorless cameras

Testing the Stability at Full Extension

In order to get a good grasp of the overall stability, I extended the legs and 3-pillar center columns to their absolute maximum height of 1.5 meters. This process is accomplished by loosening the center column ring and sliding the sub-tripod up.

This is something that I usually don't do on lightweight travel tripods like this, since there is usually some level of shake and vibration.

Three pillar central column tripod

This process is quite easy. However, the first time I did this I loosened the ring completely and pulled the sub tripod completely out, dropping the ring. This is quite easy to do, but avoidable thanks to a warning sign at the end serving as a good indicator of where to stop.

Heipi tripod

After moving the tripod around and shooting the waterfall at a few different angles, I was incredibly surprised, this is a seriously sturdy tripod for its weight. This is largely thanks to the innovative three-pillar center column, which I'm definitely a big fan of. The HEIPI also has rubber feet and sturdy leg locks, making the overall stability very impressive, even at maximum extension.

However, in all honesty, when doing long-exposure work, I would still prefer to lower this tripod's center column to at least half when shooting with heavy mirrorless camera setups like the Canon R5 and RF 15-35mm f2.8L– or especially with heavier telephoto lenses.

Budget carbon fiber tripod with mirrorless camera load
The HEIPI at full extension (1.5 meters, or 5 feet)

Versatility

Below I tested the performance of the tripod for different use cases to determine the overall versatility.

Ball Head

The 50mm low-profile ball head is quite impressive for a relatively budget-friendly tripod. The fluid head is easy to loosen and fasten thanks to a small lever on the side. Overall, there is very little to complain about and the ball head functions smoothly and holds heavy cameras well.

Furthermore, the small knob on the side enables photographers to pan easily. This is also great for small adjustments and for video work. There is an audible click every 10 degrees which I wouldn't really use personally, but it feels quite nice to use. This can also be muted for smooth panning shots.

Mirrorless camera tripod ball head

Another feature I was thankful to see is the ability to position the camera in a portrait orientation, which I use very often on landscape shoots.

Mirrorless camera on heipi carbon fiber tripod

Tripod Performance at Different Leg Angles

The carbon fiber legs have three different angles, allowing photographers to spread the load over a larger distance and achieve greater stability. I tested each position and each felt good.

However, I did notice that when I had the legs sprawled out to the widest position, I was unable to use the counterweight hook as it would pull the legs outward.

Heipi camera tripod

Testing the Sub Tripod

Sliding the center column out completely enables photographers to use the sub tripod as a separate, smaller tripod with the ball head attached. This is great as it eliminates the need to carry small tripods like the Joby Gorillapod.

The sub tripod is very lightweight and surprisingly sturdy. Similarly to the main tripod, it features the ability to adjust leg angles at three various degrees.

At first, I thought that this was a feature I wouldn't use much, but ended up using it quite a bit due to how easy it is to attach and detach.

Small tripod with mirrorless camera
Small tripod with mirrorless camera
Small tripod with mirrorless camera
Small sub tripod holds heavy rigs positioned at close to ground level

Reverse Mode

While the maximum height is important, sometimes photographers just need that super low perspective. While this can be accomplished with the sub tripod, sliding the columns upside down enabled me to get the camera even lower.

This is a unique feature that I wasn't expecting out of an affordable tripod like the HEIPI.

Below are some photos of the tripod setup in a reversed position. I found it fun to use this position to capture some unique perspectives, and of course, flipping the image in post.

Mirrorless camera tripod with reversed center column
Mirrorless camera tripod with reversed center column
Mirrorless camera tripod with reversed center column
Mirrorless camera tripod with reversed center column

Other Unique Features

The overall versatility of the HEIPI carbon fiber tripod was quite surprising, offering loads of features and options that would even surprise professional photographers.

Below are some more unique features.

  • Hidden spiked feet - screwing off the rubber feet reveals a metal spike, providing greater stability on sand, ice, and snow.
  • Counterweight hook - useful to add additional support to the tripod by hanging a small camera or accessory bag underneath the central column
  • Phone mount - there is a phone mount that pulls out of the main arca-swiss attachment plate. Personally, I wouldn't use this but I'm sure it's a unique feature that would attract many.
Heipi carbon fiber travel tripod

Durability

Durability is tough to review after using the tripod for only three weeks. However, the overall carbon fiber material and built quality definitely makes this product feel like a high-quality tripod comparable to many other's I've used.

Carbon fiber is a very lightweight, rigid, and strong material, and not typically a material found on options for a tight budget.

Mirrorless camera on heipi tripod

Verdict: Is the HEIPI the Best Budget Mirrorless Camera Tripod?

As you can tell from the review, I'm very impressed with the HEIPI travel tripod. While it's not the cheapest tripod for mirrorless cameras, it is a much better choice than other options at this price range, especially when compared to the offerings from more established brands, which usually are trimmed-down aluminum tripods.

Overall, the unique features and ability to store a small, removable tripod within a very compact form factor make this very convenient to carry around and use for outdoor and landscape photography. Furthermore, the stability is very impressive and feels more rigid than my expensive $1000+ tripods at full extension, which is quite mind-blowing.

I have absolutely no trouble recommending the HEIPI and I'll continue using it in my photography kit. Will it hold up? Who knows– I'll continue to test it and update this article over time.

Update: Would I Still Recommend HEIPI's Travel Tripod in 2024

It's nearly been a full year since I swapped out my Manfrotto BeFree for the HEIPI tripod. I took this HEIPI travel tripod all over the world with me this year and yes, the short answer is that it's still the best bang-for-buck lightweight tripod I've found. It's been a big year of on-the-go shoots, which really let me put this tripod to the test– from climbing 6000-meter peaks in the Himalayas to long safaris in Africa.

I haven't had any major issues or breakdowns yet, which says a lot because I'm really not the most gentle with my gear. The standout feature for me so far has been the low-center-of-gravity ball head which is a significant improvement over traditional ball heads in terms of stability.

However, this is still an ultralight tripod and there are drawbacks. There have been a few times when I just abandoned the idea of a long exposure during windy conditions, especially when I'm up in the mountains. To be honest, I don't think I can blame HEIPI for this– it's just the nature of the beast with these types of 'ultralight' tripods, especially when I'm mounting a heavy full-frame rig on it.

I still think that the lightweight and compact design is a worthwhile trade-off between portability and stability, especially for the type of photography that I do.

One thing that I find myself constantly drawn to is the sub tripod. It's great for those times when I need to lighten my load and I usually always bring it with me in my Atlas camera backpack. Its sturdiness and compactness have been beneficial, particularly for low-angle shots. I initially didn't expect to use it much, but it's proven to be quite handy.

In conclusion, the HEIPI tripod continues to be a reliable, versatile, and budget-friendly option that I recommend as one of my top travel tripods for 2024. While it may not be perfect in every situation, its innovative design and features like the low-center gravity ball head and the sub tripod make it a valuable tool for photographers. It's held up well over the past year, and I'll be sure to update you on its long-term durability each year and let you know if I find alternatives that beat this one.

More resources from my blog:

Photographer with heipi tripod
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure travel journalist & photographer. Traveling non-stop since 2018, I've published over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. These draw on my personal experience to share unique itineraries, accommodation tips, & fun adventure guides covering hikes, viewpoints, beaches, waterfalls, & tours. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.

Your feedback & updates are crucial to keep my guides factual & current. Got new info or updates? Drop a comment below or contact me directly.

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I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you.

Zach

Thursday 3rd of August 2023

Could i use a L bracket with the Heipi tripod? My L bracket is about 1-2mm wider than the peak design plate. Looks like there is zero adjustment with the Heipi's plate retention system.

Barry Dillon

Friday 2nd of June 2023

How do rate it relative to the befree carbon GT which I own as my travel tripod that fits inside a cabin wheelie bag?