When I reviewed the Manfrotto Pocket tripod, I was pretty sure that it was the tinniest tripod I’ve ever seen. It was, until I met Square Jellyfish, and no I don’t mean the deadly stinging creature of the sea.
Square Jellyfish is not just the name of these awesome photographic gears but also the company who invented them. I can indeed call them inventors because apparently they hold patents on some of these marvellous ‘inventions‘ with more on pending.
There are a few range of gears under Square Jellyfish banner, but the one that I’m reviewing today is set of 3 gears, which when combined together create possibly the smallest, lightest and most versatile universal mobile tripod I’ve ever seen so far. Moreover, each component individually can actually work equally well when combined with other gears from other manufacturers.
These 3 components are:
1. Jelly Legs Micro Tripod.
2. Micro Ball Head.
3. Spring Tripod Mount.
My legs feel like jelly
The Jelly Legs Micro Tripod is the heart of the Square Jellyfish’s 3 Musketeers kit. It’s the foundation on top of which the other 2 components will ‘stand on’.
Unlike the Manfrotto Pocket, the Jelly Legs Micro tripod looks more like an average 3-legged tripod but much lighter (only half an ounce or about 14 grams). It’s also smaller compared to Manfrotto Pocket with the legs folded (2.75 inches) and not much higher with all legs extended (4 inches) span.
Like Manfrotto Pocket, each of the 3 leg can be adjusted independently to give a greater flexibility while maintaining stability. In addition, the tip of each leg is rubberised which help hold the tripod in place.
Finally, for even more added flexibility and strength, there is a screw underneath the centre column of the tripod, which you can loosen and re-tighten after you set the legs at the angle as you desire.
On its own, the high-grade Polycarbonate/ABS plastic made tripod can be used as a fully functional tripod. The standard screw at the top-end will accept any standard 1/4-20 camera thread, which means you can use it to prop your mobile devices with the help of any of those tripod mount accessories, like the Glif for example; or any mobile cases that has tripod mount built-in, like the TurtleJacket or the Olloclip Quick-Flip; or the Square Jellyfish Spring Tripod Mount which I review below.
The Jelly Legs Micro Tripod was designed to support camera up to 9 oz (about 250 grams) in weight. That’s more than adequate to withstand any smartphone in the market.
Apart from the Micro Tripod, Square Jellyfish also created 2 other variety of tripods. One is called Pocket Tripod, which as the name suggests it’s just basically a platform to prop your camera and it doesn’t have legs. I would consider the Pocket Tripod a direct competitor to the Manfrotto’s Pocket, as it’s designed for the most basic needs. And since it doesn’t weight and measured more than the Jelly Micro, I would rather go for the Jelly for its extra flexibility and stability.
The second alternative product is the Jelly Long Legs tripod. Yes, it’s the big brother of the Jelly Micro with longer legs spanning 7 inches when it’s fully opened and designed to support bigger and heavier cameras up to 16 oz (about 450 grams). If you have a tablet you need to prop, the Jelly Long Legs is the perfect one for the job as the Jelly Micro wouldn’t be stable enough the take the weight and dimension.
Head the Ball
Every good photographer knows the important of having a decent Ball Head for their tripod. Some tripods come with a ball joint, most don’t. Having a Ball Head between the tripod and the camera means that you can freely rotate and tilt your camera into any angle or position you want to suit your photo-taking condition and requirement, without sacrificing the base tripod stability.
The Square Jellyfish Micro Ball Head adds this extra agility on top of the stable Jelly Micro Tripod. And because it’s practically just a standard Ball Head with standard tripod mount and screw thread, you can use it independently with any tripod and any camera you have, provided that it doesn’t weight more than 9 oz (250 grams).
To use it with smartphone, just like with the Jelly Micro Tripod, you will need a tripod mount adapter or a mobile case with a tripod mount built-in. You can obviously mount your smartphone directly to the tripod, but with the aid of the Micro Ball Head you can tilt and swivel your smartphone into any shooting OR watching angle as you wish.
The Square Jellyfish Ball Head is pretty small and light, weighting only 0.3 oz (about 8.5 grams), you won’t feel it it’s there.
Master of the Universe
Now we come to the final component of this Square Jellyfish 3-tier tripod kit which is the Spring Mount Tripod. This last bit of the puzzle is in a way the most important part of the 3, especially for us Mobile Photographer, because this is the part that allows us to mount ‘virtually’ any smartphone in existence! This unique feature is why I call it ‘Universal Mobile Tripod‘.
The Square Jellyfish Spring Mount Tripod in a glance looks like a collapsible claw on a stick. The bottom end of the ‘stick’ features a standard 1/4 20″ tripod mount thread, which means you can mount the ‘claw’ onto any standard tripod or ball head.
The other end of the stick rest the unique ‘claw’ assembly. When it’s not used the two clamps can be collapsed – flushed to the assembly. These two clamps connected together at the back and operated by a spring mechanism. To use the it, flip open the claw, then pull them in opposite direction (the spring mechanism will create tension) until the gap between the claws is wide enough to slide your smartphone inside. When the smartphone is inside, release the claws, the tension created by the spring will clamp the phone securely.
At the back of the claw assembly you can find a screw/know which can be loosen to easily rotate the smartphone horizontally or vertically, a unique feature that no other tripod mounts can do. Additionally, you can also slide the assembly from left to right or up and down. Tighten back the knob when you are happy with the position.
The Spring Mount is designed to support devices with minimum width of 2 1/4 inches and maximum 3 5/8 inches with a weight up to 8 oz (about 226 grams).
Using the Square Jellyfish Spring Mount you can quickly attach and detach any smartphone with or without the case, a very useful feature, and mount it to any standard tripod. It is small and light enough to carry it around with you, ready whenever you need it.
If however you need to mount something bigger than a smartphone, let’s say your tablet, then you can get the Tablet Tripod Mount instead. This Spring Mount’s big brother looks pretty similar and uses the same sping mechanism. The only difference is that it is capable of mounting any tablet device from 3 1/2 inches up to 5 3/4 inches wide. And for this one you might want to use the Jelly Long Legs tripod to give you more support.
The Square Jellyfish Micro Tripod, together with the Micro Ball Head and the Spring Mount are absolutely the smallest and lightest Universal Tripod in the market I’ve seen so far.
The 3 components weight less than 50 grams all together you won’t even feel it in your pocket. The whole contraption can be assembled in seconds and ready for your perusal in no time. Also each component can function independently on its own and can be used in conjunction with other photographic gears. I see this as an advantage if you’ve already owned some gears.
If you need a super portable, full-fledged tripod you can use with any smartphone or small pocket camera, you can’t go wrong with Square Jellyfish.
What’s the damage?
You can obviously buy these 3 pieces separately, but Square Jellyfish has generously offer a 3-in-1 special retail combo pack, and here is the cool thing … it only costs $29.95 (at B&H)! I think that’s quite a reasonable price (if not cheap) for this quality of a gear, that is until you check the shipping cost!
B&H shipping cost in the US varies from $7 to $13. For International delivery, well let’s just say it’s not worth it! It’s impossibly expensive! I mean for 50 grams product? That’s just ridiculous.
Alternatively you can get each of them separately at Amazon.com which might save you some money (if you are in the US). For more detailed info in where you can get these gears, please head to the main Square Jellyfish website.
I really hope that Square Jellyfish can overcome this distribution limitation very soon so everybody can also enjoy this cool gear in a more affordable way.
Update: Square Jellyfish team just told me this:
“And, good news: We are finalizing a contract w/ a European distributor right now. Expect far more reasonably priced Square Jellyfish goods this summer! “
Great news! Hopefully soon we all can enjoy this nice gear.
Apart from this, I must say it’s been a joy to being able to review this awesome product. I would recommend it to anybody.