Review: The MeVideo tripod makes smart sense in a market crowded with the ugly & overly complex
posted Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 2:00 PM EDT
Video isn’t easy, and it certainly isn't light weight. I know, because I shoot video for a living. I’ve been shooting for the better part of six years now, and through that time I’ve used just about every kind of tripod out there to do my job. Back when I got started, I used what I had (a horrible Sunpak tripod my mom found at Best Buy and I salvaged from the closet). Later, I chose tripods based on what brands I thought made the best stuff (really heavy, traditional Manfrotto). I chose what I thought would make me look professional, instead of what I knew would work best. Today I try and shirk that trend, and in doing so, find products that maybe are less well known, but make a heck of a lot more practical sense in the field. That’s where the MeVideo tripod comes in: it just makes smart sense.
The team that created the MeVideo tripod is a group of guys I’ve known to make great product for years, and some of the minds behind my favorite heavy-duty tripods from Benro. In fact, Brian Hynes (mentioned in their Kickstarter video) took feedback from me years ago to create the Benro Aero video tripod line. If you look at that tripod next to the new MeVideo, you’ll see a lot of similarities, and that’s a good thing. The Benro Aero got a lot right, but it’s not perfect. There was room to improve, to iterate. And the team did just that with the MeVideo tripod. In fact, it looks like they took the Benro Aero and decided to make it all around better, sturdier, and drop-dead sexier.
The MeVideo tripods gets so much right, and leaves little room for criticism. The carbon fiber design (of which there is also an aluminum but I highly recommend the carbon fiber, and that was the model we received for this review) makes the tripod shockingly light without compromising strength. Somehow, the designers managed to make a reliable video pan-tilt head that also doesn’t weigh a ton. Combined the entire package weighs six pounds. This is surprisingly a bit more than the aforementioned Benro Aero, but the MeVideo feels considerably more robust as a product. The Aero feels cheap, while the MeVideo feels high-end.
One of the most important features on a video tripod is the additional neck-based head-leveler. When you’re not shooting in a studio (or heck, even if you are), this additional level lets you quickly set your legs without having to worry about getting a level horizon through adjusting them alone. If you’ve ever tried this, it can be incredibly frustrating. Micro-adjusting each leg to try and get the bubble level centered is the stuff of nightmares. With that neck leveler, you can quickly set the legs and then adjust the horizon swiftly. If you go from having this feature, to not having it, you immediately notice how frustrating it can be. If you plan to pan at all, you absolutely need this on your tripod.
The MeVideo neck extends, which gives you additional height but also allows you to fold the legs up to the same level as an attached head. This is a smart design that removes the usual additional height of the head from the equation. I went from having to remove a video head and pack it separately from the legs to being able to keep them all one package thanks to this design.
The split center column comes off, and lets you get the tripod extremely low to the ground. If the MeVideo did not have this feature, your lowest possible angle would be the height of the center shaft. That is to say, not low at all.
One of the MeFoto legs unscrews and can be attached to the center column and tripod head, letting you take the MeVideo off of tripod mode and enter monopod mode. If you shoot weddings or events, you’ll know how handy this can be.
The MeVideo does all this while looking unique and stylish. It doesn’t look “fun” or consumer-focused, but it also doesn’t look like every other tripod out there. It’s unique, and the classy finish is lovely.
MeFoto, where the “Me” namesake originates, were compact, multi-colored photo tripods that were designed to appeal to lower-end consumers who just wanted a pretty reliable tripod that didn’t cost a lot. MeVideo shares only one aspect of that vision: the “Me” in the name.
Though the MeVideo tripod gets a lot right, I was a bit confused by a couple design decisions. Firstly, the grip on the pan/tilt head is not the same as the grip material on the monopod leg. They both use rubber, but the rubber finish on the leg is, in my opinion, superior. Plus, it’s just a bit weird to have two different grip materials on the same tripod.
Secondly, and a bit less of a big deal, the pan/tilt arm that extends from the head doesn’t additionally extend, which means if you like to stabilize shots while in monopod mode by placing this rod under your arm, you probably can’t (unless you are a very compact person).
What I liked:
- Carbon fiber, with aluminum option
- Additional, adjustable neck leveler
- Twist-locking, tri-section legs
- Folds upwards to become smaller and more compact (goes from a max 65 inches down to a packed size of 21 inches)
- Split center column for low-angle shots
- Removable leg to create monopod
- Independent locking legs at three different levels
- Pan/tilt head is compatible with the industry-standard video plate
- Gorgeous finish
What could use improvement
- Pan/tilt arm does not extend
- Rubber finishes don’t match
- Expensive at full price
The MeVideo tripod gets a heck of a lot right, and does it in a way that visually separates it from the competition. The tripod market has fallen into a bit of a rut, with the same design decisions repeated ad nauseam across the industry. I think that’s what makes the MeVideo tripod so appealing. Not only is it an actually excellent tripod, but it looks good while doing it.
You can get the MeVideo tripod at their Kickstarter (active until November 15) at a discounted price of either $350 for the aluminum (retail expected $500) or the carbon fiber for $500 (retail expected $700). For both, especially for the carbon fiber, that is a considerable discount. At full price, the carbon fiber feels a bit spendy, so if you’re interested you’re best suited grabbing it for that $200 discount.
High performance, lightweight, compact and stylish tripods for video shooters are not just hard to find, they didn’t exist until MeVideo. If that’s your cup of tea like it is mine, you likely won’t find a better option out there. For me, that makes the MeVideo a winner.