I’ll admit that the inside of my camera bag can yield some interesting surprises. Sometimes they are slightly less interesting objects, like half eaten apples and business cards for people I don’t remember.
More often, however, the items are far more practical (I guess apples can be considered practical) such as colored gels, diffusers, and waterproof camera covers. Another handy little gadget I often roll around with is a small GorillaPod. Although it is useless for supporting my hulking DSLR, it does come in handy for off-camera flash placements and shooting with a GoPro.
Since I’ve been using this little tripod for years, I jumped on the opportunity to take GorillaPod’s new competitor, the Miggo Splat for a spin.
What is the Miggo Splat Travel Tripod?
The Splat Flexible Tripod, a recently released product from a newly established (2014) company called Miggo, is similar to a GorillaPod but has flat, flexible, rubber-covered metal legs – opposed to the ball-and-socket setup that GorillaPods utilize.
At the time of writing, Miggo has three options of the Splat Flexible Tripod available: one for DSLRs with three legs ($ 25), a mirrorless version and an Action cam (GoPro) version both with five legs (both are 10.99 on Amazon.com). Although I only have the DSLR and action cam versions for review, the specifications of the mirrorless and action camera versions appear identical on Miggo’s website.
- Maximum load is 500 grams/1.1 lbs for the Splat Flexible Tripod for Go-Pro and Action cameras, and the Splat Flexible Tripod for P&S and Mirrorless Cameras (so if your mirrorless system is more than 1.1 lbs opt for the DSLR version)
- Maximum load is 1200 grams/2.6 lbs on the Splat Flexible Tripod for DSLR Cameras
I immediately liked the idea of the Miggo Splat. Sometimes the GorillaPod needs too much tweaking to get all the ball-and-sockets lined up.
Although they are not heavy (75 grams/0.16 lbs for the action cam, 111 grams/0.24 lbs for the DSLR version), both of the tripods seem to be very solid, intended to last a while. I did wonder if you were to bend the legs in the same direction many times, how long it would take for the metal to weaken and break. However, shortly thereafter I learned that they offer a five year warranty so that put my worries at ease.
I had two other immediate concerns about the Splat: the legs on the action cam version seemed a little short, and the rubber coating didn’t seem very sticky, which may allow it to slide around too easily.
I did like the addition of a hole at the end of one of the legs which enables you to hang it from a nail, stick, etc., or move the mounting screw and place the camera on that arm. Two feet on the action cam version have two small tabs that can be used for further creative placements.
In the Field
Mounting the cameras on the tripods, I was disappointed that there is no quick release, just a threaded screw. The DSLR Splat has a little hinged ring on the screw head to aid in attachment, but the Action Cam version leaves you fumbling around for a coin or key as a makeshift screwdriver to affix the camera.
GoPro and Action Camera Splat
The Splat Flexible Tripod for Go-Pro and Action cameras comes with a standard GoPro mount with female threads to enable you to attach the camera to the tripod since GoPro doesn’t provide one for you (seriously GoPro???). The disappointment here is that it is only a simple swivel and not a 3-way adjustment so it can be a bit of a pain to get level shots. I would be surprised if Miggo didn’t introduce a small ball head for their tripods in the near future – it would be immensely more versatile with one.
To circumvent the problem of not having a ball head, you can mount the camera on the end of one of the arms. This works pretty well with the action cam, as the leg is short and you have more of them, and the camera is light. The other advantage is the ability to have the camera protrude forward of the tripod so to avoid capturing the tripod in images, due to the extreme wide angle of view with these cameras. However, curving the leg creates a nice little spring so if there is any movement, or even a moderate breeze, the camera bounces around.
Having five legs is definitely the way to go; any less and the Splat would take a serious hit in practicality. It’s a bit tricky to get a firm attachment while wrapping the legs around objects. I tried to mount the GoPro on the handlebars, and elsewhere, of my motorcycle but the metal springs outward slightly when trying to wrap tight and the top-heavy setup slides around.
Folding the legs all together under the camera creates a nice handle for getting more stable videos. As such, I used the Splat in this fashion while going out for a snorkel and it does help greatly. Unfortunately, the attachment screw (made from brass according to their website) rusted immediately.
Folding the legs the opposite way encapsulates the camera adding a layer of protection. I assumed this to be a gimmick but it proved to be one of the best features of this gadget.
As soon as I laid eyes on this tripod I knew they screwed up only giving it three arms.
First of all, if you try to mount the camera on the end of the arms (there is a hole to accommodate the mounting screw or to hang the tripod off of a nail) it is very difficult to stabilize the camera and it just bounces around or the arm slowly bends.
Since my DSLR is too heavy for this version of the Splat, I took it for a spin with my Fujifilm X100T, which it handled with ease. Again though, with only three legs and no ball head, it took way too much fumbling around in most cases to get a well-framed shot, while keeping the camera level and stable. However, it is a good compact, lightweight, and sturdy option to tote along for selfies, to get sharper images, for low light shots, and for HDR or time-lapse. It slides perfectly into the back of my camera bag where I don’t even notice it.
As I had presumed, for my needs this tool would prove way more useful to support off-camera lighting. My largest speedlight (Nikon SB-900), with a wireless trigger, easily fit within the weight capacity of the Splat.
It also doubles as a way to simply keep equipment off the ground where it is dusty, muddy, or wet.
With the addition of accessories to enhance the usefulness of these tripods, they will be very cost-effective, quality tools to add to your gadget bag.
As it stands I feel that the action cam version is the better of the two for actually taking pictures or video. I could easily see leaving my GoPro attached to the Splat most of the time. It’s light, unobtrusive, and protects the lens.
The DSLR version I find fairly useless for actual photography but everyone’s needs vary. If you want something inexpensive, light, and simple, it’s a good option for the price. However, if you want a convenient means of expanding your creative off-camera lighting techniques, I definitely recommend the Splat.
Does the Miggo Splat Flexible Tripod seem like the kind of accessory that you would find useful?
- Splat Flexible Tripod for Go-Pro and Action cameras: 4.5 STARS
- Splat Flexible Tripod for DSLR cameras: 2.5 STARS