PolarPro Apex Minimalist Tripod Base Review
Review Manufacturer: PolarPro
Price when reviewed
In some respects, the PolarPro Apex is the best mini tripod available at the moment. It’s very robust and, with the right tripod head, it can take a huge payload and is very stable. However, it also weighs more and costs more than the average mini tripod. Plus, if you don’t already have a tripod head that you can use, you’ll have to buy a separate one, which is likely to take the price above that of the Gitzo Mini Traveller.
The Apex’s versatile legs are also rather fiddly to adjust, but if you can put up with that, it’s a great little tripod.
Robust construction Impressive payload of 11.3Kg / 25lb Each leg can be adjusted through 13 positions
Heavier than most mini tripods Requires a separate head – adding weight and cost Fiddly leg angle adjusters
What is the PolarPro Apex?
PolarPro makes two variants of the Apex, the Minimalist Tripod Base and a version with a ball head built-in. I’m looking at the PolarPro Apex Minimalist Tripod Base here. The advantage of this option is that you can use your favourite tripod head – a ball head is the most natural partner.
At a little under 24cm in length, the Apex Minimalist Tripod Base is a mini tripod.
Unlike the average mini tripod, the Apex can hold a maximum payload of up to 11.3Kg / 25lb. However, at 456g / 16oz without a head, it also weighs more than the average mini tripod. For comparison, the Gitzo Mini Traveller weighs 265g /9.3oz while the Manfrotto Pixi weighs around 190g / 6.7oz – and they have a type of head built-in.
As the Minimalist Tripod Base is supplied legs-only, it’s important to check the payload of the head that you plan to use. The Benro VX20 ball head, for example, weighs 280g/9.88oz and has a maximum payload of 9Kg/20lb, so if this is mounted on the Apex, the maximum payload becomes 9Kg.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of the PolarPro Apex is that its leg angle adjusters have stainless steel teeth like a gear system. This enables each leg to be set to one of 13 different angles.
To adjust the leg angle, you turn the knurled knob to release the lock, move the leg and then relock it.
Product type: Mini tripod Construction: 95% aluminium, stainless steel leg tiltlocks Maxmimum payload: 11.3Kg / 25lb Leg angles: Over 144 leg positions Weight: 456g / 16oz
I used the PolarPro Apex Minimalist Tripod Base with a Benro VX20 ball head and it’s certainly a tough cookie that’s capable of taking considerable weight. It was fine with a Sony A7 III and 70-200mm f/2.8 mounted, for example, but I can also get sharp shots when that set-up is on the Gitzo Mini Traveller.
However, the Gitzo Mini Traveller has a head built-in and I have to use considerable force to lock it tight enough to hold the camera and lens in place.
A Canon EOS 5D Mark III and EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM have a combined weight of 2.435Kg. That’s some way short of the 3Kg maximum payload of the Gitzo Mini Traveller, but the distribution of the weight is important. While The Gitzo Mini Traveller can hold the camera and lens steady, it doesn’t make an ideal shooting platform. The PolarPro Apex paired with the Benro VX20, however, takes it in its stride and is more stable.
What’s more, the separate ball head proves its worth as it’s far easier to get the desired composition using it than when the camera is mounted on the Gitzo tripod.
Another area where the Apex really scores is with the leg angles because they enable the legs to be splayed until they are flat to the ground (in fact, they can actually go a little beyond that). This wide spread makes for a very low shooting angle and enables a more stable platform.
Unfortunately, there’s also a downside to the wide range of leg angles. The adjusters are pretty fiddly to use. On uneven terrain, you need to take the weight of the camera and release each lock in turn and then tighten it in the ideal position.
There are faint numbers on the angle adjusters that can be aligned with an arrow. Aligning each leg adjuster with the same number sets the legs to the same angle. That’s helpful on even ground or for table-top photography, but it’s an unusually slow way of setting the same leg angle and it’s not something you can do in low light.
The leg angle mechanism also makes the Apex tripod comparatively slow to pack away.