Tamrac's ZipShot, which hits the streets today, is nothing like a traditional tripod. That may be a good thing.
Herbert Keppler used to say that the tripod you take with you is better than the one you leave at home. At the time he said that, he was writing about a just-introduced compact tripod that was very light and folded up very small. No, it wouldn't be as stable as a heavy, ultra-sturdy tripod that weighed several pounds, but it would give you camera some support and since it was lighter and smaller and therefore more likely to be the one you take with you, it was therefore the better tripod.
Which tripod Keppler was talking about hardly matters, but I can tell you that it's a giant compared to the Tamrac ZipShot, an innovative new kind of tripod that became available today. Weighing only 11 ounces and only 15 inches long when folded, the tripod automatically stands at a fixed 44 inches. The specs say it can handle a payload of up to 3 pounds so this is not meant for pro rigs, but is certainly well suited for compact digital cameras or a starter DSLR with a kit lens.
Collapsed down, the tripod will easily fit in carry-on luggage, and can even be thrown into larger camera bags or attached to the side or bottom of the bag without adding much weight or bulk. Therefore, it can easily become "the tripod you take along" as opposed to the big, heavy one you leave at home.
How the tripod opens is as fascinating as it diminutive size and weight. Release the two red shock cords and hold the tripod so the legs face down. Gravity takes care of the rest as the leg extensions automatically unfold, then snap into place to create a solid support in a few seconds. Plant the tripod on the ground, mount the camera on the metal ball head, and start shooting.
Want to grab a quick multi-shot sequence so you can set up an HDR image later? Need to keep your compact steady for a panorama? Want to grab a low-ISO shot at dusk so you can get better image quality? The ZipShot makes these scenarios a bit easier.
Is the ZipShot as sturdy as a tripod that weighs several pounds and collapses down to about two feet? No. Will it hold a Nikon D3? No. But it will give you a bit of extra steadiness if you're shooting with a compact or lightweight DSLR, and you can take it anywhere. At just under $50, it is worth considering with the holiday buying season coming up. It may very well be the first non-tabletop tripod that could actually fit in a stocking!