These aren't your typical travel tripods. And, in reality, they're not really designed as travel tripods at all. Hi-hats are a particular type of tripod that are small and allow for a very low vantage point in tight spaces. They're most often used for video, which is why they have such a broad platform (or bowl) to accommodate larger fluid heads used in video filming.
But they can also make for an unconventional but very useful option as a travel tripod for photographers. They're small and sturdy and easily packable. So it's with that kind of use in mind that I've recently been trying out the Induro Stealth Carbon Fiber Hi-Hats (thanks to B&H Photo).
These two from Induro are both carbon fiber models. They're very similar. Basically, one is a little broader and stronger than the other. They're very sturdy tripods but are extremely vertically challenged. They only reach a maximum height of less than a foot.
But what they lack in stature they make up for in strength. The smaller model is rated to hold a 75-pound (165kg) load. The slightly larger model is rated to hold a whopping 220 pounds (100kg).
Induro claims that their hi-hats are 60 percent stronger overall than conventional carbon fiber tripods, although I'm not sure exactly how they're calculating that figure. Regardless, it's pretty evident when you pick these up that they're sturdy pieces of kit. What they aren't is tall.
These tripods are both very similar and operate in the same way. The have a single, short extension for each leg. It uses a twist lock that is is strong and easy to lock tight.
The legs can be splayed at different angles for different stances. The locking mechanism is a manual ratchet.
The feet are removable, so you can replace them with steel spikes or larger rubber feet (a set of each is included) or use a standard bolt to attach to some other DIY platform solution.
There's a hook underneath that is unusually large and sturdy but makes for an uncommonly strong way to stabilize the tripod. You could, in theory, is it to add free-hanging weight, as you might with a taller tripod, but a more practical use is to tie it down using a strap (where the flat hook comes in handy) for an even more secure attachment.
The platform sizes are different--one is 75mm across while the other is 100mm across--but work in the same way. The whole base can rotate freely or lock in place--there's a locking knob on the side. And there's a bubble level on each. They use a standard 3/8 inch 16 UNC thread (the larger of the sizes you usually run into with tripods, often used for attaching a head to a tripod).
Induro Series 3 Baby Grand Tripod with 75mm Platform (Model No. GIHH75CP)
This is the smaller of the two. It extends to a maximum length of 11 inches (28 cm). Folded down, it compacts to 9.3 inches (23.5 cm) long. It weights 3 pounds (1.4 kg). And it supports a 165 pounds (75 kg) load.
Induro Series 4 Baby Grand Tripod with 100mm Platform (Model No. GIHH100CP)
This is the larger of the two, but the extra size comes mostly in the form of a broader platform base (100mm vs the 75mm of the smaller model). It's the same length both extended and retracted (11 inches (28cm) extended and 9.3 inches (23.5 cm) retracted. At 3.8 pounds (1.7 kg), it's a little heavier. And it's rated to support significantly more weight: 220.5 pounds (100 kg).
Side by Side
They're very similar, as you can see.
What's in the Box?
I'm particularly impressed with the things that come with it. With many tripods, these are things you would normally have to buy as optional extras.
Both models come with the same accessories in the box. They include:
- Carry case. It's a soft but actually very sturdy small carry bag with padding. There's also a much lighter pouch.
- Steel Spikes. A set of 3 steel spikes is included along with the allen keys and wrench to fit them securely.
- Grippier Rubber Feet. A set of 3 larger, gripper rubber feet are included. I'm a fan of these, and they're something I'd leave on as standard.
Benro has some similar models, bot in aluminum, the Benro 75mm Hi-Hat. It's rated for a 165 pound load and has a 75mm bowl. There's also the Benro 100mm Hi-Hat that's rated for 220 pounds and has a 100mm bowl.
The Induro Stealth Carbon Fiber Hi-Hats are very sturdy and compact. They're solidly made yet surprisingly light and portable. When you put these in place for shooting, you really don't have to worry about them moving or any wobble--they're rock solid and easy to use. And props to Induro for including the extra accessories that they could easily have sold as optional extras. Overall, I'm impressed.
I'm generally hesitant to criticize products for not being something else, because it's often an unfair basis for judgment. But in this case I couldn't help wishing there was one more option. My only disappointment with these is that they're not even more compact. These both have quite a broad top, which is excellent for stability, especially with video, but which is broader than I personally need for a lot of my shooting. I'd love to have another model in the range that is fundamentally the same idea but scaled just a bit smaller and lighter and is even more packable--maybe a 50mm version. That's something I could see myself packing for travel photography in a heartbeat. In fact, something like that does already exist--the Ground Pod from Really Right Stuff--but it's priced at about half as much again.
If you're looking to use these with photography, the smaller of these two will likely be a better fit. The larger platform is really only crucial for larger video cameras and their fluid heads. There aren't too many stills cameras rigs where I can imagine that the smaller 75mm platform wouldn't be more than adequate.
Where to Buy
You can find the Induro Stealth Carbon Fiber Hi-Hats at B&H Photo: