FotoPro M-5 Mini + 53P Snap Verdict
In the world of tripods every manufacturer seems to be searching for the ultimate lightweight and compact solution. To be honest there’s plenty to choose from but few are anything like the Fotopro M-5 Mini. It’s ultra compact in structure, doesn’t pull back on strength in place of weight, and despite being smaller than your hand when packed down is still capable of supporting a full sized SLR.
- Min Height: 137mm
- Max Height: 472mm
- Weight: 0.79kg
- Max Load: 8kg
- Product type: Tripod
- £62.95 / $119
Fotopro M-5 Mini Introduction
Tripods are incredibly useful bits of Kit, enabling you to create a firm study based almost anywhere. However they’re not always the most convenient item to carry especially if you’re out on a track, then carrying a cumbersome tripod can be a real hassle, that is until now with the Fotopro M-5 Mini.
Fotopro M-5 Mini Features and Specification
The Fotopro M-5 Mini is quite different from other mini tripods. It’s not overly lightweight which means it can withstand a huge maximum load of up to 8 kilograms. To put that into perspective that’s a Nikon D4 with 70-200mm loaded, that’s an awful lot of camera for such a small support.
When I say small I mean small, the Fotopro measures just 15 cm when packed down and weighs in at just 0.79 kg, but then this is a tripod that only has a maximum height of 47.2cm.
The tripod arrives in a nifty zipped fabric case with a simple adjustable strap thats more than long enough to comfortably clip around your waist or sling over your shoulder, if the need takes you.
The M-5’s box features six illustrated examples of how the tripod can be used. A key feature among the illustrations is a bag and tripod combo that shows how they can be used together as a video stabilizer. I tried this and it’s a bit of a push, more realistic is the one showing it used as a shoulder style support, albeit a little uncomfortable.
Back to the tripod and once out of the bag it can be unpacked to full height quickly by means of the twist lock legs. These are five section and flip down from around the central column. When they have been fully extended the tripod reaches its maximum height of 47.2 cm.
This compact tripod is incredibly flexible and includes a pretty substantial yet equally mini head. Surprisingly the head is removable and if you want it can be replaced with a different head, although why you’d want too I’m not sure. The small head is perfectly good and features an Arca Swiss style base plate with good rubber grips to make sure your camera doesn’t move position once attached.
On the head the knob that tightens the clamp features a small bubble level built in and then there are a further two levels on the side of the head.
The head itself follows the usual small ball head design and utilises just one knob on the side to release the ball and enable you to get the right position. The head doesn’t have friction control but if you slowly undo the knob then this does sort of act in a similar way and just keeps the head simple and clear of fuss.
As well as controlling the ball head this knob will also enable you to rotate the head around 360 degrees. A nice touch here is that there are markings on the head so that you can tell what angle you’ve rotated the head through, so an ideal marker if you’re shooting a panoramic.
As with the majority of tripods there is a central column, but this is extremely short at around 4.5cm in height.
The centre column can be released with a dial on the side of the crown and it simply lifts up and down, or it can be unscrewed to enable it to drop out and be flipped for low angled shots.
Moving down to the legs, each are of the 5 section twist lock style, similar to walking poles, and each features a small rubber foam grip which is a nice touch and gives a quality feel.
At the top of each leg is a nicely designed spring loaded lock, this can be pushed down with your thumb to release the legs so they can be moved through three different angles. These angles enable a minimum height of 13.7 cm to 47.2 cm.
FotoPro M-5 Mini Build and Handling
When it comes to build quality and handling this compact tripod doesn’t hold back. The base plate is of the ARCA Swiss design and is made it’s solid aluminium, no cheap plastic shortcuts here, and it’s got locking nuts that prevent the camera from easily slipping which is good to see.
As you’d expect the base plate features the standard 1/4-inch thread to bolt into the base of your camera, and a nice touch here is that it has a small handle just so that you can do up the screw by hand. There’s also a coin slot if you need to get a little more purchase when tightening.
Once the camera is in position and the base plate is attached onto the head there are three levels dotted around that enable you to quickly get the camera level. The largish knob that releases the ball head is of a good size enabling the easy release and locking of the position.
The head holds the camera firmly in position and solid aluminium for the construction was an excellent choice. It also gives the feeling that you are using a good quality piece of kit.
The head is mounted on a small centre column and this is held in place buy another knob on the crown of the tripod. Again the knob here gives plenty of purchase and makes it really easy to adjust. When it comes to the fit of the centre column there is quite a bit of play between it and the crown. However once that bolt is done up nice and tight everything seems to sit well. You can’t fully eliminate that small amount of play – but it’s not a major issue.
The small centre column is constructed in two parts with a further screw in the end cap keeping it in place. Once unscrewed the centre column can then be removed from the Crown flipped over and replaced. This makes it very easy to flip the camera on the tripod so that you can get very low angle shots
Again because everything is made out of good quality aluminium there’s a real quality feel to the build.
Finally down to the twist action legs, we’ve started to see these appear on quite a few tripods recently and the mechanism really works well for smaller lightweight supports. Here it works well enabling you to quickly unlock, extend and relock the legs.
Once you have the legs to height you can then adjust the angle quickly with your thumb by releasing the locks at the top of each leg.
Once fully expanded, to make sure that the tripod doesn’t slip there are large rubber feet at the base of each leg, these stick well to any surface that I tried both dry and wet.
The straightforward adjustment of the leg angle and length make it easy to position the camera exactly as you want, and the ball head with all those built in levels makes it equally easy to position and create a level platform for your camera.
Fotopro M-5 Mini Verdict
In use the small tripod was extremely useful despite initial worries about its size. That compact size just meant that it was easy to stash away in a bag when going out, and as there was no bulk or extremities poking out it was ultra convenient providing support and flexibility well beyond other mini tripods.
As the Fotopro M-5 is so small you’d imagine it would be really lightweight, but this isn’t the case at 7.9kg. That weight is reassuring, especially when it’s carrying the weight of a full blown SLR, in the case of this test a Nikon D810 with 28mm and Canon 5D Mark II with 24-70mm lens mounted.
The ARCA Swiss base plate is also a great choice meaning that it’s easy to swap the camera between tripods without changing the base plate.
The small yet sturdy constriction makes it a perfect choice for all sorts of situations, I used it when out on a hike and the height issue or lack of it was something that was quick and easy enough to get around, with plenty of walls, rocks and other objects that could give me the height I needed and then the M-5 was able to supply the level stable support.
One aspect that did occur whilst using the M-5 is that the central column seems designed to take an extension column. Looking through the info there doesn’t as yet appear to be an accessory to do this but with the sturdy support that the legs provide when fully spread it would seem like an obvious addition or optional accessory for the future.
Generally the build quality of the Fotopro M-5 Mini is very good, my only concern is with that slight play that comes through the centre column, but generally in use with the column fully tightened play was kept to an absolute minimum or could be eliminated by pushing the column fully down. Really this is nothing on a tripod of this size.
If you’re looking for a good solid mini tripod then the Fotopro M-5 is a relatively cheap and well made option.
Should I buy the Fotopro M-5 Mini?
The Fotopro M-5 Mini is an interesting solution, it’s small and because of this it’s lightweight but there’s been no cutting back on robustness of build so it’s still capable of holding a full sized DSLR.
If you like to get out trekking or like to have a tripod with you but can’t be bothered with bulk or weight then the Fotopro M-5 will suit you perfectly. The small size does mean that you have to adapt the way you use tripods, but with walls, rocks and other objects around to give you the height the Fotopro M-5 Mini is an extremely versatile and portable support.