Phone Photography has taken off in the last five years, so it is no surprise that dedicated tripods are now offered specially for this task.
Instagram, a predominantly phone-based platform, is now the most dominant photography medium of the modern era.
Outside of photography, there are various other reasons why you may need a phone tripod, ranging from sports to music. For example, I’m a photographer but regularly use my phone for golf training.
I use it with a golf launch monitor and to film my swing. Elevating the phone on a tripod allows me to track shot statistics easily.
Like anything, there are a wide selection of products in the tripod market.
The prices range from $50 to $1000+, depending on the size and the quality. $50 generally buys you something that will last three months before breaking, at a high risk of damaging your camera.
Going into the thousands will buy you a carbon fiber tripod capable of holding more than 50 lbs of camera gear.
The most common tripod range is the lightweight carbon travel tripod range. These typically weigh around 2.2-3.3 lbs (1.0-1.5kg) and can handle 6-17lbs (3-8 kg) of camera gear.
Ignoring the phone attachment, the Sandmarc iPhone Tripod Carbon Edition we are reviewing would fall into that category; a lightweight carbon tripod, except in this case, it’s an iPhone tripod.
Table of Contents
Sandmarc iPhone Tripod – Carbon Edition Specs
- Standard with phone attachment that should fit most phones
- Lightweight due to carbon fiber
- A true tripod that could be used for mirrorless or DSLRs
- Ballhead is not as strong as some competitors, although not critical for phone use.
- No adjustment tool is provided standard
- Material: Carbon Fiber
- Maximum Height: 63.4 inches (161.1 cm)
- Minimum Height: 15.35 inches (39 cm)
- Leg Sections: 4 Sections
- Weight Capacity: 13.23 lbs (6 kg)
- Weight: 2.28 lbs (1.03 kg)
Opening the Sandmarc box, it’s easy to forget this is marketed as a phone tripod, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. However, what you’re getting isn’t a lightweight phone tripod.
Instead, it’s a full-blown tripod suitable for carrying a full-frame camera and pro lens (up to 6kg) with the addition of a phone mount.
This means it’s far more robust than many of the dedicated phone tripods, many of which consist of plastic construction and limited durability.
It also means you have an upgrade path if you extend beyond your phone.
Sandmarc provides a nice tripod bag to protect the carbon fiber legs. I think this is a great addition. I wish many of the pricier tripods are sold without.
However, given the price, the bag’s quality is a pleasant surprise, a very high-quality bag with some padding provided to protect the legs.
Inside the bag, you’ll find the phone attachment, a spring attachment that should fit most phone brands. It’s tight, and I have no concerns about the phone slipping out accidentally. Unfortunately, no hex key is provided for adjustments which is a minor oversight.
The quality of the construction on the tripod is good. It isn’t quite premium quality, but it’s pretty close to it, which is impressive for a budget-price tripod.
The ball head is a little lower from a quality perspective, but I think it’s adequate given the specialised marketing as a phone tripod.
I have no issue with companies investing more in the legs than the ball head because the ball head is the one component that is easy to upgrade.
As expected, the ball head comes standard with an Arca-compatible plate with two retention screws, so if the tightening screw loosens, the camera won’t fall off the tripod.
Size & Handling
As mentioned in the construction section, the Sandmarc Carbon Edition is a lightweight camera tripod with a phone mount. As a result, it won’t have the compact size or lighter weight of some of the dedicated phone tripods.
Lighter in tripod land is typically better, but this is only to a point. What this means is that if the tripod becomes too light, it has the greater potential to be influenced by outside forces like wind or vibrations.
800-1200 grams is the magic mark for stability and manageable carrying, and the Sandmarc falls squarely in this category.
I also think Sandmarc also got the sizing right. The tripod is compact for carry, but Sandmarc hasn’t compromised the stability by going with legs that are too small. I had no issues storing the tripod in my luggage or carrying it in my camera bag.
The inclusion of an extending centre column (similar to the leg locks) is a nice addition that allows the tripod height to increase.
Again, it’s not something I would typically recommend for heavier cameras and lenses, but for phone use, this should not pose stability issues.
It’s worth noting that the centre column is reversible, even if it isn’t explicitly advertised. If you unscrew the ballast hook, you can reverse the direction which I tested.
Leg Locks & Joints
The leg locks are good for a tripod of this nature and budget. It offers comparable build quality to the Manfrotto carbon tripods, priced slightly higher. It doesn’t feel weak or flimsy, offering a solid base for the ball head.
The joints are the twist lock design which is my preference but may not suit everyone. I like having the ability to untwist three locks at the same time.
The legs reverse over the ball head for compact size but do not lock automatically. As a result, you will need to close these manually.
There isn’t a wide selection of options in terms of locking angles, and this does concern me.
I would prefer it if that had one locking angle between the current choices for a little more stability, but this would only impact non-phone users as the current angles are sufficient in the wind with the light weight of a phone.
The legs’ length and thickness align with what I would expect from a tripod this size. Unfortunately, the tripod does not come with a set of spikes for the feet.
It would have been a nice inclusion, but it isn’t critical, depending on where you live and the kinds of photos you take.
The hook on the bottom of the tripod is usable, but I would have preferred something slightly larger, as some bags have slightly thicker straps.
No tools are provided for dismantling the tripod, which is a minor oversight. It also uses multiple sizes, meaning you must ensure these sizes are available if you need to dismantle or adjust.
The Sandmarc is sold with a compact ball head which is respectable for the price range. Typically a $300 tripod/ball head combo doesn’t buy you a top-of-the-range ball head, as a good ball head could exceed that price alone.
The key for me when it comes to something like this is:
- Does it hold the weight specified without slipping?
- Are the knobs smooth when trying to tighten or loosen?
- How progressive is the friction on the locks? I.e. do you have issues with it suddenly biting or losing tension with a small amount of adjustment?
In this case, the Sandmarc Tripod Carbon Edition meets all these requirements. In addition, the style of dial used for adjustment is also suited for this, as it makes it easy to make quick adjustments without having to grip too hard.
That said, I feel Sandmarc has put most of its investment into the tripod itself, and I think the quality of the tripod legs is higher than the ball head.
I think it’s the right call as the current ball head is more than sufficient for phones or minor camera/lens use, which meets their marketing mandate and keeps the cost low.
For those who move to larger systems later, you could easily upgrade the ball head and use the same legs.
This minimises the upgrade cost for users using a phone as a pathway to a bigger system, so you’re future-proofing your investment.
The phone mount is a small spring-loaded phone mount that you stretch open to mount your phone.
The spring is strong, but not to the degree that it makes it hard to get the phone in. Instead, it’s exactly what I would expect.
It’s a metal mount, and the construction has a good-quality black finish.
The phone mount has two mount points, the middle and the end. The end mount is the possible mount point for most owners, but it’s great to have some flexibility.
On the opposite end of the mount, you’ll find a speedlight style mount, assumingly for mounting a continuous light.
How I Tested the Sandmarc Phone Tripod – Carbon Edition
We tested the tripod with an iPhone 14 and a full-frame Sony a7riii mirrorless camera. With the Sony, I used a combination of a Sony 24mm f/1.4 GM and the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art.
Using the iPhone won’t be immune from wind impact with the light weight. However, it’s still a flat object, and flat objects catch the wind, so I recommend using the ballast hook provided to attach weight when it’s windy.
I found the tripod with the camera to also be stable; however, I would not recommend the extended centre column if you are using it in anything but still conditions. It’s not a tripod fault; it’s simply a side effect of the light weight.
This honestly isn’t a 40-knot tripod. For that, I would use something far more weighty than the Sandmarc and even then, I would question whether they are the sorts of conditions that I would consider photogenic where we are.
Whilst there are a lot of tripods within this range, there aren’t that many direct competitors at the same price, ignoring the phone mount.
Some more established brands, like Manfrotto BeFree, are priced higher and about 30% heavier. However, their more compact version, whilst cheaper, is nearly a foot lower in tall, with 5-section legs. It also doesn’t offer the ability to lower the centre column, which is a significant constraint.
The options from Leofoto and Sirui are a close match but come in heavier or don’t match the height of Sandmarc. None of these (including the Manfrotto) come with a phone attachment, although this isn’t expensive.
Value for Money
The Sandmarc Tripod Carbon Edition is priced around $300, which is low for carbon tripods. However, given the quality of the legs, I’d consider the pricing reasonable. You can get cheaper carbon tripods, but they typically don’t match the Sandmarc in weight or capacity.
Ultimately you’re getting a good set of legs, a good ball head and a phone attachment for a price that is an excellent entry point for both novice mirrorless and serious phone photographers.
By comparison, similar tripods from established brands are priced similarly or marginally higher. For example, the Manfrotto BeFree Carbon Fiber tripod is priced around $50 higher at $350, although it’s about 30% heavier. The ball head does seem a little more heavy-duty than the Sandmarc, but it also feels cheaper with more use of plastics.
There are cheaper options from Leofoto, but these won’t offer the same degree of stability or height as the Sandmarc, so their suitability is likely to depend on the individual.
Can the Sandmarc be used with a mirrorless or DSLR camera?
Yes, it works with both. The phone accessory attaches to the arca plate and can be used on any tripod.
Is it upgradeable?
Yes, the ball head could easily be swapped. However, upgrading the legs would not make sense as the cost would match a new tripod.
Does it come with foot spikes?
No, it doesn’t.
Can a single leg be removed for use as a monopod?
No, this capability isn’t available with the Sandmarc.
Sandmarc Tripod – Carbon Edition Review | Conclusion
Overall, it’s hard to fault the Sandmarc when you consider the price range it falls into. It’s a good quality carbon tripod priced at an entry point comparable to many aluminium tripods.
As far as meeting the mandate of being a phone tripod, Sandmarc hit the mark here. It’s one of the better phone tripods on the market and provides an upgrade path to grow your photography if that’s your intention. Alternatively, if you’re an influencer looking for something stable to help the quality of your photos, this is perfect.
The low entry price of the Sandmarc (relative to other professional carbon tripods) shows that it’s now easy for photographers to get into the market with a good quality tripod without spending a fortune. It also has upgrade paths, making it a perfect first tripod.
I wasn’t sure how much I would use the Sandmarc, given I have a selection of larger, more stable tripods, but the Sandmarc has found a regular place in my bag.
At nearly half a kilo lighter than my current travel tripod, the weight and compact size mean the Sandmarc fits my Wotancraft better. So unless I’m headed out in bad conditions, the Sandmarc is good enough for most days and a perfect travel companion.