One of the most widely used tools by photographers (after a camera) is a tripod. Creating a transportable, stable place to set your camera, in photography tripods are useful for many things such as:
- Increasing image quality in low-light situations, by allowing you to keep ISO low and use a slow shutter speed without the risk of camera shake
- To take self-portraits
- To shoot at angles that are impossible while holding the camera
- To steady the camera for extreme close-up, macro photos, of things like flowers and insects
- To rest a heavy telephoto lens
But a tripod also adds weight and bulk to your gear bag, as well as additional complexity to your setup, so you’ll want to be careful when choosing one. This review aims to aid you in deciding if the ZOMEi M5 Professional Lightweight Camera Tripod is the best fit for your needs.
About The ZOMEi Brand
Zomei Photographic Equipment Co. is a professional manufacturer of camera accessories, famous for it’s tripods. All of Zomei’s products are EU and ROHS certified and many are FCC and WEEE certified. At only 15 years old, the company is relatively new so they are far less expensive than most of their competitors, yet their products are exceptionally designed and almost perfectly executed. They have garnered themselves a great reputation over the years, and I think it’s safe to say these guys will be in the running for many years to come.
The ZOMEi M5 Tripod
This one’s an optimal choice for the full spectrum of photographers, from professional photographers down to hobbyists, and it makes an excellent tripod for Canon AE-1 users as well. Its lightweight yet high-quality, durable build makes this especially great for travelers and those taking outdoor shots, but its versatility makes it a great general use ‘go-to’ tripod. The ZOMEi M5 Professional Lightweight Camera Tripod has a well-earned great reputation.
- Adjustable height and angel column legs
- 360° Panorama and Ball Joint
- Stored Length: 13.78 inches / 35 cm
- Usable Height: 16.14 inches / 41 cm to 55 inches / 140 cm
- Quick Release Plate
- Removable Legs
- Bubble Level
- Center Column Lock
- Monopod capable
- Nonslip Rubber Feet
- Counterweight Hook
- Aluminum build
Included in the Box:
- ZOMEi M5 Aluminum Alloy Tripod
- Carry Bag
- Bluetooth Remote Control
- Phone Clip
- Hexagonal Wrench
- Instruction Manual
Performance And Functionality
ZOMEi’s products all seem to be just as good, if not better, than comparable items made by their competitors. The M5 Professional is no exception. It’s well built, durable, lightweight, and easy to use. The Canon AE1’s tripod socket also fits perfectly with the M5. Its versatility allows for taking shots almost anywhere, so long as you have a place to put it’s three legs. And even then, you can turn it into a monopod if needed!
Adjustable Column Legs
The three legs of the Zomi M5 allow for a great range of flexibility. Each leg has three quick-release locks, dividing its four sections, enabling you to extend the height anywhere from 16.14 inches (41 cm) to 55 inches (140 cm). Use them in unison — all at the same height on a flat surface — or use them independently of one another on uneven terrain; like when you want to take a shot looking up a hill or out off a staircase.
In addition to height adjustments, you can change the angles of the legs, allowing for a wider or more narrow base. This is done quickly and effortlessly with easy-to-use locking knobs at the top of each leg.
All legs are also fully removable, in the event you need to pack even smaller, or attach just one and use it as a monopod. The choices are seemingly endless.
360° Panorama And Ball Head
The Panoramic Scale Locking Knob provides a full three hundred and sixty degree range-of-motion on a horizontal axis. After you’ve positioned your camera and lined up the shot, unlock the knob and take your panoramic shots in confidence, just by turning the tripod head.
The body of the ZOMEi M5 Tripod is topped with a ball-joint-style head. Tilt your camera up to take a shot of a bird perched in a tree, or point it downward to capture a flower growing from the ground. With a reversible center column, you can even flip the camera fully upside down to get it at almost ground level. This especially comes in handy for macro-photography with the Canon AE-1. You can take great pictures of subjects like insects, plants, and small animals.
The ball and socket are made of durable metal and lock in place with an easy to use knob. It moves smoothly without any signs of creeping or sticking.
Monopod And Macro-Capable
The ZOMEi M5 is designed with a central axis screw, allowing for quick and effortless transformation into a monopod or for flipping the center column upside down.
A monopod provides your camera with stability for those moments that you don’t need a full tripod or for trips where you need to keep luggage ultralight and you don’t feel the need for a full tripod. You can easily bring just the monopod with you, leaving the rest of the pieces safely at home.
By turning the center column on its head, you can get otherwise difficult to reach otherwise difficult angels, like just above the ground. This comes in handy for those of you taking shots of small ground animals or insects.
In addition to the great reputation of ZOMEi, Amazon offers for this tripod, giving it a rating of 4.6 of 5 stars. Even at that, most of the negative ratings seem to be for a different cheaper model, sold under the same listing, so it’s likely the M5 should rate even higher.
User Interface And Control System
Clips, knobs, and quick-release mechanisms make the ZOMEi M5 a powerful, yet easy to use tripod. While it comes with an instruction book, you likely won’t need it for most of the functionality. Even if you’ve never used a tripod before, it’d be hard to do any damage through trial and error of its use.
Bluetooth Remote And Phone Clip
One of the worst parts of traveling alone is having nobody around to take your picture, and how many of us actually want to walk around with a selfie stick? The guys and gals at ZOMEi have you covered! All of their tripods come with a Bluetooth Remote that acts as a shutter release for your phone. Simply sync it up to your phone through its existing Bluetooth connection, no additional apps needed.
It’s great for taking group shots at a family gathering and perfect for the iPhone’s portrait mode when your online presence is in need of a new head shot. Or for those solo adventures when your friends want photographic evidence that you’ve actually been to all the places you’ve claimed. (Pics or it didn’t happen, am I right?)
As mentioned earlier, the M5 also comes with a carrying bag, to help keep it tucked away and safe during transit. While the idea is sound and appreciated, reviews of the bag are iffy at best. Many agree the bag is such a snug fit that they’ve almost broken the zipper while trying to close it. To be fair, ZOMEi hasn’t claimed to be makers of fine bags, and the bag is sort of ‘free’, but perhaps they should leave bag making to Billingham and Vanguard.
Build Quality And Design
Built largely of aluminum alloy, the ZOMEi M5 Tripod is a fairly lightweight addition to your gear bag. It comes in at 2.73 pounds / 1.24 kilograms. But don’t let it’s minuscule mass fool you: it can support equipment weighing almost six and a half times that: its maximum weight load is 17.6 pounds / 8 kilograms.
This baby packs small, too. When folded it’s only 13.78 inches / 35 cm long – just a bit longer than the width of an iPad Pro (12 inches) – making it a perfect option for travelers or outdoor photographers.
Are there lighter, smaller tripods out there? For sure. But most other are only capable of supporting 6 or 7 pounds, so they don’t even come close to supporting the loads the M5 can take.
Whether you’re using a DSLR or mirrorless camera, this tripod will likely work. A quarter-inch screw connects it to most devices, including projectors, video cameras, fishing lamps, telescopes, and ring lamps. An included adapter even allows you to connect your phone.
Bubble Level And Quick Release Plate
ZOMEi seems to have thought of everything with their M5. The piece even includes a bubble level as well as a quick release plate. The level is located right next to the plate (the part of the tripod you attach your camera to). Imagine being on the side of a cliff, lining up for a perfect shot. You think the tripod is level, but it’s not. No matter how robust the tripod, if it’s not level, the combination of counterweight and camera weight could still cause it to topple. Fortunately, the bubble level takes the guess work out of this. You can be confident you have a level and secure base before attaching your camera. This is especially important when you have an expensive film camera such as the Canon AE-1.
The quick release enables you to go from tripod to handheld, without needing to take down the entire setup. Simply turn a knob and slip the plate off the tripod. Now you can walk around freely, take some shots, and put the camera back right where it was. The quick release system means that you can use this tripod with the Canon AE-1 and non-film cameras too.
Nonslip Rubber Feet
The feet are made of a nonslip rubber. This helps provide a bit more stability when used on slick surfaces like laminate or wood floors. Perhaps even wet rocks…if you’re someone taking pictures using a tripod in a stream. But maybe test that out before attaching your camera to it. Just in case.
The addition of a counterweight at the base side of the center column allows you to hang your bag, or other counterweight, to help secure the tripod in windy weather or other precarious environments.
Height And Adjustable Central Axis
The center axis, the part of the tripod that contains the head and ultimately holds the camera, is also height adjustable. At 590g, the Canon AE-1 is not the most lightweight camera. However, the central axis of the M5 is sturdy enough to bear this weight with ease. The turn of a small knob allows you to move this piece up and down, giving it that extra height. This is how it can fold up to be so small while still allowing a full 55 inches of height and its balance holds up even at full extension.
The center column is also removable, by unscrewing the piece attached to the counterweight hook. This allows you to flip the column upside down, snap your camera back on, and take photos of subjects at lower levels. All of the fasteners hold strong, so no need to worry about your camera falling off!
The ZOMEi M5 Professional Lightweight Camera Tripod is the best tripod for the Canon AE-1. If you’re looking for a versatile, lightweight option, especially on a budget, it’s hard to find something better. With a 4.6 star Amazon’s Choice rating, it’s hard to do much better for the low cost. Competitor products are two to three times the cost, as well as being twice the weight.
The only negative things anyone seems to be saying about the ZOMEi M5: one customer felt the knob screws had too much lubrication still on them, and another had a minor issue with the ball joint drifting after months of wear. Fortunately, ZOMEi’s products all come with a two year warranty and lifetime “friendly” customer service, so it should be no trouble to get a replacement if something does go wrong.
The only true negative I could find about this tripod is that I can be certain if it’s still being made. While it is still very actively being sold by the seller ZoMei on Amazon, this particular model doesn’t appear anywhere on their website. It’s possible it’s since been replaced by the newer M8 model.
But so long as you can find it on Amazon, its reputation precedes it, and it’s no wonder. This tripod beats its competition, hands down.