SmallRig’s New Tripod Collaboration with Potato Jet Looks Sick

Potato Jet

SmallRig announced a slew of new products this week and each is designed to make some aspect of photography and filmmaking just a little bit easier.

Sitting in at their presentation at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas earlier this week, the company’s excitement about its new offerings was palpable. It was also notable that three of the new products it announced were done in collaboration with well-known creators. While this could cynically be seen as a way to leverage existing brands to sell products (and I’m sure there is at least some level of that here), it was positioned by each of those creators more as a collaborative effort to make something good that actually met their specific needs.

These collaborations were a new massive V-mount portable battery with Caleb Pike (of YouTube channel DSLR Video Shooter), a pre-built tool kit for in-the-field access with Andyax, and — perhaps the most interesting — a new video tripod designed in concert with Gene Nagata, aka Potato Jet.

A Tripod That Actually Does Something Special

Called the Tribex Hydraulic Carbon Fiber Tripod, Potato Jet’s collaboration looks to be actually capable of changing how creatives work in the field. Instead of working like traditional tripods that require filmmakers to manually adjust each leg, the Tribex uses a patented X-clutch hydraulic single-action trigger that loosens each leg simultaneously, allows for a reposition or height adjustment, and then immediately locks them back all at once.

By adding an adjustable handle with an integrated trigger, the tripod can be re-positioned with just one hand and with minimal effort. The most obvious case where this would be beneficial is on uneven ground, where one leg needs to be farther down than the others. Traditional tripods would require manual adjustment of each leg one by one, but with the design of the Tribex, this happens with all legs simultaneously and far, far faster.

The clutch is the standout feature, but the tripod doesn’t sacrifice other expected operations to achieve ease of use. It still features a fluid head that has up to five kilograms of counterbalance, provides a stepless 360-degree pan and stepless 90-degree to -65-degree tilt, and a six-step counterbalance that makes precise and smooth movements possible.

Potato Jet
It took less than a second for this tripod to auto level its legs like this, where all three are at different heights.

The tripod can reach a maximum height of 168 centimeters and can also low-boy down to 27cm. That said, the center column supports inversion, so it is still possible to get the camera right up against the ground if that’s desired.

Potato Jet
Getting it down to the ground was just as fast. The slowest portion comes when adjusting the center column, which is one spot where no real innovation was made.

SmallRig didn’t say when this tripod was going to ship nor how much it would cost, but Potato Jet mentioned that the design is very nearly complete and should be finalized soon.

A Massive Battery and a Suitcase of Handy Tools

Potato Jet probably stole the show with the announcement of his tripod, but the new VB212 mini V-mount battery made in collaboration with Caleb Pike and the small Pelican-style case filled with handy on-set tools made with Andyax were no less useful.

The VB212 is the largest mini V-mount battery that SmallRig has made so far and provides 212Wh of power that can fill from empty in just two hours. Just like their other V-mount batteries, the VB212 is covered in ports that allow it to charge a whole host of devices, assuring it’s not just limited to powering V-mount devices. PetaPixel‘s Jordan Drake has been using the smaller capacity VB99 for a while now and swears by it. It’s pretty safe to assume the same user experience on this new Caleb Pike edition battery, so an even larger capacity battery is going to be a boon for those who need to power a lot of stuff on the go.

Caleb Pike Smallrig

The Andyax Creator Tool Kit isn’t nearly as flashy as Caleb Pike’s or Potato Jet’s offering, but it might be the most used of the batch. The kit comes in a heat-resistant, wear-resistant, and shockproof case that holds black tape, color tape, a memory card case, an HDMI data cable, a lens cleaning kit, numerous wrenches, tools, screws, and more. The idea is that all of the small tools filmmakers always find themselves needing on set can be stashed in this box, assuring that no one is scrambling to locate a specific screw, tool, or tape during hectic shoot days.


Tools Designed for Work

A lot of products debuted at trade shows manage to land the flashy, eye-catching marketing but often fumble when it comes to being legitimately useful in real-world situations. I think that’s what makes SmallRig’s NAB launch so unique: all three of these new products address actual needs and are things I would find myself legitimately looking to use.

The company really pushed its idea of co-design, too. It has a whole section of its website filled with design ideas that a community of photographers and filmmakers are looking to have made so they can solve very real, very common problems. All companies say they take into consideration the desires of real creators, but it’s rare to see that presented in such a transparent way. I really do hope to see more excellent products come out of this co-design philosophy because the people who best know what they need are those who are in the thick of it every single day.