They Don’t Just Make Filters Anymore: PolarPro Apex Tripod Review

The PolarPro Apex Tripod lets you mount your camera really low off of stable surfaces and makes shooting from unique vantage points possible.

Up until recently, PolarPro was known primarily as a manufacturer of photographic filters. That all changes today with the introduction of PolarPro’s Apex Tripod and Apex Tripod Base. Both are members of the company’s Quick-Release Modular System of camera accessories. Designed with interoperability in mind, they are joined by the Belay Camera Straps and the Traverse Camera Harness. The Apex Tripod is a low profile mini tripod designed to work in just about any traversable terrain. As long as there’s enough room for you to deploy the Apex, you’ve got a stable platform from which to mount your camera. The folks over at PolarPro kindly sent over the Apex for us to try out ahead of its launch. Check out how it fared in the real world after the jump.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Relatively compact and lightweight compared to conventional full-sized tripods
  • Very stable and sturdy once deployed
  • Allows you to set up your camera really low off the ground or other surfaces, making it possible to photograph from unconventionally low vantage points
  • The integrated ball head can support quite a bit of weight
  • The PolarPro Apex Tripod Base lets you to attach your favorite tripod head instead of the integrated ball head

Cons

  • The twist-lock mechanism on the integrated ball head can be accidentally overtightened rather easily
  • Larger tabs on the twist-lock mechanism would make the ball head easier to tighten or loosen
  • We would have preferred the knobs on the stainless steel TiltLocks to have more ridges or knurling to make them easier to tighten or loosen
  • Although the Apex Tripod’s quick release plate is compatible with Other Arca-Swiss tripod heads, other Arca-Swiss style tripod plates will not work with the Apex Tripod’s integrated ball head

Gear Used

We tested the PolarPro Apex Tripod with the following:

Tech Specs

Specs for the PolarPro Apex Tripod and the PolarPro Apex Tripod Base taken from the official product packaging:

PolarPro Apex Tripod

  • Stainless steel TiltLocks provide over 700 leg configurations
  • 25 lbs max load capacity ensures its ability to hold professional camera setups
  • 35° angled plate release knob enables hot-swapping tripods or other mounts
  • Quickly tilt from landscape to portrait orientation
  • Integrated ball-head to achieve your ideal camera angle
  • Minimal storage footprint at 280mm x 80mm x 80mm and weighing in at just 17 oz / 482 grams
  • The Quick-Release Modular System allows for swapping between the Apex Tripod, Belay Camera Strap, and Traverse Camera Harness

PolarPro Apex Tripod Base

  • 144 rock-solid leg positions provide stability across all surfaces
  • Confidently supports over 75 lbs of gear
  • Compatible with your favorite 3/8″ tripod head
  • Minimal storage footprint at 250mm x 80mm x 80mm and weighing in at just 15.7 oz / 445 grams
  • The Quick-Release Modular System allows for swapping between the Apex Tripod, Belay Camera Strap, and Traverse Camera Harness

Ergonomics

There are two variants of the PolarPro Apex Tripod. The Apex Tripod Base is on the left, while the Apex Tripod with integrated ball head is on the right. Both variants are functionally identical. Both versions are constructed from aluminum with stainless steel and rubberized elements. The only differentiating factor between the two is that the Apex Tripod Base allows you to attach your favorite tripod head while the standard Apex Tripod comes with an integrated ball head.

Here’s a closer look at both versions of the Apex Tripod. For most photographers, the integrated ball head version should be more than adequate. If you’ve got a tripod head that you absolutely adore, however, you can attach it to the Apex Tripod Base while retaining the other functionality that the Apex Tripod provides. We found out the hard way (on more than one occasion) that the integrated ball head’s twist-lock mechanism can be overtightened fairly easily. Larger tabs on the twist-lock would make it easier to both tighten and loosen the ball head.

The stainless steel TiltLocks do a great job of keeping the tripod legs securely locked in place (note the positional markings which go from 0 to 8). Once you’ve set the tripod legs to the desired position and the TiltLocks are fastened, the legs are rock solid. Similar to the integrated ball head’s twist-lock mechanism, the knobs on the TiltLocks can also be rather easily overtightened. A redesigned knob with more ridges or knurling would definitely help alleviate this. It would also make the TiltLocks easier to tighten or loosen while wearing gloves.

The integrated ball head also has the ability to tilt to the side in the event that you want to quickly switch from landscape to portrait orientation. This is handy if you want to change up your composition quickly. This does shift the center of gravity off to the side, however, so photographers shooting with heavier camera setups will want to pay close attention to ensure that things don’t tip over.

“We found out the hard way (on more than one occasion) that the integrated ball head’s twist-lock mechanism can be overtightened fairly easily.”

Here’s the Fujifilm X-T4 attached to the PolarPro Apex Tripod’s integrated ball head. All three tripod legs are set to position 7 in the above image. When using the Apex Tripod on the ground or other flat surfaces, this is the lowest position that you’ll want to set the legs to.

Setting the legs to position 8 will actually result in the rubberized ends of each tripod leg to come off of the ground. We wouldn’t recommend doing this unless you’re trying to position the Apex Tripod over a small gap or opening of some sort. Doing so on a flat surface will actually result in the tripod being less stable.

A quick-release plate is included with the Apex Tripod that has an integrated ball head. This QR plate is compatible with the other accessories in PolarPro’s Quick-Release Modular System (Belay Camera Strap and Traverse Camera Harness). Note that while you can use this QR plate with other Arca-Swiss tripod heads, the Apex Tripod’s integrated ball head will not work with other Arca-Swiss tripod plates.

Build Quality

The PolarPro Apex Tripod is a sturdy little tripod. The main body is constructed from aluminum and is complimented by stainless steel TiltLock knobs and rubberized feet. There are no creaking, wobbling, or rattling to worry about here. Once deployed and locked into the place, the Apex Tripod is rock solid. It truly inspires confidence when you’re photographing from what would otherwise be rather precarious positions.

Ease of Use

Using the PolarPro Apex Tripod is honestly very straightforward. Start by deploying each tripod leg into the desired position and locking them in using the TiltLock knobs. Now attach the QR (Quick-Release) plate onto your camera of choice, then attach the plate (with camera in tow) onto the ball head. Now all you have to do is adjust the ball head to achieve your desired framing.

As we had previously mentioned, the integrated ball head’s twist-lock mechanism can easily be overtightened if you’re not careful. The addition of larger tabs on the twist-lock ring would make tightening and loosening the ball head much less of a challenge. While the stainless steel TiltLock knobs do an adequate of locking the tripod legs in place, they are also susceptible to overtightening. Redesigning the knobs so that they feature more ridges or knurling will allow you to get a better purchase on them, making them easier to tighten and loosen. This would also make them easier to adjust with gloves on.

As previously discussed, both versions of the PolarPro Apex Tripod are functionally identical save for the Base’s ability to use a third party tripod head. If you’ve got a tripod head that you absolutely can’t do without, simply attach it onto the Apex Base and you’re good to go. Thanks to the 25 lb load capacity on the Apex Tripod with integrated ball head (75 lbs for the Apex Tripod Base!), photographing from nonconventional vantage points becomes much more manageable even if you’re shooting with some pretty heavy gear. Here are a few examples that we shot during our tests with the Apex Tripods:

Conclusions

The PolarPro Apex Tripod is a solid low-profile option for photographers that find themselves photographing from really low off the ground or other unconventional vantage points. Aside from the improvements that we’d like to see implemented on the TilkLock knobs and the twist-lock mechanism, the Apex Tripod is a good freshman effort from the filter manufacturer. Although the tripod market can feel pretty crowded, it’s always nice to see a new player enter the game and put the existing players on notice.

The PolarPro Apex Tripod earns Four out of Five stars. You can pick one up for yourself over at Amazon. Both the PolarPro Apex Tripod and the Polar Pro Apex Tripod Base normally sell for US $139.99, but they’re available at launch for an introductory price of US $119.99.