The Joby Compact Advanced tripod is easy to use but not nearly as sturdy as most tripods we've reviewed. However, what it lacks in features, it makes up for in portability.
Comes with a carry bag
It can be extended to over 59-inches (1.5m)
It packs up small for portability
Low maximum load isn't suitable for DSLRs
Expensive for what it is
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Joby is a self-professed maker of functional yet playful products for creatives —including the popular Joby Gorillapod 5K which we reviewed, one of the best tripods for astrophotography when it comes to flexibility. The Joby Compact Advanced tripod kit doesn't have bendy jointed legs or the same versatility when it comes to positioning, but it does share the same quick-release tripod plate as the Joby GorillaPod 3K Kit which we have previously tested.
This kit comes with a three-way head plus an additional phone grip, which gives you an idea of who Joby is aiming at. It sports a neat look and a form factor ideal for on-the-go creators. But with its 3kg maximum payload, this tripod is best suited to small camera setups rather than DSLRs or even light mirrorless systems.
The Joby Compact Advanced tripod kit is popular among content creators, but does it offer anything useful for the long-exposure lovers among us? And is it worthy of being named as one of the best travel tripods? Sort of — let's take a closer look.
Joby Compact Advanced Tripod Kit: Design
- Quick-release tripod plate
- Lightweight and compact
- Removable phone clamp
The Joby Compact Advanced Tripod Kit is designed to be used mainly (we think) in urban environments where the paths are flat and the weather is gentle. The legs are aluminum, while the head is plastic and the feet rubber — materials that aren't as hardy as some tripods but help to keep the overall cost down. Each leg has four leg levers that are gentle on your fingers and quick to deploy. The design is simple but inoffensive, with a rotating dial to unlock the central column when you want to raise it up, or down and to lock it back into place. The Joby logo is dotted around the product, with one flash of red above the central column.
Material: Aluminum, Rubber, Steel, Plastic
Leg sections: Five
Weight: 3.13 lb / 1.42 kg
Max load: 3kg
Folded height: 133 x 133 x 440 mm
Ball head or pan/tilt head: Three-way ball head
The three-way head is made from plastic, and there's a plastic tripod quick-release plate with a 1/4-inch screw on top. You push a small logo-adorned button to remove this and then slide it back in once the plate is on the camera.
The head is controlled by two long bars; one rotates it around 360 degrees and tilts by a range of -30 to 90 degrees, while the other rotates the tripod plate into a portrait or landscape position. There aren't any friction controls, no ball locking, and nowhere to add accessories like the easy link connection on the Manfrotto 190 Go! that we've reviewed.
With the Joby Compact Advanced Kit, you also get the GrірТіght 360 Рhоnе Моunt, essentially a plastic phone clamp that screws onto the tripod plate. This has cold shoe mounts on both ends, so you can add a light or mic at either end and set up a fully mobile content creation studio if that's your aim. The phone bracket rotates between landscape and portrait, and the side stretches out to hold a smartphone with a width of 2.64-3.46 inches (6.7-8.8cm). During testing, we could hold an iPhone 12 very securely without fear of it falling out, and crucially, the mount doesn't cover the controls or camera, or appear in selfie shots.
Joby Compact Advanced Tripod Kit: Performance
- Three-way head isn't the best
- The mobile clamp is useful
- Light and easy to carry
On most websites we've looked at, the Joby Compact Advanced Kit is said to be suitable for mid-weight mirrorless systems and DSLR cameras, which sounds about right given its 3kg maximum payload. That said, when we put it through its paces and mounted a Canon EOS R6 (24 oz/680 g) and cheap 50mm lens (160 g/5.6 oz), we found that it wasn't confidently stable on the tripod plate. Composing in landscape orientation was doable, but in portrait format, or more crucially, with the camera pointed up toward the sky, the plate and head felt strained. They started to subtly sag and rotate to one side, which is not what you want during star trails or general long exposures at night. If you're using a phone or compact camera, we can't see this being a problem, but it's something to bear in mind.
Operating the three-way head is smooth enough but not class-leading. It's easy to pan left and right or up and down, and the plastic bars have raised sections that give them a tactile feel and help you to grip them. The bars are screwed in rather than welded to the head so you can lock the head, fold them back, or remove them entirely for storage inside the bag.
You rotate the bars to lock the head into place, but we found they can accidentally unscrew, which is frustrating in the dark. Putting too much pressure on the rotating bar can unsteady the whole tripod. The spirit level is a nice touch and helpful in the day, but realistically it's easier to use your camera's own level with live view in the dark.
The leg levers are easy to unlock at night, but there wasn't enough resistance with the legs when you pull them apart. The result is that they don't always stay in position when you're unlocking the other legs and sometimes fall back toward the center when you make adjustments. The rubber feet are fine at gripping on concrete surfaces, but on grass and mud, they tend to slide around. As far as we can tell, they're not interchangeable, which is a shame. At its fully extended height, the tripod did start to wobble in high winds, but in normal conditions, it felt stable enough to hold a smartphone.
The GrірТіght 360 Рhоnе Моunt is very good, given that it's essentially two bits of plastic screwed together. It's so effortless to slide the phone into the clamp and switch it from one orientation to another. What we liked most was that you could still access all the controls on the side of the phone and the screen while it was mounted. Content creators will likely get the most out of this handy clamp, which makes sense, as that's who the tripod kit is designed for.
Joby Compact Advanced Tripod Kit: Functionality
- Five leg sections for a variety of heights
- The smartphone mount is genuinely useful
- Easy to carry and deploy
Suppose you're looking for a tripod that is easy to take with you on adventures that might occasionally include some night sky photography. In that case, the Joby is a decent option — but not always reliable. The main drawback is the plastic three-way ball head and tripod plate, which allows some cameras to move under their weight.
For pavements, studio settings and level ground, the tripod is plenty stable enough, and the aluminum legs feel robust. However, the legs aren't very versatile on uneven terrain. Tripods like the Manfrotto 190 Go! and Manfrotto MK055XPRO3 BHQ-2 offer you the ability to change the angle of each tripod leg independently, but the Joby is fixed. On the positive side, it's nice to have five legs sections so that you can reach various heights, the leg levers are firm, and they slide away quickly after use so that you can get to your next location or piece of content. Given this is a full-height tripod reaching 65 inches (165cm), content creators should be able to stand up and record to the camera standing up without problems.
The great thing about the Joby Compact Advanced tripod is its size and weight, although it isn't the lightest tripod we've ever tested. Once folded, it can easily be stored outside your camera bag or inside if you've got a big rucksack. We happily carried it around the countryside and in a city, for a few hours at least. The included drawstring style bag is also fit for purpose if you want to sling the tripod over your shoulder, and because it's padded, it doesn't cause any discomfort when it hits your side.
This is the tripod kit for smartphone creators or compact users who might want to try some night sky shooting occasionally. The mobile grip is fit for purpose and enables you to capture some pro footage from your device. If you're a hardcore milky way photographer, look elsewhere for something more substantial.
Should you buy the Joby Compact Advanced Tripod Kit?
The Joby Compact Advanced tripod kit will help with recording vlogs or stabilizing your shots if you're a smartphone or action camera user. It's easy to use, particularly for beginners and packs away quickly and neatly down to just 44cm in its carry case. This means you can take it around town, into the wild or on your travels. Suppose you're serious about long-exposure astrophotography and need something to keep a camera rock solid. In that case, the tripod head doesn't feel strong enough for a DSLR or advanced mirrorless system. This isn't the best choice if you want a dedicated tripod for shooting the night sky.
If the Joby Compact Advanced Tripod Kit isn't for you
If you want to support an advanced camera setup like a DSLR or star tracker, then opt for the Manfrotto MK055XPRO3 BHQ-2, which is about as sturdy as you can get.
For just slightly more money, you can get the Benro Slim Carbon Fiber Tripod — which is both lighter to carry and supportive of more weight. It's ideal if you're a beginner wanting something that works for landscapes and night sky images.
If you plan to travel far and wide to get to your astrophotography locations, look no further than the Peak Design Travel Tripod, which is perfect for trekking about and fast to assemble and take down again.
Lauren is a photographer, writer and editor based in the Cotswolds, UK. An experienced journalist who has been covering the industry for over ten years, she's equally adept at putting the latest camera through its paces or learning a creative shooting technique and then passing that knowledge on in an accessible way. Lauren holds a degree in Natural History Photography and has plenty of real-world experience in a variety of disciplines, from astrophotography to wildlife, weddings, and even commercial portraiture. Lauren is the Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, having previously served as Editor of the global publication Digital Photographer, a practical-focused magazine that inspires hobbyists and pros alike to take phenomenal shots and get more from their kit.