Kevin Adams Tripods

I get tons of questions about the gear I use, so I decided to create a page that covers all the major stuff and provides links so you can see exactly what I use.

I won’t recommend anything that I don’t use myself or otherwise know to be a quality product. If you’re a  company and send me something in hopes that I will write nice things about it, you might be disappointed.

Special note: Should you decide to purchase any of the products listed here, please use the links I’ve included. As an affiliate member of certain companies, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. This helps me keep the lights on and it doesn’t cost you anything extra. Thank you!


Nikon D850
This is my workhorse camera that I use for pretty much everything except night photography.

Nikon D780
The D780 produces far less noise than the D850, so I use it for all my night photography.

Olympus TG6
I use this fun and remarkably high-quality little waterproof camera for underwater photography. It’s also great for shooting in the heavy spray of waterfalls. The TG6 has been replaced by the TG7, which has a few new features.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro
This is my drone. It has been replaced by the Mavic 3 Pro, which is a nice improvement, but not enough for me to spend the money to upgrade until I crash the 2 Pro.

iPhone 15 Pro Max
I use my phone often, and not just for fun or casual shooting. It’s as much a serious tool as my Nikons.

What, no mirrorless cameras? Nope, my DSLR’s work perfectly fine and they are paid for. Plus, I don’t have time for the learning curve on a whole new system.


Nikon 16mm Fisheye
Great for creating unique images or for shooting in small confinements. It has been discontinued, but you can find it on the used market.

Nikon 14-24mm
My workhorse night-photography lens.

Nikon 17-35mm
I use it for daytime waterfalls and landscapes. It has been discontinued, but you can find it on the used market.

Nikon 28-300mm
Great all-around lens. Perfect as a walk-around lens for cities and events. It has been discontinued, but you can find it on the used market.

Nikon 70-180mm Macro
An older, super sharp lens. Best closeup lens ever! Nikon made only a few of these lenses and they are very hard to find on the used market.

Sigma 150-600mm Sport
For isolated landscapes, full moon portraits, etc. I’m not a wildlife photographer, so I rarely use it for animals. It has been discontinued, but you can find it on the used market.

Lens Caps
Ah, the dreaded standard lens cap. Rarely stays on and provides minimal protection. Once again, PolarPro comes to the rescue. Sort of. When they came out with their Defender series, I jumped on it and couldn’t be happier. In my opinion, it’s the best lens cap you can buy, bar none. In fact, they were so good, PolarPro couldn’t leave well enough alone and decided to “improve” them. They added a tiny AirTag/SD card storage area on the outside of the cap and raised the price $20. At $50, this is an expensive lens cap, to say the least. But, yeah, I would still buy the new version for any new lenses I get. They’re that good.


I once owned over three dozen tripods and a couple dozen heads. Seriously. I never got rid of a tripod, so most of them were retired models that I used for light stands or to hold accessories, etc. I made two of them using painter’s poles. Those are my “SwampPods.” One sets up to about eight feet high, the other sixteen feet. I use them when kayaking in blackwater rivers and swamps but haven’t done that in several years.

A few years ago, I gave away many of my tripods to folks who couldn’t afford a good one. I still have several, including the following four that I use regularly.

Workhorse Tripod
Induro Stealth GIT404XL
My workhorse tripod and the best tripod I’ve ever owned. It sets up high, is super sturdy, and has never given me a bit of trouble. The legs have never stuck, even when they’ve gotten wet and frozen. I love the large-diameter base that the legs attach to. It’s part of what makes the tripod so stable. It comes standard with big swiveling rubber feet, but I  much prefer spike feet. Fortunately, it also includes steel spike feet, so it’s a simple matter to switch them out. It’s big and fairly heavy, though, so it’s not for everyone and not suitable for everything I do. It appears that this tripod has been discontinued.

Backpacking and Travel Tripod
MeFOTO Globetrotter Classic
When I travel by plane or hike more than a mile or so from the car, this is my go-to tripod. The MeFOTO brand has been consolidated under the Benro name and it appears the Globetraooter classic has been discontinued. As best as I can tell, the Benro Bat Carbon Fiber One Series Travel Tripod  is the equivalent to the Globetrotter.

The Benro Bat Carbon Fiber Two Series Travel Tripod is slightly heavier and sets up higher and has a beefier ball head. It would be a good choice as an all-around tripod for those who don’t want a big tripod like the Induro Stealth.

Lightweight Compact Tripod
Fotopro X-go
I recently added this little guy to my collection, and I love it! Compared to my normal tripods, it’s tiny, but that’s why I got it. I use it for those times when size and weight are the primary considerations. It’s so compact that I can easily stow it in any of my packs, including the little daypack. It doesn’t set up very high and I must  use very good technique with it to prevent camera shake, but for its size, it’s surprisingly sturdy. And it’s much better than having no tripod. It also comes with its own ball head, which I had assumed I would replace with a better one, but I was surprised that the the quality was good enough to leave it on. I often carry this tripod even when the only camera I bring is the iPhone.

Tabletop Tripod
Feisol TT-15
This tiny tabletop tripod comes in very handy in situations where regular tripods are not allowed. It’s small enough to slip into a back pocket but is surprisingly sturdy if you use good technique. I’ve often used mine when shooting from rooftops and balconies, such as Rockefeller center in New York and locations in Rome and Venice where there is a low wall to set it up on. These these places won’t let you bring a regular tripod, but the TT-15 is so small no one has ever stopped me from using it. I’ve also used it for very low-level work when I need the camera to be as close to the ground as possible.

The TT-15 doesn’t come with a ball head. I use a Feisol CB-30D on mine, which I got long ago at a very good deal. It’s too expensive for me to recommend, though. Here’s a good choice for the ball head.

In all honesty, if I were buying a new tabletop rig today, I wouldn’t spend the money on the TT-15, plus ball head. I’d get the Smallrig Mini Tripod. This little guy comes with its own head and is less than $40.

Note that when you use a tabletop tripod for a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you must be very careful with it and not tilt the camera much or else it will tip over. I use mine more as a a device to help me stabilize the camera when handholding. In other words, my hands grip the camera at all times when it’s mounted on a tabletop tripod. When I use my phone on it, I don’t need to do that.


All of my tripod heads are ball heads, as opposed to the pan-tilt type.

Really Right Stuff BH-55
The best ball head I’ve ever used, and probably ever will use. It’s also the most expensive. It’s a permanent fixture on my workhorse tripod. Most people will want the lever-release clamp on the BH-55, but I prefer the screw clamp version. I know I’m in the minority, but I just like cranking that knob and knowing everything is clamped tight and will stay that way.

Really Right Stuff BH-40
Little brother of the BH-55, this is a solid choice. It will handle heavy loads and is much less expensive and heavy than its big brother. I own one and use it on one of my backup tripods. I prefer the BH-55 for workhorse stuff, but I suspect most people would prefer the smaller size and lower cost of the BH-40.

Feisol CB-30D
I use this little guy on my tabletop tripod.

The MeFOTO Globetrotter Classic and Fotopro X-go come with their own ball heads, which are good enough that I didn’t switch them out.


Plate Clamps
You need a system to mount the camera to the ball head. Most heads come with a standard dovetail-type clamp, called the Arca-Swiss style. If it doesn’t, it means you must use the manufacturer’s proprietary system, which I don’t recommend. Go with Arca Swiss and you’ll have many more choices with plates.

Arca Swiss clamps come in two styles, at least from Really Right Stuff. One is the traditional screw clamp, and the other is a lever clamp. The latter is quicker to use, but I’ve never felt comfortable using it. I’m always afraid the lever will catch on something and flip open, sending my camera to the ground. Screw clamps all the way for me!

If you get a ball head that doesn’t have a clamp, or you don’t like the clamp it has, you can probably replace the clamp. Most ball heads have a standard 3/8-16 stud on which the clamping mechanism mounts. Here’s a decent clamp at a great price.

Camera Plates
You must attach a metal plate to the camera to provide the interface with the clamp. Be sure to get one that is form-fitted to the camera you use so it won’t twist on the camera. You can buy a single plate that mounts on the bottom of the camera, or an L-plate, that also mounts on the bottom but has an arm that goes up the side of the camera. I much prefer L-plates. These plates are designed to allow you to mount the camera very quickly in either horizontal or vertical position. With a L-plate, you don’t have to flop the camera into the side slot of the ball head to shoot a vertical. This makes it much easier and quicker to compose and it keeps the center of gravity directly on top of the head, making the tripod much more stable. You can buy inexpensive plates on Amazon, but in my experience, they don’t fit as well or have the same quality as plates from Really Right Stuff or Kirk Photo. Go with one of those companies and you won’t be disappointed.


I own way too many photo packs and bags, but it seems like I’m always looking for another one. I think I’m in pretty good shape now, though. Most people will need only one, or maybe two packs. I have five packs that I use regularly, each fulfilling a particular niche for the work I do. I know, you’re probably thinking this is overkill, just like with my tripods, but my photography and hiking is so varied I really need this much variety in my packs.

Bushwhacking Pack
F-Stop Tilopa
A what? Yes, bushwhacking. I do a lot of it, especially to waterfalls. A few trips for me with a new pack are enough to make it look like I’ve been using it for a lifetime. So, I have a pack dedicated for this. It’s nasty and smelly, but I’m the only one who must endure the nastiness. I like this pack because it has a good harness system, opens from the back, and has plenty of room for extra clothing and hiking gear.

General Pack, Largish
Shimoda Explore V2 30
This is the pack I use for normal photography, including hiking on trails. It’s smaller than the F-Stop, but big enough for most everything I need to carry on a typical outing. It, too, has a good harness system and opens from the back.

General Pack, Small
Think Tank Backlight Sprint
The newest addition to my pack obsession collection, The Think Tank is for those situations, and they are many, where I need to carry a small amount of gear and don’t need extra space for much else, and where a larger pack would be a weight and space burden. It’s a Think Tank, so the quality is as good as it gets.

Small Day Hiking and Bicycling Pack
Gregory Osprey
I do a lot of hiking. Often, I don’t bring my big cameras and just use the iPhone. But I do need to carry the basics like TP, safety stuff, water, and clothing based on the weather. For this, I don’t want to use a big, heavy pack. The Osprey is extremely lightweight, but still holds everything I need. I’ve even carried a camera body, lens, and the Fotopro X-go tripod in it, although it’s not made to carry photo gear.

Laptop Case
Think Tank My 2nd Brain Briefcase
This little guy holds my laptop when I travel. I absolutely love it! I think it has been discontinued.

Airport Rolling Case
Think Tank Airport Advantage
The days of trudging through airports with camera gear on my back are long over. The first time I used this bag, I had a long conversation with it about why it hadn’t been in my life until then. Think Tank bags are not cheap, but they are tough as nails, and I know I’ll never need to replace this one because the wheels broke off or baggage handlers ripped it apart. You can get these in different sizes. I like this one because it will fit legally on nearly all regular passenger planes, including the little puddle jumpers, yet it holds a surprising amount of gear.


Since I switched to digital, I use only two filters, and only one regularly.

Polarizing Filters
I use a polarizing filter for nearly all outdoor daytime photography. I’ve tried many brands and the best by far is Polarpro QuartzLine polarizers. I love these filters! I consider a polarizing filter to be so invaluable that I have one for my iPhone! (see Phone stuff)

Neutral Density Filter
Besides the polarizer, the only other filters I use are regular neutral density filters, which allow me to slow the shutter speed to achieve creative effects with waterfall, river, and wave photography. I have the Singh-Ray 2-8 stop Vari-ND filter and the Singh-Ray Mor-Slo 15-stop neutral density filter. I don’t use graduated ND’s because I can get better results shooting multiple exposures and blending them in Photoshop.


For star trails, time lapses, and other shots where I need to program exposures, I use the Vello Shutterboss Version II Timer Remote Switch. Here is the model I use for the D850 and the D780. If you don’t use the same camera, you’ll need to make sure to get the right one that fits your camera.

For just tripping the shutter, I use a simple manual device like this.

When I need to trip the shutter remotely, such as when light painting, I use radio frequency remotes. I own systems from Pocket Wizard and Cactus. Both are very reliable and have good range. While Pocket Wizard is the go-to brand among many professional photographers, I find the Cactus units work just as well and are much less expensive. Note that I do not use TTL flash exposure with wireless remotes.


For light painting, my workhorse flashlight is the Coast HP7R. I use it for nearly everything except underwater work. The light’s long-range focusing optic projects the 300-lumen light beam over 1,000 feet, but more important, it keeps the light even across the zoom range and projects a tight beam at full focus. It features the push/pull focusing system that I require in my lights. In addition to the AAA battery pack, the light comes with two lithium-ion battery packs that can be recharged using AC, DC, or USB power sources.

The HP7R is a little big and heavy for small hands, and it’s expensive. A much smaller, lighter, and cheaper light is the Coast HP5R. It’s a great little light that I always have with me. Unfortunately, it has been discontinued.

Another nice and inexpensive Coast light is the HP6R. It’s a great pocket light for illuminating the trail or setting up gear. You can use it for light painting, but it’s so short that if you attach a GelGrip to it (see Gel filters and holders) it’s hard to hold. It appears that this light has been discontinued as well, but you might still find it.

The flashlight I keep in my pocket for setting up gear or helping participants on night-photography workshops is the Coast G19. It’s very compact and projects a narrow, tight beam that doesn’t spill out. It’s not good for light painting, but it’s a perfect pocket task light. And it costs less than $10!

For underwater light painting I use the Coast Polysteel 400 and the Coast Polysteel 500R. These flashlights are crush proof, drop proof, and most important, waterproof. The 500R comes with a rechargeable battery, plus a AAA holder and has an International protection Rating of IPX8, the highest waterproofing rating. Coast doesn’t list the IPX rating of the 400, but I have used mine many times in water up the three feet deep with no problems.


I use the Nikon SB700 for most of my flash work. I also have some old SB800s.


I use light panels for general light painting, interior cabin and tent lighting, and for low-level landscape lighting. I originally bought the Luxli Viola, as it was the only decent one available at the time. This neat little light has a 5-inch screen and an adjustable light output from 0 to 100%. The cool thing about it is that you can dial the color from 3000K to 10,000K or push a button and then dial through the entire color spectrum. It even has Bluetooth capability, so you can control the output on a mobile app.

The drawback to the Viola is price, at $400, and considering that I’m having a difficult time finding one, I wonder if it has been discontinued. Luxli recently came out with the Fiddle, which is only $240, and it’s a great light. That’s still a lot of money and when I needed to get a second light I found the Neewer RGB LED Video Light.  It’s a great light, full of features, and costs less than $50! It also features an all-aluminum housing instead of Luxli’s plastic. I’ll take the extra protection over the slight increase in weight.


Whether you use a flashlight or flash for light painting, you’re going to want to change the color of the light for some shots. The white light from an LED flashlight or flash might work for some subjects, but after a while, it gets boring. I use gel filters from Rosco for this purpose. Rosco makes several different FlashPacks that have different colored filters. I use the Digital After Dark FlashPack. I worked with Rosco to develop this kit, choosing the colors to go in it.

You can also purchase a swatchbook of gel filters and have ever color imaginable.

To hold the filters in front of a flash or flashlight, I designed and sell the GelGrip. (If you use gel filters only occasionally, you can get by just fine by attaching them with rubber bands.) The GelGrip is made from tough, crystal-clear acrylic that allows full light transmission without imparting an unwanted color cast. It holds the filters securely and mounts to a flash or flashlight using hook & loop fasteners, which are included.

When I need a larger gel filter for putting in front of lights that are bigger than standard flashlights or camera flashes, I use filters from Rosco’s Filter Kits. These filters are 12-inches square. They are easy to cut to fit whatever size you need. I use them often for underwater light painting, where I need a filter measuring at least 4-inches square to wrap the head of my flashlights.


Polarizing Filter
Yes, for my phone. It’s that important. For a long time, I used a homemade filter holder, but when PolarPro came out with their Litechaser system, I never looked back. The system comes with a case that accepts the metal lens cap, polarizing filter, and and a cool grip with Bluetooth shutter capability that is great for shooting video. All for less than $150. The grip is optional.

You’ll need to spend a little time on the PolarPro site to make sure you get the right components in the cart. Unfortunately, the system is only available for late model iPhones.

Phone Pouch
I got this pouch for only a few bucks, but I’d pay $100 for it if it was the only one available. I use the small carabiner to attach it to whatever pack I’m hiking with. It provides full protection, even when I’m bushwhacking, and allows instant access so I’m not digging through a pocket, or worse, having to take the pack off to get to it.

Tripod Mount
You’ll need a special bracket to mount the phone onto the tripod’s ball head. There are a bewildering number of brands and styles, and many of them are overengineered crap. Here’s the one I use. It utilizes a spring mechanism to grip the phone, which is quick and easy, and the base is dovetailed to match the Arca-style clamp of ball heads, so you don’t have to add an extra plate.


Bulb Blower
The combination of a big bulb blower and a lens cloth should always be in your pack. And not one of those little blowers that has a built-in brush. You need something that’s gonna move some air, like the Giottos Rocket Yes, it costs twice as much as most of the others. They are so important that I have two of them, one as a backup.

I do a lot of photography in the rain. In fact, it’s my favorite time to shoot waterfalls. I like to say that if you want to make the best waterfall photos, you need to have enough sense to get out in the rain. Years ago, I built an umbrella holder for my tripod. It worked so well and generated so many inquiries, I designed an even better model and started making them to sell. I named it RainBreak.


If you photograph time lapses, star trails, or do any other type of photography that exposes your lens to the night air for more than a few minutes, you must be careful about dew forming on the front element of the lens. In humid regions, it’s a huge problem, but even in the desert, the temperatures often drop to the dew point. Once dew starts to form, you can pretty much pack it in in for the night.

The solution is to stop the dew from forming in the first place. The LensMuff is designed to prevent dew without requiring power of any kind. It works by providing a fast and secure attachment for ordinary hand warmer packets to wrap around your lens. Hand warmers provide enough warmth to keep the temperature of the front element from dropping to the dew point, so dew won’t form in the first place.

As with the GelGrip and Rainbreak, I designed and sell the LensMuff. The three products exemplify the old “necessity is the mother of invention” adage.

USB Heater Strips
Another option for preventing dew is USB powered heater strips that wrap around the lens. I’ve had mixed success with these. I bought several of them to test and one didn’t work from the start. I also learned that they require a fair amount of juice, so you ‘ll need to carry a beefy power bank. (See the one I use below.) That said, I’ve found the Haida Anti-Fog Belt and the Move-Shoot-Move heater strip  to work very well, and I use them often when I’m shooting close to the car. I would never go out with just a heater strip, though. I’ll always have a LensMuff as a backup, if not the primary heater. I know it will work.

Portable Power Bank
I gave up using inexpensive power banks and being frustrated by the minimal output. I’ve never had a juice problem with this one. It charges my phone and runs my dew heater strips and asks, “What else you got for me?”


Processing Software
I started using Photoshop in the mid-1990s and it’s still my main processing software. I’ve never used Lightroom because I do so much work with layers, and I don’t see the need to switch back and forth between them. My RAW convertor is Adobe Camera RAW and my image browser is Adobe Bridge.

I use very few other apps for processing. I have the old version of Topaz, which I use for sharpening and some noise removal. For removing noise from night-sky shots, I use Adobe Camera RAW.

Backup Software and Workflow
Big deal. Huge deal. Can you imagine losing a lifetime of work in the blink of an eye? The thought is terrifying to me, so I make sure I’m covered properly with backups.

I have all my work on four hard drives. One is in the computer tower, one sets on the desk, one is in a media safe (protects documents and hard drives even during a fire), and one is in a lock box in my car. And I backed them up regularly.

I do not use RAID arrays or anything like it. And I don’t use backup software that requires you to use the software to restore data. That’s ridiculous in my mind. I need a solution that writes the data bit for bit, just like a copy/paste. That way, I can take any of my drives and plug them into any computer and instantly read the files.

The software I use is called GoodSync. It should be called GreatSync! I’ve set up jobs on it so when I plug in a drive, it automatically recognizes it and with two clicks it backs up all the data that has changed since the last backup. The user interface is a little clunky, but once you get everything set up it’s a piece of cake. And the price is only $30 for an annual subscription!