Ulanzi/Coman's Zero Y is a compact travel tripod that is ultra-compact (16.65 inches / 423 mm when folded), ultra-lightweight (2.4 pounds / 1.1 kg), yet provides the same functionality as a full-sized tripod and head. I purchased a Zero Y for use on vacations, short trips, or any situation where a large, tall tripod would be overkill. The Zero Y is light and super compact, but does have a few cons, as I will explore in this review.
- Super compact and lightweight
- Easily packable, fits in just about everything
- Quality materials and construction
- Arca plate compatible
- Lower price than the competition
- Fiddly ball head controls
- Not comfortable for extended periods of time
- Ball head cannot be removed
Basic overview of the Zero Y
The Zero Y falls in the category of compact travel tripods. It has been intentionally designed to provide photographers and videographers with a durable, fully functional tripod in the smallest possible package. Its most obvious competitor (and likely design influence) is the carbon fiber Peak Design Travel Tripod, which set a new design standard for compact tripods when it was introduced back in 2019.
When folded, the Zero Y measures 16.65 inches/42.3 cm. This makes the tripod small enough to fit inside a standard sized camera backpack (so it doesn't have to be carried in an exterior pocket). The tripod also takes up very little room in a larger suitcase if packing checked luggage while traveling.
Zero Y has three adjustable legs with five sections, each independently lockable using a sideways clasp, that raise the tripod to a maximum height of 52 inches/132.7 cm, or 62 inches/156.7 cm when its center column is fully raised. Each leg has a rubberized foot that may be removed and replaced with a metal spike (provided with the tripod) for improved stability on soft ground.
Each leg may be adjusted to 20°, 55°, or 75° using a spring loaded switch. This helps lower a camera and increase stability in setups closer to the ground. When set at a 75° angle, the center column must be raised at least halfway so it doesn't scrape the ground.
Speaking of the center column, it raises and lowers by locking and unlocking a silver, vertical clasp on the side of the base. The column may be flipped around and inserted through the bottom of the plate (for hanging a camera upside down), and provides a removable hanging hook (with a small hex wrench hidden inside) for adding weight and stability to the tripod.
On the side of the tripod collar is a 1/4-20 female thread. This is helpful for mounting magic arms, lights, microphones, monitors, or other accessories.
The Zero Y ball head is super compact, low-profile, and is Arca plate compatible. This is different from the Zero F38 model, which is similar in all other aspects to the Zero Y, but uses Falcam F38 quick release plates. (Incidentally, this is the main reason why I chose the Zero Y, for I prefer having one set of plates (Arca) that are functional with any ball head).
The Zero Y ball head provides 20° of rotation with the center column fully lowered, but then expands with full maneuverability (and double-sided vertical orientation) when the center column is raised a few inches.
The Zero Y ball head provides full 360° panoramic rotation, an integrated spirit level to assist with leveling, and a horizontal metal clasp (similar to the center column clasp) that locks and unlocks the head's position when rotated around the ball.
Ball head payload should be less than 6.6 pounds/3 kg for optimal user experience. The maximum possible payload (before the head might lose grip and fall) is 11 pounds/5 kg. The combined weight of most prosumer digital camera bodies and lenses should be well within these limits.
What I like most about the Zero Y
There are very few carbon fiber travel tripods lighter than 2.4 pounds / 1.1 kg. Most, in fact, are 3 pounds and heavier. Zero Y feels incredibly light in the hand, and adds barely any weight to a camera bag. Anything I can do to remove weight when carrying heavy camera gear is all good with me.
Ball head is strong enough for most prosumer cameras
I tested various configurations of camera bodies, lenses, and accessories for, and found that the Zero Y ball head stays locked in place and does not drift with a payload less than or equal to ~5 pounds/2.26 kg. This is a little lower than Ulanzi's recommended payload of 6.6 pounds/ 3 kg, but still within reason for most prosumer camera bodies and lenses.
The Zero Y does a surprisingly good job holding up my chunky Fuji GFX 100s with a 32-64 lens, L-bracket and battery (weighing 4.5 pounds/2 kg total). However, it does start to drift downward when adding an HDMI monitor, battery, and other accessories.
Tripod is ultra compact and easy to pack
I love how small and compact the tripod is, for takes up less space and weight than a normal sized tripod. That makes it ideal for vacations, weekend trips, casual use, video, etc. For me it's also ideal as a secondary tripod when I'm shooting photography videos for my YouTube channel.
Arca plate compatible
I'm not a fan of tripod heads or mounts using proprietary plates, for then I have to always use the plate that comes with a product, and cannot substitute it with anything else (which could be disastrous when traveling). That's why I'm so glad the Zero Y has an Arca compatible plate, unlike its sibling Zero F38 tripod.
I recommend using the Arca plate that comes with the Zero Y, for it is fitted for the plate, and has the requisite stabilizing pins that help prevent slippage.
What I don't like about the Zero Y
Ball head controls are small and awkward
Because the ball head is intentionally designed to be ultra low-profile, the knobs and levers are positioned very close to the camera body, which at times makes them fiddly and cumbersome to use. That's especially true with the ball head tightening clasp, which is either locked or unlocked, with no in-between. I also find the tightening clasp to be awkwardly placed and not comfortable to use when standing behind the camera.
The controls aren't bad when using the tripod for limited time, but I wouldn't want to use the Zero Y for hours at a time.
Ball head cannot be removed
The Zero Y ball head is permanently affixed to the top of the center column and cannot be removed. In order to use a different ball head with the Zero Y, you must purchase a separate F38 ball head or alternate 1/4-20 center column. Would be nice if I could just unscrew the ball head and mount something else without buying an additional accessory.
Must raise center column to shoot vertical
Due to its low profile design, the Zero Y ball head cannot position a camera vertically. To do so, the center column must be raised a few inches, which introduces less stability and is more time consuming to wrangle with. I'll definitely be using an Arca compatible L-bracket to make this easier.
Overall, the Zero Y from Ulanzi+Coman is solidly designed and engineered. I'm especially impressed by how light and compact the tripod is, and how easy it is to travel with. The Zero Y is not comfortable or rugged enough for landscape photography use, but for general photography and videography, it certainly does the job.