A Tripod for Smartphone Astrophotography

 As an amateur astronomer, Astrophotography mode is one reason why I got a Pixel 4 XL.

But there’s another essential piece of gear for taking long-exposure photos of star fields or astronomical phenomena, a tripod. The one I bought for the Pixel 4 XL is a Phinistec photo tripod.

Phinistec tripod with some accessories: carrying pouch, phone adapter, Bluetooth shutter
My Phinistec tripod with some accessories: a carrying pouch, a phone adapter, and a Bluetooth shutter.

I do all my astrophotography from an apartment building in Milan, Italy, where I live. It’s a light-polluted urban area, but these days I can’t wander around much.

I observe the sky from the apartment’s small balconies, which have the area of a medium-sized carpet. This constrains the camera holding gear I can use. I wanted a full-height tripod that can extend to at least waist level, not a tabletop tripod, as I can’t use tables or other elevated surfaces to set the photo equipment on.

The Phinistec tripod can extend to a height of 125 cm. It’s cheap, compact, and very light. It comes with a smartphone adapter, a Bluetooth remote shutter, and a handy carrying pouch. There’s also a Gopro adapter I don’t need.

Although the product specs mention compatibility only with iOS, the Bluetooth shutter works fine with Android. To pair it with your phone, turn on Bluetooth discovery on the device, power up the shutter, and follow the prompts on Android.

The tripod is perfect for Astrophotography mode with the Pixel 4 XL. I can quickly set up the tripod and bring it to a balcony. There’s a minor inconvenience, though. Even at full height, when pointing at high angular altitude areas of the sky, viewing the phone’s screen is not much practical. I have to uncomfortably crouch or bend behind the screen.

I hope to take advantage of the tripod’s compactness and bring it to areas with darker skies to take better shots.

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