The B&H Buying Guide to Selfie Sticks
Whether you hate ’em or love ’em, there is no getting around ’em—literally. I have been bonked on the head by a selfie stick on the busy streets of New York, while skiing, and even in the confines of a major arena during a basketball game. I will soon prepare a how-to and how-not-to article on the etiquette and uses of these increasingly ubiquitous (and in some cases, banned) accessories but, in the meantime, let’s add to their numbers on the street with a convenient buying guide to the best and the rest.
First, selfie sticks are not all that new—they have been around in some form since the 1990s and are basically an inverted monopod with a handle. But with the growth of the smartphone camera and the apparent need to document all that we do, the selfie stick has become a common sight throughout the photo-taking world. And truthfully, selfie sticks don’t have to be “all about you;” they are practical tools to be used for high- or low-angle shooting and can double as monopods or even hiking sticks.
But what differentiates one selfie stick from another? Generally, not too much, and that is part of the reason for their abundance. The best way to distinguish one from the other and to determine what will work for your needs is to think about these five characteristics: Camera Compatibility and Mounts; Length (folded length and total reach); Strength (build quality and load capacity); Remote Control Capability; and finally, Specialized Purposes or Accessories, such as mirrors, secondary mounts, or even underwater capability.
Mounts and Camera Compatibility
Nothing about a selfie stick really matters if it won’t hold your camera, but fortunately, most available models offer the versatility to mount any compact camera with a ¼"-20 tripod thread, and there are many models with mounts for smartphones and GoPro cameras. Long zoom point-and-shoots, larger mirrorless, and DSLR cameras are generally not a match for selfie sticks, as they are simply too heavy.
Sticks that are dedicated for smartphones or provide smartphone brackets include the iStabilizer Selfie Stick Smartphone Monopod, which has a ball head with a ¼"-20 screw and the smartMount Phone mount, which opens to 3.5" wide to hold most smartphones in their horizontal position. The smartMount has two female threads for better control of camera angle, and the stick itself extends to 36" and collapses to 12". From Revo comes the very versatile Adjustable Selfie Stick, which features a GoPro mount but includes a ¼"-20 mount for point-and-shoot cameras up to 2 lb, and a phone mount that opens from 2 to 3". Its pole extends to 37" in four sections and the sections twist to lock firmly in place. It also has a ¼"-20 mount on the bottom of the stick, for additional placement.
Smartphone Selfie Sticks with Remote Control
Most selfie sticks that are designed for smartphones include some form of remote shutter control to trigger your shot from the handle. There are some that offer a free app to make the connection between phone and handle, others use an onboard cable, and still others that use Bluetooth technology to fire your camera from the handle. The Looq Selfie Clicker Smartphone Remote Shutter and Dog Training Clicker uses a free app and a click remote to fire your smartphone’s shutter. The stick itself extends from 8.5 to 43.3" and has a swiveling bracket that holds only phones. Apparently, the clicker can also help train your dog. Nice touch? The Polaroid Selfie Stick with Bluetooth Shutter is a sturdy, multi-functional device that has a ¼"-20 mount and a smartphone holder. Its Bluetooth is compatible with iOS 5.0 and above and Android 2.3.6 and above and, when a connection is established, a simple push on the handle’s button fires the camera. A micro-USB port is located on the handle base for charging, and a cable is included. The pole extends from 8 to 40" and its ball head offers tilt, pivot, and rotating movements.
The Dot Line Smartphone Selfie Extension with Bluetooth Shutter Release similarly offers Bluetooth remote control from iPhones and Android devices. The phone mount stretches to a wide 4" and the pole itself reaches 35". Its built-in battery is charged via a mini-USB port. It is available with rubberized grips in black or pink. Bower also offers its Wireless Smartphone Selfie Pod with Bluetooth technology and an integrated mount for smartphones. It is listed as only compatible with iPhone 4 and later. The Me-Shot Deluxe 2.0 Extension Poles with Bluetooth Remote from XSORIES, available in black or orange, are marketed for smartphones, but also have a 1/4"-20 mount for small cameras weighing less than 14 oz. The smartphone clamp seems very durable and the sticks come with a separate remote control unit for simplified use and more versatile control. They reach up to 36.6"; each five-section, stainless-steel pole is sturdy with camera attached, and provides a wide loop for carabiners.
The Looq S Battery-Free Extended Selfie Arm with Button uses a tiny coiled cable with a 3.5mm jack to plug into your phone’s headphone port for remote shutter control. It doesn’t need a battery at all and can support up to 3.3 lb; its remote button is large and perfectly placed, and it offers a 0.1-second response time. The smartphone’s mount screws onto the pole’s ball head and supplies thick rubber pads for protection and a no-slip grip. The pole extends to just 24" but collapses to a tiny 5.5", which is great for transport. A free app from Looq is not required for use, but does offer enhanced functionality.
The Looq Mini Battery-Free Extended Selfie Arm for iPhone 5/5s/5c is an ultra-light version of the same stick, with a cable connection for remote control. It is simple and hassle-free and extends to 6".
Going big with remote cable connections is the BirdsEye Pole from RPS Lighting. It can hold a DSLR and is mostly used to shoot over crowds, but we can think of it as a selfie stick for pros. Its four-section pole telescopes to 70" and collapses to 29" and it has two handgrips for a secure hold. A quick-release plate with a ¼"-20 screw is provided and a two-position shutter-release button enables control over autofocus and metering, as well as shutter. The shutter-release cable snakes along the length of the pole, and separately purchased shutter-release adapters are required to operate your Canon, Nikon, or Pentax DSLRs.
Selfie Sticks for GoPro Cameras
Several models are available that cater specifically to the action-camera crowd and provide only GoPro mounts, or a GoPro mount in addition to a standard ¼"-20 screw mount. The Pro Pole has very durable and waterproof aluminum construction befitting its intended use with a GoPro. It extends from 13 to 37" and can hold up to 4.4 lb when used handheld, which is plenty strong for even a small DSLR with lens. If used as a monopod, it can hold as much as 7.7 lb. Natively, it offers a ¼"-20 mount on a quick-release plate, but also includes a GoPro HERO mount. It features a built-in mirror for better self-positioning. The Pole Handheld Extendable Camera Mount is the little brother to The Pole Pro and extends to 28.3" in four twist-lock sections. Its maximum load is 1 lb and it provides only a GoPro Mount. Its lightweight, waterproof, and durable build, foam grip, and wrist strap make it the ideal choice for skiers, surfers, and other GoPro users. SP-Gadgets offers the 19" P.O.V. Pole in silver and black, and the 39" Remote Pole and another in-between, which both have mounts that fit only GoPro HERO action cameras. The 19" poles collapse to just 7" with a twist-lock design and a sure-grip rubber handle with textured EVA surface, as well as an included wrist strap and carabiner. The 39" Remote Pole has four sections and collapses to 13.6" with a 360° swivel head. It also features a covered housing on the handgrip to hold an optional GoPro remote control unit.
The GoPole Reach 14-40" Extension Pole is also a GoPro dedicated selfie stick with a rubber grip and easy-lock, four-stage reach. It provides a clip to hold a GoPro remote control unit and a ¼"-20 thread on the base of its pole, which can attach it to numerous items including the GoPole Scenelapse 360 Time-Lapse Device for smooth panoramic photos and videos. GoPole also makes cool extension handles for GoPros, including the Grenade Grip Compact Hand Grip and the Bobber Floating Hand Grip, which will keep your GoPro afloat if dropped in water. The GoPole Arm 2-Piece Extension Kit for GoPro HERO Cameras is an adjustable extension pole designed to attach to helmets or surfboards, and offers 8 and 16" configurations and a wide range of adjustment angles. It includes three high-torque thumbscrews to keep the camera on tight during wild rides.
Perhaps the most interesting selfie stick from GoPole is the Evo 14-24" Floating Extension Pole for GoPro Cameras. Its hard and hollow clear plastic pole enables it to float and also helps to keep it invisible when you are shooting a selfie. It provides a removable clip for GoPro remote, as well as a rubber grip and ¼"-20 thread at the bottom.
An all-around comer that can hold GoPro cameras and point-and-shoots up to 1.5 lb with its removable mounts is the Quik Pod SPORT Extension Pole, which reaches from 15.5 to 39". Its 3-section aluminum pole is waterproof and meets the ASTM/ISO standards for saltwater use and locks using levers as opposed to twist-lock. A selfie mirror is built in and it includes a wrist strap, tether, hiking clip, and carry bag. The Eye of Mine Expandable Aluminum Rod for Hero Cameras also has a weight capacity of 1.5 lb, but extends up to 68" in four sections. Thanks to its long reach and aluminum build, it can multi-task as a monopod or even boompole. It has a ball head with ¼"-20 mount and includes a GoPRo mount.
Selfie Sticks for Point-and-Shoot Cameras
Any selfie stick with a ¼"-20 mounting screw can be used to attach a camera as long as the camera is not too heavy, but there are a few standouts. Nikon has just released a sturdy model, the N-MP001 Selfie Stick, designed for the more compact members of its COOLPIX family. It reaches to 28.5" and collapses to just 7.3"; it holds cameras up to 0.9 lb and weighs 0.4 lb.
From XSORIES comes a wide selection of very strong extension poles with ¼"-20 mount and a ball head for multi-angle shooting. Whether you are interested in the U-Shot Aluminum Extension Pole, which reaches to 19.3", or the Big U-Shot Aluminum Extension Pole that goes to 37" and collapses to 11.4", they both provide a load capacity of 6.6 lb, which will hold quite a big camera, if you consider that the Canon 5D Mark III with 70-200mm f/2.8 lens weighs 5.2 lb. Needless to say, you should check the strength of any selfie stick very carefully before using it with your gear. The XSories U-Shots are available in a range of cool colors, including Atlantic Blue and Deep Forest Green. They also offer Deluxe models with a leather grip and wrist strap, in both brown and black.
The Long and Short of It
A selfie stick’s primary purpose is to get your camera out and away from you just enough to include you, your friends and a degree of your background in a pleasing portrait and most selfie sticks extend to approximately 35", which is more than enough length to complete such a task. Others max out at 19" and fold a bit smaller for pocket-ability, but there are some that push the limit in terms of their extended reach or compactness when folded.
The Stealth iPole XL from FastCap Tech extends to 109"—that’s 9 feet to you and me—and gives you options that few other selfie sticks can. The flip side is that it only collapses to 41" so it is not great for simple travel and group photos. Its 3-section aluminum pole is strong, although at full extension, you need to be sure it can hold and control your camera. It’s locked to length with quick-release flip locks and has a ¼"-20 mounting screw. An optional SuperMount is available to attach smartphones.
Youngblood makes four extension poles that really push the envelope, in terms of selfie sticks. They are built strong, with an aluminum inner pole and fiberglass exteriors. They utilize spring-loaded extensions to raise the poles and brass punch-ins for secure locking. A welded base plate provides the strength to hold heavy gear, and a three-way adjustable locking quick release mount with ¼"-20 is included. The smallest of the four is the HEADS-UP Photo Pole, which runs from 2 to 4'. The LIFTER Photo Pole extends from 4 to 8', the Levitator can be raised from 6 to 12', and the Elevator is a beast that is 8' long and doubles to 16'.
While most selfie sticks will fold down to about 8", there are few out there that collapse even shorter for handy access in your backpack, purse, or even your pocket. The Pocket XShot has a telescope extension design and can get as small as 6.5". It will reach 30.5", weighs just 4.5 oz, and has a load capacity of 1.25 lb. A ¼"-20 mount is supported and a tripod thread on the base of the pole enables it to be mounted quickly on a tripod, light stand, or other support. The XShot Pro Ultimate Camera Extender is ready for GoPros and compact cameras with a dual mount system. It collapses to 7", extends to 32", and holds gear up to 1.25". Its rubber grip is specially designed for a solid grip in inclement conditions.
For those with particular applications or just wishing to test the waters of what you can photograph yourself doing, a handful of extension devices are available for particularly smooth shooting, action capture, and underwater use. The FastCap Tech iPole Trekking Pole is a multi-faceted tool that extends your reach from 27 to 53" as a selfie stick, but also can serve as a monopod or a hiking pole. A ¼"-20 screw will attach most compact cameras and it has a flexible, detachable gooseneck mount for easy angle adjustments. An aluminum-alloy build with lever locks and a steel tip is rugged on the trail, and it even has a detachable rubber foot for use as a monopod when indoors, and a snow basket tip for winter use. A cork handle is comfortable when hiking, and absorbs moisture.
The Fat Gecko Kaboom, from Delkin Devices, is a carbon fiber boompole with five interchangeable shafts that can be inserted into one another or removed for customizable extension, from 15 to 60". Its carbon fiber build is, of course, strong and lightweight, as well as waterproof, and certainly ready for hard action. Its ball head has a ¼"-20 male thread and the handle has a ¼"-20 female thread for optional mounting. Stainless-steel pressure buttons lock the sections into place and a rubber handle with wrist strap keeps the pole in your hand. Included with the Kaboom are strong adhesive mounts to attach it to a helmet, as well as safety and closed helmet clips. Two GoPro Adapter mounts are included as well.
The AXJ 100 Action Jib System takes the selfie stick to smooth new lengths. It combines an extension pole with a 3 to 5' reach with the Glide Gear SYL 1000 camera stabilizer, for ultra-smooth video or better control over the angle of your stills. It is ideal for in-action self-portraits or for shooting others running, boarding, or skiing. It holds cameras up to 2 lb and includes adapters for smartphones and GoPros. The extension pole is made from aluminum alloy and includes an elbow support cup and adjustable handle. This system offers steady-cam-like control for small cameras, without the need for a vest.
Taking it down a notch, the Quick Pod Pro Extendable Handheld Boom-Style Tripod not only serves as a selfie stick that can collapse to just 7.5", it is easily converted into a tripod using the included leg adapters. This multi-functional and pocket-able device extends to 18.5" and can hold cameras up to 10.5 oz. It features a ¼"-20 mount and a mirror for self positioning.
Under the Sea
For those specifically interested in underwater selfies (and other applications), the GoPro Pole from Beneath the Surface is designed with you in mind. It is a 30" extension that does not collapse but does provide a well-built rubber grip and wrist strap and features a GoPro mount on the end and five additional ¼"-20 female threads to mount lights, secondary cameras, or other accessories. Its anodized-aluminum build is very sturdy.
Finally, the SeaLife Aquapod Underwater Monopod offers versatility and a polycarbonate and aluminum design, able to withstand the hardships of underwater use. It can reach to 53" and collapses to 18", but is able to hold cameras up to 7.7 lb, including all underwater cameras made by SeaLIfe. Its ¼"-20 mount will, of course, hold other cameras and underwater housing units, and it includes a GoPro mount and quick-release plate too. A lanyard with belt clip, selfie mirror, and flip-lock extensions round out its feature set. Also, a Mini version is available that holds the same weight but extends from 15.5 to 38" and includes the GoPro adapter.