When most of us want to steady a camera for a long exposure or telephoto shot, we look for something that will accept the camera's weight, such as a tripod or a handy flat horizontal surface. The pocket-sized SteadePod, however, uses what could almost be considered the opposite approach - it requires the user to pull up on the camera, the upward tension serving to stabilize their shot.
The main body of the SteadePod attaches to the screw-mount hole on the bottom of any camera that has one. A foot pad is attached to the body, via a retractable cable - not unlike a tape measure. Users simply step on that pad (or hook it to their shoelaces or belt loop), pull the camera up to the desired height, then engage the cable lock lever. As long as they maintain some upward pressure on the camera/SteadePod, their shot will be considerably steadier than if it were purely handheld.
Needless to say, a tripod would give much better results, but this device is clearly intended for situations where tripods would be too bulky or impractical. A traditional monopod could also be used in these same situations, although the SteadePod is still considerably smaller and cheaper than most of those. Also, it allows the camera to be independently tilted up and down - when using a monopod (the less expensive headless variety, at least), the entire pod must be tilted back and forth with the camera on top.
The SteadePod weighs three ounces (85 grams), extends up to six feet (1.8 meters), and fits in a pants pocket when not in use. It has been around for at least a couple of years, but is newly-available via Photojojo, for US$24 plus shipping. Other retailers are listed on the SteadePod website.
See the stories that matter in your inbox every morning