I have to admit, I’ve been trying to lose weight for a while. Well not me personally, but my camera kit. I’ve been trying to save weight across the board, so I’m looking at every item from my camera and lenses, to the camera bag and now my tripod.
Now that the major camera manufacturers like Nikon, Canon and Olympus have come up with mirrorless camera systems that not only have lighter camera bodies, but also physically smaller and lighter lenses, many of us are migrating towards a lighter system. Last year I went through a long and tedious process trying to find a lighter and more compact camera bag to accommodate this lighter kit. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime, as I must have returned at least half a dozen bags before I found one that suited my requirements.
Now it’s time to look at a lighter tripod. My current Vanguard Alta Pro weighs in at 2.2 kg with head, so that had to go. It has served me well over a lot of years and taken the knocks well and I must mention Vanguard’s lifetime guarantee and after sales service which is second to none.
At the top of my personal list is the Peak Design travel tripod. It’s a work of art, that is worthy of a place in the Bauhaus museum of design, but I have reservations about its ability to withstand the knocks of day to day use. I’m proud of the fact that my 8 year old DSLR is still in immaculate condition, but I have to admit that I’m not nearly as fastidious with the way I treat a tripod. Mine is often used on the beach, then stowed in my car boot without a thought of washing it, so I needed a tripod that would stand a bit of miss-use.
My investigation showed that there were basically two types of tripod on the market. Standard ones and “Travel” tripods, with all the compromises that go into them to reduce the size and weight, but very few lighter, standard size tripods. I spent a lot of time sifting through specs and rejected many very good tripods for a variety of reasons, but I had some very specific requirements.
My target weight was 1.2/1.3 kg.
A height of at least 1.3m without raising the centre column, as I’m very loath to raise a centre column unless I’m forced to.
Ideally 4-section rather than 3, to reduce the stowed height a bit on my camera bag. I particularly didn’t want 5-section as per most travel tripods, because that’s just too many locking collars to handle in everyday use.
After rejecting a lot of very good tripods from manufacturers such as Manfrotto, Benro and many more, I eventually narrowed it down to two and ordered both the Vanguard VEO2 264 and the Three Legged Thing Billy.
The Vanguard VEO, looked very nice when it arrived and I was tempted to keep it though I had reservations about the swivelling centre column giving trouble in later life, but it was the lack of height that clinched it.
The 3LT Billy is very rigid for the weight and stands to a full height. Add in that it has a simple reversible centre column so I can hang my camera near the ground, so that was the one I went for.
I’m a big believer in the saying “The best camera you can have is the one you have with you”, and this translates to “The best kit you have, is the kit you are prepared to carry”.