X4 Eric Carbon Fiber Tripod with Black Ball Head.
£379 from www.3leggedthing.com

 
It Came From Stagsden! My New 3LeggedThing…

My last tripod I picked up for $15. At times, I swear you would get a more steady shot sitting the camera on a moving steam train than on the flimsy aluminium tripod I owned, but it served a purpose. Recently, due to the generous competition that 3LeggedThing ran on social media, I discovered I would soon be in possession of a new tripod.

I had a new friend on the way from Europe. His name was Eric.

A 3LeggedThing Eric on the rocks in Newcastle.

A 3LeggedThing Eric on the rocks in Newcastle.

 
Opening The Box (Packages Are The Best)

After tracking Eric’s every move on his journey here (I’m obsessive when it comes to following tracked packages; I knew the number off by heart after 2 days…), I was rather excited when I picked up my tripod from the courier.

I tore open the box, and I already knew I was in love. The cylinder carry case that comes with the tripod was of top quality and easy to carry. I won’t lie; one of my few negatives with the product is the carry case. While great quality, it features bright orange material and, personally, I prefer to keep my gear low-key. But it still excited me. If the carry case was this good, the tripod itself was going to be awesome.

I’ll skip over the actual tripod for a moment. Unzipping the case, there was the tripod (naturally). I pulled it out the bag, and searched through the rest of the bag. I discovered a shoulder strap for my bag (which is rather comfortable to use); in a zipped compartment within the lid of the tube was a short tube and some Allen/hex keys.  Without an instruction book, I would soon discover the short tube was a shorter centre column (for use when shooting with the tripod at its lowest) and the hex keys were for tightening the legs if required. I taped the hex keys together to stop them rattling, and all sits nicely in the lid for when they are needed, now.

 
First Impressions: It Has 3 Legs.

All class and style.

All class and style.

I sat in my chair as Eric stood tall in my lounge room. My parents looked at me like I was crazy. Eric stood just over two metres tall (having grown from his lowest height of 135mm) and was towering high above where I sat.

A material sleeve on one of the legs sported the 3LeggedThing name and provides a useful means to carry the tripod when Carbon Fiber gets cold. Beyond this, there was little in the sense of “branding.” There was a subtle 3LeggedThing logo was stamped into the copper ‘hips’ of the tripod and a “3LT” on the top plate, but for the most part Eric was all copper and black legs.

Those slender, dark, Carbon Fiber legs. Oh. So. Sexy.

Actually, commenting on a guy’s legs like that is slightly off-putting. As such, I’m renaming my tripod, “Erica.”

 
A Tripod: In Use & What Can Be Said?

Yes, Erica’s legs are sexy. Even at full stretch, the frame felt sturdy and strong, ready to take any camera I put atop the plate. Attaching the plate to my camera was a breeze (especially compared to my last tripod). I knew this tripod was going to serve me well.

The tripod is light. Bag, tripod, head and accessories weigh in at about 2kg. I carry more weight in flash gear than this, so I’m more than happy to tote Erica with me wherever I go. Particularly with the comfortable carry-strap that came with the bag.

At a height that is comfortable for me to stand (which is not fully extended for the tripod), especially when using my bag on the spring ballast hook on the bottom of the centre column to lower the centre of gravity, Erica provides rock solid support. An earthquake could hit, and I feel sure the camera would hold steady and true.

3LeggedThing Eric: Top Down View.

3LeggedThing Eric: Top Down View.

One thing I was initially put off by was the locks on the legs. I’ve been used to flip-locks on tripods/light stands for some time. 3LeggedThing’s design utilises a friction dial to lock the legs in place. I now find the friction dials quicker to use than flip-locks, and they hold firm and tight. There is not even a hint of movement when tightened. When loosened, the legs glide through quickly and easily; with spirit levels on the head, finding your tripod level is also relatively easy.

Similarly, the locks around the head only have small screw-heads, rather than something you can really gain some purchase on to tighten. But the screws on the head do not need to be tightened to the extreme for it to be locked into position. Twisting the screw to the ‘lock’ position holds the head in place without fear of your camera flopping to the side. But the screws do feel a tad small at times, and I do find myself fumbling about. But I am sure I will overcome that with more use.

I must also add, one thing I love, is the safety mechanism with the base plate (which I believe is compatible with Black Rapid sling strap systems). To remove from tripod, simply unscrew all the way and it lifts easily. If, for some reason, you didn’t tighten it all the way, if your camera slides, it hits a locking pin and stops your camera from sliding all the way off the tripod to find the ground. Trust me, I know. I tested it by accident. I was very glad of this feature.

The feet of the tripod can be unscrewed (and replaced with spikes if desired), allowing for easy cleaning after a day on the beach amongst the sand. Similarly, most of the tripod can be stripped down for cleaning or maintenance.

The range of uses for this tripod is great. You can extend it tall, to just over 2 metres, through the 4-section legs and 2-section centre column. (Won’t lie, the height makes it great for me to use as a second tall light stand, considering this is taller (and less likely to tip) than my second small light stand.) You can reverse the centre column and hang your camera upside down if you so wish. You can remove the centre column and use the shorter column, lowering your tripod to 135mm for low-angle shooting.

And, on top of this, Erica can be turned into a 1LeggedThing. If you feel like removing a couple of her legs, you can easily change this tripod into an easy-to-manage monopod.

I’ve only had my tripod a few weeks, but I’ve made a point of giving it a pretty intense work out and it feels strong and durable and does exactly what a tripod should. (You know, hold your camera steady.) While, yes, I have had to tighten one leg up once, it was nothing that was unreasonable.

 
Erica / Eric: In Summary

You’d think there’s not much that can be said about a tripod. They’re designed to hold cameras steady, and most do to some extent. 3LeggedThing’s Eric (now Erica) performs this function superbly, plus more. Simply, as far as tripod systems go, it’s a joy to use.

The 3LeggedThing Eric Carbon Fiber Tripod Kit with Black Ball Head is, while perhaps not for your amateur photographer due to price, definitely a should-have for any serious photographer wanting a solid tripod.

Negatives

3LeggedThing Eric + Bag.

3LeggedThing Eric + Bag.

* No instructions. Seems silly (it’s a tripod, holds a camera), but a few things had to be pointed out to me by people in the know or found through experimentation.
* Bright orange on the carry case. This does not allow one to keep gear tucked away discreetly either in the back of a car or in a corner of room if doing event photography. Then again, it DOES stop people tripping over your gear, so there are pros and cons to this.
* I feel the head could either have bigger screws or ‘flat’ screws to allow one to have a better grip on them, particularly the one fastening the base plate (that the camera sits on) to the tripod.

Positives

* Functionality & capability. With other products, within itself, the tripod offers everything needed for me.
* Sturdy tripod for long-exposures / product photography / the odd portrait shoot where I want the camera in the exact spot. Set this tripod up correctly, and it won’t move unless you want it to.
* Monopod capability: perfect if I am doing video work any time.
* Leg locks. Different to what I’m used to, but they are a breeze to use.
* Sexy Carbon Fiber, which, to date, hasn’t marked or scuffed. [Edit: This tripod has now been dropped on concrete (by another photographer) and the legs still remain scuff free.]

Other

* The Allen / Hex keys & centre column tend to rattle in the lid of the case. Fix: Use sticky tape to keep them together.
* One leg became loose. Fix: Use provided tools.
* I felt uncomfortable thinking how sexy the legs were on a tripod named Eric. Fix: Rename tripod Erica.

My model didn't even flinch when I suggested this...

My model didn’t even flinch when I suggested this…

If you are interested in buying an Eric from 3LT, please use this link to go through to the site and place your order.

Originally posted at www.peterbower.com.au


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