DONT PANIC! I have not gone mad, I have no intention of replacing my lovely Vinten tripods and nor do I wish to use this ridiculously cheap Chinese tripod to replace the pro tripods I normally use. But I have the need for a tripod that is smaller and lighter than the ones I currently use, a tripod that is in effect “disposable” in so much as I can take it on an overseas shoot and leave it behind if I need to. For example when I go to Norway for the Northern Lights shoots we travel by snow scooter and anything I can do to reduce the weight and bulk of the kit the better, so this tripod may end up spending the winter in Norway while I travel back and forwards between December and March. I picked it up in Hong Kong, it cost me about £100 GBP. You can get them on ebay and all over the place.
For 100 quid this is actually rather impressive. It’s rated for a payload up to 7kg, but in my opinion it’s only really suitable for about 2.5kg, but that makes it suitable for a “naked” FS100, FS700 or EX1/PMW-200. It’s almost entirely made from aluminium, there is very little plastic. It appears reasonably well made and is surprisingly sturdy. The legs are 3 stage alloy legs that extend to about 1.6m, there are two versions of the legs, mine are the short version. There is a fixed mid level spreader that cannot be removed or adjusted, but it works quite well. The ends of the legs just have a simple rubber cap on the end, no spikes or twin spikes so fitting a floor spreader might be difficult. A simple twist lock lever locks each stage of the legs. When I purchased my tripod one of these twist locks did not tighten enough to securely lock the legs, but this was cured in about 15 seconds by removing a little plastic cover from the lever, removing a screw and rotating the leaver 1/5th of a turn on it’s spigot and replacing the screw. At the top of the legs there is a 60mm bowl. This is a non-standard size, so most other tripod heads won’t work with these legs.
The tripod head as a 60mm ball and is solidly constructed, it even has a fixed rate counterbalance spring. There is a drag adjustment for tilt, but not for pan. The tilt and pan action is smooth and fluid and the drag levels reasonable for smaller cameras. In addition you can lock both the pan and tilt axis. The camera is attached to the tripod head via a sliding quick release plate, it’s even supplied with both 1/4″ and 3/8″ screws! The pan bar is telescopic and extends but the extension part is a little loose on the fixed part and this can introduce a bit of slop and small jerks to you otherwise smooth camera moves.
Frankly I’m amazed by this tripod. If your in the market for something very cheap, maybe for a small “B” camera or as a backup you really should consider this one. For the money, it appears to be one hell of a tripod. It isn’t in the same class as a Vinten, Miller, Sachtler etc and I have no idea how long it will last, but it’s a lot better than any other £100 tripod that I’ve seen previously.