When it comes to photography equipment, there are many many different pieces of equipment that a photographer should have in their arsenal. One of those pieces of equipment should be a good quality sturdy tripod. A tripod is something I have always wanted to upgrade but sturdy, good quality tripods can be expensive and have been always out of my grasp. Granted, being a student makes it difficult to afford things such as tripods, but that recently changed.
A good quality and sturdy tripod should be able to handle the weight of your camera gear you intend to use with it. A tripod should not sway in a gentle breeze or accidentally collapse on you. It should be made of decent material and hopefully last you a long long time. I do believe that people will need to invest a bit more money into a good quality tripod if they want to ensure it can handle their equipment and have it last for a while. I’ve seen prices of tripods start in the $30 range all the way up to roughly $2,000 range. For the longest time I had a $30 tripod, for the longest time also, I’ve dreamt the day where I would have a good tripod that I would not be embarrassed to bring outside.
“They Came From Stagsden!”
What does Stagsden have to do with Tripods? Well, other than the phrase being a slogan, Stagsden is a small village in Bedfordshire within England; home to the tripod manufacturer 3 Legged Thing. Yes, perhaps a bizarre name for a company but I have found that 3 Legged Thing really know their stuff when it comes to tripods and what photographers want. For more information about the company itself, you can head over to their about page to check them out.
In this particular review, I managed to get my hands on one of their tripods over the Christmas season; the Adrian. One thing that is unique to 3 Legged Thing is how they name their tripod systems. Each name, in my case Adrian, is named after a rock musician. Adrian was named after Adrian Smith of Iron Maiden. The Adrian is part of 3 Legged Thing’s travel tripods series.
X1.1a Adrian – Magnesium Alloy Travel Tripod
So how is a travel tripod different from a regular tripod? Well, usually travel tripods are lighter and more portable. In the case of the Adrian, it is made up of a light-weight magnesium alloy (there is a carbon fiber version called Brian) and can fold up to the small size of 420 mm or approximately 16.5 inches in length. Don’t let that fool you though, the range of the Adrian is from 120 cm (4.7-inches) to 150 cm (59-inches) tall when fully extended. Pretty impressive for something that can easily fit along side your carry-on equipment for airplane travel.
Another unique feature of the 3 Legged Tripods is that they include a handy carrying case for your tripod. There are D-rings that allow you to attach the included shoulder strap, though I am sure you can easily attach it to another camera bag for easier carrying. In the lid or top of the carry case, there is a zippered compartment that you can store things. This is where you will find the extension column as well as 3 included Allan keys for tripod maintenance. The material of the case is rugged and will easily survive most regular environments. A nice place for the tripod to sleep when not in use.
There is Adrian.
Each leg is made up of 5 sections and these leg sections can be easily extended by making use of the twist locks and then pulling down each section. I actually prefer twist locks as opposed to flip locks. I find that twist locks are easier to use and quicker to extend the legs with.
When fully extended, the legs still provide great stability to the tripod. Of course, you would get more stability if you don’t raise the center column. I have also found that with less expensive tripods, the more sections the legs come in, the less sturdy the tripod. That is not the case with Adrian due to his magnesium alloy build. The tripod legs are rated for up to 8 kg (17 pounds) of weight. With this Adrian tripod, the AirHed (AH1) ball-head was included and the ball-head (which I will talk about in a bit) is rated for up to 35 kg (77 pounds). Nice to know the ball-head is rated for some heavy lifting and I find that the rated weight for the legs will be more then enough for me for now.
When you need to get low, the Adrian can go as low as 120mm (4.7-inches). This allows you to get down and low when wanting to do things like macro photography, or perhaps a unique perspective on a landscape. If I were to remove the ballhead from the tripod (above) the camera would be able to get even lower to the ground but then maneuvering the camera into a specific position would be tricky. Though, if you really need to get the lens as close to the ground as possible, you can reverse the ball-head with the center column, like I do below.
Another neat feature of a 3 Legged Tripod, such as this Adrian, is the ability to not only remove the center column, but also flip it upside down. Not all tripods brands allow the removal of their center column let alone being able to attach it upside down. This definitely makes the tripod much more versatile.
Moving the legs to the desired position is easy, especially with the use of their leg position locking tabs. You just slide the tab out, move the leg to the desired position and push the tab back in. Easy peasy!
If you need to make the tripod sturdier. There are a couple of options, one that comes included and another one you can purchase separately.
On the bottom of the center column is a small hook. This hook is connected to a spring for which you can hang something on. You can hang your camera bag (such as I did in the above photo with my Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro) or a sandbag or anything else that might add some more support to the tripod.
The other option, which you can purchase separately, are the feet spikes. These are screwed into the bottom of each of the 3 tripod legs. Just unscrew the rubber feet and screw in the spikes. The spikes can be used in surfaces such as dirt, snow, gravel and more. Since I don’t have the spikes, I just illustrate that you can unscrew the rubber feet.
One last thing I would like to mention about the features of the Adrian travel tripod from 3 Legged Thing is that you can actually unscrew one of the legs and use it as a monopod. I don’t know of any other tripod manufacturer who gives that additional bonus to a photographer. A monopod can be great to use when a tripod is too cumbersome to use, but you still need some stability when you shoot. Sports photography is a prime example where the use of a monopod can help greatly.
AirHed I (AH1)
I briefly mentioned the AirHeadI or AH1. The AH1 is a ball-head that came supplied with my Adrian tripod. It’s the first time I’ve had a proper ball-head, well it’s the first time of having a proper tripod too, though I find it easy to use and position where I need it to be. Their are two knobs, one that controls the panning portion and allows you to swivel the head from 0 to 360 degrees, which is great for panoramics. The other knob allows you to loosen or lock the ball-head in the desired position. I haven’t quite got the knack down yet for the lock on the main knob. It allows you to fine tune the ball-head’s position without having it become to loose and flopping your camera down. I find that smaller turns allows me to make those smaller position adjustments. When trying out the panoramic swivel for the first few times, adjustment took some time to get worked in a bit, but once you use it a bit more, is swivels nicely.
I also found that at one point I could not detach the ball-head from the tripod collar plate. The only way I managed to get it off was but placing the ball-head into the freezer. This helped the two metal surfaces to contract a bit and then I was able to separate the two. This of course was after I loosened the little lock screw that keeps the head onto the plate. The reason for removing the ball-head? I wanted to mount the ball-head to the tripod without the use of the center column. This can give you more stability as it lowers the the ball-head’s center of gravity just that extra little bit.
Once you secure the base of the plate to your camera you can easily slide the plate into position and then lock it down. I found that the Adrian does not come with the proper sized Allan key for securing the plate to the base of your camera, but luckily I have 2 Allan key sets so I just took the appropriate one and added it to the 3 existing Allan keys that come with the Adrian tripod system. You will also notice the bubble level on the side. Small as it is, it can help keep your camera level if needed. When the top plate is removed, you will also see another little bubble level, again this can help level the ball-head prior to placing your camera onto the tripod. There is also another small bubble level on the tripod itself.
There is the included column extension and the 3 included Allan keys. Which, as mentioned previously, can be stored in the top compartment of the tripod bag. The little compartment in the tripod bag can also hold a spare battery or some extra memory cards. It’s always nice to have some extra pockets right?
Other additional accesories you can purchase for a 3 Legged Thing are
- Steel Feet spikes
- Budgie Smuglaz Stonebag (think of it like a small hammock to put things in)
I’ve had the tripod for about probably about 2 months now and absolutely love it. It’s easy to take along, quick to set up and keeps my camera a lot steadier than the $30 tripod I had for years. I love how I can change it around and drop it a few inches off the ground if I want to shoot at a different perspective. The twist-lock feet are easy to use when extending the legs. When I need a little extra stability, just attaching whatever camera bag I currently have with me to the center column hook is awesome too. You can also perform maintenance on it (such as the leg sections), but I haven’t needed to. Nice to know that if I need to, I can get at some of the parts to clean etc.
One of the legs (on this particular tripod) seems to become loose when I fold the tripod out, though a quick tightening of the bolts that hold the legs fixes it. One of the stickers fell off the first day I opened the box that the tripod came out with. I doesn’t matter, as it just says which way to tighten and loosen the ball-head. Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey is all you have to remember. I found it odd that it did not include the proper Allan key for securing the plate to the base of my camera, but since I have two Allan key sets, it was easy to remedy.
Overall, I HIGHLY recommend checking out 3 Legged Thing and their tripods if you’re in the market. They have a range of tripods that would easily suite any need. They have tripods for 4/3rd micro cameras, travel tripods such as my Adrian and more professional tripods with crazy weight load abilities. I myself would love to see one of their Erics living at my house one day.
**Disclaimer: I won my X1.1a Adrian tripod from 3 Legged Thing via a Faceook and Twitter contest they held before the Christmas holidays. I have not been paid in any way to write this review. I wanted to write about my experience with Adrian and how much I have enjoyed using it and how I would, in fact, recommend it to friends and colleagues who are looking for a good quality tripod system.
- Lightweight and Compact
- Easy to setup and use
- Can get low to the ground and reach high in the sky!
- Reversable and/or removable center column
- AirHed1 is a sturdy little ball-head
- Great price point (as of this post ~$200 for tripod and ball-head)
- Twist locks – love them!
- Hanging Hook – can add more stability
- Comes with a cool carrying bag!
- 5 sectioned legs. Less is better, but with a travel tripod it seems the norm
- No Allan key for the camera plate. If you want a tighter fit, you’ll need the proper sized one