Newly-Released: 3POD Economy Portable Tripods for Photo and Video
Flashpoint Announces their New 3POD Line of Economy Tripods with Heads for under $250
By Jeff Foster | December 09, 2013
Adorama's Flashpoint brand introduces a new economy line of portable tripods with heads for photo and video. Ranging from around $100 to $250, these lightweight portables offer flexibility for the hiking photographer or the videographer on the go. Since I've been lugging my 20yr old Bogen steel tripod (boat anchor) around for so long, I was surprised in the results of my testing in how I could see using a few of these in my own workflow in various shooting scenarios; especially the ultra-compact carbon fiber tripod with ballhead.
Video Tripods with Fluid Heads
At around $110 - $140, these two affordable and portable video tripods with fluid heads offer some versatility in their function. In my testing as you'll read below, I'll share with you the strong points of each of these two tripods, as well as the limitations. Bear in mind, these are complete tripod kits with a fluid head - ready to go right out of the bag. Granted, you can't expect the same features and performance of a $1500 Sachtler, but for a portable tripod you can carry in on a hike or use for your B-roll cam, these might just fit the bill without breaking the bank!
Adorama's price as tested: $139.95
This is a fairly sturdy center-brace video tripod for the price and has a remarkable 77" maximum height.
- V2AH Video Tripod
- Fluid Metal Panhead with Sliding Quick-release plate
- Heavy-duty padded carrying case with accessory pocket, adjustable nonslip shoulder strap, and stud-reinforced handles.
- Manual / Mini Toolkit
As with all the 3POD tripods I tested, the V2AH has a padded carrying case which protect it while stored or in transit.
This tripod features quick-tensioning knobs on the legs and an ingenious retainer clip on the bottom that keeps the legs snugly together in storage.
For an economy tripod I was impressed that it features dual leveler bubbles for both the base and the fluid head. Also impressive was the textured powder-coated metal finish on the fluid metal panhead parts and control surfaces.
The 2-way fluid metal panhead is attached by a half-bowl adaptor mount that is adjusted by a center handle underneath. This works adequately, but isn't very smooth to operate. I found it much better to setup before attaching the camera to the quick-release plate, as the added weight makes it difficult to adjust.
Since this is a simple design 2-way fluid metal panhead, the dampening is done with the tensioning lock knobs for both pan and tilt. These did feel like they were either just locking or allowing free movement without a lot of fine-adjustment, no matter what level of pressure I applied to either control. Considering the price of this tripod however, I wasn't expecting it to perform like a higher-end unit and was more interested in the solid build/design features it does have; as well as how sturdy it was under load.
The quick-release plate slides in from the back and has a push-button pin release. However, the position/angle of the plate tensioning knob will hit the base of the camera or anything that sits flush against the plate. I would have hoped for a pull-out repositioning knob in this location to avoid this. However if you can manage to slide the plate forward enough to clear the obstruction, you may be able to flip it on over and tightening it after repositioning.
Flexibility and Stability:
I was however impressed in how stable this tripod is in any height adjustment and whatever DSLR rig I attached to it. I was able to get smooth focus pulls without movement using the Flashpoint DSLR rig with mattebox and follow-focus; even on an uneven earth footing.
With the legs fully-extended to the maximum 77" height and under a normal DSLR rig load, I managed steady lock-off shots and simple pans, even with a 300mm lens.
I can see this tripod being a great addition for events where you would need to get your camera up above the crowd or over fences, brush and other obstacles with this height advantage. I've not had a portable video tripod at any price that would actually raise the camera over my head and I'm 6'-0". Using the Flashpoint 7" LED Monitor with an HDMI cable allows you to easily track your shots at a comfortable level.
I can easily see using the 3POD V2AH Aluminum 3 Section Tripod for a B-roll cam or a lock-off shot at an extended reach. I can't say I'm overly impressed with the performance of the fluid metal panhead operation for pan/tilt as my main tripod in a remote situation. But at the price point of only $139.95, it's sure to provide good solid basic duties for a portable video tripod.
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