My old tripod was the cheapest full size tripod I could find one day when I walked into Wolf Camera (Ritz). It was fairly light, but mostly because it was made out of crappy materials and could not handle much weight on the top. It also could not lay flat and let the camera point straight down, which was a bummer for doing product photography for ebay and my website. Before my Costa Rica trip, I decided to upgrade and the end result was a Triopo C258KJ2 Tripod.
I checked Frys, BH, Adorama, and all the other usual suspects for a decent tripod at a good price, and kept on seeing what I wanted at around $200. That was a little steep for me, so I kept looking. Along came Newegg to the rescue when I was looking for some other parts I wanted for the trip. A seemingly high quality tripod for $70? I was skeptical, but took the plunge thanks to the glowing reviews.
Here are some quick specs from Newegg:
Max Load – 18 lbs.
Max Height – 50″
Max Height w/Column – 58″
Min Height – 13″
Leg Sections – 4
Closed Length – 20″
Column Type – Rapid
Column Diameter – 1.1″
Material – Titanium-alloy
Weight - 3.2 lbs.
It came in a few days before the trip, so I was able to play with it before relying on it for a week in another part of the world. The first impression was actually bad, since it had a very strong petrochemical smell from the foam padding on the legs. I left it in the laundry room outside of the carrying bag so it could hopefully air out before the trip.
Every impression after that initial smell faded (it was mostly gone before we left) was very positive. The weight of the tripod with the head and carrying bag was around 5 lbs, which was not too much to sling it over my shoulder on day hikes. The manufacturer lists the material as a titanium alloy, which I am skeptical about at this price point, but it was definitely a lightweight tripod compared to others that could handle 18 lbs. The carbon fiber ones are lighter, but they are also $300-400.
The tripod was very stable, even in a steady wind and with 30 second exposures. The quality was very high, with all parts looking well made and feeling substantial and durable while still lightweight. The bag was not the greatest I have ever seen, but it held the tripod well and was relatively comfortable when slung over my shoulder.
Now for the nitty gritty details and pictures:
The tripod had four sections on each leg, which made the closed length was around 20″. The ball head added another few inches, but could be rotated down to reduce the overall length. The tripod with the ball head attached fit inside the carrying bag with no problem.
The ball head actually weighed close to a pound by itself, but that was because it was made out of metal and was very substantial and well made. It rotated quickly and easily into almost any angle you could need and locked into place using a latch on the side. The lock was very solid and you would have to put a significant amount of force into moving the camera out of place while the head was locked.
The attachment plate was also metal, with a large flat head screw on the bottom so it could be tightened onto the camera mount tightly enough to keep it from moving at all. The plate had rubber on the camera side to keep the underside of the camera from becoming scratched. I tended to just leave the plate on the bottom of the camera to save myself some grief when I needed to use the tripod.
The lever to remove the attachment plate would snap into place when opened, so you would not have to hold it open to reattach the camera. Once the plate was reattached, it depressed a small button that snapped the lever back into place. The lever also has a small switch to lock it into place to prevent accidental release.
The legs are unlocked with a pull tab at the top of each leg and the ball head has a slot on one side to allow the camera to point down. This feature is great for taking pictures of small items, like a lot of the items I sell on ebay and my store. Of course, I was too lazy to set the tripod up for the current offerings on the site, but I could do it someday if I wanted to!
Extending the upper portion of the tripod is quick and easy, using a twist lock above the legs.
Fully extended, the tripod has a height of 58″, which is plenty for most photographers.
Another nice feature is the hook on the underside of the tripod that allows you to attach your camera bag or other weighted object. The idea is to increase the stability of the tripod in windy weather, but it was also nice to have the camera bag off my back and off the ground.
Each leg has a metal spike on the bottom with a rubber piece around it that can be screwed up or down to increase the amount of spike protruding.
The manufacturer’s claim of 3.2 lbs for the tripod itself was fairly accurate. On my scale, the tripod, ball head, and bag weighed in at 4 lbs 13 oz. Without the bag, the weight was right at 4 lbs. Without the ball head, the weight was 3 lbs 5 oz.
Overall, I am very happy with the tripod and would definitely recommend it to someone else in the market. I had the opportunity to mess with a carbon fiber Velbon and a Manfrotto with similar features while in Costa Rica and just did not see enough on them to justify their higher prices to an amateur photographer like myself. The price of the Triopo is right, the quality is high, and the weight is low.