You’d think that a good quality, fluid head tripod would be one of the first things a filmmaker would buy. Finding one that supports your camera, that’s lightweight for easy transport and cost effective are the three most important features to look for in a tripod. Adorama has introduced a line of tripods—the 3Pods—that will hold almost anything you might care to place on them. I was given the opportunity to evaluate the 3Pod V2AH aluminum three-section model that’s equipped with a fluid head, and here are my findings.
Adorama 3Pod TripodFEATURES
A tripod has to support your camera and really shouldn’t be too flimsy or heavy in the bargain. Directly out of the box, the V2AH weighs 13 pounds (so it’s relatively easy to carry around) and supports a maximum payload equal to its own weight, making it useful for use with a large majority of the cameras used by shooters today. These include all DSLRs and most anything up to Canon’s EOS C500. The 3Pod is constructed of black anodized aluminum and will extend to a maximum height of 77 inches. Each section locks with a twist (a tension twist knob), and there’s a mid-level spreader to help steady the unit and support the camera’s weight.
The V2AH features something you don’t usually see on inexpensive tripods— two bubble levels. One is on the leg spread collar and the other on the fluid head. The tripod extends and collapses easily and doesn’t have a very large footprint, allowing it to be easily deployed in most shooting locations.
The accompanying fluid head is equipped with a quick release mechanism that attaches to your camera with a standard screw. Drag is easily adjusted for pan and tilt functions. Dampening, drag and counterbalance are described by the manufacturer as “state-of-the-art.” A dual rosette design allows left or right-handed use with a padded handle.
The heavy-duty, padded carrying case that is part of the tripod package has a shoulder strap and is equipped with an accessory pocket for incidentals. The 3Pod V2AH neatly stows to 36 inches to comfortably fit within the shoulder bag.
Some people will say it’s difficult to get excited about tripods, but I’m not in that camp. I’ve never seen two that were exactly the same. A tripod is not just something that supports your camera. It’s an extension of your body when you’re shooting. If it’s too light for the camera, this will show in your end results and your valuable camera could be endangered, as well. If it’s too heavy, it takes too much muscle to carry it around and a small camera is sort of “lost” when perched atop it.
I tried out the 3Pod V2AH with cameras of two weights: a four-pound Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a 24 to 70 mm f-2.8 lens, and Canon’s EOS C100 paired with a 300 mm f-4 lens that altogether weighted in at eight pounds.
I liked the way the tripod’s legs contracted and extended with minimal effort, and, in my opinion, the locking twist knobs do a better job than the types that latch. Nothing is more frustrating than a leg that slowly collapses because it isn’t locked tightly. I’ve used tripods with mechanisms that rotate to lock and latch to lock, but I’ve found the strongest to be the “twist to lock” style that’s found on the V2AH.
It took a few shots to get the drag set right for the larger camera and lens, and the extra payload made me appreciate the 3Pod’s center spreader.
Being a brand new tripod, the unit was initially a bit stiff (I’m used to working with my well-broken-in older workhorse). However, after a few shots with the 3Pod it became more comfortable to use, but there are a couple of things that I wish had been included with the unit: (1) a spreader for the bottom of the tripod which would allow the legs to spread further than the normal 50-inch diameter, thus enabling lower angled shots; and (2) a level with a bubble that’s easier to see. I rely on the bubble level on the head when adjusting the legs and with this unit that involved some amount of craning of one’s neck.
Obviously, no one is going to know which brand of tripod you used to get your shot—but if you aren’t familiar with the tripod you’re using, then your shots aren’t going to be that pleasing.
The best thing about this 3Pod tripod is its $150 price point. (I’ve seen it priced even less in some of the larger New York camera specialty stores.)
It’s really a bargain, as you get a dependable and sturdy tripod with a case and a three-year warranty.
As I mentioned earlier, cheap tripods will telegraph their unsteadiness in the final shot. Over the years I’ve used dozens of tripods, ranging from wooden-legged and geared-head models weighing more than I do, to the newest carbon fiber models that are extremely light and cost a fortune.
You really cannot scrimp on a tripod. With 3Pod’s V2AH you’re getting dependable support for your camera without spending a fortune to do it. I’ve never paid less for a tripod that I have liked as much. That certainly speaks well for the 3Pod.
This is a lightweight tripod that will allow you to achieve the smoothest shots without breaking your bank account.
Chuck Gloman is an associate professor and chair of the TV/Film department at DeSales University. He may be firstname.lastname@example.org.
ENG, EFP and any other general shooting applications with cameras weighing up to 11 pounds
Lightweight, portable, easy to extend and lower, smooth fluid head, easy on the wallet
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