Most helpful critical review
119 of 124 people found the following review helpful
Edited and upgraded score - It's OK, not great. Not good enough to keep using.
on August 14, 2011
I was fairly impressed with this tripod on arrival. I had never heard of Ravelli, but the overall grades and comments were good, and the bang for the buck aspect was being touted by many reviewers, so I went for it, trying to avoid paying extra for one of the premium brand names. Sometimes that works, sometimes not. The tripod obviously works well for others, I only speak for myself.
It does come across as being sturdy, and uses solid, metal parts. The initial "fragrance" mentioned in many reviews strikes me as being that of machine oil, and the smell is there and it seems appropriate to this item. The tripod has an industrial character to it, with a sort of clunky competence, at first. I unpacked the unit and set it up outside for a few days, along with the bag, and the smell diminished. It's now pretty much gone after a few weeks. That was not a significant issue to me.
I've used it now for around 500 shots. I was thinking that it might be a long term thing, but yesterday AM, I was doing some sunrise and early morning shots and I realized that in portrait set up with the pistol grip on it's side, my Pentax K-5 with a Pentax 55-300mm zoom, was too much weight, (!?), for the ball joint and the weight of the lens was twisting it down. The ball joint was not holding it stable and in position, which is what a tripod does, usually. I guess I could see it losing it's grip over time, (a long time, hopefully), but it's brand new and as "grippy" as it will ever be. I tried to tighten the various Allen screws on the grip, (they weren't loose), and decided I couldn't really depend on it to hold position.
When I was packing the stuff back into the car, I undid the plate from the camera body, and the screw fell out of the plate. I looked at the spare plate, and there's a washer that holds the screw in place so it doesn't fall out of the plate, but the washer had bailed out on the one plate which I had used, and thus, the screw was loose. None of this stuff was used harshly.
I get the feeling that Ravelli wants to provide good value here, and they're close, but from a practical perspective, I can't say that I'm pleased with the product. They should save the money on the mini tripod, (not that they will save a lot), and put it into R&D on a better pistol grip. If I wanted a mini tripod, I'd buy one. It's a nice gesture of goodwill, but irrelevant to the utility of the primary tripod, which was my only priority. Now I've got to see about a refund, and start shopping again.
UPDATED - ONGOING EXPERIENCE: Per the suggestion of Sergei, another user of this tripod, (see comments), I found the Allen screw that he mentioned, and adjusted it, and it made a difference in the grip of the ball joint. And it wasn't a matter of just tightening the screw until it wouldn't turn anymore. When I did that, it locked the ball, even when the tension trigger was pulled, so test as you tighten to find the optimal spot. I could move it, twisting with both hands initially, and now I can't. Maybe if I put it in a vise and tried to move it, that would be possible, but it feels strong. Since that was my main gripe, I have increased the grade to 3 stars. The tripod, and head, functions as it should. I still think that "clunky competence" is a valid description. It does what it's supposed to do after some fiddling. The price is OK for the sturdiness of the item. The plate still came apart, and I don't know if the second plate will stay together as I haven't used it yet, and I may not have a chance, as I went a different route with the ball head.
I did buy the Vanguard GH-100 Pistol Grip Ball Head as a replacement, and, for me, I think that will be a good combination. That head costs as much as the Ravelli tripod in total, but it's a more sophisticated piece of equipment, with more finesse and position adjustments, and it fit on the Ravelli legs using the 3/8" screw hole on the pistol grip. There is also a 1/4" screw hole option on the pistol grip. If I was starting over, I'd look for a $100 set of tripod legs and get the Vanguard pistol grip. But if $100 is the limit, the Ravelli works, but with some rough edges.
Don't lose the included Allen wrenches, and keep the packing list in case you need to contact the vendor/manufacturer about any anomalies.