Customer Review

247 of 249 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A whole lotta tripod for the money., April 23, 2011
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This review is from: Ravelli APGL4 New Professional 70" Tripod with Adjustable Pistol Grip Head and Heavy Duty Carry Bag (Camera)
I'm 6' 3" tall, and needed a tall, stable tripod. After reading positive reviews on Amazon, I decided to take a chance on the Ravelli APGL4.

PROS:

1) very sturdy and stable
2) capable of extending tall enough for an NBA player to use
3) well-designed panhead is quick to adjust, and holds position securely
4) all metal construction
5) adjustable tension leg locks hold legs securely
6) two instant-release mounting plates
7) very versatile
8) reversible column
9) 3 bubble levels on panhead
10) includes Allen wrenches for adjustment
11) low cost

CONS:

1) not ready to use right out of the box - loose screws & other minor
assembly glitches easily fixed with a screwdriver & Allen wrenches
2) screws are made of a softer metal than they should be.
3) a few screw heads were deformed by assembly at the factory
4) funky smell from manufacturing
5) somewhat heavy
6) graphite lubricant on the ball of the panhead can come off on your hands
7) included bag is flimsy
8) included free mini-tripod too flimsy for DSLR. (but it's a freebie, so..)

SUMMARY:

I bought the Ravelli APGL4 at Amazon for around $75. ($85 with
shipping) According to the website, it has a list price of $399.95. I
seriously doubt that. But I can say that it's a downright smokin' deal
for $85.

Other reviewers recommended going over the tripod before using it and
tightening screws, and making adjustments. In my opinion, this is a
necessity. On mine, some screws were loose, and leg-lock tension was
very uneven. Luckily, this is an easy fix, as the tension of each
leg-lock is easily adjustable via an Allen screw. One of the leg-locks
operated kind of wonky... The lever wanted to twist to the side when
closing. I quickly discovered it was due to a loose screw at the
leg-lock's pivot. A quick twist of the screwdriver was all that was
needed to restore it to working properly.

There was another odd glitch in assembly. One of the balls that the
rubber feet attach to was screwed on upside down. Because of this,
the rubber foot wouldn't fully extend to the lowest position. Using a
crescent wrench, I popped off the rubber foot & unscrewed the mounting
bolt & reversed the ball. Another easy fix.

When adjusting & tightening the screws, you might be better off using
quality Allen wrenches rather than the ones supplied. The included
wrenches work, but the steel is probably softer than a quality tool
from a hardware store. Don't over-tighten the screws or strip out the
screw heads, either. They're made of a softer steel than they should
be, so it's easy to do. That said, once they're tightened up properly,
I'm sure they'll hold securely.

Once everything was tightened and tweaked, I mounted both included
quick-release mounting plates to my two camera bodies, and set up the
tripod, which is very quick to do.

First, I set it up with the legs fully extended and put some body
weight on it. It was unyielding. So I pressed down harder. Still no
give. I wound up putting A LOT of weight on the tripod to check it's
load handling capacity & the strength of the leg-locks, and there was
only a very slight amount of bowing on the lowest leg sections, and the
leg locks held their grip. I was probably putting about 50 lbs. of
downward pressure on it at that point, so a little leg-bowing at
the bottom was expected.

Mounting the camera to the head took about a second. It was a snap. I
like the mounting plates on this tripod much better than some of the
other quick-release systems. Instead of putting one edge into a
groove, lowering the other side of the camera, and locking it in with
a flip lever like most others, this one is more straightforward, in my
opinion. You slide the camera onto the head, like you would slide a
flash onto a hotshoe. It instantly locks into place. A quick turn of
the lock-knob on the side of the panhead securely mates the camera to
the socket, preventing an accidental dismount. When it comes time to
remove the camera, unlock the knob and press the lock button while
sliding the camera out. It's a piece of cake.

This is my first pistol-grip panhead, and I wasn't sure how I'd like
it. As it turns out, it's pretty awesome. It's made of a dense cast metal,
with steel lock lever, and 3 bubble levels. Construction quality of
the head seems good, and it has a good, solid feel and smooth
operation. Aiming the camera is a snap. Squeeze the lever, aim the
camera, and let go. Once you let go of the lever, the head is locked in
place very securely, exactly where you want it. There's also an adjustment
screw for the amount of tension on the ball. It's a well-thought out design,
and should suit my needs very well.

By the way, the panhead is identical to the Kruger Optical model 6530
head, which sells at Amazon, for roughly the same price at this entire
package.

The rest of the tripod (except maybe the screws) is made of
reasonably durable materials, too. The legs are very rigid,
and everything is metal, except for the rubber feet and the plastic
balls on which they pivot. I really like the adjustable-tension leg locks.
Instead of tossing the tripod when your leg locks loosen from wear,
a quick tweak of the screw is all that's needed to restore performance
to like new. The metal leg-lock levers seem pretty heavy duty, and
look like they will stand up to many years of use.

With the camera mounted, this thing is rock-solid. There's no flex
anywhere. Even when the column and legs are fully extended, it's quite
stable. I have no qualms about mounting my camera and a monster
telephoto lens to this thing. I don't think it's going anywhere.

Since the column is reversible, and each leg has a quick-adjust angle
lock at the top that allows you to move each leg out to crazy-low
angles at the press of a button, you should be able to aim your camera
to about any position imaginable. Plus, there's also a screw
protruding from a removable slug on the bottom of the column. This
could come in very handy for hanging a weight off of the column for
improved stability, (not that you'd need to...) hanging a light of
some sort, or whatever.

If you're planning on doing a lot of hiking with a tripod, this one
might not be for you. It's got some weight. But that only adds to it's
stability. For me, stability is the big factor in a tripod, and since
I'll usually take it to my destination in a car & carry it maybe a few
hundred feet to where I'm going to shoot, It's not an issue for me.

I've checked out some of the much pricier Manfrotto tripods in camera
shops, and they are a very well-built piece of kit. They're admittedly
assembled with more care, to tighter tolerances, and they're probably made
of better stuff. That said, tweaking and tightening things up on this
Ravelli tripod goes an awful long way to bridging the quality gap.
Sure, the Ravelli is a Manfrotto ripoff... But it's a fairly good one.
As far as doing the basic job of being a solid, stable camera platform,
I can't tell much difference between the Ravelli and the Manfrottos.
Only time will tell if the Ravelli will hold up to years of use, but from what
I've seen so far, I'm optimistic that it will.

For me, the 300 bucks or so that I saved was worth 20 minutes spent
with a screwdriver and an Allen wrench.

BOTTOM LINE: If you're willing to spend a little time tweaking it up,
and you don't mind packing a little extra weight, I'd recommend the Ravelli
APGL4 heartily. It's hard to imagine getting a more solid, flexible tripod for
anywhere close to it's price.
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Comments

Tracked by 2 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 8, 2011 4:06:40 PM PDT
Hal 9000 says:
One of the best Amazon reviews I've ever read.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 9, 2011 7:57:54 AM PDT
P Mason says:
Agree, fantastic review. I purchased on last year. The only issue I've had is a recent development and it is the pistol grip is no longer stationary, it is very fluid. Have you ever encountered this? And if so, what did you do to solve the problem? Thank you.

Posted on Jan 2, 2012 1:44:06 PM PST
Dave206 says:
dumb question, can this tripod shoot in potrait? thx

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 29, 2012 4:16:47 PM PDT
M. Grubert says:
You can tilt the ballhead to ca. 45 degrees in any direction.
There is one notch in the ballhead which allows you to go to 90 degrees (portrait orientation).

Posted on Jul 14, 2013 12:25:23 PM PDT
Mr Van says:
Fantastic review. I was about to write a review of my own, but you took the words right out of my mouth.

Posted on May 11, 2014 10:21:05 AM PDT
HeTiCu says:
Awesome review. Thanks! I am about to significantly accelerate my photo hobby and my Quantaray Titan II that I've had for many years is really starting to annoy me. No matter how tight I crank on the forward tilt, it still slips with my 75-300mm lens on. This Ravelli APGL4 sounds precisely what I was looking for, especially with the depth of your review. Thanks!

Posted on May 21, 2014 2:00:21 PM PDT
Milton says:
After reading your review a couple of months back, I pulled it out and followed your maintenance instructions. I had a loose screw, and I adjusted the leg tension as instructed as it was needed. I have used it extensively since, and I very much appreciate the time you took to share your expertise. This is a great tripod for field use with a heavy camera.

In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2014 2:25:56 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 21, 2014 2:27:10 PM PDT]
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Location: Iowa, USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 66,208