Top critical review
Good for the price, but it is not without its quirks... Oh wait, a leg fell off. :(
on April 25, 2014
My original review:
I would like to give this a 3.5 stars instead of 3, because it is better than "OK", but there are some things that keep me from really "liking" it. Also, I have held off on writing this review for about 5 months since I always want to use an item quite a bit before I review its function.
The things I like:
1. This is a good tripod that can be had for a little over a hundred dollars depending on the time of sale.
2. The ball head on this one is a lot better than the head on the ZX600B103 - its my favorite part of this tripod.
3. Overall, the tripod is pretty sturdy with the carbon fiber legs and is not all that heavy when hiking around with it.
4. I use the carrying case all the time, so that is a great plus as well.
5. I love being able to loosen all the legs at once, and feel that the smoother profile of the twist locks is more my style than the lever locks.
6. the counter weight hook is very useful for windy or precarious scenarios (just be sure to have the weighted object sit on the ground; do not let it hang in the wind or it will sway the tripod with it!)
7. Good "bang for buck"
1. The tightening knob on the quick release was very stiff and was very close to the bottom of my camera, making it hard to secure using my fingers. That said, I pulled it apart and yanked out the springs in it (that are surprisingly stiff!) and put it back together with no springs and it worked much better to secure it. More recently, I replaced them with some much softer springs from a clicky-pen which is perfect now.
2. The plate that secures the quick release would catch a little with tightening it, so I added a little bit of grease to that, and with the softer springs it works amazing.
3. The tension on the screws holding the legs in place need constant adjusting. I think I might put a little thread lock on them to keep them in place once I find a sweet spot for tension
4. After setting the ball head at an angle, it tends to sag quite a bit warranting adjustment. This is expected for a ball head in this price range, so is far from a deal breaker.
The things I don't like (note that all of them surround the center column):
1. The images online show a short column, which this does not have. I almost returned it just for that alone, since I was banking on the short center column. I don't really see the point of having the legs go parallel to the ground if the center column is so long that it cant be lowered all the way. This prevents the tripod from going down to ground level. I am bummed because the image on Amazon is not true to the function of the tripod (shows a short column option).
2. The center column is made such that the twist lock needs to be extremely tight to prevent the center column from having a lot of rotational slop to it (it holds vertically just fine). The reason for this is that the center column uses a tongue and groove mechanism with the groove is on the center column and the tongue is on the tripod base. The problem is that the tongue is much narrower than the width of the groove leaving a lot of rotational slop. I figured I could get around this by just tightening the twist locker on the center column, but even with the twist lock extremely tight, I can still rotate the whole center column with relative ease. This means that If I want to keep the image fixed on one point, I have to be very careful not to bump the camera so that the center column does not rotate inside the base of the tripod. Its hard to explain, and is a lot more of a pain than I imagined it would be... Could be a problem with just my copy though.
Update - up to 4 stars
I contacted Amazon regarding the lack of short center column and they offered me a $20 rebate since it did not come with one (yet was advertised in the pics). I will be buying a new center column from Dolica and shorten it so that I can have a short center column as well. This customer service has been
Update 2 (6/1/2014) - down to 3 stars
One of the legs has fallen off. Looks like the glue that holds the ring-lock fastener to the carbon fiber portion has failed. I would have dropped the rating down to 2 stars, but Dolica was prompt with their shipment of a new leg to replace it. That said, I am quite disappointed that the leg has failed so soon. I really wanted to like this tripod given the great price. However, even at a low price it cannot work for me if one of the legs is broken. Looks like I will be selling this tripod and taking a loss. I just want something a bit more reliable for those times that I need my tripod to work for me. For those weekend warriors with light gear, this would be a valuable tool, I am sure!