TRAVEL TRIPOD < 1Kg (inc. Levelling / Pano head)b

Started Jan 23, 2021 | Discussions
Richard B99 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,661
TRAVEL TRIPOD < 1Kg (inc. Levelling / Pano head)b

Still stuck in lockdown here in the UK so the obvious thing to do was sort out my ‘definitive’ travel tripod.  As we get so many questions on this here, I thought I’d share here.  😉

‘Definitive’ for me was:

- lightweight (reasonably) or at least lighter than what I used to travel with!
- decently stiff sticks (I have these already in the form of a Gitzo Traveller GT1542T.  It’s quite a few years old now and has done a good bit of the world with me (remember travelling?) and they last so well.  I’m not about to buy anything new but could I go lighter all up?).  
- not too long.  The Gitzo, fully folded is 415mm long (16 3/8” old money) so that’s minimum I could do but that’s fine for me anyway.  I can do shorter with a table top model but want taller in use.  
- a head that can be levelled and then pan on the level.  My go to head here has been the Arca P0 but can I do better on weight here?

- still fold up decently compact.

So my solution all came out of stuff I had.  Thus it was free - except of course for the expensive stuff I’ve already amortised over use in the last few 5 years or so 😀

Here’s what I did:

1) Take the centre column and the disc that sits on top of the column.  This tripod (and many similar) allow for this so the tripod can be used very low level. 
2) Replaced the Disc with a 3/8” thread female knurled alloy nut.  This is lighter than the Original disk but importantly has a narrower diameter and allows the legs to fully fold back.  With the original disc, they can’t.  A fixing is still needed to hold the 3/8” / 1/4” head screw for the head and to connect up to the legs properly. 
3) Head. Well, yes, I had this too.  A Mengs FBC-20.  This I really like as it’s tiny, light, clamps securely and without movement when tightening.  It’s also a proper levelling/pano head with a built in Arca clamp.  In other words, a micro P0!  With the Disc removed as noted above it can flip sideways and do the normal portrait mode holding of the body without hitting the disc or tripod.

Screwed together the tripod and head weigh 954g with a length folded of 415mm and max height in use of 1195mm (47”) to the clamp. That a very workable compromise for me when travelling and aiming for min weight and full utility.  I did have the bits but others can do similar to create a very useful travel tripod that is better than obvious out of the box options. Have fun.

Weight and full folding with head in place.

Mengs head mounted on the replacement ‘rhumb screw base’

Very usable portrait mode too.

PS. The Peak Design is, for comparison. 390mm folded and 1290 g with a working height (no column) of 1302mm

MVDH
MVDH Senior Member • Posts: 1,270
Re: TRAVEL TRIPOD < 1Kg (inc. Levelling / Pano head)b

Nice one - thanks for sharing. How do you like the head?

I have a lightweighttravel tripod that weight 940 gram including head: Leofoto LC-224C + Sunwayfoto FB-28i ballhead. I got this tripod as lighter alternative to my Gitzo Mountaineer tripod with purpose for lightweight hiking and backpacking trips.

I find the lightweight tripod useable with a light camera lens, but it is a compromise. For a next trip I will consider to take my beloved Gitzo Mountaineer GT1542 with Markins Q3 ballhad. The Gitzo is so much more stable and has much better working height - and apart from that I very much prefer the overall handling. The Gitzo works perfect in every way. But it weight 700 gram more...

 MVDH's gear list:MVDH's gear list
Sony a6500 Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS Sony FE 70-200 F4 Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony FE 20mm F1.8G
OP Richard B99 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,661
Re: TRAVEL TRIPOD < 1Kg (inc. Levelling / Pano head)b

MVDH wrote:

Nice one - thanks for sharing. How do you like the head?

I have a lightweighttravel tripod that weight 940 gram including head: Leofoto LC-224C + Sunwayfoto FB-28i ballhead. I got this tripod as lighter alternative to my Gitzo Mountaineer tripod with purpose for lightweight hiking and backpacking trips.

I find the lightweight tripod useable with a light camera lens, but it is a compromise. For a next trip I will consider to take my beloved Gitzo Mountaineer GT1542 with Markins Q3 ballhad. The Gitzo is so much more stable and has much better working height - and apart from that I very much prefer the overall handling. The Gitzo works perfect in every way. But it weight 700 gram more...

I like the head a lot.  In theory such a small head really shouldn’t be that good but it’s very smooth, the ball clamp is nice and progressive and the ball doesn’t shift as it’s tightened or move when it’s on.  It will flip to portrait so that’s good and the panning control works well to.  And it’s cheap.  I’m very happy to have it on the Gitzo which is, admittedly, in quite a different price league.  I can’t vouch that every one of these heads is so good - it’s possible I got a good one.

MVDH
MVDH Senior Member • Posts: 1,270
Re: TRAVEL TRIPOD < 1Kg (inc. Levelling / Pano head)b

Really Right Stuff has a similar mini ballhead, the BPC-16, but I found EURO 240 a bit to crazy to give it a try. The one you have is about 15% of the price on amazon, I might have to give it a try.

 MVDH's gear list:MVDH's gear list
Sony a6500 Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS Sony FE 70-200 F4 Sony E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony FE 20mm F1.8G
OP Richard B99 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,661
Re: TRAVEL TRIPOD < 1Kg (inc. Levelling / Pano head)b

MVDH wrote:

Really Right Stuff has a similar mini ballhead, the BPC-16, but I found EURO 240 a bit to crazy to give it a try. The one you have is about 15% of the price on amazon, I might have to give it a try.

Hmm. Looks very similar or near enough identical.  $168 in USA.  Near unobtanium pricing and no real promotion in Europe.  I didn’t even know RRS did something like this.  No wonder they suffer copying!

bpatient Contributing Member • Posts: 536
Re: TRAVEL TRIPOD < 1Kg (inc. Levelling / Pano head)b
2

MVDH wrote:

Really Right Stuff has a similar mini ballhead, the BPC-16, but I found EURO 240 a bit to crazy to give it a try. The one you have is about 15% of the price on amazon, I might have to give it a try.

The Mengs head (and the apparently identical Leofoto head, plus some others that might be made in the same shop) are nearly identical copies of the RRS BPB-16. Other similar RRS knock-offs are available too.

One important difference between the copies and the RRS original: the RRS ball and stem are made of case-hardened steel, while the ball and stem structures of the copies are apparently made of aluminum. I'm not an engineer or materials scientist, but I suspect that a thin bit of aluminum might be more likely to stress fracture or fail under load than a similar bit of hardened steel--and that RRS might have used a stronger material for reasons other than that it's both heavier and more costly.

I can't find it again, but I did come across one post in which it was claimed that the knock-off failed at the tripod attachment--and the camera just fell off. (I think it was a Shinewee.)

I decided to pass on the copies (although the Sunwayfoto PMB-18--with a bit larger ball than the others and a thicker stem, but a similar aluminum base--might be well worth $35 for use with a lightweight camera), and I'm still undecided about the BPC-16.

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