All landscape and travel photographers, soon learn that the tripod is as important as the camera. Not all photographers, however, have the same needs: hardly you’ll be able to convince a travel photographer to bring along a heavy aluminum three segments tripod! If years ago it was hard to find a professional solution to this specific need, today the market offers many possibilities.
We will test one of these, and more precisely the one proposed by Rollei: the new “Compact Stativ Traveler No.1 Carbon”, that in this review, both for convenience and for affection after torturing him for a couple of months, we’ll call “Little Boy”.
Little Boy is a tripod which fits in the market landscape and travel photographers who prefer the ease of transportation, without compromising on quality (no, you will never find on my blog review of Hama plastic tripods or similar).
The pack leaves already guess the characteristics that we will read on the Product Data Sheet:
- Weight: 0,98 Kg
- Height when closed: 33 cm
- Maximum height: 142 cm
- Minimum height: 34 cm
- Maximum Allowable Load: 8 Kg
The equipment is very rich because along with the tripod and its manual, we find:
- Ball Head
- Transport bag
- Shoulder strap
- Kit of tools and spare parts
This will be a very welcome surprise.
As we can see in the picture above, the kit contains not only the tools necessary for the complete disassembly of the tripod, but we also find three spare rubber feet which, as you know, are absolutely precious!
Let’s go back to better analyze our Little Boy. After opening from the transport position, we quickly realize some interesting features:
- The tripod has four segments: here is revealed as it does to be so compact when it is closed while ensuring maximum operational height of 142 cm
- All the segments are made of carbon fiber, while all the connecting elements are made of magnesium, which with its very low density and high specific strength make it lightweight.
- Closure of the segments is quick-release lock type: just a little spin on the block and the leg falls as desired; another reverse rotation will block the position. I love this closure, and later we’ll see why.
- The change of the angle of the legs is through “press-release”: this means that by pressing the specific plate, the leg is free. As for most of the professional tripods, are three the positions of use, which vary from about 50° to 180°.
- The central column does not extend in the tripod bottom. This is excellent because is increased the maximum height of use, but is not limited the opening angle of the legs, so that in fact allows to reach the 180°
- At the base of the tripod where the legs are grafted, there is a hook to which you can hang your backpack (or a weight): this is a feature often overlooked, but when you place the tripod on a cliff with a strong wind, think again!
- The rubber feet of the tripod can be removed, and under them, there is a tip.. perfect to fasten the tripod on surfaces such as lawns, where the rubber foot has a limited effectiveness.
- The ball head is ARCA SWISS compatible, making it, in fact, compatible with an almost infinite number of plates if the one included (which is great) for some reason doesn’t please us. In addition, on the head, is grafted a spirit level.. great for people like me who isn’t able to put a horizon straight without help!
- Surprise of surprises: one of the three legs is removable, and it can be mounted directly to the ball head to turn the tripod monopod!!
Beautiful and well made, no doubt … but now let’s see what’s under the hood.
One of the most important (and most underestimated) of a tripod, is its maintainability. One thing that I like about this tripod, is the ease with which it can be completely disassembled. In particular, the leg segments are very easy to disassemble and clean.
After disassembling a leg, we see a feature really amazing: in addition to the Teflon bush to permit the guide and sliding between a leg and the other, there are three seals !! These will prevent the entrainment of sand or other solid particles in the upper leg, thus avoiding scratches and seizures leg!! For how and where I use the tripods, for me only this “dust proof” feature would justify the purchase!
If, in the preliminary investigation, Little Boy is fantastic, on the field is even better. Besides the fact that it can be plugged into a normal backpack or trolley (right: Easyjet and Ryanair ready!), The hand strap on the shoulder makes it really comfortable. Once in the field, the four segments make Little Boy adaptable to any surface: from the rocks to the tight supporting surfaces, I’ve never found a position impossible to solve.
If you think a tripod so small and light it is not suitable to your Reflex, you are making a big mistake: I remind you that the maximum load of the camera + lens allowed is 8 Kg, and this means you can use it safely with a reflex and a medium telephoto lens.
My tests were made with a Nikon D810 and Zeiss Distagon T* 2.8/21mm, and with this configuration Little Boy has proven to be much more stable than expected.
As proof of this, just look at this (probably not very scientific) vibration impulse recording (shot with a finger on one leg) on the tripod: after less than 1.5 seconds, the vibration is completely reabsorbed!
Because a legitimate doubt is the behavior at low temperatures, I ran another of my test (absolutely unscientific): 48h inside my freezer!
The result is interesting, because it brings to light the quality of the materials used: the tripod, albeit completely frozen, it remains usable because, every part is moving regularly: the Teflon guides, allow to the legs of slide smoothly, and the selector of position of the legs of magnesium, does not lock! Even the ball head works and slides perfectly.
The Rollei‘s Compact Stativ Traveler No.1 Carbon is really a surprise from every point of view. Lightweight, compact and reliable: these are the three words that describe better the product. Of course, if you are landscape or naturalist photographer, Little Boy will not replace your usual tripod, but if you are looking for a backup tripod or you are a travel photographer, I can hardly imagine a better purchase!