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In my work as a documentary photographer I use my tripod a lot. I do have cameras that can handle low light and high ISO, but a tripod is still very important to me. This is mainly due to two reasons; with a tripod I can create effects, for instance by using a slow shutter, that is impossible without a tripod. And when even the most light sensitive camera have problems to capture what I want, I can put it on a tripod and extend the shutter speed just a bit, and suddenly an otherwise useless image will be just perfect.
Therefore, everywhere I go on assignments, I always bring a tripod. Recently I got to learn about Fotopro tripods, and on my last assignment to Indonesia, I brought Fotopro’s L-74L with me.
My first impression was good, because the tripod is surprisingly light (including the integrated ball head!!). And despite the low weight the tripod is tall and, more important, it is very stable and strong! Impressive!
New equipment always takes a few try’s before it feels comfortable. I did test the tripod before I left home, but it is not really before you use for real, you really know how it works. At first I was a bit skeptical to the quick fasten-and-release system which mounts the camera to the tripod. What if I did not screw the platform knob properly, which can happen in stressed situations, would the camera then risk to slid off the whole thing?
So I tried a few times, but there is a track on the platform with a screw, that actually keeps the camera secure, even if the platform knob is not screwed tightly on. This is great, just in case that screw should loosen up during shooting (however this did not happen even once during my three-week assignment).
There are several nice details on the tripod that I discovered during my assignment, but there is specially one that I never tried before; the lower second ball head, between the tripod and the top ball head. This is not a real ball head and therefore not so flexible as the top one, but when I had my camera in position and just needed to adjust it a bit more, the smaller ball head was perfect. I used this a lot.
My assignments take me to places that can be rather harsh on the equipment, and this time I went deep into the jungles of Borneo. Humid, wet, muddy; absolutely no problem for the tripod. Next, I went on to a volcano on Java. Acid fumes down in the crater and sharp rocks. No match for the tripod whatsoever. In this environment I also got to test the titan spikes on the tripods feet. Worked very good even on the hard rocks. And the rubber feet never got off accidentally when I didn’t need the spikes (like I have experienced before with another tripod I had).
Under an assignment in the Amazon region of Peru, I needed to make my bags as small and light as possible. I knew my mission would involve traveling in small, narrow boats, with local, shared taxies, often full of people and therefore with limited space for luggage. And on top of that; walking in jungles and swamps, often without trails, carrying all my stuff on my own shoulders.
But at the same time; my reason for entering the jungle was to take photos. And one thing I knew that I needed was a tripod. The jungle is dark, and the goldminers I wanted to take photos of, work all night. And the small creeps that inhabits the rainforest, which also was on my list of subjects to photograph, are best seen during the dark hours.
So I brought with me Fotopro’s X-GO PLUS/FPH-52Q tripod. This tripod weighs only 1, 5 kg – including head, the legs and the tripod-bag - and when put together it becomes just a small, compact package that easily fits in my luggage. Perfect since I needed to make my bags small and light, but would it be good enough for my work? I did need a tripod that would be able to support a DSLR attached with a macro lens and a macro flash.
But as soon as I started to work with the tripod, I discovered that as long as I was careful and treated my equipment according to it’s size and ability, it worked perfect. In fact, I will admit it was surprisingly stabile considering its size and weight.
What surprised me even more was the ability to adjust the tripod in all kinds of angles.
In one case I needed to put my camera into a hole in the ground, to photograph a tarantula. I changed the tripod to a monopod, attached the camera and pushed it in to the hole.
This is a real “transformers” tripod, and perfect on assignments where I need to minimalize my luggage without losing too much of the tripods stability.