3 Legged Thing 'Brian' Tripod Review
X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System with AirHed 1 Black
I recently purchased myself a nice new tripod from the lovely people at 3 Legged Thing and I wanted to do a small review of it for you.
First of all it is important to know what camera system I’m using on it, Fuji X-Pro1 and Fuji X-E2, usually with the 10-24mm lens. So all in all not a massively heavy camera system.
I was using a Manfrotto traveller tripod previously and I really liked it, but it didn’t quite have the height I wanted so I sold it and purchased the 3 Legged Thing ‘Brian’, which seemed to tick all of the boxes.
Height wise it will put the camera just over a foot above my head when fully extended. I’m 5ft 11 and this tripod gives me the sort of height I really wanted and is the main reason I decided to upgrade. It extends at full stretch to 2.04 metres and weighs in at just 1325g.
The design is innovative...
The tripod legs actually fold back on itself to save space, in reality you probably save a few inches over a standard design when folded. If this makes it easier to carry and transport, then I’m all for it.
You can also remove the centre column to use as a monopod, for me I probably have very few occasions that I would need or want to do that, but it’s nice to have the option should I need to.
There is a zip on neoprene cover for one of the upper legs. This just makes it a little more comfy to grip, especially on very cold mornings when even the carbon fiber gets very cold. I think personally it would be nice if there were two, I find I usually end up grabbing a leg that doesn’t have the grip.
The one minor gripe I have with the tripod is when out shooting I tend to just pick up the tripod (camera attached), fold the legs in and sling it on my shoulder to walk to the next spot. Because of the design where the legs fold back over itself, this means when folding the legs whilst using it there nothing stop them! Meaning they can go further than intended which means nothing more than they don’t meet nicely and neatly at the ends. This is perhaps more of an issue for someone with mild OCD, like myself! It just feels slightly awkward and clumsy. After a while you do get used to it a bit but I still feel something could be done with the design to eliminate this problem. There might even be an after-thought solution, perhaps a firm rubberised circle with three cutouts in it, one to attach firmly to the inside of one of the tripod legs and the others (semi circle cut outs) which essentially just catch the other two legs and stop them from going too far.
When using the tripod I found it to be steady enough for my camera although I suspect if I was shooting in very windy conditions in might be different, but I’m sure that is pretty much the same with most carbon tripods. The centre column extends quite a way but I found when fully extended the top thinner section was a tad flexible and I probably would not use it in anything less than perfectly still conditions. I would rather have the option than not though. The tripod is still plenty tall enough (above eye level) without extending that final section. The centre column also has a nice hook which is spring loaded, so you can just pull it down and hang your camera bag to give a bit more stability and centre of gravity, very nice design this.
There is a more sturdy version in their tripod range, the ‘Frank’ model that can take a load of up to 12KG as opposed to 8KG of the ‘Brian’, but I haven’t used this so can’t comment on that.
The legs use the rotating grips rather than clips. They have a grippy rubber coating and are nice to use. At first I would find that they would work loose a bit and find my tripod going slightly wonky. But I think this was more just bedding in the tripod and partly me worried about over-tightening them. I’m now a little firmer with it and don’t have any such issues.
The ball head (AirHead 1) that I ordered with the tripod is excellent once you get used to it. My old Manfrotto had two knobs, one to tighten/loosen the head and another for friction adjustment. This was useful so that you could get the friction amount just right that when loosening the tripod slightly to re-position the camera it wouldn’t suddenly fall forward. I missed this feature on the AirHead at first but I soon got used to the amount needed with the one knob to loosen just enough to re-position and the camera so that it would not fall forward. The head like the tripod seems very well made indeed.
I decided to purchase an L bracket grip fro my Fuji X-E2 which has an arca swiss style plate to it. I purchased this because I often use my camera in cold conditions and having a larger grip was useful when using gloves. The arca swiss plate was also a big pull because it allows access to the battery and card slots without have to remove a tripod plate (which covers the battery and card slot).
I purchased a cheap third party L bracket grip from Amazon for just £30 and wasn’t sure how compatible it would be with the AirHead. The head has a brass pin that locks the plate in to position and I was worried this would cause an issue with the bracket grip. I needn’t have worried as it works just fine and clips in to position within the grip. To remove the camera you have to undo it a fair way and does mean that the brass pin is starting to wear on underside of the grip plate a little. It really isn’t a big deal and the part that is wearing will never be seen in practice.
I little more on that L Bracket Grip here.
I have to say this camera grip has made using this tripod a real joy, I’d highly recommend it for all you Fuji X users.
If you’re not using a grip then you’ll be using the supplied plate which I think is really great, but I know I would miss the little flip up D ring that you use to attach the plate on Manfrotto tripods. The 3 Legged Thing has a slot which you could use a screwdriver or coin. If I was using it more often I think I would be sure to keep a coin in the tripod bag as it would be just my luck to head out to do some landscapes without a single coin in my pocket!
Which brings me on to the tripod bag supplied with the tripod, again, very good quality. It is black and bright blue, a little too bright for my liking if I’m honest, but that’s just personal preference. It is padded and has hard case ends for protection. Also a great little pocket at one end to keep your accessories and the all important coin! A nice comfy straps makes carrying the tripod a breeze.
I also got some accessories with my purchase, some nice shiny steel spiked feet (Heelz) which can replace the rubber ones. Great for sticking in the ground when shooting out in the landscape but not sure about the beautiful wood floor whilst shooting your client’s interior shots! That said they would make an excellent weapon if you should meet anyone unsavoury on your travels!
The other accessory was the curiously named Budgie Smuglaz! This is a device that straps to the tripod legs and you can load it with rocks or whatever you have to hand to weigh it down and make it more sturdy. I’d definitely use the hook for hanging my bag but not sure I would ever use this. But seeing how it really weighs nothing and takes up next to no space it’s probably worth having just in case.
Overall I would definitely recommend the tripod and the company itself, I had a couple of emails with them and they were really helpful and I’m sure if I had any problems they would be happy to help.