I’ve been on the hunt for a new tripod for some time now, because I’m 6’4" I have a hard time finding a tall enough tripod. I got frustrated and put together this spreadsheet which has really helped me narrow down my choices and may help others too. I have it sorted by the max height without a center column.
For what I want, it looks like the RRS TVC-24L is the best all around option if money were no object, it’s tall, light, and a quality product, but very expensive. The Oben CT-2491 is by far the best bang for the buck, especially considering it’s on sale for $300. I actually had this for years and now Jen is using it now, it’s a decent tripod and I may get another at this price.
Is there anything I’m missing? I really want something that is around that 60" or higher without the center column.
Hey David, I have the TVC-24L Mk2 (without a center column) and it is thoroughly awesome. I’m 6’0" and at its highest it goes higher than I can comfortably use if I’m on level surface with it, so I know it would work great for you. Even at that height it feels extremely stable. It’s heavier than my gitzo travel tripod of course, but I still took it backpacking (which may have been a bad idea for my spine/muscles but I did use its height…).
One of my favorite features of the Mk2 is that there are rubber O-rings on all of the twist locks that do a fantastic job of keeping debris out of the threads. After a sandy/salty/dirty shoot I just untwist the locks and remove debris from around the rings with a brush and that’s it; whereas with my old tripod I’d tediously disassemble, scrub, and regrease each twist lock each trip and the threads still slowly got damaged. For example in DV I was in the middle of blowing sand for an hour or two and there was pretty much no sand in the threads themselves. I think that that one feature alone will greatly extend the lifespan of the tripod. I guess what I’m saying here is that although it was crazy expensive, I think it’s worth every penny. Maybe other tripods have that feature.
This chart is really awesome, thanks for putting it together.
Thanks Brent, I didn’t know the Mk2 had o-rings, that’s pretty sweet. I’m so sick of tearing my Feisol apart all the time!
Thanks for putting this chart together, David. I can’t speak for the height, I have both Induro CLT303 (63.6" max height) for short hikes and Feisol CT-3442 for longer backpacking trips. I love my CLT303 to death, it is as sturdy as it can be. Even though the CT-3442 is very light but I am not the biggest fan. I think it has something to do with the leg spread angle because I feel that it topples a lot more easily than the Induro. I level the tripod diligently before putting the camera on it and that brings the height even lower. This is something that I can get away with (from time to time) when I am using the Induro.
Cool David! That will be useful to everyone.
It’s worth pointing out the sometimes value of having a “too tall” tripod.
On a hillside you’ll be shortening the near leg while fully extending the far legs in order to level the tripod and find stability. If the legs aren’t “too tall” for flat ground, you’ll be forced to stoop or sit to use the tripod if you want to avoid a center column. I’m 6’4" as well and carry only my big Gitzo with a long center column for shoots in bear country. Long hours of stooping threaten to make me 5’4" by day’s end without the extra height.
I see that you have the CTC one but the height is of the 2-series one, the 4-series goes to 70" without center column.
I completely missed the 4 series, thank you for pointing that out! I have one of their ballheads and it’s very nice, I wasn’t too excited about the short series 2, but the series 4 looks brilliant. I hope they get them in stock soon as they have promised me one to review. I’ve updated the original post to add those in.
I became aware of CTC after I bought mine late last year (did a table similar to yours ). They look pretty interesting and wish I could’ve seen them before.
The RRS TFC-24L Mk2 is slightly lighter and much thinner when folded than the TVC-24L, due to no center column and it still goes super tall at like 66". 3.5-3.6lb vs the 3.7 of the TVC. That’s what I’d get if I didn’t have the TVC-14 Mk2. I can say having owned three Mk1 RRS models before that the new locks (as @Brent_Clark mentioned) and overall feel are an improvement. Worth the cash IMO. Made the Gitzo legs I had feel cheap by comparison. The other thing to note is RRS is like Apple, you can always sell it at a slight loss very quickly if you change your mind, because it’s so sought-after.
BTW Brent, I would have won the tripod olympics with these locks. They tighten with such ease.
I have the PMG TR344L and it is fantastic. I primarily shoot seascapes so the built in removable spikes are a life saver. I have had it for 2 years and have beat the absolute crap out of it. I’m talking submerging it in salt water for an hour+ 3-4 times per week and tossing it around (throwing it over fences/down steep rock faces) in -15-20F temps while hiking. I have washed it maybe 2 times?
I have toyed with the idea of getting a RRS because I prefer the rubber twist locks. And the RRS is prettier. But I’m not sure if the RRS would be any better than the PMG. In fact, I would wager that the all-metal construction of the PMG may actually be tougher than the RRS.
With that said, I do wish I had a lighter tripod at times. The TVC-24L isnt that much lighter than my PMG TR344L, so I don’t see the point. For it to be worth the $$ the tripod, IMO, would have to be 2.5lbs or less. When you start getting that light you take a serious hit in rigidity. Id rather just deal with the extra pound vs camera shake in light winds.
Hey David -
I am also 6’4 - I bought a K and F tripod - comes with ball head and case. For the 120 - I thought it was a great deal. I’ve had it in water and at an angle with no problems - It also converts to a mono-pod, but I haven’t found a use for that function yet
I’m reviving this because I had to wait til I returned home to Alaska to provide a model # and details. My best-ever “lightweight” tall tripod (79", but with 4 leg sections collapsible to 26") is the now discontinued Gitzo G1349 Mountaineer. I found an old listing at KEH for more details. It specs out at about 5.5#, but with the center column removed and the flat plate installed mine is more like 4.5#. Last time I saw new ones for sale, they were approaching $1k. I bet you could beat that a lot with a used model now.
And nope, mine’s not for sale! Without any hesitation I’ll claim it’s the best tall tripod I’ve seen or used, tall enough not to break long backs with stooping, yet not likely to break the bank on the used market.
David: I have the RRS TVC-34L. I’m also 6’4" and so I have found tripod nirvana. I also have one of the early 3-Legged Thing versions which is MUCH lighter than the RRS but also a lot less sturdy. On my TVC-34L I typically only extend the top two sections which makes it sturdier still. If I do extend all three sections I can actually get the camera over my head and if I extend the center column (which I like because it makes macro and flora fine height adjustments easier) I can get the camera almost 8 feet above ground which makes images like this possible. Of course I had to stand on a ladder to get myself to the right height. My RRS with a RRS BH-55 aboard weighs 8.6 lbs while the 3 Legged Thing with Kirk BH-1 aboard weighs 5.2 lbs. Around the house I don’t care about the weight but when I head to Colorado and Wyoming in a few weeks I may find myself strapping the 3 Legged rig to the backpack. Using my 200 mm macro or 70-400 I use the RRS rig at least 98% of the time but with my lighter lenses it’s probably overkill.