I stumbled upon 3 Legged Thing a few years ago when the company seemed fairly new. I was extremely excited to place an order as their products were unique. I say “were” because in my opinion there are currently a few companies that copy their design ideas. I was eager to buy the 3LT Brian as it looked like it had a fantastic design. Unfortunately, as time passed, I was a bit disappointed with the tripod due to a few build quality issues and design faults. I’ve a history with making things and I’m a difficult person to please. That said, their customer service has always been top notch, they reply to emails quickly and they will go the extra mile to please their customer. This is something I haven’t experienced with Gitzo even though they’re more expensive.
When I received a newer model of tripod, my main thoughts when opening the box were “has the company learned from customer feedback?” and “will there be assembly issues?” I don’t want to cause any confusion due to my paragraph above, so I will very concisely and plainly say, yes they have learned and the build quality is better too. Please keep reading :).
3 Legged Thing ‘3LT’ Equinox Albert Carbon Fibre Tripod & Equinox 360 Airhed Ballhead
The 3 Legged Thing ‘3LT’ Equinox Albert carbon fibre tripod is a fairly complex design with many parts, but it is quick and easy to operate:
When you buy the 3LT Equinox Albert Tripod, included in the kit is a bag with a pocket that holds allen keys and whatnot to dismantle the tripod–this is useful if you wish to clean it. You will not need these accessories to set up the tripod–they’re twist locks. There is one exception; if you buy the kit that includes the Equinox 360 Airhed Ballhead, then there will be an allen key to screw in the quick release plate to your camera; it does not have a “D” ring (I’ll write more on that later.) Having studied the design of quite a few things, I’d be willing to gamble they’ve completely changed their parts supplier. The build quality is far superior to the 3LT Brian I owned. I’ve built a few things of my own out of carbon fibre and it’s not as easy to work with as aluminium, in my opinion.
The 3 Legged Thing ‘3LT’ Equinox Albert Tripod and 360 Airhed Ballhead in real world use
I don’t have much to criticise in terms of its ease of use. The 3LT Equinox Albert carbon fibre tripod is like a swiss army knife:
- You can unscrew the leg with the orange ring around it, attatch the Equinox 360 Airhed Ballhead (or any ballhead for that matter) and it becomes an extendable monopod
- The middle pillar can be removed and the 3LT Albert tripod becomes more of a stereotypical tripod; it’s sturdier this way, and it’s also lighter, as the head mounts directly onto the tripod base. Ironically it takes up more space to pack because the tripod folds away with the legs in the reverse position; if you put the head closer to the base of the tripod, then the legs won’t be able to fold over it as well
- The middle pillar can be reverse mounted, so you can put a camera between the tripod legs and this is especially useful for macro photography
- The legs can open at different angles
- You can use the tripod as a light stand by extending the middle pillar as tall as possible and making the legs open at a fairly flat angle–this makes its total footprint fairly small but it is not the recommended use for general photography
The Equinox 360 Airhed Ballhead is quite heavy duty and it’s also got many functions–a dial for everything, including two panning dials. It’s ideal for a large DSLR but it’s probably a bit overkill for my Sony a7rII.
The 3LT Equinox Albert and the Equinox 360 Airhed Ballhead together are a fairly heavy combination for a carbon fibre tripod, in my opinion. Even with the mid-section removed, there are lighter options available, such as the 3 Legged Thing ‘3LT’ Equinox Leo. I’m not sure why it’s so heavy, perhaps it’s due to the fairly heavy duty quick release locks. Does this mean you should forget buying this combination? In a word, no–it is worth buying. I’ve come to the realisation that tripods are exactly like camera bags. A camera bag suitable for a quick walk isn’t suitable to take on a long hike. This tripod combination is good because it has the weight required for a stable landscape shot or studio product photography but it has versatility too. In my opinion, it’s the best weight to start out with (unless you have a very specific need.) If you already own a tripod or two, you probably know what weight you’re comfortable carrying. The 3 Legged Thing ‘3LT’ Equinox Leo is perhaps a more compelling option if you do a lot of landscape photography involving a lot of hiking. For longer hikes, I tend to take a miniature tripod, so the 3LT Equinox Albert is ideal for me.
You may not like the fact there’s no “D-ring” on the quick release plate. I’m undecided. I sometimes find you cannot tighten them enough, but equally it’s annoying having to take an extra tool–it is possible to use a coin, so it’s a bit of a non issue most of the time.
The previous quick release plate would catch into place and this was useful in that the camera wouldn’t slip, but I found it took extra time to get the camera on and off of the tripod. I do not leave the camera over my shoulder, so I have no fears of it slipping off. For that reason, the lack of a catch works for me, but I’ve seen videos of people walking with a camera over their shoulder and I wouldn’t quite trust it. I also believe 3 Legged Thing recently announced a new quick release mechanism. Given that the entire tripod can easily be disassembled, including the head, I don’t think it would be a problem to buy the newer mechanism and attach it to the top of the ballhead. You’d have to email their customer support and ask.
I like the twist and lock mechanisms; they’re partly what attracted me to the 3LT Brian, but you might dislike them. I find they do not catch on your bag or anything like that, and in the cold I find them easier to use. An older Velbon tripod of mine is difficult to operate in the winter–the catches are difficult to push and pull.
Lastly, if you dislike rubber feet, you’ll be pleased to know they can easily be unscrewed and you can replace them with spikes instead.