For as long as there have been cameras photographers have searched for better and more stable shooting platforms.
Until we figure out a way to make our cameras levitate in mid air most of us still rely on tripods give us the steady foundation we need to get the shot. As with most aspects of the photography world the choices of tripods is staggering and there is now another newcomer to the tripod market: The Colorado Tripod Company.
Their goal is to manufacture rock-solid tripod and ball head systems which are lightweight and compact while still being affordable for the everyday professional photographer or discerning hobbyist.
The Colorado Tripod Companys system is already a standout
The Colorado Tripod Company sent me their brand new 2-Series Centennial carbon fiber tripod and Highline Al ball head to be put through my own style of testing. I put the Highline Al ball head and 2-Series Centennial tripod through their paces from the golden coasts of California to the granite cliffs of Yosemite and a few other places in between.
In short, the new stuff from The Colorado Tripod Company did not disappoint.
Out of the Box
Let’s be extremely shallow for just a second and judge the 2-Series Centennial on looks alone it’s gorgeous. It’s legs are the sleek matte gray carbon fiber flavor and the look outstanding when matched with the gunmetal gray aluminum hardware. Sure, it’s all rather monochromatic but it exudes a musk of professional elegance.
As you can see, the Highline Al ballhead follows suit by being finished in the same brushed gunmetal veneer.
The tripod feels pleasantly lightweight in the hand. If you’ve never used a carbon fiber tripod before the difference in weight from an fully aluminum tripod is substantial. I’m glad to see that the Colorado Tripod Company has chosen to offer even their base-level tripod in carbon fiber for this very reason.
I took some approximate measurements and weights to give a real-world idea of what you can expect from the Highline Al ballhead and 2-Series Centennial Al tripod. Again, all measurements are approximate:
2-Series Centennial Al Tripod
|Maximum height with center column extended||” (cm)|
|Maximum height with center column retracted||50” (cm)|
|Minimum height with center column retracted||” (47cm)|
|Minimum height with center column removed||” (cm)|
|*Weight without center column||3lbs oz (kg)|
|*Weight with center column||3lbs oz (kg)|
Highline Al Ballhead
|Ballhead height (base to lip of camera plate clamp)||4” (10cm)|
|Ballhead width at base||” (cm)|
|Ballhead weight (without base plate)||1lb oz (kg)|
*Each rubber foot piece weighs approximately .5oz (g) which can be subtracted from the total tripod weight when removed.
Each leg of the tripod features spring loaded angle latches which facilitate four adjustment positions from vertical to nearly horizontal once the center column is absent.
The center column height is adjustable via the large screw clamp just below the ballhead.
Furthermore, or extreme low angle work the center column can be completely removed by unscrewing the weight hook at the bottom of the column and then attaching it to the base of the ballhead mount.
Center column removed. Note that the hook is only contacting the surface due to the tripod legs hang off the table.
The legs are extended by way of three twist locks which are rubberized and highly grippable. I had no trouble releasing all three locks at once which allows each leg to deploy by gravity alone under their own weight. After locking there was no play in the tripod legs whatsoever.
At the end of each leg there is a relatively large hard rubber foot which reveal spiked feet once removed. It should also be noted that the entire foot of the tripod can be completely unscrewed should you need/choose to replace them.
Highline Al Ballhead
At first appearance the Highline Al looks rather unassuming. It features the same standard issue knobs for the ball articulation and panning as you might encounter on virtually any number of ball-heads along with degree markings along the bezel (white paint). Yet upon closer inspection one begins to notice a few details which make the design of this ballhead extremely interesting.
The Highline brings a large range of movement to the table which is facilitated by the equally large horizontal cutout in it’s housing. This grants the camera extended space to move to the left or right while the ballhead is positioned in the cutout. This is not generally possible with some other ball-heads. I immediately see this being extremely useful for direct vertical angles during night sky work.
And while we’re talking about night skies and other long exposure photography it’s a good time to mention one of my favorite features about this ballhead which honestly took a little getting used to in the beginning. Looking closer at the ballhead adjustment knob you will see a secondary locking mechanism.
This controls the amount of travel for the adjustment knob and allows all movement to be completely arrested in the ballhead. When I say completely arrested I do mean completely. We’ll talk more about the actual performance in just a little bit but for now just know that there is not much chance of camera drift when the secondary clamp is engaged.
Performance in the Field
Alright, you may be thinking “Ok, but how does all this stuff perform when it counts?”
I mentioned earlier that I took both the Highline Al and the 2-Series Centennial Al for a spin though some fairly diverse shooting situations ranging from high winds and low temperatures to light rain and loose sand. Overall, both the tripod and the ballhead performed flawlessly.
Yes, that is in fact my 45 large format view camera mounted atop the Colorado Tripod Company setup.
In the end, I made photographs with my Canon 5D MK3, Sony A7RI, Nikon F3 and of course the 45 large format film camera.
This was a huge range of camera sizes and weights. Not once did I encounter camera drift or stability issues. What’s more is that the tripod itself remained extremely rigid even at full height with the center column oriented to full mast.
The camera mounting plate (one included with ballhead) attaches to the ballhead via a spring loaded top clamp. I was happy to find what seems to be an extra long tightening knob for the clamp. This added length might not seem like a big help but it is incredible useful when it comes to using this ballhead with larger cameras like my 45 which present large rear overhangs that extend over the back of the top clamp or when operating while wearing heavy gloves.
The actual movements of the ballhead were quite smooth and relatively silent. To my best approximation the lowest temperature encountered during testing was about 13 degrees Fahrenheit (about C) and I experienced no stiffening of any moving parts within the ballhead or the tripod. The angle locks for the tripod legs engaged and disengaged firmly with a satisfying “click” that was both satisfying yet no obnoxiously audible.
Each of the leg extension twist locks performed quite well and do not wobble at all when fully clamped; the action of which requires very little travel of the locks to secure.
In the end, everything about a camera support system comes down to the actual base of the system and most cases this is the feet of a tripod. The hard rubber feet of the 2-Series Centennial are nearly completely spherical with an approximate diameter of about 1” (cm) at their widest section. This larger size offers excellent flotation when planting the tripod on soft or sandy terrain.
Should you need maximum traction for extreme mud or icy conditions one needs only to unscrew the rubber feet to reveal the gnarly set of metal spikes mentioned earlier which should allow the tripod to stand fast on most compromising terra.
Just remember to reattach those rubber feet before moving indoors….
Car hoods. Backpacks. Tree limbs. Table tops. Friends shoulders. I’ve used them all to steady my camera at one point or another. Of course nothing beats having a high performing support system at your disposal such as a solid tripod.
You might say that all tripod and ballhead systems work to accomplish the same goal yet what separates them is how well they perform once they get there.
All in all the Highline Al ballhead and 2-Series Centennial Al tripod both offer rock solid stability in a package that is far from rock-like in weight.
Perhaps the most impressive part of my experience with this tripod system was that the more I studied it’s design and construction the more I came to appreciate the practical inception of each detail which obviously went into the engineering of the platform.
There is no weight added where none is needed. All the knobs and latches are presented simply and geared for easy adjustment. Every function feels wholly utilitarian with no superfluous frills. Whether you’re looking to lighten your gear load by upgrading to a carbon fiber tripod without taking out a second mortgage or just need an extremely well built camera support system that will be serviceable for years to come I have no doubt that you will be just as impressed as I was with Highline Al ballhead and 2-Series Centennial tripod from The Colorado Tripod Company.
About the Author: Adam Welch
Adam is an author, adventurer, photographer and a jolly co-founder of Contrastly. You can usually find him on some distant trail making photographs, in his darkroom or at his computer writing and planning his next project. Follow his work over at his website , Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
Finally a Tripod I Love: Colorado Tripod Company
I've been testing out the Centennial Tripod from Colorado Tripod Company and I love it. Buying US-made products is cool, but when those sellers offer top quality at a good price, it's even more awesome! Read on to see why I think your next tripod should be made in Colorado.
A friend of mine told me about the Colorado Tripod Company after I spotted his sleek-looking new sticks on Instagram. I immediately asked where he got it, only to find out that it was made less than an hour from my house. They have taken some of the quality designs of other tripod manufacturers, made improvements, and offered a more reasonable price.
There are so many options out there when it comes to tripods. You can spend anywhere from $ to $1,+ on a carbon fiber tripod, and sometimes, it can be hard to tell what you're getting. Having used so many cheap tripods over the years, I was excited to see a top-quality product in a more affordable price range.
The Centennial Tripod is suited to the professional or amateur photographer seeking a functional, rugged, and reliable tripod that won't break the bank. Let's talk through build quality, usage, and features.
Tripod Build Quality
When I opened the box on my new tripod, I was immediately impressed with the quality and attention to detail. It comes packed with a nice protective case that is great for traveling and storing safely (although I'll probably never use it.) Upon further inspection, I was again impressed by the functionality and attention to detail.
In the past, I have been frustrated by tripods that are either too hard to use (legs don't lock effectively) or don't adjust easily (ball head constantly too tight or loose). This tripod just works. It is made with precision and fine attention to quality.
The carbon fiber legs feel extremely sturdy, and the ball head functions just as you would expect. The fine adjustment allows you to dial in the perfect amount of tension, and quarter-turn adjustments on the legs allow you to quickly adjust height.
All the features I expect in a top-quality tripod (quick locking legs, smooth ball head, easy camera mount, removable center column, etc.) are all just how and where I expected and intuitive to use.
Tripod Features I Love
1. Quick Locking Legs
Several features of this tripod really made it stand out as high quality. The first was the quick locking legs. With a quarter-turn of each section, the legs smoothly extend to full height. No more fussing to get your tripod quickly deployed.
2. Camera Plate Mount
The second feature that I really liked was the camera plate mount on the ball head. The adjustable lever clamp allows you to dial in the tension on your camera plate so that the plate is locked in securely and quickly. In the past, I've used the knob style plate mounts that you tighten down with several turns.
The design on the highline ball head is much easier and faster to use. I also appreciated that the adjustable tension can be used with a variety of style plates and not just the one provided with the tripod. I use Peak Design plates, and the compatibility was seamless.
3. Removable Center Column
A quickly removable center column was the third feature that really stood out. I've used tripods that have a complicated process to remove the center column, but on this tripod, you just unscrew it. When you need additional height, simply thread it back together and extend the column upward. I love when products are simple and intuitive!
Usage and Examples
This has quickly become my go-to tripod for astrophotography and long exposures (waterfalls, time-lapses, etc.). It has stayed mounted to my pack for a variety of shoots recently, and I expect it will stay there for the foreseeable future!
My main complaint about this tripod over others I've used was the size. I'm usually a minimalist when it comes to tripods, so this was larger than I might choose, but overall, it didn't bother me too much. It's not intended to be the smallest tripod on the market, and it does provide an excellent height for its weight ( lbs for a 58" max height, including the center column). This allows the majority of people to mount the camera at eye level. It's not a super light and compact backpacking tripod, but it is durable and tall.
I've taken this tripod on a ski hut trip and several camping trips, as well as numerous shoots. I love how quickly I can set it up and how stable my camera is when locked in place. Despite being tossed around in the back of my truck and strapped to the side of my camera bag, it shows minimal signs of wear, and I expect it will last much longer than some of my previous tripods.
I found myself using this tripod more than others in the past because of the high-quality features. The large rubber grips on the leg sections made it easier to set up even with gloves on, and the quarter-turn locks made it quick to know if you were turning the locks the right way. Once locked, the legs are firmly held in place, which means you never have to worry about your camera crashing to the ground unexpectedly!
This is the best tripod I've ever used, and if you're in the market for a quality tripod, you should check it out. The combination of high-quality features and a great price make it an excellent value. And for an extra bonus, it's made in the USA!
I really liked all the quality features on this tripod, especially the quarter-turn leg locks and the lever clamp to mount a camera. These made it so easy to work with, which helps reduce the main barrier to using a tripod: setting it up!
The main improvement I would like to see is reducing the overall size and weight of the tripod, although I suspect this would cause it to be less stable. Right now, this tripod feels extremely stable and rugged, so maybe there is some extra weight that could be reduced in a future generation. Best sure to check out this tripod at the Colorado Tripod Company for $
What I Liked
Quarter-turn leg locks
Lever clamp camera mount
Max height of 58 inches
What Could Be Improved
Overall size and weight reduction
Colorado Tripod Company introduces 'world’s first titanium tripod system'
The Colorado Tripod Company has introduced what it claims is the world’s first titanium tripod system, with a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. Not only does the use of titanium make the ball heads lightweight and strong, but the design of the heads also allows the camera to drop to the side below the usual 90 degrees seen in other heads.
The Highline ballhead will be available in either titanium or aluminum. The titanium model will feature a hollow ball to reduce weight. Both versions will have a locking force of 54lb and will offer left-handed controls that allow users to hold the camera and shoot with the right hand. The titanium model will weigh less than g (12oz), while in aluminium the same unit weighs g (18oz).
To accompany these heads a new line of titanium and carbon fibre legs have also been introduced. The company says that by CNC machining from a solid block of titanium it can make its metal parts stronger than manufacturers that use metal casting. Milling also means the company can make its parts more precisely, and it says it can cut the amount of material used to help reduce weight. The carbon fibre used in the Centennial legs is ten-layered, and comes from Japan.
An additional ball head called the Aspen comes only in aluminium but offers a much wider range of camera positions, as it has no housing around the ball. This allows the camera to drop well below 90 degrees, while making the head quite lightweight at only g (16oz).
The Highline ball head in aluminium starts at $79 on Kickstarter, while the titanium version can be had for $ The Aspen head costs $ and the Centennial tripod is $ in aluminium and $ in titanium. Various kits combing these products are also available. Shipping is planned to start in March.
For more information see the Colorado Tripod Company’s Kickstarter campaign page.
Disclaimer: Remember to do your research with any crowdfunding project. DPReview does its best to share only the projects that look legitimate and come from reliable creators, but as with any crowdfunded campaign, there's always the risk of the product or service never coming to fruition.
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