For a while now I needed a new tripod. Recently I have been using a quite horrible one I bought last year in Dubai. I bought it just because during my trip there the airline lost my luggage and my Gitzo tripod was gone. And now one of the feet locks broke on it so I needed a new one.
But I learned one thing from having a cheap tripod the last year. I don’t need a pricey one. For what I need, the difference is not that big. I never shoot in very strong winds and I never use very long lenses. And with a wide angle lens, even a cheaper tripod is stable enough. And if it gets lost again, it will not be such a big problem.
So I thought I give a try with a Chinese brand for a change. I been using few other things from Chinese manufacturers recently, and the quality was really good (I really like Xiaomi products :)), so I though I give one a chance. After searching for a bit, I decided for the INNOREL RT85C tripod. The few reviews I could find were very positive and for the price it was a steal. If it was as described, it would be great.
How much I payed? I did not take only the tripod. The pack I took was the Innorel RT85C tripod + Innorel U44 ball head + Innorel PW50 monopod base/table tripod + Innorel ZH3 Z pan tripod head. I took so many things, as due to promotions they offered, it was cheaper than just taking the tripod with the head. After all the discounts and bundle promotions, I ended up paying only 224 USD for the lot.
The tripod and the ball head arrived on Monday, so let’s look at those now.
INNOREL RT85C tripod
The RT85C is the second biggest tripod offered from Innorel. It’s a 4 section tripod that goes up to 187cm with the ball head attached. On the other side it can be closed down to only 50cm in length. That all is quite great. One needs a tripod that can go up to the eye level, and this one can do that easily for me. One leg can be detached and used as a mono-pod. You can even switch the attachment screw from 3/8″ to 1/4″ screw. There were even extra steel nails replacements for the rubber feet. In the package they also provide a carrying bag and the hex keys needed to for all the screws on it.
It’s made from carbon and aluminium, with few rubber parts. There is no plastic on the outside, but I presume the leg locks are plastic on the inside. Not sure if that can be done from a different material at all. It’s relatively light at 1.88kg and feels really sturdy. The leg tubes go up to a 32mm diameter, so that also makes it quite massive. The declared max load is a whopping 25kg.
After two days, I’m quite impressed. I would not say it’s on the level of the Gitzo I had, but being only 1/4th of the price, it’s not really that far. The height is great. Without the middle column it’s at my eye level. It’s a bit stiff, but it’s new, so no suprise there. The locking on the legs and the middle column feels solid and the whole tripod stands really sturdy.
I’m not a huge fan of the spring loaded locks that lock the legs in position. I prefer the pull out style that is on Gitzo and similar brands. Still they work fine, even if it’s a bit harder to use them. The middle column can be taken out, but I have yet to find a way to attach the ball head when it’s not there. I contacted the manufacturer to ask about that, so waiting for an answer. Also I do’t really like the style of the hook at the bottom of the middle column. It stands too much to the side. You can remove it, but that you end up with a hole on the bottom.
INNOREL U44 ball head
The ball head that came with this tripod was the U44. It’s a 44 mm ball head and it looks really nice. Completely made from aluminium in black and silver. It has 4 bubble levels on it, which is a bit of a overkill (I always use the in camera one as you don’t see these in the dark). It has double panoramic rotation, which is great and makes for easier panoramic shots. The release is arca swiss compatible, and I would not take a different one anyway.
It feel solid. All rotates nice and firmly, and holds steady once locked down. Still need to try it out with a longer lens, to see if there is any give once there is weight on it. One has to take care when locking the top panoramic rotation, as the difference between locked and unlocked is quite small.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised. The big question is how well it stands over time, but right now I got much more than I expected for the price. I will be using this tripod from now on, so I will do an update in a month or two, to show how it goes. Also, once I get the rest of the delivery, I will make a post about those too.