As tripods go there are few manufacturers that can gather the same amount of interest about their products as 3 Legged Thing. The 3 Legged Thing Albert is one of their latest offerings and after a month or two of testing, it is, as 3LT’s website states, the most versatile tripod on the market.
Now that I’ve said it, I do of course need to justify the statement.
The Albert is a tripod that I struggled with for a while, it’s sat by the front door and in the car for some time before it finally made it out on a shoot. This was for no other reason that when it arrived for testing it arrived with the Punks Travis.
In short the Punks Travis is close to perfection – and it’s due to this near perfection that other tripods have failed to get tested. If I’m heading out on a shoot then the Travis is the first to grabbed and so it has remained for the entirety of this year.
However that all changed about a month ago when I had the need for several tripods on a shoot and one Travis was definitely not enough – the Albert was one of three alternatives that made it into the kit bag.
What I quickly and reluctantly realised is that there is life after the Punk Travis.
3 Legged Thing Albert Review: Features
Few other tripods have the impact of the Albert, when I first saw the tripod displayed and demo’d over a Skype call and later at the Photography Show in the UK it was instantly apparent that the Albert had been designed with a specific purpose.
That purpose was to provide any photographer with the most versatile support system on the planet.
Starting with the looks – after all, this is a 3 Legged Thing product and it’s difficult to overlook the design, colour and build before talking about anything else.
The usual bright anodised parts and sleek carbon fibre promote the overall desirability when compared to the majority of other tripods on the market.
Branding and style are key to the company and there’s really is no mistaking who makes the Albert. But unlike some other firms the detail in the aesthetics with 3 Legged Thing isn’t ever purely for looks, it has a purpose.
Compared with other tripods the Albert is seemingly covered with twist locks that secure both the head and central column.
These twist locks secure the five section legs and three section centre column that enable the Albert to transform from a compact folded size of just 41cm to a maximum height of 179cm. This is one of the largest ranges of any tripod on the market.
Other height and weight specs are also impressive with a total weight of 1.85kg, minimum height of 13cm and load capacity of 30kg.
Not only does it weigh less, extend higher, go lower and hold more weight, but the entire tripod has been designed to last a lifetime. Each and every part of the tripod can be dismantled and rebuilt when the time comes that the Albert needs a good clean or replacement parts.
This is where the real attention to detail has been paid, usability is one thing but if you’re going to invest in a tripod of this price then you need to know that it will last the distance.
When it comes to cleaning and renovation the Albert uses specific materials in the places that matter, including brass bushes in the leg joints to ensure smooth action and long last durability.
3 Legged Thing Albert Review: Build and Handling
Quality of finish is a major factor throughout the 3 Legged Thing range and checking over the Albert tripod, everything from the anodising through to the carbon tubes shows careful attention to detail.
Looking at the base of the tripod, each rubber foot is replaceable and with a firm twist unscrews to enable either replacement feet or alternatives such as the Stilettos to be fitted. This greatly adds to the terrain and locations where the tripod can be used.
Each of the legs and column sections are held securely in place by ParaLock twist locks. Each of these is slightly oversized and crafted from metal with rubber inserts that enable good purchase.
A quick twist and the leg is released and another twist in the opposite direction and the leg is locked.
The legs feature five sections and have three angle options of 23, 55 and 80 degrees giving plenty of scope for adjustment.
As has now become a feature with the 3 Legged Thing tripods, one of the legs can be twisted and unscrewed and used as a monopod.
If after the legs have been extended you still feel that you need a little extra height then the three section centre column can be extended, again using the twist locks.
The centre column is a perfect example of the depth of detail that has been put into this tripod. At the base is a D-Ring to support added weight if needed or a strap.
At the top of the column is the Tripod-Mount plate, this features slots where straps can be attached or clip on devices. Unscrew the mount and the centre column can be removed so the tripod can then be laid flat to the ground.
At the top of the tripod is the AirHead 360, this is a sleek head which can hold up to 30kg.
The head as with the tripod is feature-packed and at its base there are panoramic degree markings with a knob that enables you to release and tighten.
The main ball head release is slightly larger so it’s easy to locate blind, as well as having a completely different shape and size so it can easily be found by touch.
Unlike many other ball heads of this size, there is no friction control. This is actually no bad thing as that main ball head release knob can actually be used to control the ball head friction prior to it being fully tightened or released.
This single knob for ball head control is by design, as otherwise the head would become rather crowded with five knobs instead of four all controlling different adjustments and releases.
The next two knobs are positioned at the top of the head, the first is another panoramic rotation option. Again this just gives you that touch of extra control when compared with many other manufacturers heads.
The final knob is the base plate release, this time bightly coloured in orange to match the colour of the base plate, so there can be no mistaking what it does.
The combination of knobs enables unparalleled control over the camera’s position, and despite there being no friction control for the head, the single knob offers just the right amount of control.
Theres also none of the usual complex screwing in and out of knobs to set the friction control that we so often see from other manufacturers.
3 Legged Thing Albert Review: Verdict
The Albert is an impressive looking tripod and when you first take receipt it’s hard to believe a tripod that’s so compact can truly extend to such a size.
The compact design matched with materials ensures that at any height the Albert provides a good firm base with each leg locking firmly with those oversized twist locks.
The three sectioned centre column takes a little getting used too, not in use but visually as it initially just seems wrong to have the column extended to such a height.
In practice however the low centre of gravity provided by the legs is more than enough to support that extended column and the build quality ensures that it stays rigid.
In tests with the height at its maximum the camera was held firm and images shot on a long exposure showed that there was no residual movement after the shutter button was pressed when using a 2 second timer.
The height of the Albert at its maximum is far beyond what I would usually need, but there were several occasions where the extra height from the combination of leg length and central column proved to be useful.
At the other end of the scale, dropping the Albert to the minimum height again offered decent support, although the centre column does require a little dismantling. This process, however, is quick and easy.
As tripods go there is little to fault with the design, it does exactly what it has been designed to do. Be portable, have a large maximum height, be light weight, pack down small and get low to the ground.
It is the ultimate workhorse tripod.
If you need a mid-weight tripod that will provide you with the support you want in a variety of different photographic disciplines, then the Albert is well worth the money.