The Leo is 3 Legged Thing’s first pro-level super-compact travel tripod. It’s sold legs-only or as a kit with the Airhed Switch tripod head. I tested the kit in Equinox colours for this review, it’s also available in the more subdued Eclipse colours.
To keep weight down, 3 Legged Thing has used carbon fibre for the Leo’s leg and centre column tubes. That’s 8 layers of 100% pure carbon fibre.
Meanwhile, the leg locks have a chunky metal construction with rubberised pads for extra grip.
All told, the Leo and Airhed kit weighs 1.75Kg, but it has a maximum load capacity of 30Kg. That means there’s a load to weight ratio of around 17:1.
When packed down with the legs flipped up around the head, the Leo measures just 35cm but it’s 1.4m high at full extension. That compactness and height combination is achieved by having 5-section legs and a 2-section centre column.
The centre column can be removed or inverted for low-level shooting. It’s also possible to remove one of the legs and screw it onto the (removed) centre column to create a monopod with the Airhed at the top.
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The AirHed Switch is an Arca Swiss compatible ball head. The larger of the two knobs on the head is for locking a releasing the ball while the smaller one locks and unlocks the panning movement.
In addition, its quick release plate clamp is adjustable to allow it to accept different plate designs. Left-handers will also like that it can be flipped to make easier for them to use.
3 Legged Thing Leo and AirHed Kit Specifications
- Max Height: 1.4m / 55inch
- Max Height w/o column: 1.08 m / 42inch
- Min Height: 120mm / 4.75inch
- Monopod Max Height: 1.46 m / 57.5inch
- Folded Length: 350mm / 13.67inch
- 5 Section Legs
- 2 Section Centre Column
- Leg Angles: 23º, 55º, 80º
- Load Capacity: 30 kg / 66lb with legs at 23º, 20 kg / 44lb at 55º and 10Kg /33lb at 80º
- Tripod Weight: 1.44kg / 3.18lb
- Total Kit Weight :1.75kg / 3.86lb
- Max Leg Tube Diameter: 23 mm / 0.91inc
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Build and Handling
3 Legged Thing supplies the Leo kit in a simple zip-closing bag with a shoulder strap. This is useful when you just want your camera and a tripod. You can just fling the strap across your body, pick up your camera and you’re off.
At 1.75Kg the Leo is a bit heavier than some other travel tripods, but the high build quality is apparent as soon as you unzip the bag. The combination of top-quality carbon fibre and metal gives it a luxurious feel.
As you’d expect, the Leo’s lower leg tubes are quite slim, but the upper ones have a diameter of 23mm. The locks also feel robust and operate smoothly. They combine to make a nice solid support that feels a bit more robust than the average travel tripod. This is, after all, aimed at enthusiast and professional photographers.
With a maximum height of 1.4m with the AirHed Switch head, the Leo isn’t the tallest tripod around, but it’s tall enough for most situations. And while its scale might lend itself to use with a mirrorless camera, its strength means you can use it with big cameras, even medium format models.
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One of the things I most like about the Leo is that when it’s packed down it’s just 35cm long. That means it fits sideways in my suitcase, perfect for flights. That’s also a nice length for attaching to the side of a backpack, and I find I take the Leo with me ‘just in case’ more often than some other tripods.
As I’ve already alluded to, the leg locks are the twist type. Thanks to 3 Legged Thing’s Parallel Locking technology I can unlock 3 of the locks at once before sliding my hand down a little to release the last one. This means I can quickly extend the legs in (almost) one fluid motion.
I also like the fact that you can feel a dull click as the locks reach the point of release. As a result, you don’t twist the locks more than necessary and they can be relocked with a small twist.
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I’ve taken the 3 Legged Thing Leo kit on several trips abroad and used it for a lot of general photography. It’s provided the stable platform I needed on every occasion. It even proved up to the task of keeping the Panasonic Lumix G9 steady on top of a breezy cliff while I made long exposures. It’s also been a steady base for several videos.
I’m around 5ft 2 which means that the Leo’s maximum height of 1.4m is just about perfect for me. Taller photographers may need to stoop a little, or flip out their camera’s screen, but that’s not much of a drama.
Tall photographers will also need to stoop to use the monopod which has a maximum height of 1.46m, but it’s a useful inclusion. Of course, it has uses beyond supporting a camera. You might use it as a boom for a mic for instance.
The AirHed head is nicely matched to the Leo legs. Its ball is made from aerospace-grade magnesium alloy, so it’s light (282g) and the movements are smooth.
Helpfully, 3 Legged Things supplies a karabiner with an Allen key with the Leo. That’s perfect for tightening the quick release plate on to your camera. It does a better job than a penny in a slot and it’s easier to use than a flip-out D-ring. You can keep the karabiner clipped on the Tri-Plate at the shoulders of the Leo so it’s always to hand, or maybe use it as a key ring.
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Thanks to its compact size when collapsed, and the solid support it provides, I’ve used the 3 Legged Thing Leo a lot. It’s been on numerous trips and it’s now my go-to travel tripod. It’s small enough to accompany me when I need to travel light and can be relied upon to support whatever camera I use.
As the Leo is a travel tripod there’s a compromise made with its maximum height, but in my opinion, its robustness and portability more than make up for it.