[nextpage title=”Introduction” ]
Punks Brian Snap Verdict
Away this summer? Then let me introduce you to your new travelling companion the Punks Brian.
I’ve been a bit of a fan of the Punks range ever since the release of the Travis. Now as the range expands we see the addition of an all-new travel model in the form of the Brian.
Brian is being heralded by 3 Legged Thing as a true travel tripod.
Now, the travel label is all too often used for slightly feature limited supports that only just reach chest height, but this is most definitely not the case for Brian.
For a travel model, Brian is unusually tall. Not only does it reach a towering 187cm in height but it packs down to 41cm, small enough to pack into a travel bag or backpack without adding too much bulk or weight.
It’s feature rich with a monopod leg, reversible centre column and enough additional bits to keep almost all genres of photographer happy while they’re away on their travels.
The Brian is something of an oddity when it comes to travel tripods, it supplies exactly whats needed from a travel support, but it also supplies an awful lot more.
It’s massive height rivals tripods many times larger and more expensive while it’s packed down height and weight is close to that of other travel tripods.
So why is it an oddity? Well, it’s versatility, it’s far more than your average travel tripod.
At the heart of the Brian is a tripod designed to be by your side. It’s the tripod that will go that extra mile to ensure that you get the image you want while you’re away.
Back home when most travel models are thrown into the back of a cupboard Brian will be there to support your daily photographic needs, be it as a mic boom, to hold lights or as a lightweight everyday support.
Brian, may well be the ultimate travel tripod, if not the ultimate support.
For Three Legged Thing Punks Brian
- Stands taller than other Travel Tripods
- Features built in monopod
- Packs down small
Against Three Legged Thing Punks Brian
- Lower sections are thin
- No quickrelease, all unbolts and rebolts
Travel tripods have been hot news for a number of years, unfortunately, because of the popularity almost any small tripod launched is adorned with the label.
The Punks Brian is a true travel tripod, it fulfils the needs of seasoned travellers by being lightweight, compact and providing that all-important stable support.
Not only will it perform the primary tripod function, but like a swiss army knife, it packs in plenty of useful features that are above and beyond a straight camera support.
It features a leg that becomes a monopod, it can drop down for low angled shots or rise above heads using the dual centre column, and when it’s done with cameras, it can be used as a Mic Boom, lighting stand or simply used as a place to hang your bag while you admire the view.
The previous Punks tripods have impressed with their simplicity, build quality and design.
The Brian as with the Corey is an adaption of the original Punks, but whereas the Corey keeps things compact the Brian reaches for the limits when it comes to both height and features.
Tripods are far more than just a simple support to hold your camera, and these days we expect versatility and features.
Brian may be compact when packed down, but unfold the legs and raise the dual centre column and you get a callosal height of 1.87m.
That height is made possible by the dual centre column and without that extended, you still get a very respectable 1.46m.
Height is handy and something that lacks with many travel tripods but minimum height is also essential and the Brian provides at 190mm, ideal for low angle shots.
Being a travel tripod you need it to pack down small and at just 410mm folded that’s small enough to comfortably fit in most backpacks and an ideal height to pack away into a cabin bag if you’re flying. (Of course, check that you’re allowed to take a tripod on board in your handheld luggage)
Having a small lightweight tripod is all well and good but if it’s unable to support your camera with a decent sized lens then you’ll find yourself in a spot of bother.
A load capacity of 14kg is insane, most people these days are crossing over to mirrorless and this means the weight limit will enable you to mount any mirrorless lens combo you could think of.
If the feeling and mount took you, you could essentially mount two mirrorless side by side with the biggest mirrorless lenses you could find and it would still have difficulty exceeding this weight limit.
While the load capacity and height are huge the overall weight of the Brian is not. At 1.45kg it’s only 0.7kg more than the Punks Billy and of course lighter than the Travis or Corey.
Like the Corey, Brian features 5-section legs, and these are manufactured from eight layers of 100% carbon fibre. Each leg section is held and released with the bubble grip twist locks.
As you’d expect to find each of these legs can be pivoted through different angles of 23º, 55º and 80º.
On top is the small Air Head that enables the tripod to support such a large load.
As well as the general specifications the Brian has a few key features. that don’t just rely on a few numerics.
First is the monopod leg, this unscrews and then the centre column with Air Head can be bolted on top to give a monopod length of 1.92m. This means that as well as a monopod for the exceptionally tall it can also double as a mic boom.
Ensuring the tripod always grips to the ground firmly there’s a choice of feet; the standard Bootz or more specialist Heelz, Stilettoz or Clawz.
Looking at the Air Head and this has a bubble level which is all very handy and as ever supports a small Arca Swiss style plate.
Below the head is the tri-plate which enables you to attach a strap and when the tripod arrives has the supplied multi-tool attached.
At the base of the centre column is a closed metal loop where a bag can be attached if you need to add more weight to the tripod for stability.
[nextpage title=”Build & Handling” ]
Build quality and handling
What has appealed to me in the past about the Punks range is the craftsmanship of the tripods. They’re well made and you can see the attention to detail throughout the design.
The tripods main construction is carbon for the legs and Aluminium for the main construction. This choice of material offers excellent strength to weight ratio.
The overall design is simple and everything is precision engineered. This engineering gives the tripods a somewhat refined industrial feel.
Unlike some other manufacturers that offer quick release mechanisms to flip centre columns, the Brain is more hands on.
If you want to invert the centre column then it needs to be unbolted and flipped. This isn’t time-consuming or difficult but is a little more hassle than the release and flip approach adopted by other companies.
The unbolt, flip, bolt approach is, however, foolproof and will work for countless years. Although many of the quick release mechanisms are good they do have a tendency to go wrong as my new tripod graveyard will testify.
Used as a straight support and there’s very little that can go wrong, after two months solid testing the legs locks remained smooth, which was impressive due to the constant rain and grit of the New Forest.
I can see over time grit will work itself into the locks, as it does with all tripods, but the design lends itself to easy cleaning and over the test, I dismantled the entire tripod several times just to check on the workings and ease of cleaning.
One of the features I love about the Punks Billy is the height, it’s perfect out in the field and although it’s a lightweight support it punches well above its weight.
The Brian with it’s thinner and added section legs doesn’t quite have the rigidity of the Billy, but that’s not to say it’s not solid.
Used as a straight tripod and the Brian all makes sense, but really where this and the other Punks tripods come into their own is when they need to be adapted to perform specific tasks such as low angled shots.
Removing the centre column takes a few seconds and then the head and trip-plate can be removed and refitted to the legs to get the minimal 190mm ground clearance.
It takes about a minute to make the transformation and it’s all easy enough with the precision parts ensuring that everything separates and easily bolts back together.
Likewise, assembling the full height monopod is equally straightforward and with a few twists the centre column head and leg are all bolted together and ready to go.
[nextpage title=”Performance” ]
In use, I felt more than comfortable leaving a Canon 5D MKII with 24-70mm or the Sony Alpha 7R with 28-135mm video lens fitted.
The options for height are a major benefit, especially when used on rough terrain, that added height enables you to manoeuvre the tripod in ways and that would otherwise be impossible.
Increasing the dual column may enable the extra height but the stability of the tripod is obviously affected. This is when the small bag hook comes into play.
Using the carabina part of the orange multi-tool makes it easy enough to attach a backpack and improve the stability, not that it was to bad in the first place.
Even without the dual centre column raised there’s plenty enough height, but having that extra does give you a little more flexibility.
That extra height is useful but unless the conditions are exceptionally still I wouldn’t recommend that full height for long exposures as there will inevitably be a little wobble.
But then what do you expect if the tripod is maxed out, few if any tripods are able to give you complete wobble-free stability in all conditions.
Used in isolation the Punks Brian offers more than any other travel tripod I’ve used, it’s height came in use more than once and I even had a need to use the massively long monopod as a mic boom when testing the Rode NTG-4+.
One thing I really like about all the Punks range is that although they are primarily tripods the assembled monopod is as good as any. If you want to travel really light then just pack the monopod.
The Brian is a tripod that adapts as you need it too. From travel partner to flexible support and sidekick to larger tripods.
[nextpage title=”Verdict” ]
I’m seriously impressed with the Punks Brian, actually, that’s no surprise, I was seriously impressed with the Travis then blown away by the Billy. The Billy is close to perfection so how does the Brian compare.
We’ll the Brian is something different, at its core, it pulls from the Travis and Billy. Whereas those two are every day tripods to be used and abused Brian is designed for a more privileged life of travel.
The compact size when folded, 50mm less than the Billy, makes a big difference when you’re travelling. Both will fit comfortably in a BA cabin luggage, but only the Brian fits inside most camera backpacks.
It’s thinner legs enable the additional section which in turn enables the massive height, you do sacrifice some stability but then who cares, you’re travelling and you’re able to take a decent support that doesn’t restrict you to taking images at waist height.
The twist locks as ever work incredibly well and lock and release with precision. The build quality is excellent and there’s a real feeling that 3 Legged Thing has got the Punks range right.
As I mentioned in the Billy review, I would like to see an accessories port where external lamps or audio recorders could be added, but otherwise absolutely excellent.
Will I be travelling with the Punks Brian this summer? Maybe, I’ll definitely have the Billy around the UK and if I do head abroad then, yes, the Brian will be coming with me.