I make it no secret that I think the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy is one of the best tripods ever made. As tripods go, it ticks all the boxes; it’s compact, lightweight and doesn’t overcomplicate by adding half baked features.
The new 3 Legged Thing Billy 2.0 follows the same no-mess design principles and offers a solid all-around tripod, with a few new nifty features.
Those features enhance the new Billy 2.0 and include three removable legs, an accessories port, refined knob and twist-lock design.
The new Billy 2.0 offers enough of a boost in features from the old model to make it a worthy update.
Some disassembly required for ground-level shooting
What is 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0?
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy was, in my opinion, one of the best tripods ever made. It’s small, compact and with a maximum height of 1.65m, it’s still perfectly good as a full-height tripod which makes it a great all-rounder.
My original 3LT Billy spends most of its time split between the wood store and car. The wood store, because it’s right opposite the backdoor, and it’s easy to grab along with boots, umbrella etc. The car? simply because I haven’t put it back in the store.
The Billy has proved tough and resilient, surviving being left outside, as well as being thrown with other kit into the boot/trunk, and generally, I’m ashamed to say not being looked after quite as well as it should have been.
The new 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 looks to be made of the same tough stuff, with the same diameter legs and once again standing at an impressive 1.65m maximum height.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 is one of those tripods that you can take anywhere and use anywhere. It’s not a specialist support; more the support that should always be with you.
It’s the right weight to go unnoticed on a backpack, small enough to pack in the car and easy enough to carry that you always feel it’s better to take it than leave it behind.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 is the tripod you need if you don’t own a tripod, have a tripod but want something lighter, have a travel tripod and realise it’s useless.
Leg sections: 4
Load capacity: 18kg
Colours: Black with blue accents & Blue AirHed or Black with Copper accents with Black AirHed
leg angles: 23 ̊, 55 ̊, 80 ̊
Build and Handling
Part of the beauty of the old Billy was its simplicity. It managed to pack in useful, usable features while still being a solid. The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 steps up those features with the new tri-plate, twist locks, removable legs, accessories port and head knobs.
Taking a look at those features, and foremost of which are the three removable legs.
Like the 3LT Billy, the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 can be dropped to ground level. However, now that the legs can be fully removed the Billy 2.0 instantly becomes a true micro tripod.
The rubber feet, Bootz, can be fitted out of the box, but then you also have the option to fit the Heelz, Clawz, Vanz or Stilettoz.
One of the most obvious visual changes of the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 are the blue aluminium rings around the twist locks. Despite the aesthetic changes, the twist locks seem to give the same purchase as the older all rubber versions, which isn’t a bad thing.
I can imagine that this design may be more robust over the years, but to me, it feels like they’ve been added for aesthetics more than functionality.
Next up is the tripod canopy; all three legs can now be removed. If you unbolt all three legs and the centre column, they can, in theory, all be bolted together to give you a massive 4.2m pole.
In practice, this puts a huge amount of strain on the joints and isn’t a good idea, or even suggested by 3LT, so don’t try it. Just to see what would happen I gave it a go anyway and the bend in the poles that resulted prevented me from pushing it any further.
However, link a leg and the centre column together and you get 1.7 m pole, more than enough for a decent length mic boom, or of course, monopod.
Removing all three legs and the centre column and as mentioned before the canopy can then be dropped down to ground level. Attach one of the Foot options, and you have a very robust and high-quality desktop tripod.
Staying with the legs, the shims in the twist locks have also been updated. These enable even easier removal and replacement for cleaning.
The tri-plate is a component that has been completely redesigned, with a far more machined and refined look; it’s also much easier to attach hooks and loops. I wasn’t sure that the old version needed updating, but after a few weeks with it and going back to the Billy I suddenly realised just how much more usable this design is.
Moulded into the bottom part of the canopy is a 1/4-inch thread, this takes any friction arm or other accessory. It’s basic with no rotation stop, even so it works well enough.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 is topped off with the small AirHed; this is very similar to the old version but again gets a refinement makeover.
The knobs for the pan, ball and clamp lock are full metal and knurled, giving the head a good high-quality feel. The base plate also sees the edge chamfered off to enable an easier fit and release.
Overall the new features and refinement of design give the tripod a higher quality feel. Now going back to the Original Billy, I can see how far 3LT has come, refining their products through experience and investment in the latest manufacturing techniques and processes.
Let’s get this straight from the outset. The original Billy and this new Billy 2.0 are not replacements for solid standard tripod’s. Rather 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 is a lightweight full height tripod that is your go-to. The tripod that you have with you whatever you’re doing.
On a shoot, both video and stills, I’ll have my larger tripods that I use in a professional capacity, but then for every day use I have Billy. It tags along for various reasons, to hold a Mic, Lamp, additional camera, or to act as an impromptu table base.
When I’m not working, and I’m just in the forest on a walk, it’s the tripod that’s strapped to the side of my backpack. It’s that kind of a product. You get so used to it being with you that you feel a little lost without it.
So, the new 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 has a lot to live up to. It needs to be as lightweight, resilient to a lack of care, always ready and ultimately robust and reliable.
Over the weeks, I have had the tripod so far, I have left my original Billy at home leaving 2.0 to fill the gap. I’ve done this before and it’s been tricky, other tripods have almost, but not quite lived filled the gap. But, here with the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 I haven’t really thought about the difference; it works just as well.
Actually, that’s a lie, it exceeded expectations. The ability for it to transform into a micro tripod or mic boom has come in useful more than once. Then there’s the addition of the accessories port, a feature that makes it worth buying on it’s own.
The first time I took the tripod out was on a filming job that was brought to an abrupt halt due to rain. Rather than packing up for the day, I used the Billy 2.0, minus the legs, as a desktop mic stand and was able to get on with some voice over work, it was a simple change of use and while I had mics etc for the filming I didn’t have any type of mic stand so this worked perfectly.
As with the previous model, the monopod leg can be used as a mic boom and often is. Just handy!
Aside from the specialist use the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 also performed well as a standard go-anywhere tripod. Strapped onto a backpack and its compact profile and small weight added little to my back’s overall weight.
Folding out the legs and popping the camera on top, the tripod feels firm. Used for capturing a few landscape shots the tripod provided the steady base that I wanted. There is some flex in the legs, but then for the diameter, that’s to be expected, but pop a bag onto the centre column loop and the support gained is solid.
I shot several long exposure shots over 5 seconds using a Nisi 5-9 Stop, and the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 provided the stable wobble-free base I required.
The one feature that I was excited about and had wanted to appear on this model was the accessories port. It’s a simple addition but works well, enabling a friction arm to be screwed into the side and tightened. Once in place, an accessory such as an ATOMOS Ninja V can be attached.
The accessories port is as simple as a screw thread in the side of the tripod, a small addition that makes a huge difference.
Is the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 better than the Billy? Yes.
The additions to the design, such as the three removable legs, accessories port and new tri-plate all make a huge difference to the function and use of the tripod.
The original was good. However, the new version is a leap forward, both in function and refined design.
My initial impressions were that the updates and additions had been added for aesthetic appeal. That thought was quickly dismissed the more I used the tripod in various situations.
The new twist-lock design enabled free and easy adjustment of the leg sections and offered a quick set-up in conjunction with the built-in spirit levels.
It’s worth mentioning, as I haven’t as yet, that the leg shims have changed making them easier to replace when cleaning the tripod.
The removable legs give greater flexibility over how the support can be used and where it can be positioned. The accessories port now makes this tripod equally suited to lightweight video use.
The Billy 2.0 is the ultimate swiss army knife of a tripod. It might not be as weighty and solid as many larger tripods, but it’s the one you’ll always want to be with you.
It strikes that careful balance between functionality, weight and size, and ultimately is one of the few tripods that should find equal appeal with professionals as it does with enthusiasts.
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