A video tripod needs to provide a rocksteady base as the foundation for your camera work. The 3LT Tommy is that exact base, not only does it support your camera, but has a few helpful extras. The first being three detachable legs, enabling you to create a monopod or ultra-long mic boom. Next, with all legs removed and optional VANZ feet in place, you have a handy ground-level tripod. There are a few small issues, such as bubble level and accessory port positions, but these are small quibbles. Ultimately Tommy provides an outstanding foundation for your cinematic creations; it’s rocksteady, light and versatile with worthwhile extras that make it stand out.
Extremely well made
Three detachable legs
Lightweight legs for video
Accessories port needs rotation lock
What is the 3 Legged Thing Tommy?
Video tripods are generally differently designed from stills tripods, which makes sense as they’re used in very different ways. If you think about it when shooting stills, you’re static, and the camera on the top is static. However, when it comes to video, you want a stable base, but you also want a base that lets you pan and tilt the camera.
In recent years there’s been a blurring of the lines between stills and video photography, and the Tommy and partner Nicky are a testament to this evolution.
Looking over the construction of Tommy and it’s obvious that this issue of movement with video has been a major consideration with the design. Tommy has been built big, with large diameter leg sections with a decent spread that helps minimise the effect of an operator moving the camera on top.
Setting the Tommy up with the flat plate instantly shows Tommy pedigree, it’s as solid as they come, yet unlike other video tripods, it’s incredibly lightweight for its size.
Leg Sections: 3
Leg material: Carbon fibre
Maximum height: 1.62cm
Minimum height: 15.6cm
Folded length: 73cm
Leg angles: 23°, 55°, 80°
Maximum leg section diameter: 35mm
Bowl diameter: 75mm
Tripod weight: 2.59Kg / 5.7lb
Maximum Payload : 60kg
Checking through the Tommy’s features and this video tripod instantly starts to look interesting.
The maximum height reaches a very respectable 1.62m, and the minimum height is just 156mm. As we’ve come to expect from 3LT they’ve thrown in a tripod bag with the legs. This bag, unlike those provided, or not provided, by other manufacturers, is high quality and much the same as tripod bags that you’d buy for £50 or more.
Packed down the tripod measures 730mm and fits neatly into the bag. The sizing of the bag is designed for the legs only, so a further bag is needed for the head, which is not uncommon.
The three leg sections are made from eight layers of 100% carbon, of which the largest has a diameter of 35mm. This gives the leg set an instant quality and robust feel.
The leg sections can be released and tightened using the large twist locks; these feature large O-Pads which make locking and unlocking the legs easy.
Each of the legs sections has a quick latch that enables the legs to rotate through three angles 23, 55 and 80º. This gives plenty of flexibility when it comes to height but also enables you to adjust the level of support.
Before moving on from the legs, as with the other Legends products that we have seen recently all three legs are detachable, this means that the VANZ feet can be attached to the canopy so that the tripod drops to ground level as a micro tripod.
The legs sections, with the feet removed, can be bolted together and turned into a mic boom. Alternatively, you can use each leg as an individual monopod with a max height of 1.73m.
That support is hefty with 3LT quoting an incredible load capacity of 60kg / 132 lbs. Testing this out and it’s perfectly possible to stand on top of the flat plate without worrying too much about the effect on the tripod.
Tommy comes supplied with a flat plate, with 3/8-inch thread in place. In the bag, you’ll also find a 75mm bowl option. Swapping the two around takes a couple of minutes and is an easy enough task. It’s good that they’ve given you the option and supplied that option in the bag.
On the canopy, there’s a 1/4-inch thread too. You can use this to attach a monitor or other accessories; one issue is that there’s no locking thread, so friction arms need to be bolted in tight. The other is that the bubble level is in the same location, and with accessory in place, the level can be obscured.
As a set of legs go, Tommy has a decent set of features which will appeal to many filmmakers. While those features add to the usability, they have been factored in with a design skill that still gives the legs themselves a very simple and sleek design and look.
Recently with 3LT tripods, we’ve seen a bit of change. Helping them to stand further against countless other manufacturers, the company has invested in the design and manufacture of their products well beyond Sci-fi designs and colours.
What they’ve done is to invest heavily in the manufacture techniques, especially the machining of the parts. The obvious use of CNC machining is highlighted in the quality construction of Tommy more than any other 3LT tripod.
The quick latches are the most functional example of the CNC use, the machining is elegant, and aesthetically it’s very tactile, but CNC brings far more.
This type of machining is more accurate than traditional casting; this means that where you may find slight play in some joints on normal tripods, everything here is tight and accurate.
It gives the entire tripod a feeling and aesthetic quality that elevates this to another level. There’s no doubt about the quality of the materials or manufacture.
All the metalwork from top to bottom is exceptional, although the spider web design mixed with the Sci-fi is an odd mix, but it’s all very 3LT.
Ultimately whatever you think of the small design flares none of it detracts from the absolute quality of the piece.
That build quality comes to play when Tommy is in use, the tight accuracy of the leg joints, easy and smooth leg sections extraction and the rigidity it provides through those thick carbon section legs all adds up to a very accomplished tripod.
For years, due to budget constraints, I had to use a stills tripod to shoot video, there was just no way around it. It worked well enough and out in the field recording videos there was very little to fault with the use.
However, as I moved from DSLR to larger cameras, I moved to video tripods for additional stability. Stills tripods were fine for static shots but get some movement in, and you need that extra stability.
Times have changed, and tripods have advanced, and there’s a new breed of single-leg video tripods. They’re by no means cheap, but they’re, but those I have looked at have so far been exceptionally good.
Tommy has some stiff competition, but at this price point it’s outwardly simple looks, lightweight and stability will appeal to many videographers.
In this test, I fitted the 75mm half bowl with a Manfrotto 502 video head – not the fanciest head in the world but one that can always be relied on for solid performance.
I used the tripod set in several locations and on four shots in total, in the more straight forward corporate interviews the tripods lightweight design made it easy to position and use in a relatively tight environment surrounded by lights and cameras.
During the shoot, the tripod performed well and provided the firm steady base I was after, really very little to fault, but to be honest not a particularly taking use for Tommy.
In the next shoot, I had quite a bit more space, this time a facilities virtual tour. Again the lightweight and manoeuvrability of the tripod was a winner; I forgot to take notes for the most part as the tripod was just part of the kit. The only additionals I would have liked to have seen would have been a set of wheels and a clip-on spreader for the legs so that it kept it’s form as it was moved around.
The final shoot of note was in a field shooting a scene for a short film. Here again, the ability to quickly adjust the leg height in a field situation was of real benefit, and the tripod provided stability required to do several fast pans without thinking about it.
Overall Tommy performed well, as lightweight, stable legs there’s very little to fault. My only issue is that when the legs are folded for transport or carrying across a field than can cross over, so a simple leg tidy bracket and strap could be a useful optional extra.
In the end, I didn’t make use of the accessories port, there’s one on the head, and this was better positioned. Not using it also meant that I could easily see the bubble level.
If I were to use this tripod long term, then I’d fix a small hook to the accessories port, or cable tidy.
Video tripods are changing and the 3 Legged Thing Tommy is right at the front of that innovation and development. Although single leg rather than tradition dual Tommy provides the solid base you need as a videographer.
In use the CNC machining means that all leg angle adjustments are accurate and precise, there’s no battling with cold fingers trying to push a button to adjust the leg angle.
Likewise, the large twist locks and O-Pads give excellent purchase enabling you to unlock and lock leg sections as you need easily.
There are a couple of points that I felt could have been improved; the first was the position of the bubble level and accessories port, but in the end, this wasn’t an issue in any of my shoots.
Other than that the Tommy provides the solid base you need when shooting video. It’s exceptionally well made and looks great.
Above and beyond most video tripods it offers far more than the steady stock base. The three detachable legs enable you to go from tripod to handy monopod, and you have the option to create a very handy mic boom.
Attach the optional VANZ feet to the canopy, and you instantly have a micro-video tripod, this is really a very versatile tripod.
Tommy is well thought out as a videographers tripod, and at present is one of the lightest, largest and most versatile video tripods out there.
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