Reviews |Explorer Photo & Video EX-ACPRO Accent

Explorer Photo & Video EX-ACPRO Accent Review

Heavy duty tripod without the weight

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review
Review

Price when reviewed

£438

$589

Our Verdict

Through the British winter, I’ve been using the Explorer EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional Carbon Fibre Tripod. It’s a full-height tripod that packs down relatively small, and the weight makes it an easy choice if I’m going out trekking to take landscapes.

While testing the Explorer EX-ACPRO, it has proved itself invaluable in these cold conditions due to the big twist locks, smooth leg action, and solid support it has provided. The large head does feel a little over-engineered, but really in these freezing conditions, it’s been the ideal support solution.

For

  • Removable plate design
  • Easy to adjust
  • Large twist leg locks

Against

  • Optional centre column additional cost

What is Explorer Photo & Video EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional?

The Explorer EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional Carbon Fibre tripod with EX-XL Epic Explorer Extra Large Ball Head is a full height heavy duty tripod. The design and build are one up from many tripods on the market with a high-quality finish that gives this model a premium feel.

This tripod has been designed for the high-end amateur and professional user who place additional demands on their kit. For instance, there is no centre column, so no micro height adjustment, but this means that you’re always going to have maximum stability whatever the leg length. Just as a note, an optional centre column unit can be purchased separately if you really feel the need.

The head is extra-large, so that this tripod will offer maximum support whatever size of the camera, from compact Sony Mirrorless to Phase One. There’s also nothing fiddly about the design; everything is easy to access, tighten and adjust; it’s all about getting the level base you need to take the picture with minimum fuss.

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review

The Explorer EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional Carbon Fibre tripod with EX-XL Epic Explorer Extra Large Ball Head is expensive. Still, it’s aimed at those who are more than likely making a living or at least part of it from photography and need reliable kit that won’t let them down.

Build and Handling

The Explorer EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional Carbon Fibre tripod with EX-XL Epic Explorer Extra Large Ball Head is exceptionally well made, from the carbon legs to the metal machine work.

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review

The construction of the tripod is different from the mainstream, which I’ll come to in a bit. But starting with the four-section carbon legs. Three large twist grips secure the 32mm, 28mm, 25mm and 21mm leg sections. These twist locks are quite standard, with no waterproof seals on the inner.

When it comes to cleaning, disassembly of the leg sections is easy, and the inner shims are of the cap design, so they stay in place and are easy to refit when needed.

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review

Each foot’s base comes with a standard rubber shoe, which can be fully unscrewed and replaced as needed.

Moving to the crown and each leg offers a 3-step angle adjustment with the widest angle enabling you to drop the tripod close to the ground, which offers plenty of flexibility.

On the side of the crown, there are two accessories screw threads, 1/4 and 3/8-inch, where friction arms to attach accessories can be added.

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review

There’s also a clamp knob that enables you to release the tripod plate so the EX-ACPROCC centre column and other Explorer accessories can be fitted.

The kit I’m reviewing features the EX-XL Epic Explorer Extra Large Ball Head, which is screwed into this plate. This is one of the largest ball heads that I have seen on a tripod of this type and is more than capable of holding securely almost any stills camera you can think of.

Despite its size, the weight is surprisingly small due to the clever holed out design that means that the head only weighs in at 562g yet has a payload capacity of 40kg.

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review

Again the head is well thought out with a large adjustment knob on the side that includes friction control and full 360º rotation for panoramic shots.

The base clamp is Arca Swiss compatible and features a small bubble level to ensure maximum compatibility.

Performance

Out in the field, the first thing you notice about the tripod is the weight or lack of it for the size. This is a full-height tripod, and while the 2.28kg weight is more than most compact tripods, it’s one of the lighter full height supports out there.

Of course, the tripod comes with a protective case, but as ever, I dumped this and attached it directly to the outer of my backpack. A rubber grip on one of the legs makes it comfortable to hold and acts as a good strap grip when securing to a backpack.

Considering its size, the lightweight of the head provides a well-balanced tripod, so securing the head down or up to the backpack is an option. With heavier heads, I always secure the tripod upside down but then have to be careful not to damage the head when setting the backpack down in some conditions.

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review

Setting the tripod up is quick, with those large twist locks enabling the fast release and locking of the leg position. The leg action is also nice and smooth, with the legs easily dropping down into position without a fight. The leg action was still good even when the tripod became covered in mud and water.

Once the tripod is set, the small bubble level on the crown can then be used to find the correct level before securing the camera on top.

Finally, the camera can be popped on top and secured when ready. Through the test, I used a Sony A7 III with a variety of lenses and also fitted with an L-Bracket which fitted and secured in place perfectly.

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review

Adjusting the camera position with the large adjustment knob was easy and smooth. The friction can just about be adjusted with your thumb, but generally, once I’ve initially set it with a small amount of resistance, I don’t go near the friction adjustment again.

In use, the Explorer EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional provided the firm steady base I was after, ideal for long exposures and was especially useful in cold conditions. The large twist locks made for an easy set-up, with the large ball head enabling easy, accurate camera positioning.

Final thoughts

The Explorer EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional is a fantastic tripod; it’s difficult to fault its use. It’s a true full height tripod that provides a steady base. It also offers plenty of flexibility with accessories and an optional centre column available for purchase if you need one, which you shouldn’t.

All these small extras make this a tripod ready for the demands of today’s photographers. The accessory threads on the side, the ability to swap the feet for your intended terrain and the optional drop-in centre column make the EX-ACPRO a very flexible tool.

I like that this tripod comes without a centre column; on my standard tripod, I removed the column as I rarely, if ever, used it, and it just added weight that I didn’t need. The Explorer EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional is a robust offering. Although the weight means that it won’t be the tripod I go for every day, it will be the tripod I use when I need to do something serious, especially when testing filters or taking long exposures.

Explorer EX-ACPRO Review

The build quality and design are fantastic, and it has proven that over the test period, it can withstand more than a knock or two and is perfectly usable in all sorts of conditions. The Explorer EX-ACPRO Ascent Professional is a great option for anyone looking for a solid, lightweight and reliable support option.

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