The Leofoto LS-324C build quality is superb and I have no doubt that this tripod will last for years. These days it’s rare to see a manufacturer take a different approach to the design of their supports, but that is exactly what Leofoto has done with the LS-324C.
It’s not a massive break from the norm, nor is it a major innovation but the removal of an integrated centre column goes a long way into making an impressive product. The height might not meet my personal requirements but on almost every other factor this tripod is close to perfection.
- High-quality build
- Relatively low height
- Single thread accessories port
What is the Leofoto LS-324C
I’ve tested many great tripods, and on the flip side, many that have made me seriously worry about the sanity of the manufacturer.
Either way, exceptional or dire, both usually have one thing in common; the manufacturer has done something different that makes their tripod stand out.
The Leofoto LS-324C is one such tripod, on the surface, it looks normal enough, but then you realise out of the bag there is no integrated centre column, it’s just the three legs and head. OK, it’s not mindblowing innovation but still, it’s different enough.
Get it out in the field, and the lightweight design, large-diameter legs and attention to detail mean that the features quickly stack up to almost being one of the best tripod I’ve ever tested.
What holds it back? Very little truth be told, it’s a personal thing but its just the wrong height for me. Thankfully there are more options in the range, which is very exciting.
Leofoto is relatively unknown in the UK or indeed globally, which isn’t a surprise as the company was only founded in 2014.
As a newcomer in a crowded space, the company needed to do something different or at least need to be seen to be doing something different, which is exactly what they have done.
That difference is the removal of the centre column, it’s just the three legs and the head, this cuts down on weight and material. If you do want a centre column then one is provided in the bag and can be bolted in between the tripod crown and head.
An approach I like as I rarely if ever use the centre column and if I do it’s only due to laziness and bad practice. I often use the 3LT Winston tripod for this exact reason, height and weight is ideal, and the innovative design enables me to lose the centre column without an effect on the performance.
Heralding from China Leofoto have chosen to enter the market at the mid to high end, with their own designs, materials and quality components used to ensure a high-quality product.
I’ve taken a look at the LS-324C with LH-40 head, although a quick check through the site and you’ll see that there are a huge amount of options.
The LS-324C is a mid-height tripod, not quite full height, but good for hiking and coupled with the LH-40 ball head provides a payload that will comfortably support a Sony Alpha 7III, Canon EOS R or other mirrorless with any lens and filter kit I wish to use.
There are few tripods that feel this well finished, Gitzo maybe, this really is a level up from the quality I’ve seen from other Chinese manufacturers.
The tripod itself without the centre column is quite compact at 1390mm, this can be extended to 1705mm with the addition of the two-section centre column.
The centre column measures in at 315mm fully extended and bolts in between the legs and the head. The addition of the centre column feels like a tick box task, there because people expect a centre column when they buy a tripod and for no other reason. In reality, it will probably remain in the bag for the life of the tripod.
Another size feature that is made possible by the removal of the centre column is the tripods overall diameter at 96.5mm. Checking this against a handful of other tripods and it is about 1-2cm less than most. This diameter reduction further helps with packing the tripod into compact backpacks when travelling.
Minimum height from the ground is just 170mm, and dropping down to this level is straight forward, as there’s no centre column to get in the way.
The size and design of the tripod make it ideal for trekking and travel, and the company actually file the LS-324C under their Ranger product line.
Packed down the tripod measures in 570mm and features four leg sections which enable the compact size.
Weight wise the tripod comes in at 1.93kg with the LH-40 head, a touch under the 2kg mark. This weight is decent for a tripod of the size, especially considering the diameter of the legs sections at 32, 28, 25 and 22mm.
Finally, the LS-324C has a maximum load of 15kg, so more than enough to hold and mirrorless and lens combo and pretty much any DSLR and lens combo you can think of.
The tripod I’ve tested is a tripod and head combo with the head being the LH-40. It’s a significant piece of kit and again, like the tripod is beautifully finished.
It features an Arca Swiss style plate which makes it compatible with other mounts. It features a 40mm ball which enables smooth adjustment and has a payload of 20kg, 5kg more than the legs.
Height wise it measures in at 85mm and weighs in at 0.54kg.
Like the tripod, it has some interesting features including the dual drop notches, a nice feature although I’m not sure how useful those will be.
It also has friction control and a panoramic base.
Build and Handling
The build quality and finish of the Leofoto LS-324C LS-324C stands out.
From the high-quality fabric bag that the tripod arrives in, to the quality of finish of the legs, mechanisms and head.
It all feels durable and the anodised finish of the tripod stayed looking fresh throughout the review period.
After using a tripod for a week or two on a near-daily basis you get a pretty idea of how that tripod will perform over the long term.
Attention to detail when it comes to material choices such as the brass washers between the legs and crown ensures a smooth but firm leg angle adjustment. The leg angle adjuster stops are accurately made so there is no wobble or movement in the lever, it’s all just smooth and precise.
Likewise moving down to the leg twist-locks and with the wide diameter leg sections, each leg lock is reassuring solid as you twist to lock or release a section.
Moving from the legs to the head and there are three main knobs that control the actions.
Dominating one side of the head is the main ball release knob, combined with the friction control knob on the other side of the head this gives you full smooth accurate control over the heads movement.
The other smaller knob below the friction control is the panoramic base lock. Once released the pan works smoothly again enabling accurate control.
The whole tripod is precisely made, there’s no wobble or play between parts it all feels nice and tight, something that is very rare.
Setting up in wet conditions, and the wide rubber foot easily finds decent footing in most conditions.
The large diameter twist locks make it exceptionally easy to release and lock the legs as needed, and finding a decent height and a level base is easy.
Once set the small bubble level positioned on top of the clamp enables you to check that everything is level. The position of this is set to be at the back of the camera enabling you to view it when the camera is in place.
Setting the camera on to the clamp and the bolt holds the Arca Swiss style plate good and tight. The main bolt is positioned under the lens so there’s no way you’ll accidentally undo it while adjusting the ball position.
Utilising the friction control enables smooth accurate control and with the main ball head lock knob being of a decent size, it’s easy to use in all conditions, from wet through to freezing.
Having used the tripod in streams and the generally boggy ground that is in abundance at present the materials of the tripod faired well. The twist locks and ball head control knobs were expertly designed to always enable good purchase when needed and plenty of torque to tighten and loosen as required.
Despite the far from ideal conditions or rain and mud, the leg locks remained free of dirt and a quick wipe down would generally leave the tripod in good working order with little other maintance in the short term.
One feature that stood out was the small accessories port on the side of the crown. These ports have been gaining popularity with the increase of video.
It’s a nice feature and enables you to quickly bolt a friction control arm into the 1/4-inch thread. This can be used to attach a mic, monitor or light.
The Leofoto Versa arms are similar to others on the market and aren’t as finessed as the Manfrotto equivalent but work well enough once bolted in tight.
Leofoto LS-324C review verdict
A four-section tripod would not be my first choice, nor would a tripod that isn’t full height, yet despite this, the Leofoto LS-324C impressed.
The overall build quality is superb and I have no doubt that this tripod would last for year.
There are only one or two features that give me hesitation about actually buying this model, and at TPS this year, 2020, I’ll be checking out the full range at the Hahnel stand.
What are those reasons? Four sections and height, I want a tripod that’s two or three sections, 175cm in height without the centre column and that’s it.
The only other point is the 1/4-inch thread for the accessories. This is a simple thread, like the one found on the Benro M3. It works as long as you bolt the friction arm in good and tight but it’s nothing compared to Manfrotto’s EasyLink design.
With EasyLink, once the friction arm is attached it’s attached, with this style of simple thread there’s no way to stop the arm rotating if nudged, which gets annoying especially with a Ninja V attached.
However, these are small personal thoughts, the LS-324C is an outstanding tripod, ideal for trekking and travelling.
It’s compact, lightweight and provides one of the most solid bases for any tripods I’ve tried.
The head is well thought through and provides all the movement and adjustment you could want. I’m really impressed.
There some stiff competition out there, and while the search for the ideal tripod continues, the LS-324C is very close to perfection.