The SmallRig Heavy-Duty Fluid Head Tripod AD-01 is a careful balance of material and price. SmallRig has taken the design of a heavy-duty video tripod and made a version accessible and affordable to entry-level filmmakers.
There is, of course, a balance to be made. High-quality plastics and some CNC metal are used in place of the usually ultra-robust and heavyweight metal build normally associated with this support design.
SmallRig has made sacrifices on materials types rather than quality, which although it results in a slightly less sturdy base, it’s still not bad.
Ultimately SmallRig has done an excellent job of balancing price with materials and function. The price makes it highly affordable for any entry-level DSLR or Mirrorless filmmaker. The build quality is excellent, as is the finish, but the swap in some materials makes it feel less robust than its more expensive equivalents.
Easy to use
Baseplate Ronin compatible
Not as sturdy as some
What is the SmallRig Heavy-Duty Fluid Head Tripod AD-01?
A video tripod’s function is somewhat different from that of a stills tripod. Essentially one is designed to capture static images, while the other video. A video tripod needs to enable the user to pan and tilt the camera smoothly to follow subjects as they move across a scene. Because of this movement, video tripods generally need to be heavier, so they don’t move as the camera is moved.
Features such as a leg spreader, weight, bowl and the fluid head are common features that all enable you to film and pan with the action smoothly.
SmallRig has designed this tripod at the entry-level, which means that while it features everything needed for a video tripod and the design and finish are excellent, the materials used are slightly lighter-weight.
A video tripod must be solid and support your camera while enabling free and easy movement. Due to the nature of the video, the maximum height of video tripods is often far greater than the stills support equivalents, so these tripods need to be able to supply rigid support even when fully extended.
The SmallRig Heavy-Duty Fluid Head Tripod AD-01 is a lightweight example of a video tripod. In use, despite the elegance and quality of SmallRig’s design and manufacturer, you can feel where better materials are usually used to ensure that rigidity.
Small features such as the articulate feet are extremely simple; the feet are just small pads that give a good amount of grip but not the huge surface contact you’d expect with higher-level models.
Then there are the leg braces, securing levers and lower single section leg that do the job but are not designed to be pushed on an everyday basis to the maximum extension. The bowl is also a little rough when positioning, and it doesn’t have the smooth positioning that I would usually like to see, especially on a time-critical shoot.
However, this is an entry-level video tripod and not a professional one. It provides very decent support at a normal working level, and if you need to extend it to full height, it will be a little less rigid than professional models but nevertheless, it will provide the support. Once set up, the leg spreader does the job, but there’s no flexibility in adjusting the distance.
In use, the SmallRig Heavy-Duty Fluid Head Tripod AD-01 proves to be a very competent video tripod; once the positioning and camera level are set, the fluid head is incredibly smooth. This smoothness enables accurate and easy panning.
The leg adjustment levers are metal and beautifully finished, making the leg length adjustment very easy and quick, and when secured, they hold the legs in position firmly.
Overall while the SmallRig Heavy-Duty Fluid Head Tripod AD-01 might not be as solid as some of its more expensive rivals, however, SmallRig has done an incredible job of balancing materials, weight, quality and price.
When the SmallRig Heavy-Duty Fluid Head Tripod AD-01 arrives in its high-quality bag, this video tripod looks and feels like a professional piece of kit; the finish defies the price set by SmallRig. The tripod instantly impresses with a high-quality feel.
Opening up the tripod and setting up the camera, you start to feel why this is aimed at the entry-level. The small feet, the single-pole final leg extension and plastic used on brackets where you usually expect to find metal.
However, while the tripod might not be as solid as some, this also means it’s lighter by some way. This makes it easier to move around the set and use in tight and small locations.
While the SmallRig Heavy-Duty Fluid Head Tripod AD-01 might not feel as Heavy Duty as some, it goes some way to compensate with the high-quality finish and precision. SmallRig has essentially made a tripod with the functions and features of a tripod of a higher-level tripod on a smaller budget.
In use, while it might not weigh in at the same as pro-level video tripods, however, that doesn’t mean that it’s flimsy. With a Sony PXW FS7 mounted, the tripod provided the firm base required.
Overall, for the price, the design and features can’t be faulted; for anyone starting as a videographer then, this is a great solution. For those who are more experienced and expect their kit to be subjected to heavier use, I would look for something more robust.
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