Tiltall is part of the Kaiser Fototechnik network and their latest tripod the TC-224 is a quality if expensive support.
I say expensive; I’m always shocked at just how much of mark-up carbon tripods seem to have. But still at close to £300/$300 for the legs only it does seem a little excessive.
The TC-224 is a travel style tripod, just tall enough to be useful and light enough to go unnoticed on a backpack.
But, there are plenty of tripods that match that criteria so the big question is what are you paying the extra for.
Tiltall has been around since 1946 and historically like it seems all good tripods, originated in Italy. From the look of the tripod and packaging, the company pays on this heritage and is aiming their tripods at the mid to premium end of the market.
The overall quality of the tripod is admittedly good with a solid build and quality finish. There are also a few nice finishing touches such as the knurled metal work around the top plate of the centre column, grub screws ensuring everything is kept tight and retractable spikes in the feet.
But, the quality is marred by cheapish feeling rubber grips around the twist locks, and then there are the foam grips around the legs, again these don’t feel like high quality.
In use, however, the TC-224 acts as any decent tripod should: the joints are all reassuringly tight, and the leg angle adjusters work well supplying you with a sturdy support.
The issue is Tiltall is charging a premium, especially when you look at the likes of Benro, Vanguard and 3LT all who produce excellent tripods.
The Tiltall is good but not exceptional, at just sub £300/$300 and at this height I want it to be outstanding. The quality of the rubber around the twist locks and foam around the legs only don’t reflect the price tag whereas the rest of the tripod build does; it’s a bit of a mix.
Tripod / http://www.kaiser-fototechnik.de / £295.95 / $289.95 at time of review
Tiltall is a name that despite having been around since 1946, I’ve not seen before. Checking through the history and it seems that two Italian Brothers initially devised it and the company is now in Japanese ownership.
Checking through the product range and the list of tripods is impressive, but as ever it’s only when you get the product in your hand, you can see if it’s any good.
When the box arrived, the heritage of the company was instantly apparent with a logo of an old medium format being tilted through the angles on an old style tripod, nicely reinforcing the brand’s heritage.
Open the box, and the tripod certainly looks the part, nicely finished metalwork and, wait, those twist grips look cheap. Only a full on out in the field test will genuinely show if the Tiltall has what it takes.
Let’s get straight into the feature and analyse them as we go.
Firstly this is the TC-224 which is the smallest of the TC range, which consists of the TC-244, TC-254, TC-284 and TC-324, these are all carbon models with four section legs.
The max tube diameter is 22mm, which is pretty slender, but the carbon tubes feel like good quality and seem to be pretty scratch resistant.
Max height is 137cm which brings the top of the camera up to about chin level with the centre column raised, or 114cm without.
The minimum height without the centre column is 14cm, which is pretty good.
Folded length is 40cm; this means that it will fit inside most day packs, so it is a good option if your off and away on holiday.
As with seemingly all tripods these days, there is a monopod leg, this gives a height of between 67-143cm which is just about usable.
The max load for the legs is 8kg, which is impressive, anything from 5kg up is average.
Overall weight is 0.96kg, just for the legs, the Tiltall BH-10 or BP-40 is recommended.
Build and Handling
The overall build of the tripod is solid, from the top plate down to the feet there are small design touches that go toward justifying the price tag.
At the top, the plate is all metal with a rubber pad to help avoid slipping once your head of choice is fitted. There are also two grub screws that help secure the head in one direction and top plate in the other.
The top plate one needs to be left loose if you want to drop the tripod to ground level, and likewise, there’s another grub screw at the base of the centre column that also needs to be left loose.
This may seem annoying, having to loosen or tighten grub screws. In reality, you do it the once; then if you know you want to drop out the centre column then leave the grub loose, if you don’t leave it tightened.
The centre column is held in place by a twist lock, and this can be released and locked easily. This movement is relatively smooth and more than a half turn is needed to release the friction fully.
The centre column can be dropped out so the tripod can be laid close to the ground or inverted for Macro shots. The process for either takes between 30 seconds to a minute.
The crown is solid and machined metal; it looks great and as sturdy as they come. Around this are the three legs, the leg angle adjusters are spring loaded and easy to operate with a push.
The twist locks around each of the legs sections work as well as any. A quick twist releases the section, and another locks it in place. The twist locks themselves work well, but the rubber grips that covered them felt a little on the cheap side.
Dropping down to the feet and initially, they look like standard rubber feet, on closer inspection you see that inside the centre is a small metal spike. Twist the foot, and you see the retractable spike emerge, this is a nice touch and works exceptionally well.
I coupled the Tiltall tripod legs with a 3LT AirHead and the match between the two was perfect.
In use, the legs provided the support I was after without issue. Setting up the tripod was fast with the three twist locks fitted in one hand, so each legs locks could all be released as one.
The extension of the legs was also smooth, and the tubes once released moved easily, once the twist lock was tightened the sections locked in place firmly.
The leg angle releases were also precise and well made, enabling the easy adjustment of the leg angle with the camera mounted.
I did find that the max height of 137cm with the centre column fully extended a little too short for me, so would probably opt for the TC-284 (162cm) or TC-324 (174cm) max height with column extended.
I rarely use a monopod, and in the case of the TC-224, I found it easier to drop a single leg and leave the other two retracted when I did want the freedom offered by single leg support. Using a monopod leg just seems like a faff.
Used as a monopod it is nice and light, but again at just 143cm maximum height, it was just a little low to be useful.
Overall the tripod performed well and supplied a great firm steady base when I needed it. Setup was quick, and the quality of the majority of the parts seemed excellent.
My only reservations are the quality of the rubber around the twist locks, an issue that only time will highlight, and the foam rubber around the legs, which also feel relatively cheap.
However, with a five-year guarantee if there are any issues with the rubber or foam, then you should be covered.
Finally, a valuable addition is the tripod bag. This is of excellent quality, probably one of the best made that I’ve come across, which does help to reinforce the tripods overall quality.
The first impression of the Tiltall TC-224 was good, it felt of decent quality, and despite its the compact size and weight, throughout the test it proved itself a quality piece of kit.
At the end of the test, I have no reservations about the overall structural and material quality of the tripod itself. Mechanically it’s sound, twist locks, leg sections, retractable spikes and all feel designed to last.
I do however have reservations about the quality of the rubber, I’ve seen similar rubber used on other tripod and while they’re excellent for a year or two they start to split under prolonged use.
There’s nothing to say that this will happen here, but I’m wary of this type of rubber. The foam on the legs is another thing; again, I have no proof that it won’t do what it supposed to do or last; I just have a feeling.
That five-year guarantee, however, covers you and usually, if a company is willing to offer that type of warranty, then they have the confidence that it will last.
Overall the Tiltall TC-224 is a great tripod, compact, lightweight but for me a little too short. If 137cm is a proper height for you and you’re looking for a lightweight tripod, then this could be a good option, but at close to £300/$300 it is an expensive option.