The people at K&F Concept contacted us recently to see if we’d like to review one of their newest products; a compact, well-specced carbon tripod. We said yes, and they sent it. Two months later and this tripod has been with me on rocky seashores, trails in the woods, an actual blizzard, and on the mean streets of Cambridge. Alright. The streets of Cambridge aren’t so mean. Point is, I’ve used it a lot and I have opinions.
The KF-TC2534, as it’s named, is what certain people might call an “off-brand” tripod. What that means, exactly, I don’t know. I guess it means that it’s made somewhere that isn’t Germany or Italy, and that it doesn’t cost $1,000. The former point I couldn’t care about less, and the latter I’m quite pleased with. Some of those “on-brand” tripods are ludicrously priced and aren’t so special. This tripod costs approximately $170, and it’s pretty damn fantastic.
Out of the box we’re looking at what most people would describe as a perfectly capable tripod. Highlight specs include carbon fiber construction capable of extending to 66 inches and supporting up to 22 lbs, a 360 degree ball head with built-in level and locking Arca-Swiss style camera mount, and a center column that’s capable of inverting for ground-level and macro shooting. Add to this such finer accoutrements as a spring-loaded stabilizing weight hook, removable feet, portability straps, a detachable monopod, and locking everything, and this is a tripod that appears to be, at least on paper, every shooter’s perfect solution.
And this supposition bears out. The tripod works great. I just returned from a winter walk through a blizzard, with all the sideways snow and generally horrid conditions that come with such climatic events, and the tripod stayed strong. With the rather chunky Leicaflex SL2 mounted, things were stable. With the Sony a7II, things were stable. Despite the low light, the wind, and the sodden, uneven terrain, my shots are sharp. My cameras stayed upright. Set up and stowing were fast enough to avoid frostbite. By all measures, this tripod did its job.
That should be enough for most readers. If you need a general purpose tripod and this tripod is within your budget, buy it. It’s great. For the detail oriented, let’s dive in deeper.
The product comes in a nice box. It’s made of cardboard. People who enjoy unboxing videos might enjoy this box. Me? I opened it and got to the good bits. Inside was a surprisingly robust carrying case with a handle and shoulder strap. That’s good. Inside this bag was the tripod, yes, but also an Allen wrench, a shorter center column, a bag for the ball head, and a manual. Extra stuff, half of which you’ll never use.
Collapsed to its travel height of just 19 inches, and weighing under 4 lbs, this is one of the more portable options on the market. The legs swing outward, and locking spring-loaded metal tabs click deftly into place. To fold the legs in the opposite direction, we press on these tabs to release the locks. Simple, and effective. These components feel well-made and appear to be anodized aluminum. With my lovely readers in mind, I locked the legs in place and tried as hard as I could to break the mechanisms by leveraging against them. I couldn’t do it. The carbon legs are smooth and feel, to me, like quality. They’re robust, rigid, and were impervious to impacts incurred by my “hit it with the nearest hard object” test (this object happened to be a giant, metal Manfrotto monopod from the 1990s – how poetic).
The legs extend via twist locks. Normally I’m not crazy about twist locks. They can be slow and clumsy, and can loosen over time, especially when those locking collars are made of plastic. The ones found here are made of metal, clamp securely, and don’t demonstrate any play. They work well, though they are a bit slower than lever locks. The center column can be adjusted higher and lower by approximately 12 inches with ease, which is great for quick height adjustments.
The ball head has a friction adjustment for rotation plus degree markers, and large knobs for adjustment. It can be removed from the center column and placed on the monopod, or switched to the underside of the center column for low-to-the-ground work. It’s made of a big, dense block of metal, and feels fantastic. The built-in level works as one would expect, and extends away from the plate enough that we’re able to view it even when a camera’s mounted. The camera mount is of the clamping Arca-Swiss style and features bump stops for lateral movement, which any seasoned tripod user will immediately appreciate.
All of this is pretty standard fare in a tripod. What’s most unusual here is the level of quality that accompanies this functionality. For sure, this tripod’s build is not on the same level as something from Gitzo. But it costs much less and works well enough that most shooters won’t ever be left wanting. And that’s the real point. Expensive, luxury tripods are nice, but this “off-brand” offering from K&F Concept is as much tripod as most shooters will ever want or need.
Sure, the monopod is pretty silly, (it’s a bit too flimsy and seems like a gimmick). And for shooters who need extending boom capability, for those who need a tripod to withstand an earthquake, and for those who want their tripod to cost $1,000 and say “Made in Germany”, this is not the right tripod. But for all other photographers, and at a cost of only $170, this thing will be hard to beat.
Want this tripod?
[This review was written based on products supplied by the manufacturer. Casual Photophile has not been paid to review this product nor was this review influenced in any way by the manufacturer. Casual Photophile may receive compensation when readers purchase products from our affiliate partners.]