Leofoto - A good tripod lasts a lifetime
Unlike most items in your camera bag, a good tripod can last you a lifetime. The range of tripods on offer is pretty overwhelming and that makes it hard to be convinced of your final choice. Therefore, when choosing a new model, it is especially important that the features match your wishes as a photographer or filmmaker as closely as possible.
I have been advised well on this tripod and I have written down my experiences with the Leofoto Urban RF-284CT during the winter season. The specifications are promising, but does the tripod also meet the requirements in practice?
Written by Ruben Klink
Ever since Ruben can remember, he has been fascinated by views. Flying with a camera gives him an unprecedented sense of freedom. Landscapes become works of art that can be seen on Rubens website.
The important features of the tripod
I work mainly in the mountains where the terrain and weather conditions can be challenging. The model may be from the Urban range, but in this case that says little about its performance outside the city. In making my choice, I looked first and foremost at the three features that I consider to be the most important: weight, ease of use and sturdiness.
1. The weight of the tripod
As an adventurous filmmaker and photographer, I try to keep the weight of my backpack as low as possible without compromising on quality. Of course, there are always lighter tripods to be found, but then you automatically sacrifice sturdiness and balance in harsh weather conditions. I will come back to this later. The Leofoto Urban RF-284CT weighs in at 1.64 kilograms, including the XB-32 ball head. For a tripod of this size with a maximum working height of 166 cm, this is exceptionally light and for me no problem to carry along on longer trips. The low weight is mainly due to the legs, which are made entirely of high-quality carbon.
2. User convenience of the tripod and ball head
The Urban RF-284CT tripod
How fast are the legs to fold in and out? Do the ball joints and dials work the way you want them to and do you enjoy taking the tripod out of your bag at all? Let's face it, a tripod can be essential for your work or hobby, but it can also be a pain in the butt.
In this respect, flexibility is the magic word and the area where a tripod can stand out from the rest. I dare say that Leofoto has understood that without a doubt. The rotary knobs of the legs are large with a lot of grip. This allows you to loosen them all in no time, but they are also easy to adjust individually. The legs also slide out smoothly without ending up in a free fall. Handy for when you want to make a small adjustment. A nice detail is the rubber grip on one of the legs. Fortunately, the carbon fibre legs feel less cold than aluminium in winter conditions, but this too can feel uncomfortable in the long run. The grip makes it easier to hold the tripod and you can continue to operate it properly even without gloves.
The XB-32 ball head
In the end, the ball head is the part that really needs to be right. There is nothing more annoying than spending minutes trying to get your camera onto the ballhead. And also to give it the right direction. With the XB-32 ball head, this process is effortless and intuitive. With the Arca-Swiss quick-release plate, no tools are required, and the rotary system locks the camera firmly in place within a second. Especially the large grey rotary knob on the ball head works very well. This dial gives you a lot of control and micro-adjustments are easy to make without the camera changing direction too much. It is also easy to get your camera in a vertical position with the same dial. The shaft can also rotate 360 degrees for panorama shots or to smoothly follow a subject during filming.
3. The sturdiness of the tripod
Despite the fact that my camera body and lens often weigh no more than 2 kilograms, I still need a sturdy tripod that will remain solid and stable. Especially since I regularly work in windy weather conditions. When you hold the Leofoto Urban RF-284CT in your hands, you immediately feel its solidity. This system is designed to remain stable in strong gusts of wind and practice has confirmed this.
"This system is designed to remain stable in strong gusts of wind and practice has confirmed this."
High up in the Austrian mountains, the tripod stood outside all night with wind force 7/8, so that the next morning I could take a beautiful timelapse of the starry sky from the memory card. The spikes that come with the tripod, which you can screw under the legs, came in handy here. For even more downward stability, you can attach extra weight to the hook of the central column.
My conclusion about the tripod with ball head
The Leofoto brand is a relatively young player on the tripod market and has to compete with big established names. Maybe the company is young, but Leofoto products are in no way inferior to the competition. The Urban RF-284CT is a professional and high quality tripod that you can rely on.
"The Urban RF-284CT is a professional and high quality tripod that you can rely on."
For me, it is the perfect combination of lightweight and the right amount of stability. This product can take a beating and you can feel it as soon as you touch it. The headset also works as it should and I am a big fan of the mounting system and the headset dial, which you can also operate with gloves. If I had to mention a point of improvement, I would like to see more freedom to bring the camera in a vertical position across the entire axis. This is not a big obstacle in practice, but it might speed up the workflow just a bit.
All in all, Leofoto delivers an excellent product with the RF-284CT at an interesting price/quality ratio. This tripod will be part of my equipment for the next few years and I am already looking forward to the next adventure!