Review: 3 Legged Thing X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System with AirHed 1 Blue

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I was introduced to 3 Legged Thing at Photo Plus Expo 2012 and was in the market for a new tripod. Upgrading to a full frame camera meant heavier lenses, and the tripods I owned were not measuring up. They were either too heavy to carry everywhere, or not strong enough to handle my new gear. The people from 3 Legged Thing introduced me to X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System, and I was very impressed. It seems a lot of thought went into the production of it–so I was thrilled to finally use it.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Great looking
  • Lightweight
  • Extremely versatile.

 Cons

  • The screw that comes with the OEM tripod plate must be tightened with a flat head screwdriver.
  • When the center pole is extended completely with a heavy camera, it is slightly wobbly without weight hanging off the ballast hook.

 Gear Used

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Tech Specs

3 Legged Thing Brian Specifications from Adorama

  • Leg Locking Mechanism        Friction Dial
  • Construction    Carbon Fiber
  • Leg Sections   5
  • Load Capacity             8kg/ 17.63 lbs.
  • Monopod Height         Min Height: 360mm/14.17″
  • Max Height: 1300mm/51.18″
  • Tripod Height Min Height: 170mm/6.69″
  • Max Height with column removed: 1260mm/49.60″
  • Max Height with column retracted: 1350mm/53.14″
  • Max Height with column fully extended: 1930mm/75.98″
  • Folded Height Without head: 400mm/15.74″
  • With head: 400mm/15.74″
  • Maximum Leg Tubing Diameter         24mm/0.94″
  • Ballhead Control         Pan, Lock and Clutch
  • Ballhead Height           100mm/3.93″
  • Base Width      56mm/2.20″
  • Ball Diameter 36mm/1.41″
  • Plate Size        50mm x 50mm/1.96 x 1.96″
  • Ballhead Weight          470g/1.03lbs
  • Monopod Weight         222g/0.48lbs
  • Tripod Weight 1105g/ 2.43 lbs.
  • Kit Weight        1575g/3.47 lbs.

Ergonomics

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3 Legged Things X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System feels absolutely nice. It isn’t heavy. Rather, it’s a good size, nicely balanced, and very easy to work with.

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AirHed 1 Blue  is a joy to work with. This ball head is very strong and able to work with a good amount of weight. I have had my Nikon D700 with its grip along with a Tamron 28-105mm f2.8, without an issue. It moves fluidly allowing you to easily set up your shot. The blue color helps it stand out in the forest.

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The plate is titanium coated and easily secured to the tripod. It has a very solid feeling, minus the OEM screw. This was easily fixed by using a Black Rapid Fastenr. This works best with the 3 Legged thing plate actually, like they were made for each other. Once the Fastenr is on, it makes the plate brilliant. Now compatible with my Black Rapid strap, it gains a whole new functionality. I keep the 3Legged Thing on my D90 while I have a Really Right Stuff Plate for my D700.

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Spring Ballast Hook is strong and easily accessible. It holds a decent amount of weight, stabilizing the tripod a bit more.

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If you need more weight to stabilize the  X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System, a Stone bag is available as an optional accessory.

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The  leg latches are multi notched allowing the legs to be set at different levels.

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The screw that holds the ball head is pretty sturdy.

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It also reversible sporting a 1/4 addition so you can put on a camera or flash.

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Another accessory is the 3LT Heelz. Made from stainless steel, it adds a bit more stability in dirt or gravel situations.

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Brian has a  built in detachable monopod  allowing for more flexibility. It can be used for hold a flash up high or for an interesting self portrait.

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The Magnesium Alloy Extension Tube (24mm) gives you a little extra reach if you need it, and hides away nicely in the Tripod bag. Hex Key is basic, and does its job.

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The carry case for Brian is one of the best I have ever seen for a tripod and lightweight.

Build Quality

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3Lts  X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System is an extremely well put together tripod. The legs have a unique locking ability that works very well. The reversible legs move and lock easily. Having the three section central column works very well when you need all the height you can get or do not want to extend the legs all the way. The Tripod travels very well and is easily mounted to your bags or carried in it is on. The carbon fiber makes it light and strong at the same time. Everything about it feels solid.

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One of the things that sold me originally with the 3 Legged Thing Brian was the ability to use it  as a light stand. The tripods I owned were not tall enough. 3 Legged Things Brian was. You see, I could not travel with my standard light stand on the train. A tripod, however, would work. Brian, when fully extended, was actually perfect. Partnered with a Wescott X-Drop I had a near perfect travel kit for head shots.

 Ease of Use

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The only issue I had at first was using the friction  locks. After familiarizing my self with them, it became an easy feature to use. The legs extend extremely quickly. Getting it out to shoot in any situation was never an issue.

Travel

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Whether I was carrying the Brian Evolution 2 in its own bag or attached to one of my bags, it was remarkable to travel with. I had this multipod on trains and buses, and I walked around town with it. Its weight made it easy to maneuver, and its size allowed it to be out of the way, even on a crowded train.

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With The Brian Evolution 2, I was more willing to travel with a tripod. I usually don’t walk with a tripod on photo walks or nature walks. With the Brian Evolution 2 the only thought I had was “Why not?” as it was a pleasure to walk with.  Being able to adjust the legs quickly was a plus.

For Macro and Low Angle Photography

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The tripod section of the Brian Evolution 2 was reversible. When I had to do a low angle shot I did not have to take the center column out to do so. If you want to, however, the center column was easy to take out. It could not be easier to use in low angles. I like doing low angle photography and the only issue I had was if the center column was fully extend, I had to wait for the camera to be still before I took the shot.  The lens I was using was so wide I had to have the legs wide to keep them out of the shot.  When shooting low angle macro I did not have the center column fully extended so there was much less vibration.

Here are some images shot with the 3LT  X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System

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Conclusions

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The 3 Legged Thing X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System is astonishing. It was almost like the Swiss army knife of tripods.  This tripod left me confident I could use it for anything.  It’s actually more of a multi-pod, which, for its cost, offers a massive amount of practicality. For me it has everything I need and more. I had this tripod in so many different situations, and it never failed me. I took a long time with this review but I kept finding cool things about Brian. I was learning about lighting, and Brian had a function for that. I had to do a head shot, so I put an umbrella on Brian. I decided to do some low angle photography in front of a water fall, land scape photography, walking with it as a monopod etc. etc. etc., and it performed beautifully.  I can’t honestly think of any other tripod that has satisfied me this much. As a result, the X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod System gets my highest praise.

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Tripods are like cars. They have their basic function. It’s all up to the users to decide on what details they want.  Three Legged Things Brian seems to have everything I need and more. I am even more impressed than I was when I first encountered this tripod at Photo Plus expo 2012. I wish natural disasters did not get in my way of using it sooner. Getting time to finally use it for the first time was a joy. 3 Legged Things Brian may become my gold standard for tripods at this rate.

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Gevon Servo

Gevon Servo aka @GServo is an eclectic, NJ/NY Photographer. He’s a Nikon shooter, by choice nevertheless, will always test any piece of photography equipment. He believes that like ‘Photography’, ‘Coffee’,’Beer’ and ‘Comics Books’ and other things ‘Geek’ “You must try everything once to discover what you want to try again.