Essentials is a series featuring products we’re currently lusting over in quick, easy to digest posts.
Tripods are perhaps one accessory we rely on a lot but give little credit to. I mean, they’re just tripods, right? You plant it on the ground, attach your camera, and it just sits there doing its job. But did you know that tripods can be cool as well as functional? We had a chance to test out the new 3 Legged Thing Ray tripod and the new Airhed VU ball head, which are a part of the 3 Legged Thing’s new Legend range of tripods and accessories. The Ray is an ultra-compact carbon fiber tripod that not only looks great but also functions well too, while the Airhed VU is a precision-engineered ball head with a cool viewing panel. Let’s take a quick, closer look after the break.
3 Legged Thing Ray Tripod
- 5 section legs
- Load capacity of 66lbs (30kg)
- Available separately or with the Airhead VU ball head
- Available in Earth Bronze or Metallic Slate Grey
- O-Pads, which provide better grip
- Detachable legs which allow the tripod to convert into a tabletop or low-level shooting tripod (additional footwear sold separately)
- Anti-Rotation Locks
- The rapid latch system allows users to easily change leg angles
- Magnesium alloy airflow canopy reduces weight but increases strength
- 8 layers of 100% pure carbon fiber and magnesium alloy
- Ray tripod legs $329.99
- Ray tripod kit $429.99
Airhed VU Ball Head
- Precision engineered ball head with viewing panel which enables you to see the inner workings
- Supplied with QR Octa and Arca Swiss compatible plate
- Load capacity of 88lbs (40kg)
- Available in Ocean Blue or Metallic Slate Grey colors
- Weighs just 12.9 oz (0.80lbs)
- Detachable clamp (can be used on any other device with a 3/8″-16 thread
- Color-coded knurled knobs improve leverage
- 360-degree panning base
- Integrated bibble level
- Airhead Vu $169.99
The 3 Legged Thing Ray Tripod
I personally stopped lugging tripods around with me quite some time ago because of just how heavy and cumbersome they can be. On a long hike, tripods can undoubtedly make their presence known, but this hasn’t been the case with the 3 Legged Thing Ray tripod. The tripod, named after photographer and skateboarder Ray Barbee (who is a Leica ambassador), is incredibly light thanks to its carbon fiber construction. The tripod is also very compact (just 14-inches long) when completely collapsed. The 3 Legged Thing Ray is also lovely to look at too, thanks to its fun colors (either Earth Bronze or Ocean Blue), which are a tribute to Ray Barbee’s creativity.
The fresh designs are all well and good, but how does the 3 Legged Thing Ray perform in the field? Honestly, very well. The tripod itself has a load capacity of 66lbs, while the new 3 Legged Thing Airhead VU balled head has a load capacity of 88lbs. The first thing you notice is that the locks on the legs of the tripod have smooth, chamfered edges which allow you to get an excellent grip on them, and then you see the large O-Pads, which make the locks even more comfortable to hold and twist. The Ray is a 5 section tripod that takes very little time to set up and lock down into your favored position thanks to clips at the top of the legs that make it easy to angle the legs into one of three positions.
The center column of the 3 Legged Thing Ray also extends so that you can make the height ‘just right’ too. I do have to say, though, that with the center column extended, it did introduce a little bit of play and wobble into the tripod, but not enough to make you think it wouldn’t be safe and secure. Overall, the 3 Legged Thing Ray is nice and easy to use. The locks do a great job at tightening things down, the tripod is easy to manipulate, and as far as travel tripods go, it’s pretty stable. Don’t take that as meaning it’s not very stable: it’s just that by nature, travel tripods aren’t as steady as more robust offerings. I had no problems while having my gear attached to it, and I felt that all was safe and secure.
Another cool feature that will come in handy in these times of COVID-19 and web streaming for work is the fact that you can buy optional footwear. In the image above you can see the 3 Legged Thing Ray with the Vanz footwear attached. You simply remove the legs, screw in the footwear and you have a tabletop tripod that can easily hold your camera so that you can Zoom or stream.
3 Legged Thing has also introduced a new ball head with their Legends collection too. The Airhed VU is precision-engineered from aerospace-grade aluminum, and the ball head features a unique viewing panel that enables you to see the inner workings. Not only does the ball head look cool, but I also have to say that it is, without doubt, one of the nicest ball heads I have used.
The oversized and color-coded knobs make it easy to make fine adjustments. Loosen the ball head, and you’ll be treated to an ultra-smooth experience as you position your camera. The color-coded release knob, which lets you know visually that you’re about to release the included QR Octa and Arca Swiss compatible plate, is a nice touch too. The clamp is detachable as well, so if you wish, you can use the clamp with another device with a 3/8″-16 thread. If you like creating panoramas, the 360-degree panning base is also incredibly smooth when in operation.
Overall, I have to say that the 3 Legged Thing Ray tripod and Airhed VU ball head have been a delight to use. I’m a big fan, so much so that I will start carrying a tripod around with me again on my adventures. The 3 Legged Thing Ray is stylish, easy to use, lightweight, and folds down into a beautiful compact unit that is easy to carry around. The Airhed VU ball head offers ultra-smooth operation and exceptional stability, even when under load.
The 3 Legged Things Ray is available without the Airhed VU ball head for $329.99, or with the Airhed VU for $429.99. The Airhed VU is available separately from the Ray Legend series tripod for $169.99. If you’re looking for a lightweight, travel-friendly tripod with some cool design elements that can support a ton of gear, check out the Ray from 3 Legged Thing.