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Tiffen W3 Universal Folding Dolly with Handle

Whether it’s a small video camera or a DSLR you’re going to use in a studio setting, placing your tripod on a dolly can make life much easier than setting up, tearing down, moving, setting up, etc.

I don’t have much experience with consumer-level products like this so I thought I’d toss $40 at Amazon and try the W3 out for myself.

It’s pretty sturdy for $40. The manufacturer says it will hold up to 35 pounds – but to be safe I’d quit at 20 pounds.

I tried it with three different Gitzo tripods and found no problems getting a good fit. The W3 breaks down into a very portable and hand-holdable unit thanks to the handle. It’s much lighter than a professional-level dolly.

The wheels seem to rotate smoothly on carpet, wooden or tile floors. On rough surfaces the W3 is pretty useless. For me this is no problem since I need it for studio use. The wheels each lock into position easily with a press of the foot pedal. Unlocking requires very dexterous toes :)

The W3 has a modest 31″ footprint. This makes it easy to move around in small spaces.

The W3 is noiseless – which is a bid deal if you want to use it for video. I am impressed with it’s ability to support a heavy DSLR in the studio as well. I’m not impressed with its ability to move a video camera smoothly.

Now for $40, you can’t expect perfection. It’s sturdier than I thought it would be but not nearly as sturdy as a pro-dolly. If you have a tripod with a center column, you can make the W3 sturdier by hanging a sandbag off the tripod hook.

I’d be concerned about using this for anything other than the convenience of moving a camera around in the studio before locking it into position. As a tracking dolly, it’s not sturdy enough for my taste.

I’d recommend it as long as you realize you’re getting what you’re paying for, i.e., about $40 worth of stability that works well in studio but not out.

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