I shoot a lot of real estate — A LOT. I like to talk about the latest cameras and lenses for the highest possible image quality. However, there’s one underrated aspect about long exposure photography I like to emphasize as well. It’s difficult for me to obtain a nice tack sharp photograph without a solidly built and stable tripod.
I have two main tripods, a iFootage 65″ carbon fiber video tripod and the Really Right Stuff Ultralight Tripod TFC-33 Mk2. I bought the iFootage as a back up to the Really Right Stuff, but I find that I’m using the iFootage more, even though it’s roughly a third the price. Allow me to tell you why.
A quick comparison
iFootage 65″ carbon fiber video tripod
- Lightweight — 4.2 lbs.
- Nice maximum height — 63 inches
- Easy to fold and unfold with the latching buckles
- Not terribly refined, notably the extending and closing of the center pole, it’s very “grabby” and hard to extend and retract
- Screws that maintain the tension of the tripod legs become loose and are in regular need of tightening
- Not much else
Really Right Stuff Ultralight Tripod TFC-33 Mk2
- Lightweight — 3.72 lbs.
- Very refined and well put together
- Center pole extends and retracts with ease
- Pinnacle of solid construction
- Impressive maximum load of 50 lbs.
- Folds into a very small footprint, outstanding for travel
- Price — it’s very expensive
- I’m not a fan of the twist lock design — to slow to extend and retract — productivity killer
- Not much else
First up for me is the build, and both tripods are solid and lightweight. The Really Right Stuff (RRS) has a distinct advantage here as it is both lighter weight and has a greater load capacity.
I also find the RRS to be more refined and better machined. Its pieces and parts move and interact with a refinement and smoothness that’s clearly superior to the iFootage. Notably, the center pole mechanism on the RRS moves smoothly while the iFootage is very “grabby” and not refined at all. It may not seem like a big deal, but this lack of refinement is very apparent to me in everyday situations.
I’ve also found that over time, the legs of the iFootage get loose and need to be tightened regularly, otherwise the legs will dangle and flop around like wet noodles. The RRS remains tight and solid with the same level of day to day usage.
Build quality winner: RRS
Ergonomics and ease of use
There really isn’t much to separate the two tripods in the ease of use department, however, speaking for myself there is one very specific attribute the iFootage has that the RRS does not.
Specifically, I’ve never been a fan of twist locks. Nearly all of the RRS tripods use twist locks to keep the legs in place when they are extended and retracted. It may seem like a minor detail, but in day to day usage, twist locks slow me down. Considerably. It’s a productivity thing, if I can open and close my tripod quickly and efficiently, like I can with the locking buckles on the iFootage, I’ll gravitate to the tripod that’s easier to open and close. I’ll put up with less refinement and a notch or two of lower build quality for greater productivity.
The feet of the iFootage are a bit more versatile as they have both a nice rubberized base for interior shooting and spikes if you’re working in the elements.
The RRS has a few nice advantages as well. If you like to travel, this particular tripod folds down into a very small footprint that can fit into most carry on bags. The lighter weight is a nice bonus too. This is especially important when you consider the RRS can handle up to 50lbs., which is a three times advantage over the load capacity of the iFootage.
Though those things are nice, they’re not critical for me in the way I use a tripod. Most of my gear’s combined weight comes in well below the iFootage’s capacity of 17lbs. The higher weight limit of the RRS is nice, but it doesn’t come into play for me. Meaning the iFootage takes ergos by a hair.
Ergonomics and ease of use winner: iFootage
Most important to me is value. Both of these tripods offer a lot for the money. They are lightweight, sturdy and stable carbon fiber. Both hold more than enough capacity for everyday usage in the field. In spite of it’s better build and greater refinement, I still be prefer the iFootage over the RRS for one primary reason. I prefer locking buckles over twist locks, that feature allows me to be more productive. Your needs may be different, but I wish RRS would make. a tripod with locking buckles instead of twist locks.
Factor in the iFootage is only a third the cost and it’s easy to see the iFootage as a better value.
Value winner: iFootage
Who wins out?
Though both of these are outstanding tripods, it’s hard not to favor the iFootage over the Really Right Stuff. Though clearly the RRS is much more refined and much better machined and built. I find the iFootage easier to use and that’s almost exclusively to do with the choice of locking mechanism. The buckles on the iFootage are just so much easier to use. Factor in the price difference than the iFootage’s shortcomings are very easy to justify. You may have different needs than me, but for my money, I’m buying an iFootage … maybe two?
Overall winner: iFootage
I’m curious to hear your reasons for buying one or the other over another tripod. What are some of your specific needs? Sound off in the comments below!