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Gear Review: Oben Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

Just Enough Tripod & Then Some

At some point every photographer needs a tripod. How much tripod depends on the specific needs of the photographer—are you a landscape photographer, portrait photographer, still life, nature, or street photographer? Maybe you’re all of these at one time or another. What kind of camera do you use? Do you favor big DSLRs, medium format, or are you old school, with a big-ass view camera? If you shoot with a giant , heavy camera, you probably already know you should have a big tripod—if you are in full-on Ansel Adams mode, trekking through the wilderness, you’ll need a carbon fiber tripod for stiffness and weight considerations!

What about for the rest of us? Well… for anyone shooting with a smaller than medium format digital camera, I now suggest a less is more approach, unless you use large 200-600mm telephoto lenses all the time. The Oben carbon fiber travel tripod is perhaps just enough tripod for most of us! I recently had the opportunity to test the Oben CT-3451 Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with BE-113T Ball Head, a very compact gem of a tripod that has become my go to tripod for my Fujifilm X-series cameras!

Lightweight Oben
The Oben CT-3451 is extremely light weight, making it a perfect match for my Fuji X-Pro2

The Oben is only 17″ when folded for storage in its padded carry bag with a maximum height of 61.3″ and a minimum height of 8.9″—this is one versatile tripod. One thing I always prefer is twist-lock legs, rather than lever cam locks. People often say the lever locks are faster, but I beg to differ—with one hand I can unlock all the legs and simply pull all three into position or push all three to collapse all at once, and the twist lock legs are more secure, and last way longer—a very welcome feature of the Oben tripod…

Push-pull
Twist unlock & pull or push to open or close all 3 legs quickly.

The Oben tripod comes with a small ball head with one locking knob for the ball, and a separate knob to control panning, with two bubble levels for horizontal and vertical axes. There is also a nice center mark on the Arc-Swiss type quick-release plate to make it easy to align the plate with my X-Pro2 and the tripod

Ball head
The ball head has all the features you could want.

Another thing that is not always present with ball heads on every tripod, is the ability to orient the camera a full 90° for straight down shooting—the Oben achieves this nicely with a notch cut-out, an absolute must for those times when you need to do some impromptu copy shooting:

Which brings me to the fully adjustable leg angle the Oben tripod provides for each leg individually—something that can be surprisingly useful for uneven footing…

The Oben CT-3451 is very sturdy despite its light weight, and it has a spring-loaded hook at the bottom of the center column that is out of the way when you don’t need it but readily available to hang a weight for extra stability…

A tripod really comes in handy for nature close-ups, and I had ample opportunity to test this out in my garden which has recently erupted with spring flowers, most notably a patch of Lady Slippers under the trees in my from yard…

Up close and personal with some Lady Slippers!
Lady Slippers
Lady Slippers

Fully extended, the tripod is the perfect height for eye-level, at least for an average height guy like myself.

Finally, don’t forget the use of the tripod for video, a real necessity! Besides the obvious application for lock-down or panning shots, the small Oben CT-3451 is great when used as a chest-pod, or in  my case, a belt-pod for amazingly stable hand held shots…

belt pod
Using the tripod this way allows for more stable moving shots for video.

The last thing to mention about the Oben travel tripod is that it has a detachable leg that can be used with the center column, and ball head to make a monopod if that is something that interests you. For me though, the basic tripod is so light and maneuverable that I can’t see any particular advantage to using it as a monopod—you could just collapse the legs together and hold it up like a monopod easier and faster.

So… if you are in the market for a compact general purpose tripod that is light enough to walk around with all day, and small enough to pack in carry-on luggage, then the Oben CT-3451 Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod with BE-113T Ball Head may be just the tripod for you!

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