I like big, beefy, sturdy tripods — ones that don’t blow over with a strong gust of wind. I need them to stay rock solid on uneven surfaces for hours at a time during long exposure photographs. This is typical of a night photographer.

However, different tripods fit different needs. Tabletop tripods are great for tight, indoor spaces where my other tripods might be too large and clumsy. 

Tiny and light

Oben CTT-1100 with its legs fully extended.

My first reaction upon opening the box was how small the Oben CTT-1000 was, despite having the ball head already attached and not being folded down. This was something new to me. The tripod was just 10.4 inches (26.41 cm) before extending the legs.

The second surprise came immediately after the first. It felt very light at 0.98 pounds. To give you an idea of what I am used to, the two ball heads I use weigh as much or more than this tripod and ball head together! My Acratech GP-s ball head weighs 0.9 pounds and my Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head weighs 1.9 pounds.

Other first impressions

I extended the 3-section twist-lock legs and opened them several times. The CTT-1100 felt solid and precise. I locked down the ball head and tried to move it. It felt solid and immovable.

I attached their included QR-CTT1000 Quick Release Plate to the rather heavy Pentax K-1 DSLR with an old Pentax M Macro 50mm f/4. This weighed approximately 2.5 pounds. Then I was able to easily slide this on to the ball head and tighten it without issue. Again, everything felt solid and tight.

I am used to a tension knob on my ball heads. Consequently, this ball head seemed to go from “locked in” to “really loose” in a hurry for me. This was exacerbated by using a rather heavy camera. Regardless, when it was locked on, it felt solid.

The camera felt solid even when extending the tripod to its full 15.5 inch (39.37 cm) length. So far, so good.

If I spread the legs out completely, the height of the top of the ball head was approximately five inches (12.7 cm) from the surface. This is the lowest this tripod can go.

Testing for stability

All tripods move. Sorry, they just do. The majority of it typically comes from the head and quick release mount. Some can also come from vibrations through the legs.

I decided to put the Oben to the test by using a 50mm macro lens. Using a macro lens would allow us to see even the tiniest movement right away.

Multiple exposure macro photography test

One of several tests for tripod stability is a rather practical, easy test. I took multiple exposures using a remote shutter release so I would not touch the camera itself. Then I set my camera for three different shutter speeds, 1/160s, 1/30s and 0.5s. After this, I loaded them as a “stack” in Photoshop.

All three of these tests showed no discernible movement even when zooming in at 100%. If I had wanted to “focus stack” or blend the photos, I could have done so without any issues. The tripod was steady even when the legs were fully extended. This was impressive considering I was using a heavy camera with a macro lens, which can show even tiny movements.

Multiple exposure macro photography test with 3-section extender

Conducting the multiple exposure test with the Oben CTT-1100’s 3-section extender extended a third of the way. I also tilted the camera down to make the test slightly more rigorous.

The Oben CTT-1100 also comes with a 3-section extender, creating another 12 inches (30.48 cm) of height. This is not an attached center column. It is a separate piece which requires that you screw it on to the tripod and the ball head.

Employing the extender at just a third of its full extension already made the tripod more unstable. The setup felt more precarious — although not in danger of falling — and introduced more vibrations. For this reason, I never use a center column on any of my tripods. I did admittedly tilt the camera down some making it even harder for the tripod to maintain stability.

I performed the same multiple exposure test as before. All three of my tests at different shutter speeds, there was discernible movement when viewed at 25% and 100%. Remember that this test was done really zoomed in with a macro lens. The photos were close enough that I could have shifted the photos by a pixel or three and most likely have been able to blend them together if this is what I wanted to do.

A discussion of load capacity

Oben claims that the maximum capacity is 11 pounds, which would be an extremely heavy setup. In fact, I briefly mounted the Pentax K-1 (2.04 pounds) and the hefty Pentax HD PENTAX-D FA 15-30mm f/2.8, which is 2.29 pounds. Although the tiny Oben showed no ill effects, I personally didn’t feel comfortable having it hold this hefty combination together for long. If it weren’t such an unbalanced front-heavy load, I’m confident there would be no issues.

The general guideline among tripod users is that the user’s load capacity should be at least three times the combined weight of your camera, lens and tripod head. 

Given that the combined setup of the tripod and the hefty Pentax setup is 4.32 pounds, this exceeds those common guidelines. Therefore, my unease from that heavy setup was warranted. 

However, the 2.5 pound setup for macro with the tripod weight for a combined weight of approximately 3.5 pounds still sits within the guideline.

As an aside, the load capacity for my typical night photography setup is five times the combined weight of my camera, lens, and tripod head. I tend to overdo more than most people.

Stable for just about anything

The Oben CTT-1000 impressed me with its build and stability. It won this large tripod user over after employing the multiple exposure test with a macro lens. I would definitely recommend this for any application requiring a small desktop tripod.

After all, if it’s stable enough to photograph macro shots with a heavy DSLR camera … it’s stable enough to do just about any other application.

Oben CTT-1000 Carbon Fiber Tabletop Tripod

The CTT-1000 Carbon Fiber Tabletop Tripod from Oben is a three-section support with carbon fiber-constructed legs, which have twist leg locks that turn and enable you to extend the legs to a maximum height of 15.5 inches. Even with the legs fully extended, you can remove the ball head and screw on the included three-section extender that adds 12 inches in height. This extender places a camera at a higher shooting angle for recording an interview or shooting a portrait. Each leg has a rubber foot, which prevents the tripod from sliding on smooth surfaces and the rubber feet are removable, which reveal spikes to stabilize the support on soft terrain.