Maybe the boat is really getting too full. Maybe that’s a good thing for photographers. Good or bad, the past few years have seen an influx of cameras, lenses, filters and tripods unlike anything I’ve ever seen – equipment … literally without end.
So you will understand why I stand in front of you (really seated) to tell you about another new tripod. And this one is different, however; The 4 year anniversary of the Colorado Tripod Company.
Tripods are no stranger to me. I’ve been safe in the “I would rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.Warehouse.
Right now, I estimated the number of tripods I had to be about ten, each with its own uses and benefits, and each with its own specific uses.
I often pull out a quote from Richard Boulware about the ideal tripod when he said of a conversation with Ansel Adams (yes, this one): “The perfect tripod is one cubic meter of solid concrete with a 1/4 “x # 20 screw head sticking out at the top.“I couldn’t think of a better way to describe my experience with the COTC 4-way tripod. No … it’s not made of concrete.
Have no illusions. The 4 Centennial is certainly not a tripod for every situation, nor is it for every photographer. If you are looking for a camera support system that comes close to the stability of Ansel’s concrete block, the 4 Series might be for you.
Let me tell you about it in order to gain perspective from my experience and from the wide variety of situations in which I have tested it over the last month.
Out of the box
Before I even cut the pack open, the first thing I noticed was the weight or the relative deficiency. I knew the specs of the 4 series before receiving the receipt. It’s not small; Weighing just under 2.3 kg and measuring 61 cm, it collapsed.
So you could understand why I was surprised by the perceived lightness and smallness of the box.
I was expecting a giant. A massive tripod. Something that could stop the world if I could get a baseplate big enough for the job. Did I send the wrong tripod? Could I have been wrong in my expectations?
Then I opened the box …
No, I was right. Aside from my beloved ash-legged Berlbach, I knew right away that this would be the largest tripod I’d ever used personally.
If you’re used to a standard tripod fair meant for mirrorless cameras, smaller DSLR housings, or compact tripods that have recently been categorized as “travel tripods,” the 4 Series is likely visually shocking for its general size.
Here is the CTCO 4 series compared to my current 2 series model, which we also tested here at Contrastly.
The reason I’m bringing all of this to your attention is because, despite its initial “wow factor”, the 4 Series turned out to be incredibly manageable in more scenarios than I could ever have imagined. It turned out to be one of my favorite tripods I’ve tested so far.
Aside from the obvious size, the next thing I noticed about the 4 Series is how inexplicably beautiful this tripod is, at least to my eyes. I had requested the matte black version with gunmetal accents (there’s a plain gunmetal model too), and aesthetically it’s a miracle.
Four-part carbon fiber legs, wonderfully handy leg locks, expertly processed in almost every respect. For lack of a better word, the 4 was optically “Perfect. “It also came with three proportionally sized, removable spiked feet.
For example, suppose you are new to using tripods without a center column (I prefer this configuration). In this case, you will be pleasantly surprised at how low the perspective is, even with larger tripods. The 4 can get low … really low.
I think I should stop here for a moment and write a few lines about who I think the 4 Series is useful and who doesn’t. As I mentioned earlier, this tripod is not suitable for every photographer.
But first, take a look at this list of key specs, to put things in a technical context, courtesy of The Colorado Tripod Company.
- Reduced length: 61 cm
- Maximum extended height: 70 cm (178 cm)
- Weight: 2.3 kg with rubber feet
- Maximum load capacity: Unknown
- 9.25 mm (3/8 in.) Head threads
It’s interesting to note that, to be honest, I’m not sure what the total charge capacity of the 4-place tripod is. I can’t find any information on the Colorado Tripod Companies website or in my research. I can provide my personal experience based on the camera settings I ran during my tests. The heaviest of these is the fluid and leveling head I used, the MVH500AH and the 438 leveling head, both from Manfrotto.
Together these heads weigh about 1.59 kg. Add to that the weight of the heaviest camera I took with the 4 series Graflex Speedgraphic pacemaker (call him Marcus), who weighs just under 2.3 kg, and you see about 3.9 kg total weight on the tripod.
While this is a modest weight compared to some video rigs, it still represents the high end of even the largest telephoto DSLR setups. All of this to say I wouldn’t hesitate to run camera systems that double or even three times the size of the setups I shot back then.
Purpose built indeed. While the 4 Series certainly supports smaller SLR, DSLR, and full frame mirrorless or crop sensor (or medium format) cameras, I think it remains a tool for those of us who prefer to shoot with large cameras in larger cameras Formats.
Performance in the field
It is not easy to quantify the performance of the 4-centennial tripod outside of the values already given here. I shot with the 4 Series in the USA. Wet and dry in sand and sun. I didn’t have any problems during my tests.
Check out this video for my thoughts on the performance of the 4-Centennial.
Final thoughts on the 4 Centennial Tripod
I hesitate to assume that if you are looking to buy a 4-centennial class tripod, you probably already have an idea of the equipment you really need. The 4 series is not a tripod for “mild shooting. ”
It’s sizeable (did I mention that?), Extremely rugged, and viewed as more or less “excessive” with the exception of the larger camera settings.
While for practical reasons I would advise that most shooters opt for a smaller tripod system, the 4 series offers incredible value for those who really need a solid platform for their still or videography needs.
At the time of this writing, The Colorado Tripod Company’s 4 Centennial is selling for 499 USD (currently available for pre-order). Considering its impressive build and ease of use, it’s an excellent option for those who need a relatively budget-friendly support solution for setting up heavy rig cameras.