As I was looking for a replacement for my 2 year old aluminum Weifeng 595 traveler tripod, I found it interesting to experiment with it.
Since there are not any serious reviews, at least to my knowledge, about the specific tripod and having had controversial experience with other Triopo products which show some very strong points but leave something to be desired like the Triopo RS-3 Ball Head, I was a little preoccupied trying to find out what were the compromises made to maintain such a low price.
But more on that in the following extensive review.
Aramid fiber (mainly used for bullet proof vests) and high-temperature composite made of carbon fiber "Manjuan" which may withstand a stress load of 150kg. With these materials, longitudinal strength increased by 50%, anti-resonance effect by 60%, while toughness was increased by 50%, compared to the traditional carbon fiber tube rigidity.
Further, the new leg tube thickness was decreased to 3mm instead of previous series' 4mm, thus increasing the lower sections tubes substantially. The older GT-228 tripod had max tubes diameters 28,24,20,16 while the new GT-3228 has 28,25,22,19 so that the load-bearing capacity and stability of the tripod is greatly enhanced.
Furthermore, a new twist quick leg-locking system was utilized, where the three locking rings previously used internally, were changed into a single design, the advantage is an effective solution to the former
Another major improvement, adding to the tripods stability is the center hub where the tripod legs connect with the main part. The hub is made by a special combination of forging and CNC finishing production technologies. First a block of an imported high-quality Mag-alloy is forged through a special molding process, and then finished by CNC machinery tools. This process makes it several times more solid than the currently available hubs in the market which are made by the traditional casting technology.
All the above urged me to conduct a search on the net and eBay, where I faced the first contradiction between different seller specs for the same product.
Latest Manufacturer Specifications from the www.triopo.cn site:
According to other Chinese sellers maximum height is 1410mm including Triopo B-2 ball head which was actually the previous specification shown in the Triopo.cn site.
Alternative Specification from the European www.triopo.pl site:
|Maximum Leg Diameter:||28 mm|
|Maximum Height:||1525 mm|
|Minimum Height:||280 mm|
|Folded Height:||445 mm|
|Maximum Load:||15.00 kg|
|Number of Sections:||4|
|Maximum Leg Diameter:||28 mm|
|Maximum Height:||1270 mm|
|Folded Height:||415 mm|
Another difference between the tripods sold by Chinese sellers and the ones by the European distributors is that the Chinese version has an optional and removable leg-grip which is made of padded neoprene with a zipper, while the European version is equipped with a foam rubber leg-grip on one leg as standard.
Finally a few months ago, I decided to find out myself and ordered my copy of Triopo 3228X8C tripod from Foto-tip, the Triopo European distributors in Poland, at a price of EU 165,00 including express shipment. It was Shipped by Fedex and arrived in exactly 5 days at my door, very carefully packed in an extra outer recycled carton box.
First impressions after unpacking were excellent. Starting with the box and following with the very good quality carrying case and the unexpectedly good finish of the very light weight tripod. Nothing seemed to be missing as was the case with other Triopo products in the past.
Starting with the Carrying Case
The case dimensions are a little larger than the tripod's, able to contain it either with legs folded at 180o or straight, but in the later case without a ball head. It is 51cm (20") long and 13,5cm (5.31") in diameter.
The case is made so it can also stand upright and has both carrying handles and a shoulder strap.
There is a reflective fabric band on the top side either decorative or maybe quite useful if you intend to hike on a bicycle hanging the tripod on your back, as is usual in China.
|A quality touch with a 3D rubber Triopo brand emblem.|
|The case zipper is also of strong plastic running from the "base" all the way around the "top"...|
|As previously mentioned the shoulder strap is equipped with two plastic pivoting hooks with spring clasps. Although they seem very light the design is quite elaborate for extra strength. Time will tell...|
Unfolding the Tripod
There is adequate resistance to unfold the legs, with equal force needed at all stages which means that their retaining screws are well tighten without any play.
In order to unlock the leg sections, all three leg locks can be grabbed with one hand and turned counter clockwise simultaneously. Yes indeed it takes less than half a turn to release the legs. But here the excellent impression stops and the first bad impression came up by just doing that. Unscrewing the leg locks is very very easy followed by a harsh sound as metal grinding against metal, which actually is the case since by unscrewing them completely I found only a tiny drop of grease on the threads.
To my disappointment the second bad impression came up when trying to draw out and extend the leg sections. Other sections came out easily and others needed to be dragged, all of them making a harsh sound moving in and out. Pulling each section out, I inspected the thin Teflon inserts that keep the legs from twisting and realized that their finishing was inadequate so as some small protruding edges were grinding the inner surface of the previous sections.
However, more on that later, as I wanted to get into the next thing, what else? To measure and verify the tripod specs myself.
|Measured Specification||(w/o ball head)|
|Leg Sections Diameters:||28, 25, 22, 19 mm|
(1.10, 0.98, 0.87, 0.75 ")
|Leg Angles (degrees):||22°, 48°, 70°|
|Maximum Height Center Column Extended:||1505 mm (59.25 ")|
|Maximum Height plus extra short Column:||1605 mm (69.19 ")|
|Maximum Height Center Column Retracted:||1255 mm (49.40 ")|
|Minimum Height with long Center Column (Legs at 70°):||370 mm (14.56 ")|
|Minimum Height with short Center Column (Legs at 70°):||280 mm (11.02 ")|
|Folded Height :||445 mm (17.51 ")|
|Weight:||1.233 kg (02.72 lb)|
|Maximum Load capacity:||To be verified|
|Maximum Height with extra short Column:||1354 mm (53.31 ")|
|Maximum Height w/o extra short Column:||1260 mm (49.61 ")|
|Folded Height w/o extra short Column:||405 mm (15.94 ")|
|Weight:||!!! 290 gr (0.64 lb)|
Extra Short Column
|Height (length):||100 mm (04.00 ")|
|Weight:||58 gr (02.05 oz)|
Most of the specs accord to the manufacturer specs with the exception of maximum and minimum heights and weight. It is obvious that the manufacturer's height includes a ball head.
Having had a prior bad experience with the Triopo RS-3 Ball Head, it was a nice surprise to find the tripod's total weight less than the specified by the manufacturer and was even more surprised by the exceptionally low weight of the stand-alone monopod.
Leg Sections Tubing & Twist Leg Locks
After reading about the bullet proof Aramid fiber used for the tripod legs, I was expecting a more exotic look for the legs, but the fiber pattern follows the usual twisted parallel stripes of two grey shades. Anyway in my opinion a tripod should not be fancy in anyway, shouting out here I am, but be well made and support my photo gear sound and steady.
|The diameter of the four sections is 28,25,22 and 19mm respectively. The last section is capped with a bell shaped rubber foot which seems to hold well on any surface. The rubber foot is fixed and cannot be exchanged with steel spikes.|
The leg sections lock solid with very little force compared to other legs with twist locks I have used up to now and even fully extended are very stable, without any noticeable movement at the joints when exercising side pressure. Which actually signifies less vibration to be transferred.
More on that in an upcoming Triopo GT-3228X8C Stress Test.
|An explicit drawing of the operation of the twist leg lock.|
(Photo by courtesy of Triopo.cn)
As I mentioned in the beginning when unfolding the tripod, I realized first the metal grinding of the leg locks and further that the thin Teflon inserts that keep the legs from twisting are poorly and inadequately finished. So I decided to take all sections apart and do some refinements.
|Taking care of the harsh noise from the twist locks is easy by applying a thick coat of silicone grease like "Loctite 8104".|
This will enhance the smoothness of operation and improve the weather insulation of the leg locks.
|As for the inadequately finished Teflon inserts, using a fine nail file or a piece of fine sand paper, pass a few times over all the edges of the Teflon inserts to make them smooth and that will do the job.|
However, even after all the remedies done, one of the ∅25mm leg sections remained quite stiff when extending or retracting it, so I started interchanging leg sections to see if there was any difference. Well, it seemed that the specific 25mm section worked better in another 28mm leg-tube, but this proved something that I did not like at all... either there is not any consistency in the leg tubes diameter or the specific 25mm section was out of spec. Something that should not have passed a decent quality control at the assembly line.
Legs Hub & Center Column Stem
The CNC machined and hardened anodized Magnesium alloy hub looks and feels sturdy, with a very good finishing. There is absolutely no slack in the leg joints and I felt the difference immediately upon unfolding the tripod and running an old simple test. That is to grab two of the legs and try strongly to twist the tripod on its legs. The slightest distortion or movement shows immediately a weak center hub or loose leg joints. It seems that Triopo has learned a lot from the former GT-228 problems.
|Similar to the leg log nuts is the center column locking nut, depicted here upside down. It has also an embedded plastic ring that inserts between the stem tube and the center column, locking it almost solid without excess force.|
|Here we can see the plastic insert which attaches to a special groove inside the locking nut.|
Leg Angle Locks
The legs can be set at three preset angles of 22, 48 and 70 degrees as measured by an electronic inclinometer, since there is not any information about this from the manufacturer. (Quite peculiar choices I would say, compared to the usual 25, 45 and 85 degrees of other manufacturers).
Long Center Column
Total assembled length (height) is 330mm and total effective height added to the tripod height when fully extended is 250mm.
Somehow, at Triopo they outperformed themselves with GT-3228X8's center column stability. The fitting between the center column stem and the center column is exemplary. No slack, no wobbling, no vibration whatsoever. It locks firmly and feels far more more stable than many center columns I have happened to use or test up to now.
The center column is 325mm (12.79") long, weighs 124 gr (4,37 oz) and has metal taps at each end, with 3/8"-16 threaded holes. The taps are identical at both sides so there is not any orientation problem when disassembling or assembling it.
|The hook assembly in place. Its diameter is a little wider than the center column acting as a break not allowing the center column to come off when it is fully extended...|
|... Best seen when the legs are folded back 180° for transport.|
Having in mind the very low self weigh against the high load-bearing capacity of this tripod, then this hook is a crucial part. Any heavy camera/lens combination mounted on this tripod should be balanced with a low hanging weight, as your camera bag for example, otherwise a rip of air could trip the tripod down with all the sad results which I don't want even to think about.
However, a good old advice valid for any tripod when shooting outdoors, is to keep your camera strap around your neck at all times. But who does?
|Lowest position with the long center column is 37cm (14.57") without ball head and with the legs locked on the intermediate stop.|
Short Center Column
If we need to go a little further down for macro or wild-life shooting we can use the short column included.
The top plate, the stud and the plastic washer/ring need to be removed from the long carbon fiber column and screwed on the short one.
|Next we need to remove the long center column and insert the short one...|
|Lowest position with the short center column is 28cm (11") without ball head and with the legs locked on the highest stop at 70o.|
Since the included short column does not have an anti twist groove, it can not go all the way down in the center stem.
However, if we need to go further down to ground level, there is always the option of removing the long center column and reinsert it upside down.
However, with a total height of 1260mm (49.6") (even 1355mm (53.35") with the extension) it cannot be considered as a full height monopod, it is a function that may come handy when trying to shoot being in a tight space where the use of the tripod could be impossible.
|The plastic ring, the dual threaded stud and the top plate needed to complete the monopod, have to be unscrewed from the long center column.|
|Placing the plastic ring on the top side of the short center column, the stud has to be screwed by 1/3 of its length...|
|...and then tightened fully with the top plate.|
|Then the short center column assembly can be screwed by its fixed bottom stud in the top leg hole.|
|Monopod complete, with a total retracted length of 505mm. Needless to say that keeping it in two parts until needed, it can easily fit in many photo gear cases of back packs.|
Attaching a Ball Head
My original intention was to use this tripod with the low cost Triopo RS-3 Ball Head equipped with the Triopo B-2 Quick Release Clamp. However, after spending a little time with it and after overcoming the initial frustration about the manufacturing flaws, its stability and resistance to vibration started gaining on me and made me change my mind. Therefore, I decided to spend a "little" more on a true traveler ball head like the Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR Traveler Ball Head with a lever release, on which I have a review published.
|The Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR 's small foot print fits perfectly the Triopo's 180 degree folding design.|
The ball head weighs only 360 gr adding very little to the total transportable weight.
|The legs fold perfectly ...|
|...from any angle.|
|The outcome of this combination is a very stable and functional traveler solution.|
Working with the Tripod
There were not so many chances for outings, so as to test the Triopo GT-3228X8C hard and in all possible situations, but the few chances I had, proved some of its very good attributes.
|Fully extended reaches a height of 1590mm with the Sunwayfoto DB-36TRLR attached.|
|With legs at 44 degrees and the top three sections extended the tripod maintains an exemplary stability without any bending of the legs.|
|I wouldn't ask for more stability, for a medium weight Camera/Lens combination as the Canon 50D (Gripped) + Canon EF 70-200 L IS USM.|
|And a couple of shoots on rough uneven ground.|
Very low price.
Very low weight.
Very elaborate design.
Very solid and stable leg hub and center column.
Very rigid leg locking and leg stability.
Very nice carrying bag.
Poor assembly quality.
Poor fitting of some parts.
Center Column Top plate, center column hook and leg angle locks need redesigning or reinforcement.
Short center column would be more functional with an embedded anti twist groove.
Although I consider Triopo very honest with their prices considering the material quality and manufacturing cost of their products, compared to other manufacturers, still there is always a coin to pay for low priced products.
If you are a professional or person that wants a product which works perfectly right out of the box, then Triopo 3228X8C might not be for you and better try a more expensive solution.
On the other hand if you are willing to spend a little time, fiddling with minor improvements (as suggested in the article above), Triopo 3228X8C may prove a very stable, vibration free and long lasting solution for you. Well, then you may consider this tripod a real bargain.
My suggestions to Yuenquin Originality Photography Equipment Co. Ltd. (i.e. Triopo)
If you are willing to compete in the International markets then a little more attention at the assembly line and the establishment of better quality control procedures would greatly help the image of otherwise well and elaborately designed products.
For sure an extra cost has to be anticipated for a more strict quality control but I think that a little higher end-prices would not be an obstacle if it were for a perfectly functional product right out of the box.
This review and test was run on a single product sample, using the specifically described methods. Although the findings are good and overcame the expectations for the product, it can not be used as a rule, unless more samples of the same product are tested. Furthermore, similar comparison tests should be run with comparative capabilities products so as to reach a solid conclusion.
Update: Sep 2012
Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Update
Update: Nov 2012
Triopo Tripod Spare Parts & Accessories Reference
Update: Dec 2012
How to Upgrade Triopo GT-3228X8C Tripod with Retractable Steel Spikes
Update: Sep 2013
Latest Updates of Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod
Note: As there are variations of the height and versions offered by different suppliers, I should once again point out that caution should be taken before ordering the Triopo GT-3228X8C tripod. I suggest that you communicate with the supplier first.
I hope you found this review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos: © 2011-2012 S.C.Vlachos
Price & Availability:
Current Price of the updated GT-3228X8C CF Tripod is EUR 175,00 (+Shipping where applicable)
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