I found then, a newly established company with very few products and a very simple name for the Chinese standards.
Most peculiar, was that they aimed at the high end market, having only three models of Systematic type tripods (made of Aluminium alloy and Carbon Fiber), a prototype Carbon Fiber Gimbal head, a DV fluid head and a large type ball head to accompany the tripods.
I say peculiar, because usually Chinese manufacturers start from low budget consumer tripods and then enter the pro market.
Following up Nest's course, it was quite later that they complemented their lines with more accessories for the systematic tripods, like geared center columns and video bowls, more DV heads, the "Athena" Camera Bags and Back Packs and finally the "Professional Tripod" line featuring a dozen different tripod models both of Aluminium and Carbon Fiber.
Who is "Nest"?
According to the Nest's website "About" section :
Hong Kong Nest Technology CO., LTD is an international company registered in Hong Kong. The company is specializing in gimbal head, bird watching / DV heads, professional camera tripods, bags and accessories. There are more than 10 experienced engineers working in the R&D Department in order to design and develop practical photo / DV support equipment for professional photographers.
The company’s factory -ZHONGSHAN NEST PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT CO.,LTD- covers 18,000 square meters (193,750 sq feet) of area and 12,000 square meters (129,167 sq feet) of building space and is located in Zhongshan city in the Guangdong province. There are more than 100 employees in the company.
Nest team is dedicated to achieve a high-level brand name recognition in the world photographic and broadcast fields.
Their motto: "Nest, Professional Focus" reflects their pursuit.
Their product mix, product appearance, product characteristics and the establishment of a new brand name, in a new factory, denotes to me that a group of surely experienced people have invested heavily in bringing the "made in China" label into a new era, wiping out the past impressions.
Of course what remains, is to see how much they have succeeded by evaluating one of their products and let it speak on their behalf.
Thanks to Desmond Photographic Distributors, USA, who have recently started out with Nest tripods, a Nest NT-6294C Pro traveler tripod has arrived for evaluation.
The Tripod Specification
|Material:||Carbon Fiber 8X|
|Max Height (Center Column Raised):||1575 mm / 62.0"|
|Max Height (Center Column Down):||1285 mm / 50.6"|
|Min Operating Height:||185 mm / 7.3"|
|Leg Folding Mechanism:||180°|
|Folded Length:||450 mm / 17.7"|
|Monopod Max Height:||1638 mm / 64.5"|
|Maximum Leg ∅:||29 mm|
|Weight:||1470 gr / 3.25 lb|
|Max Load:||20 Kg / 44 lb|
The above specifications refer to the NT-6294C tripod without a ball head. therefore all measurements in the specification table may differ from data displayed on other websites which in their majority include a ball head.
- Forged Aluminium/Magnesium alloy spider.
- 8 X Layers Carbon Fiber legs.
- One leg can be converted to a Monopod.
- Two position leg locks.
- Reversible legs fold up 180°.
- The center column can be inverted for unusual low angle shots.
- Retractable Sandbag hook.
- Includes case, padded strap, tools and instruction manual.
The Package Contents and Accessories
However, Nest ball heads although claimed by few vendors as Arca compatible due to resemblance, actually their lever release clamp is a hybrid, something between a Gitzo style quick release clamp with an Arca style QR plate, but neither Gitzo nor Arca plates are interchangeable.
Therefore, Desmond Photographic Distributors decided to avoid this proprietary clamp pitfall and distribute the tripods either alone or bundled with one of their other true Arca-Swiss® dovetail compatible ball heads, like the Sunwayfoto FB-36 as we shall see later on.
|By opening the box you come next to a very good quality carrying case, which in turn includes the tripod wrapped in a nylon bag, a wide shoulder strap, as well as a smaller zip-closing nylon bag with cards and tools.|
|First impressions after removing the nylon bags are the unexpectedly good finish and feeling of quality of the light weight tripod.|
As the carrying case is the first thing that one comes in contact with, when opening the box I shall start from here. Since Nest produces a full line of camera bags and back-packs, it's no wonder why a well designed and well made padded-case is included with the tripod.
The duffel type case sports both carrying handles and a shoulder strap, while its dimensions are slightly larger than the folded tripod's, being 48 cm (18.90") long by 14 cm (5.51") wide, and 14 cm (5.51") tall. For the record the total weight of the case and strap is 375 gr (13.23 oz).
|The case features also an external zipped pocket which may prove handy for storing accessories like extra quick release plates, tools etc.|
Unfolding the Tripod
Have you ever smelt quality? :) No matter how absurd it may sound, this is the feeling I had when I removed its nylon bag and got in contact with the tripod for the first time. Beside the pleasant to the eye clean lines, even the smell of the new materials was balanced.
|Nothing looked or felt cheap on this tripod. No fancy labels and frills all around. The finishing of metal parts is superb, the feeling of the rubber parts is semi hard quality rubber.|
Next thing as usual, was to measure and verify the tripod specs.
|Measured Specification||(w/o ball head)|
|Leg Sections :||4|
|Leg Sections Diameters*:||29.15, 25.97, 22.85, 19.75 mm|
(1.14, 1.02, 0.90, 0.78 " )
|Leg Angles (degrees):||20.30°, 72.50°|
|Center Column Diameter:||29.15 mm / 01.14 "|
|Max Height Center Column Raised:||1585 mm / 65.74 "|
|Max Height Center Column Down:||1305 mm / 55.51 "|
|Mid Height Center Column Down (3 leg sections extended at 20°):||1000 mm / 39.37 "|
|Mid Height Center Column Down (2 leg sections extended at 20°):||720 mm / 28.35 "|
|Min Height Center Column Down (Legs at 20°):||475 mm / 18.70 "|
|Min Height Long Center Column (Legs at 72.5°):||365 mm / 14.37 "|
|Min Height Ground Level Column (Legs at 72.5°):||185 mm / 07.28 "|
|Transport Length legs Folded back 180°:||450 mm / 17.72 "|
|Transport Length legs Folded normally:||510 mm / 20.08 "|
|Weight:||1.477 gr / 03.26 lb|
|Max Load capacity** :||20.00 kg / 44.09 lb|
* The leg tube diameters have an exemplary tolerance of +/- 0.03 mm between the same leg sections.
** I retain the max load capacity of 20 kg as a measure of precaution. The number of 20 kg is actually the max load capacity of the Nest NT-636H ball head that usually accompanies the tripod as a kit. In my opinion the tripod structure can hold a lot, but I cannot predict how the tripod will balance and behave with heavy loads on top. As I have mentioned in other articles, there is a great difference between hanging a heavy ballast under a tripod and loading a heavy weight on top.
Leg sections tubing & Twist leg locks
Since we have four leg sections, we have three twist lock rings, which all three of them can be easily grabbed with one hand and turned counter clockwise simultaneously, in order to unlock the leg sections. The usual nowadays leg anti-rotation system is present. It takes exactly 1/4 of a turn to release the leg locks, in par with the manufacturer statement and as a patent is involved here, I'll elaborate on it further down.
I felt very fine precision in the leg sections extension and retraction. Everything slides in and out perfectly without any effort or harsh sounds, but with an audible whoosh of the air trapped in the tubes.
|In order to release a leg section, you only need to rotate the twist lock counter-clockwise until it stops. This motion pulls out a plastic cylinder by 2 mm, unlocking the section.|
|By rotating the twist lock in the opposite direction (i.e. clockwise) until it stops again, the plastic cylinder is pushed inside locking the section.|
Nest's innovative concept is among -if not- the best implementation of a twist lock system I have tried up to now, with very affirmative locking/unlocking in only 1/4 of a turn.
This is actually tightly closed system with good weather sealing and according to Nest, it does not require maintenance from the user.
Update Jan 15, 2014
The Patented Twist Lock Mechanism
After receiving clearance from Nest headquarters regarding the publication of their patented twist leg lock mechanism, I prepared a short presentation of this very innovative and sophisticated concept.
As mentioned previously, Nest's twist leg locks operate under a very different concept that the one we are used to. Somehow it's not so easy to separate the leg sections, unless you know the trick. The mechanism is very well concealed and thus very well weather sealed.
Following the reverse order, the twist lock mechanism may be put back together. However, unless you are very keen with mechanisms, I would not recommend that as an end user you disassemble the twist locks. For one, there are parts that need alignment in order to fit back and second the thin film of lubrication/sealing grease may be damaged. In any case, the dis-assembly and re-assembly should be done in a dust free environment.
Center Column Stem & Legs Hub (Spider)
Leg Angle Lock Latches & Angles
Nest NT-6294CT is equipped with a prototype leg angle lock mechanism featuring a spring loaded sliding latch made of chromed steel, which falls into place with a couple of audible "clacks" as each leg is unfolded from the 180° position, first into the low level and then in the upright position.
Long Center Column
|The role of the hook assembly as a stopper not allowing the center column to come off when it is fully raised can be best observed when the legs are folded back 180° for transport.|
Ground Level Shooting
Unlike other tripod manufacturers who include a second short center column or have one available as a spare part, Nest designers decided to follow/replicate the Gitzo® concept for low angle, ground level shooting.
|Which are designed to interlock with the twist lock and between each other.|
Leg Rubber Feet
|One of the leg top joints is longer than the rest and marked with a laser engraved, left pointing arrow and the word MONOPOD, meaning of course that the specific leg may be unscrewed turning counter-clockwise, in order to be used as a monopod.|
|But also the same size thread at the bottom of the center column. Therefore, by screwing the center column on top of the monopod leg, you get a quite tall monopod reaching 1638 mm (64.5") in height when fully extended.|
|If you have previously removed the ground level shooting rod from the center column hook, then you can use the hole in the leg joint as a repository for the spring hook.|
This technique of attaching the center column on top of the detachable leg in order to form a taller monopod, is lately adopted by many manufacturers. However, in my opinion it has its advantages and disadvantages.
It's very helpful when you carry your tripod with you and you reach a tight space where only a monopod could stand, but on the other hand is not so convenient when you want to carry only a monopod with you. Since in the latter case you'll need to carry it either in two parts to keep it short enough to fit in your bag or assembled which becomes quite long to fit anywhere and rather use it as a walking stick.
Attaching a Ball Head
Since the NT-6294CT was coming without a ball head, I decided to combine it with a ball head of equal characteristics, specifically the Sunwayfoto FB-36DDH lightweight ball head featuring a panning QR clamp (reviewed) in order to maintain a very transportable solution.
|As a ground level solution the NT-6294CT + FB-36DDH has a minimum height of 270 mm (10.63")|
Working with the Tripod
The tripod has been in my hands for a few months now, so in spite of some studio work, I had the chance for a couple of outings for a proper testing in the field (literally).
Combined with the lightweight Sunwayfoto FB-36DDH ball head as described previously, it had proved a very good companion during a recent outdoor shooting.
|Nest NT-6294CT combined with Sunwayfoto FB-36DDH at low level with legs spread out and center column raised.|
There, it was used supporting among others the Canon EF 70-200 mm f/2.8L IS USM and the Canon EF 100-400mm L IS USM. In regard of the latter, although theoretically I consider the tripod/head combination marginal for the lens. Nevertheless, as it was a clear day without wind, the results were excellent as you may see in my post On Assignment at the Olive Groves and further below.
For the sake of measures, the small frame in the first photo below indicates the position of three aeolic energy (wind power) turbines on top of a far away mountain. Which then are depicted in the next photos shot with the fore mentioned lenses at longer focal lengths.
The tripod was set on inclined soft ground, on top of a hill within the olive groves. You may judge from the results for yourselves.
|Camera: Canon EOS 7D - Lens: Canon EF-S 17-85 IS USM - ISO: 100 - Exposure: 1/1000 sec Aperture: 4.0 / Focal Length: 20mm (35mm equivalent 32mm)|
|Camera: Canon EOS 7D - Lens: Canon EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM - ISO: 100 - Exposure: 1/400 sec - Aperture: 9.0 - Focal Length: 200mm (35mm equivalent 320mm)|
|Camera: Canon EOS 7D - Lens: Canon EF 100-400L IS USM - ISO: 100 - Exposure: 1/500 sec - Aperture: 9.0 - Focal Length: 320mm (35mm equivalent 512mm)|
Packing the Tripod
The tripod can be carried either packed in the supplied carrying case, or directly strapped on your bag/ back-pack where you can save carrying around about 0,4kg (~0.9 Lb).
|The case is slightly longer than the folded-back tripod length, therefore this is the only way it can be stored in there.|
|The tripod can be inserted or taken out very easily, while there is still some space in the case for some accessories if needed, as the case does not fit tight around the tripod.|
Comparison with the Competition
The table below shows a comparison of Nest NT6294C Traveler Tripod with traveler tripods of similar characteristics i.e. leg diameter, sections, twist locking, coming from well known brands. One detail that should be mentioned is that except for Gitzo GT2542T which still has a cast center hub (spider) all other tripods have a forged / CNC finished center hub. All dimensions are listed without a ball head.
|Material:||CF 8X||CF 6X||CF 8X||CF 8X||CF 8X|
|Center Column ∅:||29.1 mm / 1.14"||28 mm /|
|28.6 mm / 1.12"||28 mm /|
|28 mm /|
|Leg Degrees:||20°, 72.5°||24°, 70°||-, -, -||-, -, -||22°, 48°, 70°|
|Maximum Leg ∅:||29 mm /|
|28 mm /|
|28.6 mm /|
|28 mm /|
|28 mm /|
|Minimum Leg ∅:||19.75 mm / 02.37"||16 mm /|
|18.4 mm /|
|19 mm /|
|19 mm /|
|Maximum Height:||1585 mm / 62.40"||1435 mm / 56.50"||1535 mm / 60.43"||1655 mm / 65.16"||1505 mm / 59.25"|
|Normal* Height:||1305 mm / 51.38"||1190 mm / 46.85"||1270 mm / 50.00"||1390 mm / 54.72"||1255 mm / 49.41"|
|Minimum Height:||185 mm / 07.28"||220 mm / 08.66"||149 mm / 05.86"||170 mm / 6.69"||280 mm / 11.02"|
|Folded Length:||450 mm / 17.72"||430 mm / 16.93"||470 mm / 18.50"||460 mm / 18.10"||445 mm / 17.52"|
|Weight:||1477 gr /|
|1330 gr /|
|1330 gr /|
|1500 gr /|
|1330 gr /|
|Maximum Load:||20 kg /|
|12 kg /|
|18 kg /|
|15 kg /|
|15 kg /|
|Monopod Height:||1638 mm / 64.49"||----||1595 mm / 62.79"||1600 mm / 62.99"||1355 mm / 53.31"|
|Price:||$ 237.00||$ 880.00||$ 380.00-450.00||$ 345.00-435.00||$ 239.00|
Although there is a "Routine Maintenance Instructions" checklist and "Points of Attention" usage guidelines in the one page User Manual, in short there are not many things the user should do besides keeping the tripod clean. According to Nest there is no need for lubrication.
As I have forementioned the set friction on the leg hings was perfect for my taste, right out of the box and I can add here that it remains the same after some months of use without a need for re-adjustment.
Outstanding quality independent of price level.
Very low price for the category/size.
Very solid and stable leg hub and center column.
Innovative (Patented) Center Column locking system
Innovative (Patented) Twist leg locking system with very affirmative and strong leg locking.
Exemplary good functionality right out of the box.
Very nice carrying bag included.
5 Year Warranty.
Center column in lack of an anti-twist mechanism may require re-framing after raising or lowering.
No optional leg foam grips available.
No optional steel spikes available.
Shiny leg angle lock latches that might get slippery with wet hands.
I cannot nominate this with the perfect traveler tripod title as there is none that can fulfill all needs and preferences, but what I can say is that I'm impressed by the innovations, the attention to detail and the quality of this product.
Nest NT-6294CT pricewise is addressed to the photography enthusiast or a professional on a tight budget but in my opinion it outperforms many more expensive solutions. If the characteristics and dimensions suit your needs and you are after a very rigid tripod, slightly heavier than some other traveler tripods but still very transportable, then you should seriously consider pairing it with a good lightweight ball head resulting in a very fine solution.
Taking into account the innovation, the structural stability, the material quality with superb finishing along with the price; I can wholeheartedly recommend this tripod as a great deal with exceptional value for money!
* After some time I have managed to contact the right person with Nest Sales Department on these matters, specifically the tripod's product manager, who was very polite in discussing any questions and/or suggestions. So I was informed the following:
Regarding the center column anti-twist mechanism, that they have emphasized into the firm locking and anticipating against any lateral movement (aka wobbling) of the center column, leaving behind the anti-twist function when loose. Which is something their designers are currently studying.
Regarding the foam grips, that Nest tripods are available also with foam grips on two of the legs but on dealer/reseller request. (However, my remarks for a removable foam grip still stand).
In respect of optional steel spikes, that while there is no option for the current models they are planning to add retractable spikes to an upcoming larger model.
As for the leg angle lock latches texture, that they will consider the suggestion.
This review and test was run on a single product sample, using the specifically described methods. Although the findings are very 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.
I hope you found the review useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2013-2014 S.C.Vlachos
Price & Availability:
Current price of the Nest NT-6294C CF Tripod is US$ 237.00 (+Shipping where applicable). Nest tripods are available from Amazon.com
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