The Really Right Stuff TVC-24L & Bh-40 the Beast That Is!
The Really Right Stuff TVC-24L and BH-40 Ballhead worth every penny, and then some!
For years I have spent only what I could afford on a tripod, starting years ago with a cheap Manfrotto, the next year a less cheap Vanguard which was like a GIANT leap forward in quality and stability, but after a few months I was tired of lugging the 15lb tripod around, and realized, I NEEDED a carbon fiber tripod. But funds just wouldn’t allow it and after suffering for over a year but with some massive bicep gains I finally bought a $600+ Feisol, it was huge, tall, light, ugly as sin and most of all, unstable. The spider was huge and the whole thing just felt very, very cheap. For $600 I expected much, much more.
I returned it to B&H and picked up a much lighter Induro CLT404L Stealth Carbon 4 section rig but it was far too big for the D750 and 14-24 I was using at the time. It was clearly built for a 600mm, D4 and gimbal rig, so I exchanged that for the smaller 304L. I was stupendously happy with it and have been using it for over a year now all over the US. From the Finger lakes, and waterfalls of upstate New York, to the desert canyons of southern Utah. Through sand, water, snow, extreme heat and deadly cold. It has served me well but I always felt a little annoyed by certain things although it has been the best tripod I’ve owned. Heres what annoyed me.
The “spider” or center piece seemed unnecessarily too big, the upper leg angle positioning locks were big and cumbersome and had to be pulled out and up to change leg angles which was difficult in most cases when juggling gear. The twist leg locks were huge and rubber which was great but the retainer inside had an oversized split that allowed a lot of sand, and debris to ingress into the leg locks. I would be in a few feet of water out here in Zion for only minutes and when I would begin packing the tripod up the legs would be seized in their position because of sand. I felt strongly that this could be avoided with a few simple design tweaks.
A major issue for me was the cast metal parts. Structurally, casted metals are always more brittle than forged or machined parts. They’re also much cheaper to manufacture. For me, this was a problem. With all of these negatives, there were a few things I loved about it, things that were seemingly thoughtfully designed. Some of them being the large hook to hang my bag on for stability in high winds when shooting long exposures. The swiveling eyelet that you could clip a small carabiner to for hanging filter pouches, clipping to your shoulder strap, or hanging your shutter release cable from. the lever release for the center plate, and the nice carbon weave and thats about it.
Unfortunately the negatives were too many to disregard and I bit the BIG bullet and purchased my first Really Right Stuff tripod and ballhead a few weeks ago now. Friends of mine that own them have been trying to convince me for years that its a “lifetime investment” and that “they’ll last me forever”, as an engineer I knew they were right, and even my dad raised me to invest in good tools. But I just could not justify the cost. I say now with lots, and lots of regret, that I wish I would’ve made this purchase years ago and saved myself years of heartache and stress.
The RRS products are designed flawlessly, thoughtfully and carefully. The entirety of the metal parts are milled from solid aluminum and anodized. They bolster very high strength to size ratios. The leg angle positioning locks are slim but supremely functional, able to be pushed from the inside of the tripod as well as pulled from the outside. The leg locks are not sealed but the retainer split is very small and the tapered bushing prevents far more ingress of sand and debris. The “spider” is considerably smaller in diameter from the Induro and the entire tripod is as, if not more stable. The 4 section TVC-24L is much, much taller than the 304 as well as the upper leg sections being as thick as the 304 Induro. Overall the RRS is taller, lighter, stronger, cleaner, gets lower, is more stable, and designed and manufactured better than the Induros, Vanguards, and Manfrottos. Not to mention that amazing carbon weave.
The RRS tripods are not only incredibly functional, they are works of art. Best of all, in this time of questionable politics, endless outsourcing of manufacturing to foreign countries and lowest bidders, they’re completely 100% sourced and made in the U.S.A.!
If you’re worried about spending the huge chunk, and are saying to yourself “its just a tripod” think about your investment in camera gear. Look at your current tripod and ask yourself “ do I plan on doing this for a while?”, and “how long will this tripod last me, will I replace it next year, what will that cost?” and do the math. How many years will it take to spend the money you could’ve spent on a RRS? You won’t have to replace it. EVER.
I am not sponsored by, or paid in any way by Really Right Stuff, I am just a guy with a camera that believes in really well made products.