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Review: iKan E-Image Tripods

This review looks at 2 affordable E-Image tripod systems sold by iKan, assessing the tilt, panning, and counterbalance adjustment controls on the heads; the locking systems on the legs, and more.

Lightweight but smooth support for your DSLR can be challenging. You don’t need a system that is designed to hold 16-20 pounds if your DSLR is only 3 pounds. You’d be paying more than $1,000 for a lot of capability you’d never use. As I searched the market for a new tripod for my DSLR, I came across E-Image tripods, sold through Ikan, and asked them to let me review them.

The Gear

A tripod is a very basic thing. It has three legs, a center spreader, and a head with some fluid/friction to make your pans and tilts very smooth. You can make things more complex if you give the tripod more capability--for instance, if you provide multiple steps of tilt and panning friction, offer a variable counterbalance with multiple steps, or if you have multiple stages. And what if the spreader has adjustable width and is detachable? The more complex features it has, the more the tripod costs.

The E-Image tripods are quite affordable for the features that they include it in each unit. The GH06 tripod head (Figure 1, below) has three steps of tilt friction, three steps of panning friction, and five steps of counterbalanced adjustment. All of this in a ball-leveling head with drop-in tripod plate which makes mounting your camera easier than ever.

Figure 1. The GH06 tripod head

In addition, the legs are quite innovative in that the enable you to adjust to both the top and bottom sections of each leg with just one lock (Figure 2, below). This has proven to be very handy and it dramatically speeds quick setup in everyday use. The new Flomotion tripod from Vinten and Sachtler offers the same convenience of a single locking lever for the entire multi-stage leg.

Figure 2. The GH06’s two-section leg-locking knob

I asked Ikan to loan me the GH06, which looked to be able to handle my small DSLR, quick-release plate, on-camera mixer, wireless microphone receiver(s), and sometimes a camera-top LED light as well (Figure 3, below). While this setup could seem to get very heavy with all the accessories, it all adds up to about 4 lbs. Taking away the light and one of the wireless receivers brings to down at the 3-lb. range, which is a very light setup.

Figure 3. My DSLR setup on the GH06

Sticks

I have never used a tripod or monopod that enabled me to adjust the height of both sections with a single locking lever. Systems like this have been out for many years, but they have not been available at the lower end of the market. I was surprised to see this capability when I looked at the E-Image solutions. So I was really looking forward to giving this tripod a shot in my regular work.

I particularly needed something that was fast, because I am doing a lot of real estate work (Figure 4, below). That means I can easily move my tripod 50 different times to cover one house. This work requires a lot of folding up and putting it back down, adjusting leg length, adjusting the ball head balance, and each of these features needs to work quickly, and reliably so that I can get my shoot done in a timely manner. Time is money.

Figure 4. My mounted GH4 rig on the GH06 on a real estate shoot

Using single-locking-lever legs is fantastic. I have used multiple-stage tripods for decades, and having the locking lever for both stages always within my arm’s reach, without having to bend over, is fantastic. I know there are people who prefer floor spreaders for tripods, I am not one of them. I prefer a mid-level spreader (Figure 5, below) because it gives me the ability to tap it up with my knee, fold up the sticks in an instant, and be on my way.

Figure 5. The GH06’s mid-level spreader

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