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Review: Adorama 3Pod V2AH Tripod

If you're looking for a tripod for tracking high-motion events and have only $150 to spend, you should check out the Adorama 3Pod V2AH.

While a tripod has a critical impact on our ability to capture high-quality video, it’s the type of non-sexy gear you’d prefer to spend as little as possible to acquire, particularly because you often need more than one. So when Adorama asked if I wanted to review their 3Pod V2AH tripod (Figure 1, below), I wondered what do you get in a tripod that costs $150 (Amazon and Adorama). It turns out, quite a lot.

Figure 1. I’m 6’1”, so this tripod is a good bit taller. Click the image to see it at full size.

Tripod Design

As an overview, the black anodized aluminum tripod and fluid head are sold together, and weigh 13.5 pounds. If you’re looking for the lightest tripod around, this isn’t it, though generally I prefer heavier tripods because they feel more stable and are more bump-resistant. For the record, the tripod comes with a lightly padded case, and is compatible with two Adorama accessories, a Universal Tripod Dolly (PT-50, $39.95) and a Tripod Butler (Flashpoint M6343, $9.95). The tripod comes with a three-year warranty.

Figure 2. Here’s how you loosen and lock the legs. Click the image to see it at full size.

The legs are in three tiers, with an aluminum torsion-resistant center brace (Figure 9), but no lockable spreader (I talk about how this affects stability later in this review). Twisting knobs loosen and lock the legs into place (Figure 2, above), with a height of 77” when fully extended, which should be tall enough for shooting over standing crowds. The legs terminate into rubber feet about an inch in diameter; wider feet would have been nice, as would spiked feet underneath the rubber feet, which work better outside and on carpeted floors. At full height, and with the center brace fully extended, the footprint diameter is 50”, which is wide, but necessary given the height. Atop the tripod is the first of two bubble levels to help you get the legs level.

Figure 3. The half bowl lets you level the head even when the legs are uneven. Click the image to see it at full size.

The  two-way fluid metal panhead attaches to the tripod with a half-bowl adapter mounting system that you can adjust via a center handle underneath (Figure 3, above), using the second bubble level on the head to ensure that the tripod is level (Figure 4, below). It’s the same type of mechanism used on my Manfrotto 501 Series head (~$200 for the head only when purchased), except the Manfrotto has a 5” adjustment handle, while the V2AH has a 2.5” knob that’s a bit harder to access and adjust, though it’s certainly workable. If you’ve worked with tripods with fixed center columns, the half-bowl design is great because it lets you easily level the head even if the legs are uneven. Most tripods in this price range use the less flexible fixed center column.

Figure 4. Two bubble levels; one on the sticks, one on the head. Click the image to see it at full size.

The quick-release plate is 4” long with a 3.25” inner region for positioning the plate on your camera (Figure 5, below). This is a lot more flexibility than the Manfrotto plate provides, which is important because it lets you position the plate to center the weight on the tripod, which simplifies operation and helps you avoid camera droop when you leave the camera unattended and don’t lock the tilt control.

Figure 5. The V2AH plate (bottom) had lots more adjustment room to balance the camera than my Manfrotto.

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