I’ll cut to the chase: In my search for the best travel tripod I think I’ve found a new favorite. It’s a simple design and doesn’t have the bells and whistles of some of its competitors, but that simplicity is itself a virtue, and it’s executed with real attention to detail.
It’s the Really Right Stuff TFC-14 Series 1 carbon fiber tripod. It’s the lightest and most compact tripod that Really Right Stuff produces.
It’s also stands out for its simplicity. It doesn’t fold back on itself like many in the current generation of travel tripods. It doesn’t even have a bubble level. And it doesn’t have a center column and detachable leg that transforms into a monopod.
Where’s the Center Column?
In fact, it doesn’t have a center column at all. And that is one of the most important things I like about this tripod. Let me explain.
In practice, I rarely use the center columns anyway because extending the center column inevitably introduces flex. So for maximum strength and stillness, I usually keep the center column lowered.
Some travel tripods come with center column that you can switch out for a shorter version. But what the TFC-14 demonstrates is that by eliminating the center column completely you can actually get a much more compact fold. Even without fancy mechanisms allowing the legs to fold back on themselves, this tripod folds into a very tight and narrow bundle.
At a collapsed length of just over 17 inches, it’s touch longer than some others. The head adds to that because it’s not folded under the legs. But the narrowness is a different kind of space saving that compensates for that extra length. Ultimately, it takes up less space in my carry on bag.
The drawback, of course, is that without the center column you don’t get the same shooting height. But I find that the height of this one is plenty for what I use it for. If I’m using a tripod, it’s probably because of low light or shooting timelapse. In those cases, I’m probably using a remote shutter or an intervalometer, and I simply don’t have to be constantly looking through the viewfinder–and probably don’t want to be so as to keep the camera as still as possible. So much of the time I simply don’t need a taller tripod that reaches my normal standing height. And if situations where I do need that–usually with a long telephoto lens–I’m likely using a much heavier-duty tripod anyway.
The legs extend in four sections. They’re locked with twist locks. The locks are rubberized and grippy–easy to use even with cold or wet hands or while wearing gloves.
Some of these travel tripods have very spindly bottom sections that flex quite a lot. The bottom sections on this one are a bit thicker and still quite rigid, so it’s quite practical to use the legs fully extended.
At the top is a 3-step ratcheted joint. The locking mechanism is spring-loaded, which is a design I prefer because it greatly reduces the risk of the lock not being fully in and the whole thing collapse when you put the weight of the camera on it.
Because there’s no center column, this tripod doesn’t stand as tall as some of its competitors. It tops out at about 48 inches. Some shooters will prefer a taller tripod.
On the flip side, the design also means that it can shoot unusually low. By splaying the legs to their widest setting, you can get it down to a minimum height of just 2.8 inches (add the head’s height to that in practice). If you’re shooting macros of wildflowers, for instance, that can be very useful.
It comes with rubber feet. They’re detachable, so you can swap them out for other feet if you prefer. RRS offers their own steel spikes and larger rubber feet, but the thread is standard, so they should work with most other standard tripod feet.
When I first saw it, I was curious about the strap. It’s something unique to this tripod among its competitors, but it’s an oddly lo-fi approach. But after using it, I’ve come to see the genius of it. You can use it in much the same way as you’d use the hook on the columns of other tripods to attach weight to add stability. You can use it as a hand strap in challenging conditions. And you can use it to clip onto a belt or camera bag.
It’s detachable if you want to remove it. You just undo the strap through its buckle and then it comes off freely from the bar holding it in place.
In the standard packaging, a head isn’t included–it’s just the legs. The stud on top is a reversible stud, so you can use it as a 3/8-16 or 1/4-20 thread. That makes it compatible with just about any tripod head available.
The base is relatively narrow, so it’s better suited to heads with a smaller base rather than a large head with a broad base (it wouldn’t make much sense to use a large, heavy head on this tripod anyway).
In some of the photos on this page I’ve got the RRS BH-25 Pro ball head attached.
A more natural fit is probably something a touch bigger and strong, like the RRS BH-30 or RRS BH-40. The Gitzo GH1382TQD would also be a good fit. As would less expensive options like the Oben BE-117.
Really Right Stuff tripods and accessories aren’t cheap. But what you get for that is exceptional construction quality and attention to detail. This one is no exception.
The carbon fiber they use is a special weave they’ve developed and patented, and it’s very stiff while still being very light.
Overall, the construction quality is top shelf.
Weight: 2.3 lb / 1 kg
Maximum Height: 47.6 inches / 121 cm
Minimum Height: 2.8 inches / 7.2 cm (add tripod head’s height in practice)
Folded Length: 17.2 inches / 43.7 cm
Load Capacity: 25 lb / 11.3 kg
Leg Sections: 4
Spiked Feet: Optional (not included)
Head Mount Thread Size: 3/8″-16 and 1/4″-20 reversible
Made of: Carbon fiber, aluminum
What’s in the Box?
The tripod. That’s it. No bag, no spiked feet, no alternate plates. You can, of course, buy all of those things as optional extras.
The bundle I’ve been using is sold as legs only, without a head.
For several years, the Gitzo Traveler tripods have been my favorite travel tripods. But the TFC-14 has displaced them. Like the Gitzo’s, it’s not cheap–it’s double the price of some other very good travel tripods.
But it’s simple, strong, and beautifully made. And because it doesn’t have a center column, it folds down into a very narrow package that fits easily in a standard carry-on suitcase.
Instead of bells and whistles, they’ve focused their attention on making a straightforward, no-nonsense compact travel tripod with unusually high construction quality. And with a load capacity of 25 pounds, it’s a good fit for a DSLR or mirrorless setup.
It’s not going to be an ideal choice for everyone. Aside from the budget issues–because, let’s face it, there are very good travel tripods available that are much cheaper–the absence of a center column means that it tops out at about 48 inches. Some people will prefer a taller tripod.
Overall, the combination of simplicity and effectiveness make it an elegant solution for a travel tripod.
Find Them At
The TFC-14 is priced at $795.
|Gitzo Traveler Kit (Series 2)||Gitzo GT1542T||MeFOTO Globetrotter||Manfrotto BeFree||Induro Grand Turismo CGT114||Sirui T-2205X||Benro GoTravel 2||Benro C1682TV1 Travel Angel II||3 Legged Thing Leo||3 Legged Thing Brian||3 Legged Thing Rick||3 Legged Thing Roger||Oben CT-3581||Sirui T-1024XL||Varavon Baby T3||Kirk Mini||MeFOTO Globetrotter Air|
|Model No.||GK2580TQD||GT1542T||C2350Q2T||MKBFRC4-BH||CGT114||T-2205X||GC269TB2||C1682TV1||3LLEOKIT||E3BRIAN||3PKRICK||E3ROGERBL||CT-3581||SUT1204XL||BABY T3||TT-1||GTAIRBLK|
|Made of||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Alloy||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Aluminum||Aluminum/Stainless Steel||Aluminum Alloy|
|Leg Sections||4||4||5||4||4||5||5||4 (also version with 5)||5||5||5||5||5||4||3||1||5|
|Folded length||16.9 in|
|14.6 in |
|Max height||60.6 in|
|Max load||15.4 lb|
|Available w/Head?||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (not removable)||No||Yes (not removable)|
Ricoh GR III Accessories & Replacement Parts
Here are the model numbers of some of the core accessories and replacement parts for the Ricoh GR III.
- Ring Cap: GN-1
The ring cap is the small plastic ring that attaches around the lens. Chances are, it's fallen off. While you do have to remove it to attach the lens adapter, it's a poor design that tends to fall off and get lost far too often. I've lost a couple of them now.
The camera will work just fine without it. But that will leave some contacts exposed around the lens barrel, which isn't ideal.
The official replacement part is overpriced. But you can also pick up much less expensive aftermarket versions. They're also available in different colors, so you can bling up your camera with a personal touch--or make it look like the Street Edition.
- 【Compatibility】: Designed for Ricoh GRIII (only).This decoration ring is made of high quality...
- 【Easy to use & Protector】:Easy installation and removal and Protects lens barrel exterior.
The GR III has a USB Type-C connector port. When you get a cable, you can get them with another USB Type-C connector on the other end or a more traditional USB Type-A connector. Which you choose depends entirely on what you're plugging into. For example, some newer laptops only have USB-C, while most other computers have USB-A.
- The Anker Advantage: Join the 50 million+ powered by our leading technology.
- Enhanced Durability: Improved construction techniques and materials make a cable that lasts 12× longer.
Battery & Charger
- Battery: DB-110
It's a rechargeable lithium-ion battery rated at 3.6V 1350mAh 4.9Wh.
There are some other cameras that also use the same battery--notably, some Olympus cameras (the Olympus model number for the same battery is LI-90B). So they're quite widely available. You can get the official Ricoh version. There are also aftermarket versions that can be much better value but work just as well.
- This Wasabi Power kit includes 2 batteries and 1 charger for the Ricoh DB-110
- Each Wasabi Power battery features Premium Grade A cells, 3.7V, 1300mAh
- Charger: BJ-11
You can charge the battery in the camera (using a USB-C cable). There are also external battery chargers available. They're especially useful if you're using spare batteries, so you can charge and shoot simultaneously.
- AC Adapter: K-AC166
This is used to power the camera for longer shoots, such as time-lapse, or if you happen to be using the camera for live streaming as a webcam. It connects via the camera's USB-C port.
Wide-Angle Conversion Lens
- Wide-Angle Lens: GW-4
- Lens Adapter: GA-1
- Wired Shutter Release: CA-3
- Easy to operate, Half-press to focus, Full-press to shoot
- Fits macro photography well, eliminates camera shake
- Standard External Viewfinder: GV-1
- Mini External Viewfinder: GB-2
- ✪LCD Screen Protector perfectly fit for Ricoh GR 3 DSLR Camera . Not for other model. Easy to install...
- ✪9H Hardness - Longer tempering time, which made the screen protector has a higher hardness. Prevents...
- Soft Case: GC-9
- Neck Strap: GS-3
- Hand Strap: GS-2
Ricoh has produced a wide-angle conversion lens that takes the standard 28mm view down to a 21mm (in 35mm equivalent). While it does add some extra bulk to an otherwise small camera, it works well and adds a more dramatic, wider view. I have an [in-depth review of it separately](https://havecamerawilltravel.com/photographer/ricoh-gw-4-wide-angle-conversion-lens/).
Something to be aware of, though, is that you will also need to pick up the lens adapter separately. For reasons I really don't understand, the wide-angle conversion lens doesn't come with the adapter, and both are required to make it work. So make sure you pick up one of those at the same time.
Remote Shutter Releases
This is the official Ricoh remote shutter. It connects to the camera via a USB cable, and it's a simple shutter release (i.e., there's no timer or intervalometer).
You can also find aftermarket shutter releases for the GR III.
The Ricoh GR III doesn't have a built-in viewfinder. But they make two versions of an external viewfinder that slides into the camera's hot shoe. It covers both the standard 28mm view as well as the 21mm view if you're using the wide-angle conversion lens. There's also a mini viewfinder; that model seems to be hard to find.
The back screen of the GR III is quite exposed, and if you lie the camera on its back, the screen comes in contact with the surface. Even if you're putting the camera in your pocket, there's a risk of keys or coins scratching the screen.
There's no official screen protector, but there are good aftermarket versions. The one I use is this one. It's essentially a consumable that protects the screen. If you scratch the protector, you can quickly and easily replace it with another from the pack.
You can, of course, use the GR III with just about any camera case or bag. But Ricoh does make a dedicated soft-case that fits snugly around the camera and offers some protection even if you're toting the camera around in your pocket. I've been using one for a couple of years, and it's held up very well, and it keeps my camera safer from bumps and scratches.
Again, there's no particular reason you have to use the official GR neck strap, but there is one. The main part is leather, and it even has a discreet, embossed "GR".
If you do use a different strap, be aware that the strap loops on the camera are very small and won't take thicker (i.e., stronger) attachment loops. So you might need to use some D-rings as well.
There's even an official "GR" leather hand strap! But, again, aside from the branding, there's no special reason to use the official strap. If you do use a different one, you might need D-rings if the thread doesn't go through the camera's small attachment loops.
The GR III doesn't have a built-in flash. It supports the Pentax P-TTL flash protocol.Pentax External Flashes: