K&F Concept TM2515T Tripod Review
One of the things that every photographer should have is a good tripod. Over the years I’ve collected many different ones, and I’m always trying different designs and different models. Some can be very expensive, especially if you want a good and light model. One of the problems that I’ve always had is finding one that is light enough to easily carry but sturdy enough to hold a good DSLR rig. So when K&F Concept wanted me to try one of their bigger compact models, I said, sure, why not!
The TM2515T is a 60” tripod that folds up to a tiny 15” thanks in part to its five leg sections. It’s legs fold around 180 degrees to go in line with the centre column and the head, minimising the size for travel. It’s made from an aluminium and magnesium alloy, and its much lighter than my older manfrotto tripod which is pure aluminium (and much heavier). It also has a number of interesting features, including the ability to rotate the centre column 90 degrees to do vertical down shooting, and an integrated ball head. You can also disassemble it and reassemble it into a monopod. The thing that is probably the most interesting is the price. It sells for only $155 (They currently have it on sale at $101.99 at the time of writing). By comparison, this Manfortto tripod with similar features (only it doesn’t shrink down as much for travel) is £230 ($288)
The design is a sleek black with a metallic red accents. The metal is solid and feels nice and strong, compared to some less expensive tripods form other makers which can sometimes feel flimsy. The legs themselves use a twist lock mechanism, and this is easy to operate, but you have to be careful to make are you fully lock it or one side will collapse. Personally I prefer the clasp mechanisms, but it seems to work well, and I’ve had no issues. One of the legs is rubberised, so you should have no problems using it in cold weather.
The quick release plate uses a thumb screw mechanism to tighten and lock in place, rather than the spring loaded clasp mechanism they use on their smaller tripods. It looks like an Acra Swiss mechanism, and the dimensions seem to be the same, but I can’t say for certain, as there’s nothing in the documentation about it. The advantage of this is you could use a standard L-Bracket with the tripod.
Fully extended it reaches a height of 134cm or 53”. This involves using all leg segments and fully extending the centre column. I have found however that the stability with the centre column fully extended seems to be lacking a bit. There is a very slight sag when using it with a heavy camera. When holding the camera and adjusting it, when you let it go, the positioning shifts ever so slightly. It’s not a huge amount, but it is a little. At first I thought the give was in the ball head, but it seems to be the whole tripod has just a little bit of sway in it.
Lowering the centre column, even halfway seems to improve matters, but it’s still there. It’s not a huge amount, and how big of a problems this is depends on the lens you’re using. If it’s a wide angle the amount will be pretty small, but obviously it will be more on a wider angle lens. It’s about half the height of the focus point on my Nikon DSLR. Once you let go of the camera, the stability is fine. I tested it by doing a one second long exposure and there was no movement during the exposure, even from the fairly significant shutter shock of the D700. Still, the slight play can make precisely aligning the frame a little frustrating. You have to try and frame it slightly above where you want it to go and then lock it. After doing some research though, apparently this is relatively common on some lesser expensive tripods, so perhaps I’m being too picky, but I did find it a bit frustrating,.
The ball head itself is fairly solid and has a nice mechanism. It’s easy to move and locks without any issues. I had originally thought that this was the source of the stability issue, but it seems to be the tripod body. The head itself seems to be fine. It also features a panorama function that allows you to rotate it 360 degrees without having to adjust the ball head, and this has a separate lock.
There is another ball like mechanism below the head, and this is where you can rotate the centre column. To rotate it you pull the centre column up until its clear of the bottom of the middle piece and then it rotates around 90 degrees. A thumbscrew on the side locks it into place. This allows you to do rostrum type shooting, but there is one small problem with the design. Because the centre column is quite short, it doesn’t extend out very far. Obviously too far and it would offset the balance anyway, but it limits what you can get the tripod over if you want to shoot directly down. If you compare this to something line a Benbo trecker, which has a much longer centre column and allows for a greater degree of movement. Still, it’s good to have this feature especially for the price. You can also take out the centre column and mount it upside-down to get closer to the ground for macro work.
The tripod also offers the ability to transform into a monopod. This involves removing the centre column and one of the legs and screwing them together. It’s simple enough and is useful if you need a monopod.
Overall its a fairly good tripod for the price, but the slight sagging when you’re adjusting is a bit annoying, even though this seems to be somewhat common (at least according to the forums on DP Review) for tripods in this price range. It does have an impressive set of features for its price though, and once it settles, its fairly solid. It also is ideal for travelling or trekking as it folds up fairly small. If you want better stability when adjusting, a more traditional three section tripod (or more expensive model) might be better.
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