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Review: 2 K&F Concept Carbon Tripods Put to the Test

kf-concept-carbon-tripods

Recently, I was given 2 new K&F Concept Carbon tripods to test out.

Founded in 2011, K&F Concept is not a new player in the photographic industry, but they have wasted no time forging a name for themselves into a very niche market. Like most things coming out of China, their products are well designed, innovative and offer great value, so I was excited to get my hands on these tripods.

 

The TC2834L Explorer Series carbon tripod

First up is the K&F Concept TC2834L Explorer Series carbon tripod with a CL40 ball head.

At a glance:

  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Net Weight: 1440g
  • Max Height: 1500mm
  • Height without Central Axis: 1235mm
  • Min Height: 430mm
  • Max load: 15kg
  • Price: $299.99 (at the time of writing)

Review: 2 K&F Concept Carbon Tripods Put to the Test

First thoughts

The tripod comes in a really nice carry bag with all the necessary Allen keys to maintain it. There are also a set of three screw spikes in the accessory bag that I wasn’t expecting.

My first thoughts were correct, and these were to replace the rubber grips on each leg for those times when you need a little more traction. Simply screw off the rubber pads and screw in the spikes. It’s super easy and a very nice addition that you won’t get with many other tripods.

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Locking system

K&F Concept has used twist-leg locks to reduce weight and folded size rather than the more traditional lever lock. Aside from the weight and size, the other advantage of the twist legs is their slick design. I have always found that levers tend to snag on the straps of my camera bag when trying to remove the tripod. Whilst, not a huge inconvenience, it generally results in me having a little wrestle with my camera bag.

With the twist-lock, you eliminate this issue.

The primary leg join is a very unique and innovative design that allows the photographer to get the camera as close to the ground as possible. You simply pull the red leaver out and tilt the legs up to one of the other two notches before pushing it back in to securely lock the legs in place.

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Tripod size

The tripod is made up of four carbon fiber sections to keep the weight to a minimum and keep it to a compact height.

One of the most notable aspects of the TC2834L is the lack of center column attached to the tripod. Instead, this comes as a separate section that needs to be screwed onto the tripod when needed. Whilst this achieves its goal of a more compact size tripod, it does mean an extra piece to carry as the column doesn’t attach to the tripod (something that would have been nice to be able to do).

However, I haven’t found this to be a huge problem as the standard height of the tripod is 1235mm, which is more than an adequate hight. Plus, generally having a center column raised on a tripod, is not a great idea as it can mean camera shake through any sort of movement.

I never use this, so actually not having the center column means less weight to carry.

After feeling how light the tripod is, I was a little concerned that it may struggle to support a camera and a 70-200mm lens in anything less than perfect conditions.

Thankfully, I was proved wrong. It proved to be very steady and held up as well as any other travel tripod I have used even in blustery conditions.

The tripod is made up of four carbon fiber sections to keep the weight to a minimum and keep it to a compact height.

One of the most notable aspects of the TC2834L is the lack of center column attached to the tripod. Instead, this comes as a separate section that needs to be screwed onto the tripod when needed. Whilst this achieves its goal of a more compact size tripod, it does mean an extra piece to carry as the column doesn’t attach to the tripod (something that would have been nice to be able to do).

However, I haven’t found this to be a huge problem as the standard height of the tripod is 1235mm, which is more than an adequate hight. Plus, generally having a center column raised on a tripod, is not a great idea as it can mean camera shake through any sort of movement.

I never use this, so actually not having the center column means less weight to carry.

After feeling how light the tripod is, I was a little concerned that it may struggle to support a camera and a 70-200mm lens in anything less than perfect conditions.

Thankfully, I was proved wrong. It proved to be very steady and held up as well as any other travel tripod I have used even in blustery conditions.

Review: 2 K&F Concept Carbon Tripods Put to the Test

Ball head

Sold separately to the tripod, the KF-LC40 ball head may just be the best ball head I have ever used! Beautifully designed for ease of use, the ball head has a slick feel.

It uses the Arca Swiss locking system, which is great as this has now become the universally preferred locking method. This means all your old accessories and L-brackets will work seamlessly with this ball head.

The cleverly designed locking lever is placed a little behind the nodal point, making it much easier to adjust when a camera is attached. It does make the ball head a little bigger, but it’s not an issue, and it allows extra space for more substantial support in the ball head.

However, it’s important to remember that the ball head is sold separately.

Review: 2 K&F Concept Carbon Tripods Put to the Test

Verdict

This is a fantastic sturdy, lightweight, pro-level compact tripod that is a joy to use and even easier to carry.

With a price of just $299.99 (remember, ball head sold separately) and 30 days, no-questions-asked return policy, there isn’t much to not love about this tripod.

Review: 2 K&F Concept Carbon Tripods Put to the Test

Lightweight Travel Tripod

Next up is the TC2634 (Blue) carbon fiber lightweight travel tripod;

At a glance:

  • Material: Carbon Fiber
  • Net Weight: 3.7 pounds
  • Max Height: 1500mm
  • Min Height: 430mm
  • Max load: 15kg
  • Price: $182.28

First thoughts

Like its bigger brother, this tripod also comes in a nice bag with all the same accessories. However, no spikes this time.

It’s amazingly lightweight and compact but still incredibly sturdy. This all makes this tripod perfect for a travel photographer.

You could easily carry this tripod around with you all day without any problem. This is a huge benefit for someone like me who leaves the hotel very early in the morning and ends up having to carry their tripod all day.

This tripod also has a great little trick up its sleeve. One of the legs detaches to become a stand-alone monopod. Just unscrew the ball head and attach the newly removed leg, and you are ready to shoot.

Monopods are great for busy cities and festivals, so it’s nice to have one as easily accessible as this is.

Review: 2 K&F Concept Carbon Tripods Put to the Test

Locking system

Like the TC2834L, the TC2634 uses a twist leg lock, which is great for all the reasons mentioned above. But what this tripod does differently is its 180-degree locking system that makes the tripod even smaller when packed away. It is a little fiddly to get the ball head in the correct spot to make sure all the legs lock closed to be as compact as possible, but you get used to the method after a few uses. This makes the folded up tripod just 430 mm in height!

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Tripod size

Given the compact size of this tripod, you could be mistaken for thinking it is going to be pretty small and not sturdy. This is certainly not the case. Whilst it is not as sturdy as the larger TC2834L, it held up fantastically well in all conditions except a fairly fast flowing river where there was some noticeable shake.

However, I expected that, as this tripod is not designed for that purpose. You can’t have super compact and lightweight without some sacrifices. To help avoid any shake issues, the center column has a hook that can be weighted down to add extra stability.

With the 180-degree leg locking system, it means you can get your camera as low to the floor as you wish. The camera will be upside down, but that’s nothing a rotate tool won’t fix in post-production.

k&f-concept-carbon-tripods

Ball head

This is a very sturdy and well-designed Arca Swiss 360-degree ball head. It’s a little smaller than I would normally like, but this doesn’t affect performance in any way. Unlike the previous tripod, the ball head is included with this tripod, making this an even more attractive option.

Review: 2 K&F Concept Carbon Tripods Put to the Test

Verdict

This tripod is quite a lot smaller than what I normally work with, so I was a little skeptical beforehand. But it turned out to be great, and I really enjoy using it. So much so that I will be adding it to my own photography kit.

It’s a great option for a city break and offers more than enough support for the DSLR or mirrorless systems.

Review: 2 K&F Concept Carbon Tripods Put to the Test

Overall

I have had my existing tripod for almost 15 years, and I never thought that I would replace it with anything other than just a newer model when it was time.

But having tested these tripods, I must confess that I am now using them instead of my existing tripod.

Note: The author was given these tripods and ball heads free of charge to test and was offered no incentives. This review is an unbiased opinion of his experience in using the products provided.

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Kav Dadfar
Kav Dadfar

is a professional travel photographer, writer and photo tour leader based in the UK. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images and Robert Harding World Imagery and they have been used by clients such as Condé Nast, National Geographic, Lonely Planet, and many others. Kav is also the co-founder of That Wild Idea, a company specializing in photography workshops and tours both in the UK and around the world. Find out more at That Wild Idea.