A week after I first unfolded the legs of the K&F Concept carbon fiber tripod on the coastal plain of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, I unfolded them again on the beach of the wild coast of Katmai National Park. Another two weeks later and the tripod accompanied me on a week-long pack-rafting trip in the Brooks Range. Shortly thereafter it came along for a two-week white-water rafting trip down a wild arctic river. In a few short weeks, I’d run this thing through more travel wilderness use and abuse than I expect most products see in their lives.
With the moderate price tag of $170 USD, I didn’t expect this thing to stand up to what I requested of it. I didn’t think the light carbon fiber structure could withstand banging in and out of small airplanes, getting soaked by glacial rivers, or dusted with salt-laden beach sand. In short, I didn’t think this compact, off-brand tripod could hold up where I needed it to.
I was wrong.
Four wilderness trips, thousands of miles of travel, and 15 flights on commercial jets, and charter bush planes, and the K&F Concept tripod still works and looks like new.
Being carbon fiber, this tripod is inherently lighter (4.4 lbs) than an aluminum version of the same size. Carbon fiber however, is often a bit finicky and the locking system on the legs can be delicate and prone to slippage. I didn’t expect this tripod to have any issues right out of the box, but after a few weeks of being schlepped around Alaska, I figured it would have some problems – but it has not.
After nearly three months of heavy use, and only basic maintenance, the locking mechanisms remain rock-steady.
The ball-head that comes on the stock tripod, is small but is rated to a whopping 8kg (17.6lbs.) as its maximum load capacity. That rating seemed high, but out of curiosity, I tried it out with my Canon DSLR and 500mm f/4 lens. While this admittedly heavy kit did seem a bit much for the compact ball-head, it worked. And I was able to successfully lock out the head with the lens and camera aboard.
That said, this tripod is more effective when used with something lighter. A DSLR with a 70-200mm f/2.8 is well within the tripod/head’s capabilities.
The tripod is unquestionably compact. When collapsed, the four leg segments fold back over the ball-head making for a light package that folds up as tight as could be asked (450mm or 20.47″) in a tripod that extends to 1.7m/66″ (1.4m/55.5″ with the center post lowered) when fully set up.
The center post adds some height to the tripod, but I’ve never liked the instability of an extended post. At 1.4m with the post lowered, the height is adequate for most every use, so I removed it entirely, lightening the tripod even more.
As you’ve likely surmised from how I tested it, this tripod is amazingly durable, despite its compact size. With just a small amount of care to protect the tripod from damaging hits, it withstood weeks of intense use, soaking up anything I threw at it…which was a lot.
The rotating leg locks line up evenly when the legs are closed, meaning that with a single twist of the wrist, you can unlock all of them at once, and extend each leg quickly. Fully erecting the tripod takes only a few seconds.
The tripod head uses an Arca-Swiss style mount and is compatible with most plates. As I noted earlier, it can hold a surprising load and is easy to adjust, rotate, or flip into the vertical position. The head is also easily removable. For a time, on a wilderness trip I was guiding, I equipped the tripod with a pan-tilt head for a spotting scope. The swap took just a few moments.
One of the leg sections is also designed for easy removal and conversion to a monopod. While I doubt this is a feature I will use often, I could see this appealing to some photographers and will save you purchasing a separate monopod if you need one.
Can you give a tripod 6 stars out of 5? Because, in this case, I would. There are a number of compact carbon fiber tripods on the market. But few, none perhaps, can boast the affordability, usability, and durability of the K&F Concept TM2534 tripod.
I’ve put mine through a lot in the few months I’ve had it, and it is still working as smoothly, and reliably as the day I pulled it from its box. Will it last over the long haul? While I can’t say for sure, if what I’ve seen so far is any indication, I would expect nothing less.
So yeah, I absolutely recommend it.