Just a few weeks before we left the mainland for a trip to beautiful Hawaii we were contacted by Induro. They wanted to send us a couple of tripods and ball heads, and they hoped we’d share our thoughts about them here on our blog. The trip to the islands would be a perfect opportunity to put the tripods through the paces, so we agreed. They sent us each a CT113 carbon fiber tripod and a BHL1 ball head, and off we went. We used the tripods while we were on location… and what did we think? Well… put it this way. We’ve already sold our old tripods. We like our new Induro’s that much.
First of all, the complete package costs less than our old tripods did – and the tripods come with a tool kit and a carry case with a shoulder strap. The tools come in a little pouch that I keep in my camera bag, and I think most people will really appreciate having a carry case for travel and storage. Of course, cost isn’t everything. The real question is whether or not the tripod can stand up to the abuse we throw at it.
Lightweight, Stable, and Sturdy
Hawaii is definitely a great place to abuse a tripod. It’s got everything. Sand, salt water and spray, rough terrain, dirt, heat, humidity, pouring rain… you name it. And we sure as heck weren’t sitting around on the beach enjoying margaritas while we were in paradise. We were traipsing all over the islands, getting nice and sweaty and dirty – and carrying our tripods everywhere we went.
They held up just fine. They were incredibly sturdy – both Jay and I agree that they felt sturdier than our old tripods… even though they weighed a few ounces less. These are carbon fiber tripods, so they are lightweight as well. We’re carrying a lot of gear out there, so we’re always conscious of how much our gear weighs. They feel very stable no matter the terrain, thanks to the solid construction and wide-stance cross-braced “spider”.
We also appreciated the comfort grips. These may not sound important, but when you get up early in the morning and you are carrying around a tripod in chilly weather, you hands can get mighty uncomfortable as you work with cold metal parts. Even a pair of gloves isn’t enough to keep the cold from creeping through. Chilly mornings were much more comfortable because of those comfort grips, and they are great for really hot conditions too. In fact, I was pretty grateful for them while we were shooting lava on the big island. We were so close to the oozing orange lava that my face and forearms were getting pretty uncomfortable in the heat… and my tripod was heating up, too. But it wasn’t a problem at all. The comfort grips kept my hands from burning, and they held up just fine in the heat. The grips did get wet when it rained, but because they are made of closed cell foam, they dried very quickly. (Most of the bubbles in closed cell foam are unbroken, so moisture doesn’t work its way deep inside. Closed cell foam is also more durable and longer lasting.)
Feet and Legs
I was a little concerned about the feet of the tripod when we were shooting on the lava beds. The ground was so rough and hot in this area, that the Vibram soles on my hiking boots show some obvious damage. The woman leading the tour tells us that she replaces her hiking boots about once a month. But the rubber feet of my tripod held up just fine. If you are worried about heat damage to the rubber feet though, the tripods also came with metal spikes. These are great for ice and uneven terrain as well.
Sand is another problem for tripod users. It tends to work its way into every little groove, and cause damage to threads and leg locks. Induro’s leg locks are moisture and dust resistant – and we found less gunk than we expected when we cleaned our tripods after the trip. We were happy with that. Some sand did get into the threads, though – that’s to be expected. No matter the brand, we highly recommend cleaning your tripod regularly if you use it in sand or mud or salt water or dust… you get the idea. We also recommend extending the lower legs a bit whenever you shoot in something you don’t want in the threads. If you can avoid pushing the leg locks into the muck in the first place, you’ll have a lot less cleaning to do… and a lot less damage over time.
The leg locks themselves work beautifully. A quarter turn releases the leg, and it slides smoothly out for a very quick setup. I could easily loosen both joints on one leg together for an even faster setup. Tightening them is just as easy – and they’ll stay nice and tight with a gentle twist. We like the three leg segments on the CT113, and there are four segment models available for those who want a tripod that will fit neatly into a smaller carry-on bag. The legs also move independently of one another – which is very important for us. We need to be able to adjust the legs to any length and any angle for maximum flexibility no matter the terrain.
A few extra features came in handy while we were working. The spring loaded weight hook is great for stabilizing the tripod in windy weather, and the bubble level can help you get your horizon straight. The center column is reversible – which is great if you want to shoot at a very low angle – and grooved, so it won’t rotate when you adjust it. You can also purchase a shorter center column if you need one.
The Ballhead was very solid and locked firmly in place – even when we were using our heaviest lens combinations. I noticed absolutely no slippage whatsoever. The ballheads did take a little getting used to for us because they were built differently than our old ones. The knobs are located on opposite sides of the base and require a little more tension to turn than we’re used to. On the other hand, the spring loaded quick-release has a double safety lock that prevents accidental release – that’s is pretty darned important when you are trusting it to hold on to thousands of dollars worth of gear. We also liked the lock limiter tension control on the head lock knob. It let us adjust for the weight of different cameras and lenses as we worked. It was a bit tight when the tripod first arrived, but a quick twist with a coin loosened it up, and after that we could turn it easily with the pad of our thumbs. The ballhead also has a pan action lock and a 360-degree graduated base scale for positioning your camera for panoramic photography. Oh yeah – and a bubble level too.
Overall, the Induro CT113 tripod and BHL1 ballhead are exactly what we need when we are shooting on location. They are lightweight, sturdy, and flexible – and they have lots of features that add value. They held up to shooting in a variety of difficult conditions, and were easy to clean as well. (Keep an eye out for our new How To Clean Your Tripod video. It should be ready for release in a few days!)
I know some of you already own this tripod and/or ballhead. Please jump in and tell us what you think of Induro gear. I know that many of our readers are looking for great gear, and good information makes it a lot easier to make tough decisions!
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