Oahu, Hawaii (HI), USA

Review: Induro Tripod and Ballhead

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.

Cost

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”.

Comfort Grips

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.

Other Features

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.

Ballhead

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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35 replies
  1. Stephen DesRoches
    Stephen DesRoches says:

    I’ve been relatively pleased with mine and have been putting it through the harsh salt water test for over two years now. Often two joints deep in water.

    I have the aluminium AT214 version of this one and the wear and tear does do a beating on the paint coatings. I’ve also broken one of the twist locks and the smooth sliding legs are showing stiffness even with routine cleanings.

    But it’s still holding strong and I’m still happy with it.

    I have the BHD ballhead but I think the tention knob is too big and I often grab it instead. Your photos look like the BHL series – and not the BHD.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      You’re right Stephen – we have the BHL ballheads. I’ve corrected that in the post. Thanks for the heads up. I’m glad to hear that your tripod is still holding strong. Thanks for sharing your experience with our readers. We will do another post in a year or two – once we’ve been using the tripods for a while.

      Reply
  2. Mason Marsh
    Mason Marsh says:

    Thanks for the review, Varina. I have the big alloy tripod (AT-413) and the BHL3 head. I like having the heft of the big metal tripod and the head is silky and very solid. Can you put me in touch with your contact at Induro? I lead workshops on the Oregon Coast, and would like to talk with them about getting a set of loaner tripods.

    http://www.masonmarsh.com

    Reply
  3. Raga
    Raga says:

    I have been using induro AT214 tripod and BHD2 ballhead for couple of years now, coincidentally I used them in big island for the first time. I am happy that I got these. I do a lot of seascapes and surprisingly cleaning the sand is not that hard.

    Reply
  4. Satish Mohan
    Satish Mohan says:

    Thanks for the review Varina! I was hunting for a new tripod to replace my old Manfrotto, settled on the CT113 after reading your review. Will let you know how it goes :)

    Reply
  5. Don Risi
    Don Risi says:

    I have the Induro AT413 tripod mounting a Manfrotto 468MGRC0 Hydrostatic Ballhead with an integrated Manfrotto RC0 Quick Release.

    Although the AT413 is aluminum, it’s still fairly light, and costs roughly $100 less than the CT113, and has a load capacity of 44lbs.  Since I got this to use with a 600mm lens, the extra weight of the aluminum over the carbon fiber is, to me at least, negligible   I did replace the long column that came with it with a shorter column.  

    Of all of the tripods I’ve ever owned, it is the one I have liked the best.  I find everything about the tripod to be easy to use, and very well built.  

    The same goes for the Manfrotto 468MGRC0 Hydrostatic Ballhead.  Even with the 600 sitting atop it, once I get the hydrostatic locking knob set, it will hold the 600 steady, while still allowing me to move the camera and lens around freely.  I adopted the Manfrotto RC0 quick release many years ago, and simply decided to stick with it.  

    I normally don’t like to use tripods, preferring to shoot handheld.  But the Induro is so easy to use, I may change my mind.  And the price was right, too.  

    Reply
  6. John Rehling
    John Rehling says:

    A very informative review. Will have to put this on the ever expanding wish list.
    If I may ask? Could you inform me as to the manufacture of the camera strap shown in the photo? It attaches to your Canon in the same manor as the original and has quick disconnects which I think would prove very functional.

    Also enjoyed your review of the Black Rapid strap.

    Reply
  7. John Rehling
    John Rehling says:

    Varina, hope the last message did not load hit the wrong button.

    Thank you for your fast and informative reply. I have a Black magic sport on order for walk around and event shooting, however I do not believe it will work to well with the Loka bag when walking trails.

    I have enjoyed visiting your and Jay’s site many times, you guys/Girl rock.:)

    Your videos reviews of the f-stop loka bag were very entertaining and informative, and provided me with the information I needed to order one, will be here Tuesday can’t wait.
    Thanks again.

    Reply
  8. Hillel B
    Hillel B says:

    Your comments echo my sentiments; I’m very pleased with the CT-214, even with packing it on hikes. Yes it’s certainly not as compact an option as I could have choosen, but my priority was max height, so I have no regrets. However, I opted for the less expensive BHD ballhead — the BHD1 which has ample load capacity for my use. I should say my satisfaction with the Induro is not biased perhaps, by any previous experience with Gitzo or Manfrotto.

    Reply
  9. Satish Mohan
    Satish Mohan says:

    Thanks for the review Varina. Had a question – do you use frequently use the tension control on the ball head? Would love to hear your thoughts on that….

    Reply
  10. Rob Montay
    Rob Montay says:

    How sturdy is this tripod when fully extended? I need a tripod that will be rock solid for high-resolution landscape and wildlife photography. I was planning to get a Manfrotto 190CX until I read this review of the Induro.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      Hi Rob. Stability is very important to us, too. We’ve been more than happy with our Induro’s. They are sturdy and always reliable – even with our heaviest lenses. There’s also a hook at the base of the center column which allows you to hang your camera bag (or something heavy) in case of high winds. I love my Induro – and I know I speak for Jay on that as well.

      Reply
  11. Dev Mukerjee
    Dev Mukerjee says:

    Hello Varina ma’am :) nice Review! I have a simple question, which is better for macro photography mainly flowers or insects ? A ball head or a pan head ? I am low on my budget and I zeroed in on a Vanguard 203AP with an MH-2 pan head. I have just started doing macro and till now I have only handheld experience which kinda blurs my shots sometimes.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      If you are on a budget, a standard ball head is all you need, Dev. I use my ball head for all kinds of photography – including macro. Get a sturdy one that will lock nice and tight to hold a heavy macro lens, and you’re all set. We love our Induro ball heads.

      Reply
  12. Terry
    Terry says:

    I’m in the market for a Arca type ball head to go with my current Feisol large tripod and my Induro 214 which is arriving tomorrow. Needed a backup since my Feisol has a broken leg flange and will be sent back for repair. I’ve been using the Manfrotto 468 hydrostatic ball head with QR plate and the Manfrotto Jr. L bracket for a while but its quite a handful. I got a RRS L bracket with my used Canon body , so I’m looking at going to the Induro BHL1 or BHL2 head . Read the specs but don’t want to chance that the BHL1 won’t hold my 1DSM2 w/300mm lens perfectly still. Specs of the BHL1 say it will support 44 lbs which sounds plenty but would I notice any difference in the BHL2 , besides my wallet? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      We haven’t used the BHL2 – but we’ve been very happy with the BHL1. I’d recommend checking with the company to be sure you are getting the best ball head for your needs.

      Reply
  13. Troy E. Phillips
    Troy E. Phillips says:

    Hi Varina great review, thanks. I’ve been looking at induro tripods for about a year. I have a 3.6# sigma 180mm macro on a d7000 and am going to geta couple smaller wide angle lenses. What Induro alloytripod n head would recommend. I’m going to be shooting macro ,landscape and nature.I’ll be doing some long exposure stuff with nd filters.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      Hi Troy,

      I use an Induro CT113 Carbon Fiber tripod with the BHL1 ball head. I’m 5’6″ tall, and the CT113 is about right for my height. If you are taller than I am, I’d recommend going with a taller tripod. The BHL1 head will hold all the weight you need with the combo you mentioned, and you can take a look at the BHL2 as well. Thanks so much for your kind words!

      Reply
      • Susen
        Susen says:

        Hi Varina,

        Thank you so much for your review and I enjoyed your videos on YouTube as well! I am currently looking to get a Induro tripod, and I am 5’8” tall. Do you think CT113 (the new equivalent version is now CLT103 I think) is tall enough for me? The slightly taller version CLT203 is about 3” taller without center column extended but is 0.8 lbs heavier, so I was wondering if the extra height is worth the weight difference. I plan to mainly use it for landscape, so probably will take it hiking, so lighter is always better for me! Thank you!

        Reply
        • Varina Patel
          Varina Patel says:

          I think you might prefer the slightly taller tripod, Susen. Although I love my CT113, I sometimes wish it were a few inches taller. ;) If you are two inches taller than I am, I think you’re going to wish for those extra inches a whole lot more than I do.

          Reply
  14. Philippe Castagna
    Philippe Castagna says:

    Hi Varina and Jay,

    First of all I would like to tell you that your work is inspiring.

    After a year and an half of work with your Induro CT113+BHL1, what could you tell me about your experience with it.
    Is it still in good condition of work? Are you still satisfied and using it on a daily basis? Did you find any limitation?

    Also would like to know if it was any reason for you to take the 3 legs model instead of the CT114 which has 4 legs (means collapse shorter).
    Is it about stability or just because Induro propose to you this particular model?

    Thank you for your time to give me some feedback as I’m in process to buy a new tripod/head and according to your video I’m interested by this set.

    have a great day.
    Philippe

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      Thanks for your kind words, Philippe! We are still using our CT113s and BHL1s – and still loving them. They are sturdy, and lightweight, and they offer excellent stability for our cameras and lenses. We use them for almost every shot we take in the wilderness. And we still highly recommend them.

      We chose the 3-section legs simply because it’s quicker to extend and collapse. The 4-section legs slow us down just a little… though not really enough to make it an issue. ;) The models with 4-section legs are very sturdy as well. We checked them out the last time we visited Induro headquarters. They also get nice and small, which makes them great for travel.

      Reply
      • Philippe Castagna
        Philippe Castagna says:

        Thank you Varina for your answer. I finally bought a few month ago the same Induro set as you and I have to say that I’m really happy with it. Another great advice coming from you… Do you have any tips for travel with it especially for the rules of the airplanes company’s? Are you able to keep it with you with the hand luggage or do you have to check it? Will certainly be really interested by your experience as we have the same equipment here… Thanks again for your interest. Philippe

        Reply
  15. Baz Anderson
    Baz Anderson says:

    Varina,
    So coincidental receiving this newsletter from you guys, have just received this week, and happily working with, my new Induro CT213 & BHL2, enough for Lumix GH3. Operates as smooth as silk, even with RRS panorama clamp/rail set up. This is my first new tripod in 27 years …… Happy chappy :)
    Regards,
    Baz

    Reply
  16. Mark
    Mark says:

    Hi Varina, I’m considering getting the Grand Tourismo 214 Carbon Kit that comes with BHM2 ball head and a short center column. Do you know anything about this set-up which looks fairly comparable to the CT214/BHL2, but a little cheaper? Do mostly outdoor photography. Thanks for your reviews.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      I had a chance to look at the Grand Tourismo tripods recently, Mark. They look fantastic. I think you’ll be really happy with the kit. It’s sturdy and will carry lots of weight… and it folds up nice and small, so it’s great for travel. One you have a chance to try it out, I hope you’ll return and comment again. Let us know what you think! I’m sure others will find the information useful as well!

      Good luck with your photography.
      Varina

      Reply
  17. Wilson
    Wilson says:

    Hi Varina,
    Thanks for the great review on the Induro products.
    I am looking for a new ball head. My current ball head will shift down a bit in framing (~5%) when locking down the ball.
    I wonder if the BHL-1 will provide a more stable framing while tightening it up.
    Thanks for your advice.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      I’m afraid that’s a pretty typical problem, Wilson. I find that the problem comes from my own grip on the camera – which I release as I tighten the ball head. When I let go, the camera settles into position, so I have to point my camera slightly higher than I actually want it. It happens with every ball head I’ve ever used. I’m afraid it’s just gravity doing it’s thing. :)

      Reply
      • Wilson
        Wilson says:

        Thanks for your answer.
        I also routinely point my camera up a bit to compensate for the drift.
        I guess I will stick with my current setup then :)

        Reply
  18. Clare
    Clare says:

    I was impressed with this tripod and it’s features after seeing your video on choosing one, but when I went to order online I found it has been discontinued and replaced (it seems) by model CLT103 .. From what I can tell it’s made with an improved carbon fiber and comes with a short center column, but I’m having trouble finding any reviews on this new version and working out if all it’s other features are the same – would you happen to know?

    Reply

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