A great video head requires great tripod legs to operate at its full potential. Often, video heads are available in a kit, with legs typically matched to its requirements. In this case, the Cartoni Focus 10 Fluid Video Head with-legs kits included the Red Lock System and the higher-end aluminum or carbon fiber Smart Stop SDS tripods. This review will focus on the carbon fiber Smart Stop SDS (Smart Deployment Series) option, the Cartoni L507 Carbon Fiber 2-Stage Video Tripod Legs.
While this tripod provides rock-solid support for still photos, its bulk and weight, along with the twin leg design, pushes video recording support as the optimal use for this model.
Here is a look at the Cartoni L507 Tripod's specs and measurements.
|Specifications||Cartoni L507 Carbon Fiber 2-Stage Tripod|
|Load Capacity||132.3 lb||(60.0 kg)|
|Max Height||61.0"||(155.0 cm)|
|Minimum Height||19.7"||(61.0 cm)|
|Folded Length||28.7"||(73.0 cm)|
|Weight||6.4 lb||(2.90 kg)|
|Weight Bare||6.40 lb||(2.90 kg)|
|Weight Per Foot||0.23 lb||(0.10 kg)|
|Weight of Spreader||1.21 lb||(0.55 kg)|
|Weight w/ Feet||7.09 lb||(3.20 kg)|
|Weight Complete||8.30 lb||(3.75 kg)|
|Maximum Height w/Spreader||60.785"||(154.4 cm)|
|Minimum Height w/Spreader||20.25"||(51.4 cm)|
|Minimum Height w/o Spreader||10.25"||(26.0 cm)|
|Top Leg Section Diameter||0.79" x2||(2.0 cm x2)|
|Middle Leg Section Diameter||0.79" x2||(2.0 cm x2)|
|Lower Leg Section Diameter||0.63" x2||(1.6 cm x2)|
|Apex Max Width||5.9"||(14.9 cm)|
Note that the referenced feet and spreader are optional and included in some kits.
This tripod's load capacity exceeds most video rigs today, even with a full assortment of accessories mounted. Still, a load capacity that far exceeds the actual load means less vibration and flex.
The taller a tripod is, the more likely it will accommodate your eye-level height or even your eye-level height with one or more tripod legs positioned below you. Add the camera viewfinder height, and this tripod comfortably accommodates a 6' (1.8m) person operating on a flat surface. Of course, tripod head height is always an addition to the overall height, and video heads tend to be moderately high.
While high is good, so is low, and getting the camera down to the ground can be ideal for some compositions. Relative to tripods without center columns, this one does not go extraordinarily low. Still, 10.25" (26.0 cm) is adequate for most video scenarios.
Note that this measurement is achieved without the optional spreader. The minimum height increases by 10" (25.4 cm) to 20.25" (51.4 cm) with the spreader fully extended.
A tripod's folded length is of primary concern for packing and transport. A 3-section tripod featuring a good maximum height will not be compact when retracted. This tripod is also relatively large in diameter. Figure a tight fit in a 7" (17.8 cm) diameter (internal) case.
All other aspects being equal, larger diameter leg sections will provide greater stability and lower vibrations than smaller diameters. Of course, leg wall thickness and construction details enter into play here. This tripod's 0.79" (2.0 cm) diameter leg tubes are relatively thin. However, this design includes double tubes in all three sections. The top two sections share the same max tube diameter, and a still wide tube diameter is utilized in the lower section. The structural rigidity of this design is impressive.
The diameter and strength of this apex are significant, contributing to the overall solid design — and being metal, it leaves a mark on the overall weight. So while this 6.4 lb (2.90 kg) tripod is somewhat heavy, it is very light relative to its strength and rigidity.
Video heads are usually two-way adjusting, a level platform is required, and tripods at this performance level feature a bowl for a half ball to mount in. As just mentioned, this tripod's apex is significant in size and strength, as needed to accommodate the 100mm bowl.
Cartoni Bowl Adapters (reduction rings) are available for those needing a different bowl size.
Usually, independent leg spread, allowing the tripod legs to open at various angles, is a desired feature, ready to accommodate any terrain or the lowest camera heights. This tripod has that feature.
Usually, tripod models featuring independent leg spread have angle stops that suggest and facilitate equal pivoting. Less usual is that this tripod has only a single stop — at its widest available opening.
Simply open the tripod legs to the desired angles. Done.
The double-spiked feet (more about feet later) or spreader (discussed next) are counted on to prevent the legs from sliding outward. The tripod and mounted camera's combined weight is, in most cases, sufficient to prevent inward slippage.
Optional is the Cartoni Mid-Level SDS Smart Spreader. This accessory is useful but expensive if not acquired in a with-head kit.
In place, the spreader prevents the legs from spreading farther apart. Unique is the ratcheting design of this spreader. Squeeze the red button, and the spreader arm extends from both sides.
Apply inward pressure on the legs, and the spreader arm ratchets closed. Simply closing the legs compresses the spreader arms to their shortest limit.
Then, lift up on the center spreader ring or pull on the removable adjustable strap ring to fully close the legs.
"The CARTONI SDS Smart Deployment Series SMART LOCK mid-level spreader, featuring a patented CARTONI “no-bind” mechanism for quick spread and collapse capability, is a built-in spreader with a unique 2 stage deployment concept. Made of high performance composite, the SMART LOCK weights only 460 gr (1 lbs). A side button on each arm releases the 2 sections, while the same retract by simply pushing them in. The practical strap fixed to the center ring of the spreader and to the tripod base speeds the folding of the system by one single move."
This system is easy to deploy. With a slight flex in each arm, the spreader is less effective at dampening vibrations. However, vibrations are not a problem with this tripod.
If the extra weight is not an issue, I recommend getting the spreader.
Like the apex, the legs are a critical part of a tripod. As hinted in the name, the Cartoni L507 Carbon Fiber 2-Stage SDS Smart Stop Tripod has carbon fiber (optionally aluminum) tubes. While many video tripods feature a single tube on the lower section, this Cartoni tripod features double tubes on all three leg sections.
When panning under a fluid load, torsional stability is critical. It is important that the tripod head does not twist, and the dual tubes meeting the apex several inches apart aid in that respect. This tripod is extremely rigid – impressively so.
A question I asked myself during this evaluation was, "Do I really need another tripod?" That answer was quickly answered when mounting the Cartoni Focus 10 Fluid Video Head on a top-of-the-line Really Right Stuff TVC-34L Mk2 Tripod. With the fluid resistance set to firm, the RRS tripod flexed slightly during a panning movement, and that flex pushes back when the pressure is released, causing movement in the video.
Most tripods have multiple legs sections, allowing them to be set to various heights or retracted compactly. This means that leg section locks are needed.
Like the just reviewed Manfrotto 645 FAST Twin Leg Video Tripod, the Cartoni 2-Stage SDS Smart Stop Tripods feature a single lever to release both leg locks simultaneously.
Extending and locking the legs of a heavy tripod load can be physically taxing — and slow. Lift a strong plastic lock lever, and the Cartoni's three leg sections become immediately adjustable.
Slide the open lever down to the desired position on the top section. When the second section is fully deployed, maximizing the larger and wider-separated tubes, the third section automatically deploys, with gravity and ground pressure adjusting the bottom section length. Close the lever to lock the selected leg lengths and section positions.
This design makes setup easy. Dialing in the ideal tripod leg extension positions without bending over is a great feature.
The legs rotate inward beyond their ideal folded position without the spreader installed.
Each tripod leg features twin-spiked feet. Optional (included in some kits) Cartoni Hooking Rubber Tripod Feet ride on a small ball between the spikes, attaching via a strong rubber pull tab.
This tripod's rated and tested load capacities far exceed what most photographers will need to support.
This Cartoni tripod handled the Canon EOS R5 and RF 600mm F4 L IS USM Lens with ease. Strong vibrations applied to this combo mounted on a Cartoni Focus 10 Fluid Video Head settled out in about 2 seconds — an impressive performance.
In an extreme test, the factory leg lock tightness slipped under my weight (165 lbs / 75 KG). While that weight is above the rated weight, many quality twist locks on significantly lower-rated tripods can hold my weight. As the slippage seemed to begin with over the rated weight applied, there should be no issue using a rig at the rated capacity.
Cortoni's design style is not flashy. Subdued with excellent functionality better describes this tripod, though the red rod centered between the legs adds a touch of class.
Finding the case that ideally fits a tripod and head is often challenging. The thick-padded (and expensive if purchased individually) Cartoni Soft Bag included in the with-head kits is an ideal option. The case has a full-length zipper, hand straps, and a sewn-in shoulder strap. Missing is the pocket often included for storing small items. The Cartoni Focus 10 kit fits ideally in this case.
The Cartoni L507 Carbon Fiber 2-Stage SDS Smart Stop Tripod is very expensive, and the optional accessories take the price up considerably higher. However, in a kit with a Cartoni head, the accessories are included, and the legs and head are reduced in price, creating a better deal.
This tripod features a limited 1-year warranty.
The reviewed Cartoni L507 Carbon Fiber 2-Stage SDS Smart Stop Tripod was purchased online/retail in a kit with the Cartoni Focus 10 Fluid Video Head. As mentioned, this combination is available in a discounted kit.
Standing out among the many positive features of this tripod is its significant strength and rigidity, including against torsional force. The design is subdued, but the build quality is great.
The fast deployment feature can distinguish between getting the shot or footage and wishing you had purchased a tripod with this capability. Everyone's time is valuable, but for commercial use, the timesaving side of this feature directly translates to increased revenue.
Overall, the Cartoni L507 Carbon Fiber 2-Stage SDS Smart Stop Tripod is a rock-solid base for high-quality video and still image capture.
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