Today we are extremely happy to bring to you the first actual review of our Tripod/head series. In this video review, we look at a kit of an all-around tripod and head from the Polish brand – Genesis Gear called C3.
About a week ago we published the first article in our tripod/head series which was a general buying guide for tripods (with a look at some of the common heads that exist on the market). Today we will start the actual review series with a look at an entry-level tripod/head offering from Genesis. Later on in this series, we shall be looking at mid-range as well as some high-end gear so there will be something for everyone in this extended series.
When we first got the C3 we didn’t know exactly what to expect. We were not familiar with the Genesis brand before the review and had no idea what level of product we are going to receive, however as you will see later on in this review, we were actually pleasantly surprised.
Genesis was founded about 6 years ago in Poland and although it has yet to create a name for itself like some of the big players in the industry, it already has a nice line of products including tripods, monopods heads, sliders, and other videos accessories and even bags. The company’s tripods are meant to be affordable, yet have a rich feature set and decent quality – all are things that we shall look at in this review.
Tripods are relatively simple pieces of gear with no electronics and a few moving mechanical parts. That doesn’t mean that they are all created equal. Although some will probably not survive for long under stressful use, a good, well-designed tripod can survive for decades – literally – two of our Gitzo tripods can easily pass as museum pieces, but despite their years they are still very much functional (with some minor DIY fixes mind you).
The old tripod story was only meant to emphasize one thing – a GOOD tripod can really last a lifetime. So picking the right one in our view is an important decision.
Unlike tripods of the past which were mostly made out of metal and were quite heavy and bulky, many modern tripods started using carbon fiber which comes in layers (6, 8 and there are even a few rare 10 layer tripods – see this upcoming super light tripod from FLM we covered recently for example). The C3 has 8 layers and feels fairly sturdy even when all 4 leg sections are open all the way (more on this later).
Genesis C3- 8 layers of carbon fiber
The C3 comes with a kit ballhead called BH-34. This is a pretty straight forward unit with a diameter of (well, you guessed it…) 34mm, which is rated at a somewhat unrealistically official max load of 18KG. Even if this is an exaggeration, most common DSLR configurations should work perfectly fine with it and we even tested it with our cage rig our D7100+Nikon 105mm lens and it worked fine even when positioned towards the floor.
The locking knob is a bit small but has a good textured rubber coating and typically it doesn’t take too much turning to open or lock it in place.
The BH-34 head that comes with the C3 kit
Although the pan lock is pretty small and not rubberized, it is very smooth and you also get convenient angle markings for panoramas which is pretty standard by now on most ballheads.
The BH-34 uses the same friction screw that so many other ballheads (including much more expensive ones) apply these days. You can try and turn it with your finger but it is much easier to use a small flat screwdriver. At any rate, we kind of hate this mechanism. It isn’t specific to Genesis it is just a poorly designed system. The one that we would like to see is a completely separate knob for friction control with numbers just like you have on some advanced fluid heads, but this is probably something that might fit many higher-end heads (and there are actually a few models that have this).
The BH-34 uses an Arca-Swiss type quick-release plate and although we personally prefer Manfrott’s RC2 system, the BH-34 has two small but nice features that are lacking in some other similar heads – the first is a relatively large and wide plate – good for larger cameras, but maybe a bit less so for small mirrorless ones, the second is a d-ring with a 1/4″ 20 screw – which is a real blessing and a big time saver (we can’t tell you how annoying it is to always look for a way to lock those quick release plates that don’t have a D-ring).
Here is a breakdown of some of the C3 main features:
- Folded length – 50cm/20”
- Max height (with head)- 180cm / 70”
- Max height (head but no c. pole) – 60”
- Weight (with head) – 1.7kg/3.7 lbs
- Max tube diameter – 28mm/1.1”
- Min tube diameter – 17.5cm/0.7”
- Max load (tripod)- 15kg/33lbs
- Max load (head) – 18kg/39lbs
- Min height (no head) – 19cm/7.4”
For an all-around tripod that can open to a fairly impressive height of 180cm (including the head) a 1.7kg weight is quite impressive and lifting this kit up requires almost no effort.
The legs are pretty thick at 28mm for the top of its 4 sections and about 17mm for the lowest section. Just for comparison sake – our old Gitzo studio tripod is 32mm on the upper section and about 24mm on the lowest of its 3 sections so there is a clear difference here which also translates into stability as you can see in this demo which we also showed on our tripod buying guide. However that Gitzo is a studio tripod and it weighs almost twice as the C3 – so not a real surprise here.
If we look at the other end of the spectrum – most travel tripods that we have been testing here for this series (with a few notable exceptions) have thinner legs and of course, cannot get near the 180cm max height of the all-around C3.
We used the C3 for well over a month, both indoors and outdoors and we really liked the build quality and the lightweight of this kit. Although we would not consider this a pure travel tripod because of the folded length which is just over 50cm, it is still compact and portable enough to carry with you using most medium and above camera backpacks and more importantly, it will not add too much to your overall weight.
In terms of stability – we have to admit that since this was the first tripod kit in this series that we received and own mostly studio or older tripod designs which are not exactly comparable – we thought that the tripod was actually pretty stable.
After we received a few other tripods that we shall be looking on later in this series, we do feel that Genesis actually has some room to improve upon here. It isn’t that this tripod isn’t stable, but when you see a relatively similar tripod which is visibly more stable, you understand that it is possible to do more in this respect.
I do want to say however that although stability is a very important factor when choosing a tripod, there are ways to increase a tripod’s stability and the best way to do this with the Genesis is to add weight under the tripod using the hook – adding enough weight will make the tripod much more stable in our experience.
Use the hook to improve stability
One more thing that we think Genesis should work on is the leg angle mechanism – you can see us struggling with it a bit in the video – you need to pull the leg back, press the bottom down and then pull until you hear a click. Let’s just say that this mechanism isn’t 100% perfect. Genesis are aware of this and we hope they will have a better solution in future models.
Leg angle mechanism needs improvement
There are a lot of pluses to the Genesis design – you get very large spikes which can help when used on the ground (although the rubber feet needs to be removed and kept in a secure place so you won’t lose them – maybe Genesis can add a small rubber part that will prevent them from getting lost).
The C3 can go down very low to the ground – you can actually get below 20cm (without the head of course) which is very nice for a tripod that can go up to 180cm tall when fully open. The only downside is that in order to get down you need to remove the center column but also add an extra piece that comes with the tripod in the included bag. We would really prefer it if this would not be necessary.
Talking about this bag – it is the most well-protected tripod bag of any manufacturer that we got to date (including much more expensive tripods). This is great, but some people might think that it is too much if they want to stay light, but there are always other ways to carry the tripod and there is an included strap which is always useful.
Another cool feature that the C3 includes and at least so far none of the other tripods that we received for our review series has, is the ability to remove a leg and turn it into a monopod. This can actually save you money on buying a monopod and since the leg is so light and made out of CF – it is actually a great deal.
Like some of the previous features we mentioned, we have just one issue with the monopod option – instead of just releasing the leg and connecting the head to it, you also need to disconnect the center column and connect it to the leg and then connect the head. This takes extra time and makes the part of the leg with the foam a bit too low for our taste. Again we feel that Genesis needs to come up with a way around this so that you can connect the head directly to the leg.
Update: we talked to Genesis – and apparently there is a way to attach the head directly to the monopod – however, there will be a small gap between the base plate and the bottom of the monopod (this is just aesthetics and does not hinder operation in any way).
Talking about the foam – you have this only on one leg, unlike some tripods which have this on two or even on all three legs. Still it is nice to have and you can always buy a foam cover and add it.
One thing which we didn’t mention in the video – the C3 uses twist locks which feels pretty well made. Although the legs don’t slide out on their own (at least not “out of the box”) like some more expensive tripods, and you need to pull the leg out, we would say that this mechanism seems to work fine.
The twist locks are pretty effective
So let’s sum things up. As we mentioned briefly in the opening part of this video, we basically knew nothing about Genesis before we did this review, but our first impression of this relatively new brand is very positive.
The Genesis C3 – well rounded all around entry-level tripod kit
We usually keep the talk of pricing for the very end but in this case, we actually wanted to give it a little bit earlier as it really helps to put things in perspective. The C3 kit – which includes the tripod, head, and the very padded case, cost just under $225 (it is partially in Polish but they do ship to most places including the U.S.). For what we see as more than a decent carbon fiber tripod and a basic but very usable head, this is considered very affordable. Add in 6 years of warranty and you have an entry-level priced product that can compete favorably with quite a few mid-range offerings.
This doesn’t mean of course that the C3 is perfect. We mentioned in our review several drawbacks – possibly the two major ones are the leg angle mechanism that needs improvement (Genesis is aware of that and we hope to see an improved mechanism in some of their future products) as well as general stability which also has some room for improvement.
For most photographers on a budget, however, we don’t feel that these drawbacks should be a deal-breaker. You can improve stability effectively by adding weight under the tripod and as for the leg angle mechanism, we learned to live with that, and after playing with quite a few leg angle mechanisms for this review series, we can tell you that we have yet to see a perfect one – even at much higher price points.
What we liked
- Lightweight and strong (8x layer Carbon Fiber).
- Well built.
- Goes pretty high and fairly low.
- Monopod option.
- Comes with a nice padded case and a strap.
What we think might be improved
- Stability needs a bit of improvement.
- Leg angle mechanism can be improved.
- A low angle requires adding an extra part.
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