After a long pause due to Photokina 2016 and a backlog of other product reviews it forced upon us, today we continue our tripod and head review series here on LensVid with an interesting kit from Oben.
Part of the Gradus Group, Oben has been a well known tripods, monopods and heads manufacturer for many years. The company was kind enough to send us one of their tripod kits for review and we were specifically interested in a carbon fiber model with a lateral center column called CC-2461L which is what we are going to look at today.
Oben CC-2461L- 4 section carbon fiber tripod with lateral center column
Why are we so interested in a lateral tripod? the answer is that in some situations you will want to be able to shoot downwards in a stable way – this can be in order to shoot products, macro photography or many times in our case – for food photography and videography.
A closer look
- Size – The Oben has a pretty good size for an all around tripod. Folded without the head it is about 50cm or close to 20 inches, open with the center column down and without the head it is 125cm or just under 50 inches and about 10cm taller with the head. When the center column is extended we are looking at around 160cm or 62 inches.
When it comes to getting close to the ground the Oben is a little bit less impressive – being able to get to about 30cm from the ground without the head. Luckily with the lateral center column you can get a little bit lower although you need to be careful not to tip the tripod.
- Weight – despite being a carbon fiber tripod, the Oben is not especially light. With the head we are looking at close to 2KG or 4.4 pounds – typically carbon fiber tripods of the same height weight at least a few hundred grams less.
- Built quality – the build quality of the Oben tripod is fairly good although the locking knobs for the lateral column could have been of a little higher quality.
- Flip locks – unlike all the other tripods we tested to date the Oben has flip locks. Some prefer them although personally we usually prefer twist locks. In this case the flip locks that came with the tripod were really hard to open and close so we used the Alan key which we got with the tripod to loosen them a bit. This is a delicate procedure – if you loosen them just a bit too much they might not lock at all – again this is just another reason why we love twist locks.
Flip locks are a bit too tight (can be fixed with Alan key)
- Spikes – the Oben comes with spikes which can be extended from the rubber legs. The nice thing is that there is no caps that can be lost – the downside is that the spikes are relatively small.
Retractable (short) spikes
- Lateral center column – the main feature of this tripod is the lateral center column which allows you to place your camera directly above your subject. The mechanism for opening the center column involves 3 locks. One allows you to lift the column up and down, the second let’s you turn the column from vertical to horizontal when the column is fully erect. The third lock controls the ability to rotate the column 360 degrees.
The locking mechanism certainly works but it feels cumbersome and is not fast to open or close. Other manufacturers made much better solutions and we shall look at a different one made by Manfrotto in the near future.
It is however very useful none the less and the big advantage is that the center column is quite long – about 40cm or 15 inches without the head so you can reach quite far. The problem is that the tripod is not stable in this way and you really need to put some weight to hold it down which brings us to the next point.
Long Lateral center column (but with a cumbersome mechanism)
- Hook – the tripod has no conventional hook under the center column presumably because it needs to change angle. Instead it has a way to connect weight a bit off center which is in our view not very convenient and require a rope or cable (we just used a small hook of our own).
No real hook
- Stability – the tripod is less stable than the Sirui tripod that we have tested here recently and really liked – if the tripod had a more conventional hook maybe it would have been easier to connect a weight and make the tripod more stable.
- Head – the BC-126 ballhead that comes in the kit is simple but pretty effective. It has two knobs – one for turning the ballhead around and a larger one for opening and closing it. You also have the more or less common tightening screw system that we don’t really care for but this is a basic ballhead so we can’t really ask for much. We do want to mention that the design of the large knob is almost sharp – it is good if you are wearing gloves but can be a little uncomfortable when not.
- Bag – The tripod comes with a simple but nice carrying bag which is always useful – more for storage than for actually carrying the tripod in our opinion but still very nice at this level.
The Oben CC-2461L with the BC-126 ballhead cost just under $365, this is still considered an entry level price point for this type of carbon fiber kit. For example it is about $100 less expensive than the Manfrotto 190Go! carbon fiber tripod kit which has a different lateral center column which we shall review here soon.
Given this price point which is still around $150 more expensive than the Genesis C3 carbon fiber tripod that we have reviewed here last year (that has no lateral center column but is lighter and generally has a better design and build quality) the question therefore is how attractive really is the Oben kit.
To us the answer is that if you really need a lateral center column on your carbon fiber tripod and can’t spend over $400 than the Oben is certainly an option if not there are less expensive tripods with better design or somewhat more expensive ones but with a simpler lateral center column mechanism.
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