Induro AKB2 Adventure Series Tripod
by Eric Leslie
Lets talk about tripods. For me the subject of tripods is a less than glamorous one. It's just not one of those really "cool" pieces of gear like that 70-200 f/2.8 lens you've been drooling over. I'm here to tell you though, tripods are sexy. If you shoot landscapes or macros, a tripod is going to be a huge factor in the quality of your work. My first tripod was a lightweight model that was easy to pack along on hikes, but it wasn't very stable and struggled to support the weight of my DSLR.
In search of a replacement, I didn't want to spend a lot of money. I also didn't want to have to upgrade again later that year because it failed or it didn't meet my needs. I wanted an affordable, lightweight and extremely stable tripod. I found the Induro AKB series kits. I picked up the Induro AKB2 which is the tallest model they sell. It has a max height of 65.9 inches. I'm 6' 1" and is just about eye level. No more hunching over when I want an eye level shot. Since it's tall, the folded length is a long 28.7 inches. For me the extra effort of packing it is worth all the flexibility in the field. It comes with a strap which I use to sling it over my shoulder and I don't really know its there.
It being so tall, you'd think it weighs ten pounds. However, the tree is constructed from magnesium and the legs are aluminum which keeps the weight down to 4.2 lbs. Higher end tripods with carbon fiber and CNC machined ball heads can get down into the 3lb range but you're going to pay double or triple. I think the extra pound is worth the cost savings. If money is no object for you, go for the best. The rest of us will love the AKB2's balance of cost and weight.
What can it do?First and foremost, this tripod is rock solid. I've shot in high 60mph winds. I've stood it on the end of an icy slope. I've been thigh deep in a fast moving creek and my shots all come out sharp. It's very easy to use with big and easy to set controls. Starting at the ground, there are three leg sections which are a snap to setup. There are only two clamps per leg so it's very easy to go from folded to full height quickly.
What I wish it could doWith anything, there is always a compromise. Since this is what I'd call a budget tripod, under $200. You have trade offs. The legs don't always slide smoothly. Especially if they get wet. I'm always standing in the middle of creeks, so this happens often for me. This is a ball head and you can move it into any position, but sometimes it can be tricky. See there is a channel in it that allows movement in one axis. If you want to move in the opposing axis, you have to twist the ball head. This means the position of the clamp has to move to a less than convenient position and on occasion you have to play with it to dial it in. Higher end tripods will allow you to move the camera in two axis without rotating the ball head.
The other major thing this head lacks is a separate control for panning. If you like to do stitched panoramas, this isn't the most ideal head. To do a pano with this head, you have to totally unlock your camera, carefully pan it hoping you didn't move too much up or down and lock it back into place. With a separate control for panning you can lock in the position vertically and still pan left and right. I don't shoot many panos, so I can deal with this.