A review of the regular Zone VI tripod

by Q.-Tuan Luong for the Large Format Page

I have used the regular Zone VI tripod for a couple of years.

It is certainly a very well-built and solid piece of equipement, except for the strap which is holding the legs together which came off. This made carrying the tripod more awkward, since you have to use both hands.

The stability and rigidity are what you would expect from a 16 lb tripod. However, by comparing this tripod with other makes like Ries, I have the feeling that the Zone VI is overbuilt, and therefore more heavy than necessary, and that one could probably build a tripod which of the same stability and rigidity with less weight. One nice thing about having a tripod which is not precision-made (unlike, for example a Gitzo), is you don't have to worry about throwing it around, using it in mud, etc... It seems very hard to break.

The other thing that I really liked, compared to the metal tripods, is the big spikes and the platforms you can step on to drive the spikes into soft ground. I also step on them to be able to see the spirits levels which are situated on the top of my camera.

The leg locks are very easy to operate because of their large size. However, there are two of them per leg, which makes it more time-consuming to set-up. I also find that it takes me some time to adjust the legs so that the platform is about level. There might be two reasons for that: first, the upper articulation of the legs not only allows one to spread them, but there is also a certain amount of lateral movement which is allowed, resulting in a more complicated geometry, and also maybe some lack of torsional rigidiy. Second, the legs cannot be locked at an angle, so that on hard surfaces such as rock and concrete, one has to find a hole which sits the spike. With this respect, I find my Gitzo much faster to set up on irregualar terrain. Also, since the legs have nothing to maintain them in place at a given angle, I have also to be careful not to crush my hands when I am lifting the tripod. This makes moving the tripod around quite awkward and time-consuming, and therefore I have to be careful to find the best camera placement before setting the tripod. For this reason, I would prefer the design of the lightweight tripod, or the Ries tripods.

There are certainly better wooden tripods, because of the limitations I mentionned. This one had worked sufficiently well for me when I wanted a massive tripod to use next to my car. However, I eventually sold it. It was just too heavy and I found it didn't offer that much functionality for its weight.

There has been several mentions that the Zone VI tripods (both this one and the lightweight one) are noting but surveyors tripods which could be bought for a fraction of the price Zone VI is charging in the relevant stores. The only difference is that they will not come with an attachment compatible with the photo heads, and might be painted instead of having a clear finish.

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