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In-depth tripod overview: FLM CP34-L4 II: Digital Images Evaluation

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FLM’s CP34-L4 II tripod at full peak, virtually towering over your 1.83 meter (6 foot) tall reviewer.

FLM is well-known for German ingenuity and excellent building within the tripod and ball head realm, beginning with their extremely steady CB-58FTR ball head which was this reviewer’s introduction to the model. Since that overview, the corporate was purchased by MK Messtechnik, who proceed to design and construct the FLM heads and plates at their manufacturing facility in Stuttgart, Germany. In 2019, their tripods have been redesigned (therefore the ‘II’ suffix) and manufacturing of those new fashions was transferred to FLM’s Chinese language subsidiary. Given FLM’s popularity for stability and uncompromising engineering, bringing one in every of their tripods to this group comes with fairly large expectations.

With the CP34-L4 II, these expectations are initially met by the super stature of this ‘lengthy leg’ sort of ‘collection -3 systematic’ tripod. FLM produces tripods in ‘S’ (small), ‘M’ (medium) and ‘L’ (giant) dimensions by utilizing longer or shorter leg sections between every lock, much like the alternatives provided by different producers. Nonetheless, with no particular order, the CP34 mannequin is barely stocked and obtainable because the ‘L4,’ or giant, four-section mannequin, within the North American market.



Specs and what’s included

  • Max. peak 173.5 cm (68.3″)
  • Minimal peak of 11.3 cm (4.5″)
  • Folds to 60 cm (23.6″) with 14 cm (5.5″) diameter
  • Weighs 1.95 kg (4.3 lbs) with flat platform
  • 33kg (72.7 lbs) load restrict
  • Three leg angles (25° / 54° / 84° )
  • 4 leg sections (34mm high leg diameter / 30 / 26/ 22mm)
  • 78mm platform secured with three hex bolts
  • Built-in 75mm video bowl
  • Bubble degree included on apex
  • Detachable 44mm mushroom toes on customary 3/8″ thread
  • Contains instruments, directions and 40mm metal spikes

With the replace of the whole tripod line to Sequence II in 2019, FLM not solely moved tripod manufacturing from Germany to China, however the brand new collection now all use 10-layer carbon fiber tubes, a slick black end, wider leg angles, and no middle columns on any tripod. These fashions vary from the CP26 Journey tripods and CP30 collection with compact apexes, to the bigger CP34 and CP38, with 34mm and 38mm high tubes respectively, which have built-in video bowls as a part of their column-free apexes.

The built-in 75mm bowl units the apex of the CP34 collection aside from their very own, smaller CP30 collection, in addition to many different tripods.

FLM provides the HB-75 leveling half ball to pair with this included function, including 15° tilt in any path and a brief deal with for low setups. Moreover, there are FLM leveling options for the 100mm bowl within the CP38, in addition to a standalone leveling base, LB-15, for the smaller tripods in vary. These are along with the gathering of extraordinarily strong ball heads that FLM is legendary for.

In comparison with others

This tripod was examined and in contrast with its modular apex friends. Left to proper; ProMediaGear TR344, Actually Proper Stuff TVC-34, Sirui SR-3204, FLM CP34-L4 II, Leofoto LM-364C, Gitzo GT3543LS.

The FLM CP34-L4 was examined and in contrast alongside tripods in the identical class of ‘Sequence 3′ (33-36mm high leg tube diameter) “Systematic’ (modular apex with detachable platform) sort, together with merchandise from Gitzo, Actually Proper Stuff, ProMediaGear, Leofoto and Sirui. Contemplating how the entire different producers on this group, besides Sirui, additionally supply longer variations of their tripods underneath overview, this big FLM offers a pleasant instance of these taller choices, by way of packed dimension and supreme peak

All of those tripods have been utilized in 4 seasons of sand, snow, mud, rain, and saltwater; arrange within the bog-like Atlantic salt marshes and the wind-swept Appalachian mountains. They’ve been loaded with gimbal heads, ball heads, geared and pano-heads, and as much as 4kg (8.8lb) lenses connected to cameras starting from APS-C to medium-format, capturing something from long-exposure landscapes to excessive telephoto birds-in-flight. The one check they didn’t undergo was being rough-handled on the airport, because of pandemic journey restrictions. We’re publishing these opinions sequentially over the approaching days, with a last roundup to come back shortly.

Top comparability

Beneath is a relative peak comparability between the FLM CP34-L4 II and a 6 foot (1.83m) photographer.

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First impressions

The shiny black end of the FLM CP34-L4 II is constant all through, as is the tight building.

The FLM CP34-L4 II actually stands out from the remainder of the tripods it was in comparison with by advantage of its longer leg tubes, which add a formidable 23cm (9″) in peak over the subsequent tallest when totally prolonged, however solely 5cm (2″) extra when packed away. Gitzo, RRS, PMG and Leofoto all supply longer-legged variations of their tripods on this group, however not all obtain the identical peak with such a small penalty in folded size.

Earlier mannequin tripods from FLM had the distinctive vivid aluminum end to their machined leg locks, in line with the varied ball heads they make, however now those self same elements are completed in a constant, clean black. Using all-metal leg locks continues to be uncommon when in comparison with the rubber-wrapped locks on virtually each competitor, and whereas they don’t seem to be tough to understand in good climate with naked arms, we had some difficulties within the chilly.

Following an FLM custom, there’s a distinctive cork/ rubber composite pad on the systematic platform, which offers each some vibration damping and a agency grip on no matter head is put in.

To make mounted units much more safe, there are 3 plastic-headed retention screws that may be tightened from under with a hex wrench, by means of holes within the built-in video bowl. Why three screws? They maintain issues symmetrical on the aluminum platform.

We’re not followers of the ‘carbon-fiber look’ stickers round every leg clevis. This type of ‘bling’ on steel elements is often seen on lower-end tripods, and because the sticker’s weave sample does not even match the relatively high-end ‘mountain’ sample of the actual carbon fiber legs proper beneath them, they’re much more misplaced. A foolish factor to choose on, for positive, however at the very least one simple space for enchancment on a tripod of this worth.

The angle locks for every leg are thick steel with a beneficiant indent on the again, underneath the apex, permitting them to simply be pushed out to regulate every leg. Pulling them from the entrance requires extra dexterity because of a smaller indent on the perimeters, however additionally they click on forwards and backwards with a pleasant ratcheting motion, so it’s all the time simple to inform when the angle is locked or able to be adjusted.

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Use within the subject

Generally the FLM CP34-L4’s spectacular peak isn’t wanted, however the stability of utilizing simply the highest two sections in some conditions is appreciated.

Even in case you are not significantly tall, one of many nice benefits of this type of a ‘supersized’ tripod over the extra typical heights is when organising on a downslope; with one or two legs totally prolonged, it could possibly nonetheless retain an eye-level view to a digital camera. Or, as demonstrated within the first picture of this overview, capturing overhead with an extended lens, and never needing to crouch all the way down to see a viewfinder or non-tilting again display screen. The minor annoyance that comes with that is that, for some folks, the varied heights of totally prolonged or closed legs could not meet their wants with out adjustment.

When the leg locks are grasped with a large hand and given 1 / 4 flip to unlock all of them, the leg tubes slide out in a quick and fluid cascade of carbon fiber that’s virtually disconcerting. No want to tug on the ends to increase them, as they may fly to full extension with out even a shake. In contrast to the Leofoto, the tubes themselves don’t wiggle or wobble on the best way out, and even when prolonged and nonetheless unlocked. This says the leg tubes are exactly mated to one another, however the mixture of steel locks and polished tubes is nearly slick. This makes setup very fast, in addition to adjusting the peak of every leg fairly simple, however takes some getting used to.

The FLM leg locks have vertical indents machined into them, and so they have the identical slick black end as the remainder of the aluminum elements.

We want these locks have been simpler to seize and switch, particularly with gloves on. Whereas not a giant deal indoors or in kinder climate, as soon as it obtained chilly, the CP34 grew to become a check of hand power to understand the locks with gloved arms. Taking off gloves to seize naked steel in some temperatures isn’t advisable.

Eradicating the flat, systematic platform to disclose the properly integral video bowl requires a hex wrench and a spot for 3 lengthy bolts, so that is finest completed earlier than heading out into the wilderness. What the bowl offers is a pleasant place for a leveling half ball, like FLM’s personal reasonably priced unit, or one from one other producer within the 75mm dimension. There isn’t any provision for a middle column to be added to the CP-series, and the opening on the base of the bowl would limit the dimensions of the column anyhow.

When stability is the prime concern, the CP34-L4 rests simply on its 34mm high tubes, however the lack of a middle weight hook was a real ache. The tiny 6.25mm (1/4″) weight gap underneath the platform was taunting the heavy luggage and strap handles; successfully saying “discover a sufficiently small carabiner after which I am going to maintain you.” A sufficiently small carabiner was not provided within the field.

Additionally seen listed below are the well-shaped leg angle locks, the platform securing bolts, and the 1/4″ threaded accent attachment factors.

Except for the additional peak, the CP34-L4 was not too totally different from different tripods on this class in relation to packing it up and transporting it. The addition of some further centimeters of carbon-fiber tubing provides little or no to the load, and the additional packed size would solely be a difficulty when making an attempt to suit this right into a carry-on bag for air journey. Total, this ‘giant’ sort tripod from FLM signifies that any of the varied sizes within the CP34-series will likely be greater than steady sufficient for heavy gear, but gentle sufficient for longer hikes. With just a few areas for enchancment, FLM has created a really good set of legs for any of their ultra-stable ball heads to relaxation on.

Upkeep

FLM locations a excessive precedence on the upkeep of their tripods and has movies and directions on their worldwide web sites, in addition to within the included directions sheet. FLM provides substitute shims, locks and grease for less than the worth of delivery, as properly. Using a one-piece shim makes disassembly simple, and the machined locks are simple to wash.

It’s throughout this upkeep that you will discover the precision of the match of the legs.

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Take a look at outcomes

Vibrations could make even the sharpest lens end up mushy, blurred images, and might damage lengthy exposures. Within the typical use instances for this class of tripod, decreasing the consequences of vibration turns into extraordinarily vital, since longer focal lengths and better resolutions enlarge the consequences of any motion, and environmental vibrations like wind and water could have an rising impact on bigger legs and equipment. Digital camera vibration may be mechanically minimized with mirror lockup, digital shutters, and a distant shutter launch, whereas including weight to the underside of the tripod (with a carabiner or a tripod stone bag) can assist stabilize the entire setup. Nonetheless, not all sources of vibration may be eradicated, so we examined whether or not the tripod will dampen them or transmit and replicate them to the digital camera.

The tripod legs have been totally prolonged, and our vibration analyzer for heavy-duty tripods (an iPad on a 3.2 kg (7 lb) cantilevered weight) was mounted on to the flat platform’s 3/8″ threaded bolt with an extended lens plate. An industrial solenoid valve with a plastic hammer was used as a supply of vibration (a knock to the underside of 1 leg). The ensuing graph of all three accelerometers reveals each the resistance of the tripod to the preliminary shock, in addition to the speed of decay for residual vibration inside the tripod.

FLM CP34-L4 II vibration resistance check outcomes – click on for bigger graph

*Notice that this graph is relative solely to this class of tripods. The burden and check tools was adjusted to supply a conclusive outcome for this dimension of tripod.

Through the vibration assessments, the FLM CP34-L4 was at a slight drawback by having longer leg tubes than shorter tripods, however nonetheless carried out admirably. The preliminary shock was transmitted pretty instantly, however then shortly dampened to a low degree, and diminished to virtually nothing in a couple of seconds. Whereas this isn’t within the high of this class, it is vitally good for the dimensions and size of this FLM tripod at full extension.

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Conclusion

FLM has constructed its popularity on the rock-solid stability of its varied heads, in addition to standing behind its merchandise. Whereas these new tripods are made in China, the identical sturdy engineering and tight building is carried over, making the CP34-L4 II a really tall element in a extremely steady system. Just a few missteps within the design are evident, such because the lacking weight hook and lack of even an elective column, however these are offset by the cheap worth and built-in video bowl. The tip result’s an simply beneficial various to the top-end tripods from some other producer, and properly definitely worth the particular order in some markets if one thing lower than the examined ‘giant’ tripod is required.

What we like

  • Cheap worth for glorious high quality and good options
  • Superb vibration resistance for the dimensions
  • Built-in video bowl is one much less merchandise to purchase
  • Equipment are additionally moderately priced
  • Spare elements are simple to acquire

What we do not like

  • Non-long legs are particular order in North America
  • Heart column not obtainable as accent
  • Leg locks onerous to make use of in excessive chilly
  • No weight hook – solely a 1/4″ gap

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