For many photographers, packing a tripod is just as important as a camera and lens. I was sent the MeFOTO Globetrotter Tripod in Carbon Fiber to test out and have since become a MeFOTO Ambassador, so for the past 3-4 months I've been using it as much as possible when out shooting. MeFOTO tripods are made in China and manufactured by Benro Precision Industrial; and were introduced into the market to offer a sleek designed, more compact, lightweight, and colourful tripod range that come with a three year warranty.
WHY I USE A TRIPOD:
I always have a tripod in my car for work or ready for those emergency amazing-sunset-on-the-way-home-from-work moments, and only on very rare occasions will I leave the house without one when I have my camera on me. The reason being that a tripod helps support my camera, which allows me to shoot in many different situations, such as high speed photography, long exposures, low light situations, macros, among many others. When the camera is stabilised, more time can be spent in framing the subject (nature landscapes, architecture, models, etc) and get things 'right in camera' - leading to quicker processing times when back behind the computer. Furthermore, in today's camera market where the use of natural density filters is rapidly growing, a sturdy tripod has become so much more important for long exposure photography; or with big telephoto lenses designed for motorsport, bird watching or capturing a full moon.
WHERE I'VE BEEN TESTING THE GLOBETROTTER TRIPOD:
MeFOTO Australia and Samyang Australia teamed up with Igersmelbourne in June for a photography instameet at Gunnamatta Ocean Beach along the Mornington Peninsula, where I used the Globetrotter on a number of uneven surfaces (sand, rock, timber decking, etc). I used varying camera settings of up to 30 seconds to capture sunset, astro, and light-painting; and despite there being a breeze that night, the tripod performed perfectly and resulted in clean and sharp images.
I have also been shooting around Melbourne's CBD using the Globetrotter at sunset and in the evening for long exposure and bracketing. Click here to view an image from that night. I have also recently been using the tripod for time lapses on the Mornington Peninsula at sunset and up at Mt Donna Buang in the snow.
Straight out of the box, there's a handy snug carry case with a shoulder strap and a zip pocket inside that contains an allen key and a set of spiked feet. Inside sits the Globetrotter Carbon Fiber tripod that can handle up to 12kgs of camera, lens and accessories; featuring a minimum height of 409mm, a maximum height of 1630mm, and its lightweight carbon fiber material means it only weighs in at a tidy 1.7kg. Also included is a double-action ballhead and quick release Arca-Swiss Style plate. Bonus feature: the tripod can convert into a monopod in around 30 seconds without needing to mess around with any tools.
Having five leg sections and two leg angle sliding lock positions, the Globetrotter allows for some fantastic height adjustment which helps when on unlevelled surfaces such as rocks, sand or getting low to the ground for say macro shots.
MeFOTO top it off with supplying two sets of feet - the rubber ones which are what is on the tripod out of the box, and a set of metal spike feet which are great for soft ground surfaces.
The leg lock grips require a half turn clockwise, which allow free movement to adjust your tripod to the required height, easy set up. Follow by an anticlockwise half turn to lock the tripod legs away. Ensuring the legs are locked in is simple with the leg angle lock on the centre spider/tripod body. From my experience so far, the leg adjust system keeps out unwanted elements. I have found the legs smooth to operate with a comfortable tactile response with just enough friction.
A huge bonus is that one of the carbon fiber legs on the Globetrotter can be removed and with the detachable centre column and become a monopod, which has a useful handgrip. The monopod allows for great height flexibility too - I'm 183cm tall and even I don't need the monopod fully extended to use! MeFOTO use a reverse folding leg system that makes this tripod very compact; after extending the centre column, the legs then reverse to fold up around the column then ready to pack away.
A centre column is extremely important on a tripod, however in the past I have been reluctant to extend the column on some tripods, as I was certain I'd get camera shake whenever there was a slight breeze. This hasn't been the case with the Globetrotter Carbon Fiber column - it looks sturdy, and it is sturdy. One of the first things I noticed when using the tripod was the tongue and groove running up the column, which I believe adds a huge amount of strength and rigidity that is so important when out in the field. There is also a spring-loaded hook at the bottom of the center column for adding extra weight like a camera bag.
I know I have already talked about the monopod function of the tripod in the legs section, but I'd like to quickly touch on it again. At the bottom of the tripod where the hook is, it unscrews, allowing for the centre column to be pulled out (after a half turn of the center column locking collar) from the centre of the tripod spider and attached to the monopod leg. It's simple and took me under 30 seconds without rushing.
CENTRE SPIDER/TRIPOD BODY:
Made of magnesium alloy, it looks and feels well-made. The leg locks work effortlessly, and once disengaged (if in use), it allows for the reverse folding carbon fiber legs to be placed into position; folding away to a compact 420mm in the handy carry bag.
Let's not forget here about the tongue and groove incorporated in the Center Column Locking Collar. I've spoken about the correlation between the tripod body and centre column - these two components are integral in firming and creating great stability, particularly when extending the centre column up to reach 1630mm height. An Allen key is supplied for basic cleaning/maintenance.
The MeFOTO Q2 double-action ball head has three operating knobs: 1) Head locking knob; 2) Drag control knob; and 3) Pan locking knob. The grip on each feels great and has small ridges which mean your fingers don't slip while using them.
Drag control can be manually adjusted and locked, along with independent panning. The ballhead can be moved freely, allowing the mounting platform to be positioned between 0-90 degrees vertical orientation, yet can be smoothly locked quickly with the Head locking knob, which is important if you want to produce panoramic photos.
It comes with the industry standard Arca Swiss quick release plate and the quick release locking knob work smoothly together. I like the fact the plate has two screws that sit in grooves either side of the mounting platform, as it adds a little extra security when releasing the quick release-locking knob. To use it, it's simple - just twist the knob to half release and allow the plate and camera to be moved sideways and to the centre of the mounting platform; tilt and twist to fully release and remove the plate and camera.
There is a bubble level and has 360 panning indicator numbers are easy to read. Separate head and pan lock are user-friendly additions on this tripod.
The MeFOTO Globetrotter Carbon Fiber Tripod is a very good-looking tripod and kit, with an array of colours available. My two favourite things about this product include the ease of operation and its flexibility. I can grab all leg locks in one hand and give them a half turn to unlock it, and extend the leg out in one motion with ease. Moreover, the spiked feet and monopod options make it a handy piece of equipment that is perfect for amateur photogs who want a great first tripod; or for professionals who require something with a bit of versatility and strength to hold heavy camera equipment. You should be able to pick up a Globetrotter in Carbon Fiber somewhere between the $630-$700 mark online or at your local camera store (if they don't stock it, they should. Ask them to order you one in).
The Globetrotter Carbon Fiber is a great pairing with my Canon 5D MK IV / Samyang XP 14mm f2.4 or heavier Canon 70-200mm f2.8. I have used it while out on beaches catching sunsets, on rocky cliffs doing astrophotography, and I've been on the streets of Melbourne CBD and Docklands at night taking long exposure photos.
It's on par with more slightly more expensive tripods I've used, and better than some others I've used that were around the same price or marginally cheaper. It’s quick to set up: 30-40 seconds from unzipping the bag, unfolding the legs, extending and tightening the legs, and attaching to my camera via the quick release plate. Adjustments are easy for framing subjects and I really love that the centre column construction uses a tongue and groove, which I'm sure adds to the strength and rigidity of the overall tripod.
Those colours! Now while I am using the black Globetrotter Carbon Fiber tripod, I also have the Globetrotter in aluminium with green trim, and the RoadTrip aluminium with orange trim, but really wish the titanium colour were in stock when I was sent out the tripod to review.
Any negatives? No, not from my perspective, I think the bubble level could have been moved off the top plate, making it more accessible when the camera and lens are mounted on the head for panoramic photos, but many people use attachment levels that lock into the hot shoe. I would just like to remind people to not over-tighten the leg locks. If like me you have the quick release plate attached to your camera, make sure it is tightly attached, in my excitement to take a few shots when the tripod first arrived, I only 'finger tightened' the plate and had a few portrait orientated photos blur from slipping ever so slightly.
• Max load: 12kg
• Max height: (with column extended) 1630mm
• Minimum height with legs fully extended: (with column retracted) 1400mm
• Minimum height legs not extended: (with column retracted) 409mm
• Converted to Monopod: (fully extended) 1695mm
• Folded length: 420mm
• Weight: 1.70kg
• Leg sections: 5
• Leg lock: Twist lock
• 2 Leg locking positions
• Quick release plate: PMU60
• Bubble Level
MY TIPS FOR KEEPING YOUR TRIPOD IN GREAT CONDITION:
Always clean and dry your tripod after it has been exposed to wet, dusty, sandy or salty conditions. I use warm soapy water and then rinse it off with fresh water. Unlike some tripod brands which are fiddly when trying to remove the leg locks, the MeFOTO Globetrotter legs can simply be unscrewed to clean, allowing us end users to keep the 'twist lock' clean from dust, dirt or sand should any mange to sneak in.