Photographers today demand a lot from their equipment, and we expect a lot when purchasing gear that we plan on traveling with. Fstoppers takes a look at a lightweight carbon fiber travel tripod that’s packed with the features you may be looking for.
I was pleased when I received an email from a representative from one of the United States' oldest tripod manufactures, Davis & Sanford, regarding a lightweight carbon fiber travel tripod they wanted me to put some miles on. Search for the Davis and Sanford TR654C-36 Traverse Carbon Fiber Tripod on B&H Photo and one of the first things you’ll notice is the appropriately placed "Number One Seller" badge. Another thing you’ll notice is the affordable price. Noting these two factors prior to its arrival to my small studio in Arizona, I was optimistic in terms of what I'd actually receive.
Who Is It For?
Travel photographers often require three specific things: portability, durability, and value. Davis & Sanford seems to have all of those requirements covered. In terms of portability, the TR654C-36 breaks down to a manageable 18.5 inches. Durable? It’s built using quality materials like carbon fiber, magnesium, and aluminum. And finally, value. The Traverse is priced remarkably well for what it is. All of this makes this handsome and super-lightweight tripod a popular choice for travel photographers.
- Load Capacity: 12 pounds
- Max Height: 65 inches
- Min Height: 9 inches
- Folded Length: 18.5 inches
- Leg Sections: 4
- Weight: 3.25 pounds
- Reverse-Folding Legs
- Ball head with Arca-Type quick release plate
- Rubber and spiked feet
- Carrying bag included
What I Liked
Tripods range in price from dirt-cheap to sky-high — this is why it can be confusing when comparing tripods online. David & Sanford has managed to pack a ton of value into a $169.99 tripod in my opinion. Had I not been told what the Traverse retails for, I’d have guessed its price to be twice as much as it is.
The lack of plastic components and the overall fit and finish of the individual parts add to the quality feel of the tripod. The four-section reverse-folding legs are made of a lightweight yet rigid carbon fiber, helping to bring the tripod’s weight down to a mere 3.25 .
The PowerBall Head with Arca-Type quick release plate is smooth and powerful, managing to support my Nikon D810 with 70-200mm lens attached without sagging for a solid hour during a test in the studio.
The head includes separate locking mechanisms for both the panning and ball movements, which gives you the ability to pan your camera without losing your level position, which can be verified using the two built-in bubble levels.
The leg’s sections extend smoothly to achieve a maximum height of 65 inches. The rubberized quick-twist leg locks firmly lock the leg's sections in place with roughly a half of a turn. An issue I’ve experienced with these types of leg locks in the past has been dirt finding its way into the threads, consequently making them difficult to operate. Without having used the tripod in the outdoor environments I'm accustomed to, I can’t exactly comment on how the quick-twists will hold up to the elements yet, but they look and feel like they’re up to the task.
I was pleased to see a substantial carrying case included with the tripod. Also included in the bag is a short center column, Allen wrench, and miscellaneous paperwork — the most important of which outlines the limited 10-year warranty.
What I Dislike
There isn’t much to dislike, honestly. If I had to nitpick, I’d mention the dated sticker placed on the only leg without the padded grip. It reminds me more of "Blade Runner" than it does a quality piece of photographic equipment.
While this article only outlines an initial impression of what is obviously a well-made tripod, there are many options on the market when it comes to travel tripods. Whether you intend to use and abuse your gear, or baby it indoors for the rest of your life, I think what we expect out of our equipment is similar. The Traverse TR654C-36 is a well-made carbon fiber tripod that would be hard to beat for its price. A slightly larger option, the TR684C-36, is available if you need additional maximum height and a load capacity of 18 pounds.