Finally a Tripod I Love: Colorado Tripod Company

I've been testing out the Centennial Tripod from Colorado Tripod Company and I love it. Buying US-made products is cool, but when those sellers offer top quality at a good price, it's even more awesome! Read on to see why I think your next tripod should be made in Colorado.

Introduction

A friend of mine told me about the Colorado Tripod Company after I spotted his sleek-looking new sticks on Instagram. I immediately asked where he got it, only to find out that it was made less than an hour from my house. They have taken some of the quality designs of other tripod manufacturers, made improvements, and offered a more reasonable price. 

There are so many options out there when it comes to tripods. You can spend anywhere from $100 to $1,000+ on a carbon fiber tripod, and sometimes, it can be hard to tell what you're getting. Having used so many cheap tripods over the years, I was excited to see a top-quality product in a more affordable price range.

The Centennial Tripod is suited to the professional or amateur photographer seeking a functional, rugged, and reliable tripod that won't break the bank. Let's talk through build quality, usage, and features.

Tripod Build Quality

When I opened the box on my new tripod, I was immediately impressed with the quality and attention to detail. It comes packed with a nice protective case that is great for traveling and storing safely (although I'll probably never use it.) Upon further inspection, I was again impressed by the functionality and attention to detail.

In the past, I have been frustrated by tripods that are either too hard to use (legs don't lock effectively) or don't adjust easily (ball head constantly too tight or loose). This tripod just works. It is made with precision and fine attention to quality. 

The carbon fiber legs feel extremely sturdy, and the ball head functions just as you would expect. The fine adjustment allows you to dial in the perfect amount of tension, and quarter-turn adjustments on the legs allow you to quickly adjust height.

All the features I expect in a top-quality tripod (quick locking legs, smooth ball head, easy camera mount, removable center column, etc.) are all just how and where I expected and intuitive to use.

Tripod Features I Love

1. Quick Locking Legs

Several features of this tripod really made it stand out as high quality. The first was the quick locking legs. With a quarter-turn of each section, the legs smoothly extend to full height. No more fussing to get your tripod quickly deployed.

2. Camera Plate Mount

The second feature that I really liked was the camera plate mount on the ball head. The adjustable lever clamp allows you to dial in the tension on your camera plate so that the plate is locked in securely and quickly. In the past, I've used the knob style plate mounts that you tighten down with several turns.

The design on the highline ball head is much easier and faster to use. I also appreciated that the adjustable tension can be used with a variety of style plates and not just the one provided with the tripod. I use Peak Design plates, and the compatibility was seamless.

3. Removable Center Column

A quickly removable center column was the third feature that really stood out. I've used tripods that have a complicated process to remove the center column, but on this tripod, you just unscrew it. When you need additional height, simply thread it back together and extend the column upward. I love when products are simple and intuitive!

Usage and Examples

This has quickly become my go-to tripod for astrophotography and long exposures (waterfalls, time-lapses, etc.). It has stayed mounted to my pack for a variety of shoots recently, and I expect it will stay there for the foreseeable future!

My main complaint about this tripod over others I've used was the size. I'm usually a minimalist when it comes to tripods, so this was larger than I might choose, but overall, it didn't bother me too much. It's not intended to be the smallest tripod on the market, and it does provide an excellent height for its weight (3.4 lbs for a 58" max height, including the center column). This allows the majority of people to mount the camera at eye level. It's not a super light and compact backpacking tripod, but it is durable and tall.

I've taken this tripod on a ski hut trip and several camping trips, as well as numerous shoots. I love how quickly I can set it up and how stable my camera is when locked in place. Despite being tossed around in the back of my truck and strapped to the side of my camera bag, it shows minimal signs of wear, and I expect it will last much longer than some of my previous tripods.

I found myself using this tripod more than others in the past because of the high-quality features. The large rubber grips on the leg sections made it easier to set up even with gloves on, and the quarter-turn locks made it quick to know if you were turning the locks the right way. Once locked, the legs are firmly held in place, which means you never have to worry about your camera crashing to the ground unexpectedly!

Summary

This is the best tripod I've ever used, and if you're in the market for a quality tripod, you should check it out. The combination of high-quality features and a great price make it an excellent value. And for an extra bonus, it's made in the USA!

I really liked all the quality features on this tripod, especially the quarter-turn leg locks and the lever clamp to mount a camera. These made it so easy to work with, which helps reduce the main barrier to using a tripod: setting it up!

The main improvement I would like to see is reducing the overall size and weight of the tripod, although I suspect this would cause it to be less stable. Right now, this tripod feels extremely stable and rugged, so maybe there is some extra weight that could be reduced in a future generation. Best sure to check out this tripod at the Colorado Tripod Company for $449.

What I Liked

  • Excellent quality

  • Quarter-turn leg locks

  • Lever clamp camera mount

  • Max height of 58 inches 

What Could Be Improved

  • Overall size and weight reduction

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23 Comments

J.d. Davis's picture

looks good, just UNDERweight (#3.4) for good stability. And HOW much for a ballhead? Holy Christmas that's spendy!

Marek Stefech's picture

twist lock on tripod ----> nothing for me

Jason Berge's picture

Hey Marc,

just a tip, only 4.21% of the world lives in the US. The other 95.79% don't, and might be put off by your opening paragraph. Remember, the internet is the (mostly) whole world. Not just 'murca.

And yes it does look like a nice tripod.

:-)

David B's picture

I hear what you're saying. I think there's some merit to buying locally no matter where you're located.

Tundrus Photo's picture

Exactly. And "made in the USA" is not always a selling feature for those in the other 95.79%. As I post this the Colorado Tripod Company's website says that they are only shipping within the US due to "demand". I'm skeptical about demand being the reason - but whatever.

Jan Holler's picture

While it looks great, I have two issues with it: Twist lock, I don't like them because a) it takes more time to secure them and b) one can't decide by just looking at it if it is securely locked.
The weight is o.k. but for the size not extraordinary, my simple metal Manfrotto MT294A4 weights 1.8kg (64.5oz) along with a no name ball head (45mm, 500g, 17oz) with install arca suisse plate weights just 600g (21oz) more (net weight 64.5oz).
Every time I spot an interesting carbon tripod I think I finally buy one. But to save just 600g when the total weight I often carry is a bit over 20kg (44lb)? That is just 3%. Hmmmm.....

Paul C's picture

Thanks for posting this Marc --- there is an eternal quest for the perfect tripod (and yes, how many old buys does the average photographer have laying unused in the store-cupoard?)

Reviewers tend to focus on lenses and cameras, but the peripherals to photography can be just as important in practice. Furthermore, my experience is that it can take many trips with a tripod before you discover the irritating flaws and hidden strengths that you missed in the camera store. Even more challenging - photographers buy tripods online!

So dear F-Stoppers community - please keep reviews of the accessories coming! For me, the arrival of affordable and truly pocket sized lightweight composite material "table-top" tripods have been a great advance in my cityscape and travel photography over the last 5 years.

Tundrus Photo's picture

A few points: First, I have one. It's well made and very sturdy. You can't have sturdy without some weight and the balance between the two is about right. The bullhead is excellent. Unfortunately, because its a small company there are production timing issues. In the past items were out of stock for moths and months. Now they are only shipping within the US so international buyers are out of luck. Hope the company can grow and resolve these issues.

Tom Reichner's picture

Marc,

Do you know offhand if this company makes the kind of tripods that wildlife photographers like to use with huge supertelephoto lenes?

I mean no center column, no built-in or included head (because we supply our own Wimberley gimbal), and capable of rigidly supporting a 15 to 20 pound camera/lens combination? Also, at least 5' 6" tall at the top plate, when fully extended.

If they make capable wildlife tripods, I would be interested in a link.

Thanks

Robert Nurse's picture

I was wondering the same thing: maximum payload. I didn't see those specs mentioned. Though I don't own superteles, I do rent them from time to time. Though, their Series 4 should fit the bill for you with a max height of 70 inches with no center column.

Tom Reichner's picture

I'm going to go to their website and check out the series 4 that you suggest.

Please see my reply to Chris Rogers (below) where I explain further about the importance of payload, and how it works in real-life scenarios.

Chris Rogers's picture

Wooow yeah they don't mention load capacity at all on their website. that's a pretty important factor for buying a tripod.

Tom Reichner's picture

Payload is extremely important to those who shoot very large, very heavy supertelephotos like the 600mm f4 and the 300-800mm f5.6

The rule of thumb that most of us supertelephoto guys go by is that for acceptable stability, you need the rating of the tripod to be 3x the weight of your camera/lens combo.

For example, my lens weighs 13 pounds and my camera weighs 4 pounds, so 17 pounds total. To have an acceptable level of stability, that means I need a tripod rated for at least 51 pounds maximum payload.

My own experience with many different tripods bears this out, and I have concluded that the 3:1 rule of thumb is a very good rule to go by. If a tripod is rated at 40 pounds, I am not going to use it with my 17 pounds of gear, because it just isn't stable enough, and the camera & lens shake around erratically and don't settle still enough to get sharp images.

Chris Rogers's picture

ooh yep that's a good rule to go by. I have two tripods i like to use. an induro and a three legged thing. The induro is a total champ. it may be older and not of carbon fiber construction but I'd prefer that heavy beast over the three legged thing any day when using my dlsr with my 70-200. it holds it rock steady. With that BHD3 ball head on my induro, you could use it as bludgeoning weapon if you needed to lol. the three legged thing will hold it but if you push hard enough the ball head will slip and with the legs being thin and the over all tripod being light weight, it wobbles like crazy even though it supposedly supports 36 lbs. i only use the three legged thing for my fuji cameras since they are also very light weight but I will usually grab my heavy induro for my most serious work.

Robert Nurse's picture

I've seen offerings from RRS rated at 80lbs and thought that was overkill. I guess not!

Michael Jäger's picture

Hm. The Colorado Tripod Company started out of a Kickstarter project back in December 2018. Two and a half years later many backers are still waiting for their tripods or ballheads. Some of them think, they've been scammed by the CTC. So if you think your next tripod should be made in Colorado, better first read the comments section on the Kickstarter project site: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/coloradotripod/the-worlds-first-tit...

Robert Nurse's picture

The comments! Wow!!!

Charles J's picture

Based on the comments alone - of financial backers mind you - I wouldn't think of touching The Colorado Tripod Company.

Jan Holler's picture

"Buying US-made products is cool, but when those sellers offer top quality at a good price, it's even more awesome!"

That company has not responded to customers (backers) questions for months. Did the author of this article, Marc Bergreen, not even check some basic facts about it?

If that kind is "buying US-made products" then: no, thank you. The whole story sounds very suspicious and the parent company of CTC as well.

Tundrus Photo's picture

Further to my earlier comments... I backed this project on Kickstarter when it was initiated. I received my tripod and I have no issues with it. It's an excellent product. However, subsequent to that purchase, I ordered a second one (newer version) and waited...and waited...and waited...no delivery. Finally I asked for a refund. I got my money back. The shame here is that while the product is very good, the company appears to have trouble ramping up production and delivering in a timely manner. If the production issues are solved, then they will be on to a winning product.

Steve TQP's picture

Nice article, though seeing the payload specs would be helpful as others mentioned. As a landscape and product photographer who values image sharpness very highly, I found a Leofoto LN-254CT carbon fiber tripod to be very solid, robust, and feature-rich, even including a pano head! However, if Colorado Tripod Company thinks their product is even better, I'd be happy to test it! :-)

J.d. Davis's picture

:)