Review - Using the Leofoto Ranger LS-365C carbon tripod during my travels
a true all-rounder for the demanding photographer
A tripod offers a photographer more opportunities to take interesting and creative photos. Still, you must consider taking it along every time. ‘Too heavy' or 'inconvenient size' are often the reasons to leave the tripod at home. A carbon tripod is the solution. They have a small pack size and are light in weight but are still strong and surprisingly stable. The Ranger LS-365C from Leofoto is such a versatile, compact lightweight tripod. In combination with an LH-55 ball head, it is a true all-rounder for the demanding photographer.Sounds good on paper, but what about in practice? Nature photographer Gertjan Onvlee put it to the test during his solo trip through the Norwegian mountains.
Review by Gertjan Onvlee
Gertjan Onvlee is a passionate wildlife and landscape photographer. In recent years he has focused mainly on the High North (Scandinavia).
As a photographer, you want to make yourself as comfortable as possible in these situations in order to make it through the day and get that one shot. For this, one of the most important things is; trust. You need to have confidence in your own knowledge and experience, but most of all you need to have confidence in the gear that you use. So why would I take a new tripod that I do not know yet?
'I must be honest, the circumstances in which I tested this tripod, and the ball head were not always the mildest.'
Even though Leofoto is a relatively young brand in the big world of tripods, the products nevertheless radiate 'maturity'. The quality of the construction, the choice of materials and the feeling when you pick up the tripods is telling. They feel very solid! When they asked me if I would be prepared to put one of the new tripods through its paces and share my experiences. Of course, I would like to do that, but above all, I would like to let you, the reader, know about my experiences with Leofoto up to now.
I must be honest, the circumstances in which I tested this tripod, and the ball head were not always the mildest. It was often hard work for both the equipment and me as a nature photographer. Exceptionally low temperatures, strong winds, ice and snow are everyday fare.
The Leofoto LS-365C is part of the Ranger series. This is a series of tripods that are built on solidity, portability and compactness. These three features make the tripods ideal for use on trips.
- Solidity - Highly variable working height With a working height ranging from 8cm to 152cm (excl. ball head), the photographer has plenty of space to think creatively and use different positions.
- Portability - Lightweight This tripod weighs less than two kilos(!), which makes it a very attractive option if you like to take long walks. Through forests as well as small climbs.
- Compactness - Small pack size The small pack size of just 48cm makes it easy to attach the tripod to the outside of your photo bag. Hiking without being bothered by the tripod.
These are all features that I was immediately excited about. However, there was one feature that gave me some concern. This tripod is made up of five sections, two more than I was used to until now. Beforehand, I wondered whether the Leofoto tripod would provide the stability that I needed.
Of course, this tripod is not complete without a decent ball head. The LH-55 is the largest ball head in the assortment of Leofoto. This ball head should be able to easily carry my Canon 500mm. The main reason for me to specifically choose this model for this test is the diameter of the ball (55mm). A larger ball can easily carry the heavy weight of the lens. The advantage is that with a heavier set resistance of the ball head I can release my camera at any time without the camera 'falling over'.
In short, I was looking for a ball head that gives me the flexibility of a gimbal, with the convenience of a ball head. That way I do not have to switch tripod heads when changing between a wide-angle lens for landscapes and the 500mm for wildlife. I was looking for this all-rounder!
Before I share my experience of this set, I have a confession to make. Normally, I only shoot my landscape photos from a tripod, everything else is handheld with a telephoto lens. I have two reasons why I do this.
First reason, the hikes in the mountains are already heavy enough without a tripod. My camera bag easily weighs 10kg on such a trip, and a lighter bag in these situations simply means that I can cover longer distances in one day.
The second reason for not using a tripod is that I am a big fan of blur in my photos. Don't get me wrong, I don't like blurry photos either! What I mean is that I like to play with the blur of the lens. When you use a low point of view, the blurred foreground and background can isolate your subject in your photo very nicely. A low viewpoint and freedom of movement. Normally two factors that do not immediately bring a tripod to mind, right? From now on, you do!
'One ball head for all jobs. Did I mention that I am a fan?'
For me, it became clear already on the first day in the mountains that this tripod would not stay at home for these eight days of travel! During the climbs, I noticed that the extra weight on the side of my bag was not so bad. This even gave me the opportunity to take along a thermos flask with coffee (also particularly important). Perfect!
Due to the small size when the tripod is retracted, it is easy to find a place on the outside of your photo bag to attach it. The small size also ensured that I could quietly continue my journey in the forest without getting stuck behind overhanging branches. In short, I did not really notice that I had a tripod hanging at the side of my bag!
Fortunately, this handy little size says nothing about the working height of this Leofoto tripod. With its 152cm it is a full-fledged tripod with a comfortable maximum height. Especially when the ball head is attached, I have no shortage of height!
- When using the tripod during cold temperatures, it is nice that you can operate everything without taking off your gloves. This is something that I paid particular attention to with the ball head. The buttons on the LH-55 ball head are larger than on other models, which makes it especially attractive to me.
- The ball head can support an enormous weight, which is why I entrusted my heavy 500mm lens to it without hesitation. As I said at the beginning, everything feels very solid.
- The horizontal movements of the head are remarkably smooth and fluid. Of course, a ball head is not the most logical choice for real film enthusiasts, but with the LH-55, I had the option to shoot some short pieces of film.
- The tripod is incredibly sturdy for a tripod whose legs are made up of five sections. This makes it nice and compact and easy to transport.
- Leofoto supplies a nice set of tools and decent spikes for the tripod. Ideal for the terrain I was allowed to test it in!
- The minimum and maximum height of the tripod give you all the space you need to be creative. It can also be handy for macro photography to be able to work so close to the ground.
- The weight of less than two kilos makes it an extremely attractive choice for the hikers among us!
- The dial that locks the quick release plate has a coarse thread. This makes the plate quick to tighten, but also quick to loosen.
- The carbon fibre became very cold after a while. In these circumstances, it would be nice if one of the legs was equipped with a 'sock'. In this way, your hands would stay warm a little longer.
As an all-round nature photographer, I am excited about this combination! The combination of the LS-365C tripod and LH-55 ball head gives me the sturdiness, solidity, flexibility and above all reliability that I look for in a tripod.
I understand that a tripod with five sections would not be everybody's first choice, but I liked it better than I thought! For photographers who only photograph landscapes, it might make more sense to choose a tripod with three sections, but the wanderers among the photographers will absolutely love this beautiful tripod from the 'Ranger' series by Leofoto!
As for the ball head, I am a big fan! This ball head offers me everything I want from a tripod head. Working with the wide-angle lens felt good from the first moment. Fixed is fixed! This also applies when using the telephoto lens! This means that I no longer have to switch between a ball head for landscapes and a gimbal/scope for wildlife.
One ball head for all jobs. Did I mention that I am a fan?