Summit LM-324C - a tripod is a landscape photographer's best tool
A good tripod is essential.
Besides a camera, my tripod is the tool I use most as a landscape photographer. A good tripod is not only important to protect your camera, but also to get the optimal quality out of your photos. A good tripod is essential and something you want to invest in as a photographer.
Review by Niels Dam
For Niels, photography is about travelling to great locations and meeting people while trying to capture the best that a location has to offer. See also his website: www.nielsdam.com.
As I photograph a wide variety of subjects (including landscapes, cityscapes, forest photography and even macro photography), I have been looking for a tripod that is suitable for all these situations. When photographing, I often must travel long distances, so I try to carry as little weight on my equipment as possible. One of my wishes was therefore to find a tripod that is lightweight but as sturdy as possible. In addition, ease of use is also particularly important to me.
In my search for the perfect tripod, I finally arrived at a brand that was relatively unknown to me, namely the Leofoto LM-324C carbon tripod with the Leofoto NB-40 ball head. I also chose to order the separately available DC-364C center column and the Summit 75mm leveling base. The possibility of using these accessories makes this Summit tripod probably one of the most versatile tripods on the market.
The products I have worked with:
The Leofoto tripod comes particularly complete with a sturdy quality carrying case and various accessories, including a removable tripod plate and half-bowl, stainless steel spike feet, Allen keys and a handy multitool. What is immediately noticeable is that extensive attention has been paid to the appearance of the tripod. Thanks to the modern design and anodized finish, the tripod radiates quality. The entire tripod is constructed with extreme precision, and you notice this immediately because there is no play between the various parts, everything just feels good and solid.
The tripod has a maximum working height of 1.45 meters (without ball head) and is also nice and compact to fold to just 52 cm, which allowed me to easily attach it to the side of my bag. The use of carbon fiber also makes the LM-324C tripod relatively light, weighing in at just 1.62 kilograms. But make no mistake, despite its size and weight, the tripod with a maximum load capacity of 25 kilograms is a real powerhouse and extremely stable. I have tested the tripod at several locations and during varying weather conditions, but even during a storm with heavy gusts of wind, this tripod did not budge and was completely vibration-free. Even at slow shutter speeds, I saw no blur. The tripod is rock solid.
The legs of the tripod consist of 4 parts and can be easily adjusted with one hand thanks to the Twist-Lock system. The twist-locks work smoothly and once tightened; the legs do not collapse. The attachment points of the legs are also of high quality, and, thanks to the semi-automatic mechanism, you can easily adjust the angle of the legs (in fixed positions of 85, 55 and 23 degrees). The legs can be spread almost flat, so the minimum height (including the ball head) is only 17 centimeters. This is very handy when shooting from a low position, but it also makes the tripod very suitable as a macro tripod. The only unfortunate thing about this system is that when folding the tripod, the legs can turn too far inwards, which makes it hard to store it neatly.
The central part of the tripod consists of a 'hollow-out spider' design, in which there is a removable tripod plate and a level. When you remove this tripod plate, you can place a separately available center column or leveling base in the freed space.
On the Summit tripod, I placed the Leofoto NB-40 ball head. This ball head has the same modern design and, thanks to the anodized aluminum, has an upscale look. This ball head comes with a separate bag and the NP-50 quick release plate. Weighing 490 grams, the head is quite heavy, but it is very solid and can carry up to 25 kilos. The NB-40 can be used on all Leofoto tripods and on other brands of tripods with a 3/8-inch tripod screw.
Attaching and positioning my camera is extremely easy thanks to the Arca-Swiss quick release plate. This means that you can also use other Arca-Swiss compatible baseplates with this ball head. So, I can also use my current L-bracket. Setting the right angle is also very easy thanks to the large adjustment knobs. Through the notch on the side, you can also quickly go from horizontal to vertical image, if you do not have an L-bracket. The large button to lock the head works smoothly and fixed is really fixed. In the large knob there is also an adjustable friction button. This button is equipped with mechanical feedback, and you can therefore very precisely set the amount of friction. In addition, there is a separate button to rotate the head 360 degrees on its axis, something you can do very precisely thanks to the clearly readable degree markings.
The quick-release plate, in turn, also features a built-in spirit level and rotary mechanism with degree markings, allowing it to rotate 360 degrees as well. The NB-40 thus has a dual panning capability. All this makes the ball head, together with a leveling base in the LM-324C tripod, ideal for panoramic photography.
The Summit LM-324C has no center column, which makes the tripod extremely stable. However, even without the center column, the maximum working height is a good 1.45 meters. Add to this the height of a ball head and then the camera will already be at eye level for most people. If you want more height, the separately available DC-364C center column allows you to reach a height of up to 1.82 meters (again without the headstock). Another advantage of this central column is that it can also be turned around, allowing you to work 'under' your tripod. The central column is made of carbon and is of the same quality as the tripod.
As a landscape photographer, I regularly take panorama photos, something that this tripod makes a lot easier. When shooting panoramas, it is essential to set up your tripod 100% level. With a conventional tripod, this can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, as you must adjust the length of each leg (several times) until your tripod is completely level. With the LM-324C tripod, however, this is made a lot easier using the leveling base. To use this, you first need to remove the removable tripod plate. Then you can replace the half-bowl and finally you can place the leveling base in it.
The Summit 75mm leveling base has a built-in spirit level and can tilt 360 degrees up to an angle of 15 degrees. This means that you can already level your camera on most surfaces. However, if you are standing on a very steep slope, you only need to shorten one leg of your tripod and then you can still use the leveling base for fine tuning. Locking the leveling base is done with the rotary knob at the bottom, which is amazingly easy.
Meanwhile, I have been using the Leofoto tripod for a little over a month and I have subjected it to quite different conditions. I have used the tripod in the sand and salt seawater of the Zeeland coastal areas, but also in the mud pools of the Dutch forests.
Although I have not used the tripod for exceptionally long, I have no doubts about its quality and durability. The tripod legs consist of 10 layers of carbon fiber, and I do not expect them to be damaged easily. Leofoto has also used exceptionally durable materials for the other parts of the tripod. It is therefore not surprising that Leofoto offers a 10-year warranty on their products. This shows how confident Leofoto is in the durability and quality of their tripods.
'Then it is just a matter of drying with a cloth and putting it back together again.'
The design of the Twist-Lock system kept the legs free of dirt and the LM-324C tripod was usually in good condition again after a simple cleaning with a damp cloth. In addition, the tripod is easy to disassemble and clean, something I do routinely after photographing in harsh conditions (especially when working in salt water). The legs are easy and quick to disassemble by unscrewing the twist-locks. You can then rinse the separate parts under the shower to remove sand and mud, for example. Then it is just a matter of drying with a cloth and putting it back together again. This is a piece of cake, and the tripod will be ready for the next day in no time.
The Leofoto LM-324C tripod comes very complete and is made of high-quality materials. Thanks to the high load capacity, you can confidently attach a full frame camera with a heavy telephoto lens and the tripod remains extremely stable during the toughest conditions. This allows you to shoot vibration-free and you will not see any blur even at slow shutter speeds. Moreover, the tripod is easy to set up and maintain.
With its removable tripod plate, the LM-324C is also one of the most versatile tripods I have ever used. The optional leveling base makes it ideal for shooting panoramas and architectural photos. Also, the tripod legs can be laid almost flat, allowing you to shoot from a very low position. Ideal for macro photography, although the legs are quite long.
- Excellent value for money.
- Supplied complete with bag, half-bowl, and spikes.
- High quality materials and excellent workmanship.
- Very stable, even in extreme weather conditions.
- Great load capacity despite its light weight.
- Easy to clean.
- 10-year warranty.
- Legs tilt too far inwards when folded.
- Central column not supplied as standard.
All this makes the tripod a real all-rounder and makes it extremely suitable for the all-round landscape photographer. Together with the very solid NB-40 ball head, I have found the perfect tripod to use on my photo adventures. This tripod is, in my opinion, highly recommended!