A tripod offers a photographer more possibilities to take interesting and creative photos. However, it is always worth considering whether to bring a tripod. Reasons like ‘Too heavy' or 'clumsy size' are often mentioned to leave the tripod at home anyway. A carbon tripod is the solution. They are lightweight and small when it comes to folded length, but they are nevertheless strong and surprisingly stable. The Leofoto Ranger LS-365C is such a versatile, compact, lightweight tripod. Combined with an LH-55 ball head, it's a real all-rounder for the demanding photographer.
At least in theory, but what about the real world?
Nature photographer Gertjan Onvlee tested it during his solo trip in the Norwegian mountains.
Gertjan Onvlee is a passionate wildlife and landscape photographer. In recent years he has focused primarily on the High North (Scandinavia). A good tripod is essential for Gertjan. He uses a portable but very stable model from Leofoto the Ranger LS-365C and LH-55 ball head.
Please take a look at his website: https://www.gertjanonvlee.com/
The Ideal Travel Partner for a Solo Trip in the Norwegian Mountains?
As a photographer you want to make it as pleasant as possible for yourself in these situations to keep going all day, and to be able to take that one unique picture. One of the most important things here is trust. You have to have confidence in your own knowledge and experience, but above all you have to have confidence in the gear you use. So why should I bring a new tripod that is still unknown to me?
I have to be honest, the circumstances in which I tested this tripod and ball head were not always the easiest.
Despite the fact that Leofoto is a relatively young brand in the wide world of tripods, their products have a 'mature' appearance though. The build quality, the choice of materials and the feeling you get when you pick up the tripods are revealing. They feel very, very solid! Degreef & Partner asked me if I was willing to put one of the new tripods through its paces and share my experiences. Of course I wanted to, but above all I want to let you know what my experiences with Leofoto are so far.
The circumstances were not always the easiest.
I have to be honest, the circumstances in which I tested this tripod and ball head were not always the easiest. For both me as a nature photographer and for the equipment it was suffering. Very low temperatures, strong winds, ice and snow are business as usual.
The Tripod: Ranger LS-365C
The Leofoto LS-365C is part of the Ranger series. A tripod series that is built for sturdiness, portability and compactness. These three characteristics make these tripods ideal for travelling.
- Sturdiness - Strongly Varying Working Height
With a working height varying from 8 cm to 152 cm (excl. ball head) you have plenty of freedom as a photographer to be creative and to use different points of view.
- Portability - Lightweight
This tripod weighs less than two kilos(!), which makes it a very attractive option when you like to take it with you on long walks. Whether through a forest or during short climbs.
- Compactness - Small Folded Length
Due to the small folded length of only 48 cm it is easy to attach it to the outside of your photo bag. Walking without being bothered by the tripod.
Characteristics that immediately make me enthusiastic. Yet there was one characteristic that gave me some personal worries. In order to achieve the small folded length of 48 cm, this tripod is made up out of five sections, two more than I was used to until now. I wondered beforehand if the Leofoto tripod would give me the stability I would need.
The Ball Head: LH-55
Without a solid ball head, this tripod is not complete of course. The LH-55 is the largest ball head in the Leofoto range. This ball head should be able to carry my Canon 500 mm lens with ease. The main reason for me to choose this specific model for the test is the ball diameter (55 mm). A large ball can carry the heavy weight of the lens more easily. The advantage here is that with the ball head adjusted to a stronger resistance I can release my camera any time without the camera 'toppling'.
In short, I was looking for a ball head that would give me the flexibility of a gimbal with the convenience of a ball head. That way I don't have to change tripod heads when switching between a wide-angle lens for landscapes and the 500 mm for wildlife. I was looking for an all-rounder!
Fan of Blurred photo's
Before I share my experience with this set, I have a confession to make. Normally I only take my landscape photographs using a tripod, and I use the telephoto lens handheld for all other situations.
There are two reasons for this.
First of all, my hikes in the mountains are hard enough without a tripod. My photo bag quickly weighs about 10 kilos during such trip, and in these situations a lighter load in the bag simply means that I can cover longer distances in one day.
The second reason not to work with a tripod is that I am a big fan of blur in my photos. Don't get me wrong: shaken pictures end up in the bin! What I mean is that I like to play with the out of focus possibilities of the lens. When using a low point of view you can use the blurred foreground and background to isolate your subject very nicely in your photo. A low point of view and freedom of movement are normally two factors that don't make you think of a tripod, right? From now on it will!
One ball head for all jobs. Did I already mention that I am a fan?
On the first day in the mountains it became clear to me that this tripod would not stay at home for eight days! During the climbs I noticed that the extra weight on the side of my bag felt less than expected. This even gave me the opportunity to bring a thermos with coffee (also very important). Perfect!
Partly because of the small folded length of the tripod, it is easy to find a place on the outside of your photo bag to attach it. The small size also made it possible for me to continue my way in the forest without getting stuck behind overhanging branches. In short, I didn't notice at all that I had a tripod on the side of my bag!
This handy small size doesn't say anything about the working height of this Leofoto tripod. With its 152 cm it is a full-fledged tripod with a comfortable maximum height. Especially when the head of the tripod is attached I have absolutely no lack of working height!
Advantages of the Ranger LS-365C + LH-55
- When used at these temperatures, it's comfortable to be able to operate everything without taking off your gloves. Especially with the ball head this is something that I have paid particular attention to. The buttons of the LH-55 ball head are bigger than on other models, which makes it additionally attractive to me.
- The ball head can carry an enormous weight, which is why I have entrusted it my heavy 500mm lens without any doubts. As I told before, everything feels very solid.
- The horizontal movements of the ball head are remarkably smooth and flowing. For the real video aficionados a ball head is not the logical choice, but with the LH-55 I had the option to record some short movies.
- The tripod is incredibly sturdy for a tripod whose legs are built up of five sections. This makes it compact and easy to transport.
- Leofoto includes a nice set of tools and solid spikes for this tripod. Ideal for the terrain where I was allowed to test it!
- The minimum and maximum height of the tripod gives you plenty of room to be creative. To be able to work very close to the ground can make it useful for macro photography as well.
- The weight of less than two kilos makes it a very attractive choice for the hikers among us!
Disadvantages of the Ranger LS-365C + LH-55
- The knob used to lock the quick release plate has a fairly coarse thread. This makes it easy to secure the plate, but it can also loosen quickly.
- The carbon became very cold in the long run. In these circumstances it would be nice if one of the legs is equipped with a 'sock'. This way your hands will stay warm a little longer.
Two trivialities that you can deal with. And the first disadvantage is not really a negative issue, it’s more an attention point for myself. And 'socks' are now for sale separately!
As an all-round nature photographer I became enthusiastic about this combination! The combination of the LS-365C tripod and the LH-55 ball head gives me the sturdiness, durability, flexibility and above all reliability that I am looking for in a tripod.
I understand that a five section tripod would not be everyone’s first choice, but I liked it better than I thought! For the photographers that specialise in landscapes only it might make more sense to choose a tripod with three sections, but the travellers and hikers among us photographers will be absolutely happy with this beautiful tripod from the Leofoto 'Ranger' series!
Concerning the ball head: I am a huge fan! This ball head offers everything I expect from a tripod head. Working with the wide-angle lens felt good straight from the very beginning. Fixed is fixed!
The same applies to the use of the telephoto lens! I no longer need to change anymore between a ball head for landscapes and a gimbal for wildlife.