A guide to the newest idea for tripod legs.
And not just for tripods - The Manfrotto people have come up with something for the monopod and video rig users as well. That's Sgt. Sharma at the en garde position with the new FAST leg locks.
It would appear one twist of the entire hand section unlocks both ends of the tube - then one twist locks it again. The technology has been adapted for tripod legs:
Up until now we have seen any number of locking mechanisms applied to tripods - and even in the Manfrotto stable there have been variations - one era seeing thumb screws and the next clip locks. Other makers utilise screw collars or spring-release collars to some success, but I can say from personal experience that the more precisely a thread is cut the more it attracts sand particles and the more it fights you back when you try to operate it quickly or with delicacy. I wrote earlier in this column about lens juggling, but you can find yourself doing a plate-balancing act with some camera supports as you try to alter their leg heights.
The other problem that can happen with some other maker's goods is the place where the tripods or mono legs are designed to collapse turns out to be just where it is most inconvenient. I've got one like this - NOT a Manfrotto - that requires a couple of minutes of collar twisting and tube sliding every time I take a series of tabletop shots. It is not that the tripod is unstable - it is just too tall for the low shot and too low for the high shot. The centre column helps but not enough. It's a geometry problem and Pythagorus never shot tabletops.
If I used a new Manfrotto FAST I could drop or rise as quickly as one twist.
Note the tremendously stable new 504X with integral half-ball bowl support. When you want the best, FASTest...