SmallRig’s Carbon Fiber Tripod Adjusts Three Height Stages From One Clip
SmallRig has developed a new carbon fiber, heavy-duty video tripod called the FreeBlazer that retains much of what filmmakers have come to expect from their sticks, but greatly simplifies three stages of height adjustment into one clip lock per leg.
Heavy-duty video tripods tend to use the same tried-and-true design that has been ubiquitous in the filmmaking industry for years. Side by side, Manfrotto and Benro’s video tripods look pretty much identical, and at first glance the same could be said about the SmallRig FreeBlazer.
What separates SmallRig’s latest from the pack though is its innovative leg design which allows each leg section to be extended or retracted from a single clip lock. The system is driven by the company’s patented “FreeSpeed” technology that will lock and unlock whole leg systems at once in what it promises is smooth, fast, and low noise.
In addition, the carbon fiber legs connect to a center spreader that SmallRig boasts offers maximum stability and vibration reduction. Each foot is compatible with steel spikes that, with one click, switch to adapt to varied terrain. It also features the ability to add a center spreader that locks to keep legs in position.
The FreeBlazer has a minimum working height of 37 inches but can be expanded to 77.6 inches.
The head itself is pretty standard, but it does have the ability to swap quickly between Manfrotto or DJI RS QR plates, which means it could be easier to work with in certain shooting scenarios.
The carbon fiber design is both sturdy and lightweight, but overall the tripod is heavier than Manfrotto’s version for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious. Manfrotto isn’t using carbon fiber, but its MVT502AM and fluid head weighs 12.13 pounds — almost a pound less than SmallRig’s FreeBlazer which comes in at 13.9 pounds (SmallRig actually states at least two conflicting weights, but the specification at the top of its product page says 6.3 kilograms, which converts to 13.9 pounds).
It might be that SmallRig’s panhead is heavier than Manfrotto’s or that the FreeSpeed technology is adding weight inside the legs that isn’t visible. Whatever the case, it is lighter than Benro’s BV10 which tips the scales at a hefty 16 pounds. SmallRig’s and Benro’s tripods can hold up to 22 pounds of camera equipment while Manfrotto’s is rated for 15.4 pounds — that also might help explain the aforementioned weight discrepancy.
The SmallRig FreeBlazer Heavy-Duty Carbon Fiber Tripod is estimated to start shipping on April 30 for $399 — that is notably significantly cheaper than both the Manfrotto or Benro options.
Image credits: SmallRig