ProMaster’s new Chronicle Tripod aims to do it all. While it may look like a typical tripod at first glance, there is much more to the Chronicle than meets the eye. In seconds, it quickly converts to a tabletop tripod via its “Flexor center column”, handheld stabilizer, or monopod. Plus, the ball head converts from an Arca-type quick-release camera mount to a phone clamp.
All-in-One Design: Typical Photography
Versatility is the name of the game with the ProMaster Chronicle. Straight out of its included carrying case, the Chronicle is primed and ready for typical photography applications.
In its default form, everything appears ordinary. I tested a pre-production sample of the carbon fiber version of the ProMaster Chronicle, although it also comes in a functionally-identical aluminum variant that is slightly heavier.
The Chronicle has a ball head design with two U slots for positioning a camera vertically, a ball friction knob, a pan lock knob, markings every 15 degrees on the pan head, an Arca-type quick-release plate, a bubble level, and a removable control handle. Like other parts of the tripod, the handle is attached with a hex bolt.
The usability of the ball head is pretty good. However, while some ball heads include markings to denote the selected tension, that is absent on the ProMaster Chronicle’s ball head friction dial.
Further, the range from highly loose to very tight is relatively narrow, which can be troublesome when your camera is on the tripod, and you’re trying to loosen the head.
All-in-One Design: Smartphone
Camera or Smartphone: Why not Both?
A nifty feature of the ball head is that switching from a camera to a smartphone is straightforward. Near the quick-release plate is a small dial with camera and smartphone icons. By rotating the dial toward the smartphone icon, you can flip the entire head 90 degrees, exposing an expanding smartphone clamp.
All-in-One Design: Tabletop Tripod
Like many tripods, it appears like the ProMaster Chronicle features a center column that extends below the tripod head. However, it is not just any old center column that allows for extra height when shooting without making the tripod legs longer – it is a second tripod, called the Flexor. It is like a Russian nesting doll of sorts.
Users can unlock a winged knob on the tripod head, which loosens the collar surrounding the legs. When loose, the entire tripod head and center column is removable. Now you can extend the column’s fixed-length legs to create a tabletop tripod. Ideal for recording a bit of video at a table or just working very low to the ground, the tabletop tripod is a neat party trick for the Chronicle.
However, it does not stop there. The tabletop tripod can be removed entirely from the large ballhead, exposing a small ball head with a sliding locking collar. However, the mini ball head cannot be locked while tilted, as the locking collar only goes back to its closed position when the mount is vertical.
Oh, by the way, you can keep the three-leg base of the tabletop tripod closed to use it as a small, lightweight handheld stabilizer, which can work well for shooting handheld video. I struggle to see the utility of it for photography purposes, but it is easy to imagine it being handy for shooting video using a dedicated camera or smartphone.
All-in-One Design: Monopod
The mini tripod has yet another use. One of the Chronicle’s primary legs, the one with the branded rubber grip near the top, can be unscrewed from the tripod collar, creating an instant monopod.
Further, the rubber feet on the Chronicle’s legs are removable. After unscrewing the tripod foot, the tabletop tripod can be screwed into the bottom of the monopod leg, converting the monopod from a typical rubber foot monopod to a monopod with a three-leg base for additional stability.
ProMaster Chronicle Tripod Key Specifications
- Maximum working height: 59 inches (150 centimeters)
- Minimum working height: 8.25 inches (21 cm)
- Folded length: 23 inches (58 cm)
- Maximum payload: 22 pounds (10 kilograms)
- Weight: Aluminum — 4.7 pounds (2.15 kg) / Carbon fiber – 4.2 pounds (1.9 kg)
All these features mean little if the tripod is difficult or slow to use and adjust. Fortunately, every aspect of the tripod’s design works well during real-world use.
Considering the most likely usage scenario for Chronicle purchasers — photography and videography using the full-size tripod. The legs include four sections, which can be adjusted using three locking knobs. Changing each portion to its maximum length takes only a few seconds.
Concerning the tripod’s working height, this is a tough one. On the one hand, the max height of 59 inches (150 cm) is typical of lightweight tripods and practical in many situations.
However, on the other hand, it needs to be taller when working on a steep incline, which is a common situation when doing landscape photography.
There is always a tradeoff. If the tripod offered a greater working height, it would necessarily be longer when not in use, limiting its convenience when traveling. You cannot have everything. A shorter collapsed length and reduced weight are usually more beneficial.
It is possible to make the tripod very low. While one can use the tabletop tripod to achieve a low height, you can also adjust the angle of the primary tripod legs to reduce the tripod’s height. With the tabletop tripod removed, the working height with the full-size ball head can get as low as 8.25 inches (21 cm).
There are multiple locking positions for each tripod leg. The only downside to the adjustable legs is that they are tight and, therefore, challenging to adjust. With other tripods I have used, motions become a bit smoother with extended use.
By the way, the tripod collar just beneath the ball head also includes 1/4″-20 and 3/8″-16 accessory ports to attach accessories to the tripod.
A Close Look at Speed: How Fast Can You Adjust the Tripod?
Much of the ProMaster Chronicle’s appeal comes from its flexibility and versatility. The do-it-all tripod can be just about anything a content creator needs — a stable and robust tripod, a dual-purpose monopod, a tabletop tripod, a smartphone holder, or a handheld stabilizer.
However, if it is not quick and easy to swap between these different modes, the Chronicle’s utility is severely undercut.
Fortunately, the tripod is very straightforward to use.
In its wholly assembled form, complete with the full-size ball head on top and the tabletop tripod column closed between the three main tripod legs, adjusting the tripod’s height is very simple. The twisting locks work well, and the legs require minimal effort to change.
The ball head is similarly easy to use. The dials are marked with their function, and the included ProMaster Arca-type quick-release plate unlocks from the ball head using a dial. Easy.
What if you want to use a smartphone on top of the tripod instead? Another dial lets you flip the quick-release plate up, exposing the expanding smartphone holder. My iPhone 14 Pro fit easily, even in its case, and nearly every smartphone should fit.
A smartphone on a full-size tripod is excellent, but what if someone wants to use it on a handheld stabilizer or tabletop tripod? To do this, you must rotate the winged lock on the tripod collar about 180 degrees, and the entire center column, ball head and all, slides out and separates from the tripod legs. This takes just a couple of seconds.
To use the tabletop tripod without the full-size ball head, you grab the exposed silver section of the center column and unscrew the tabletop tripod legs. This reveals the mini ball head with a 3/8″-16 screw and circular base plate on top. If you temporarily use the full-size tripod at its minimum working height, which requires removing the tabletop tripod, it conveniently attaches to the 3/8″-16 slot on the tripod collar.
What about turning the tripod into a monopod? Like unscrewing the tabletop tripod from the ball head, this requires a few seconds but is very straightforward. Putting the tabletop tripod on the bottom of the monopod adds a bit of time, as you must unscrew the tripod leg’s rubber foot and then screw the tabletop tripod onto the end.
More out of curiosity than anything else, I wanted to see how quickly I could do many things with the ProMaster Chronicle tripod.
Extending the tripod from its minimum height and a closed position to its maximum height and open position took about 12 seconds. Switching from camera to smartphone mode from here added another three seconds.
Removing the center column takes two seconds, and removing the tabletop tripod legs from the ball head takes about four seconds.
With the ball head already detached from the tabletop tripod, building a standard monopod requires detaching the removable leg from the tripod itself and screwing the ballhead on top of the leg, which takes around 15 seconds. Adding the tabletop tripod to the bottom to create a stabilized monopod takes another 10 seconds.
At this point, I have the ballhead on the stabilized monopod, which means that to put everything back together, I must unscrew the tripod head from the top of the leg, remove the tabletop tripod from the bottom of the monopod, reattach the tripod foot to the leg, reattach the head to the tabletop tripod, put the tripod head and center column back inside the tripod collar, and tighten everything.
If all the screw threads instantly catch, it takes about 40-45 seconds. That is a bit of an ask, so a safe time is about a minute. Not bad.
Summary: A Supremely Versatile Tripod for Modern Creators
As photographers, videographers, and other visual content creators become more diverse in their approach to creating content, the flexibility of the ProMaster Chronicle tripod is extremely valuable.
The Chronicle provides much-needed support and stability in an impressive number of ways.
Pricing and Availability
The ProMaster Chronicle will be available on Kickstarter beginning August 22, 2023 at 10 AM EDT.
Super Early Bird Pricing will allow customers to save up to 43%. In the first 48 hours the Carbon Fiber tripod is $319 and the Aluminum tripod is $239. These discounted prices are a $180 discount.
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