As much as I like a tripod to be small and easily portable, sometimes you want a more stable tripod, especially for things like panoramas, shooting at night, and long exposure photography.
I recently picked up a 3 Legged Thing Winston (buy at Amazon or Adorama, affiliate links), their largest tripod. I picked the 3 Legged Thing for a few reasons, I have one of their Punks Travis (buy at Amazon or Adorama, affiliate links) tripods, and like it. I use the monopod leg often enough that it is a definite added value. The head also comes with a pano clamp on the QR part of the head, so it can be leveled independent of the tripod, critical for panoramas on uneven terrain.
Another thing I like about the company ethos is everything is user repairable, and you can easily get repair parts. I had to replace one of the bubble levels on my Travis, and they sent a couple that got to the US in a few days. One of my marks of something that is well made is that the company makes provisions for stuff going wrong. Sounds a little backwards, but it means they expect their products to be used hard, and that the products are good enough to be worth repairing.
So, what did I think of Winston?
In the Box
The Winston kit comes with an Airhed 360 ball head, a canvas case and carrying strap, a microfiber bag over the head, a QR3 quick release plate, and a Toolz mini tool (coin-sized screwdriver, 4mm hex key, carabiner, and bottle opener)
Stability – After years of more compact tripods, Winston’s solidity is a nice change.
Build quality is quite good. Not a Gitzo, but definitely at or above what I expect for the price range.
The head is great. Everything is smooth, looks great, and the pano feature in the quick release works well.
The Monopod leg – I don’t use a monopod enough that I want to get a dedicated one, but just enough that this is valuable. The Travis also has this feature, but due to the leg height you need to use the center column to get it up to a usable height. This is fine when using it, but it does not fold down as far. Winston’s legs are long enough that you can mount the head right directly to the leg with no issues. Set up this way it almost looks like a dedicated monopod. Since the bottom is threaded, it would be possible for 3LT to make a monopod base that could be added at some point in the future (hint hint).
Colors – I got the Equinox version, and enjoy having some extra color. Incidentally, the bronze color is a little darker than I thought from the product photos.
Compact counterfolding design – It folds to a compact (for it’s size) package, and with the feet removed I can just squeeze it into an airline carry-on diagonally.
Arca-Swiss compatible – Some people seem to have a problem with this, I like it because there are many things designed to be compatible, like my video slider, camera video rig, nodal slider, L Brackets, etc.
There are always a few things that could be improved.
I have noticed a couple spots on the head and leg where they rubbed and marred the finish. Not huge, but it was a little surprising in only a week or two. If you are careful you can make sure the pads on the legs are hitting the head, and that seems to alleviate the problem.
Not that bad, but the Bootz feet are designed for smaller tripods, and look a little silly on Winston’s much larger legs. This also puts the locks very close or on the ground when the legs are spread out. Larger feet would be better, but I understand the production benefits of having one size.
No safety mechanism for the quick release – The QR3 lacks safety screws. If you loosen the release screw at all, the camera could fall out. The QR4 has screws that prevent the plate falling out of the head if you accidentally loosen it. I would have preferred that the tripod came with the QR4. In fairness, I think the QR4 is pretty recent, so it may not have been an option when the tripod was built.
On both tripods I’ve had to do some adjusting and tweaking. Usually when you can adjust something you will need to, and I am willing to deal with some of that for the benefits of a product that can be repaired and adjusted.
You Might Not Have Noticed
The tri-mount plate and the D-ring at the bottom of the center column can be used to attach a strap.
The bottom of the legs have a 3/8″ thread, meaning a microphone, ball head, etc. could be mounted to the bottom of the removable leg, making a microphone boom, or the world’s burliest selfie stick.
A Couple Ideas
Not really “Bad” but could be better.
The D-Ring on the bottom of the center column could be a little bigger for larger carabiners.
The knobs on the head are 90 degrees from each other, moving them to 120 degrees would fit the legs in better when counterfolded. The knobs on the pano clamp are already set up this way, so I think it would make sense to set up the head this way.
Winston is a very solid tripod, and I would definitely recommend it. There isn’t anything individually ground breaking, but it is well made, and has a combination of common sense features (Monopod leg, pano on the top of the head, counterfolding) that it seems rare to see in a single tripod, especially a big one like this.