FLM’s CP34-L4 II tripod at full top, nearly towering over your 1.83 meter (6 foot) tall reviewer.

FLM is well-known for German ingenuity and excellent building within the tripod and ball head realm, beginning with their extremely secure CB-58FTR ball head which was this reviewer’s introduction to the model. Since that overview, the corporate was purchased by MK Messtechnik, who proceed to design and construct the FLM heads and plates at their manufacturing unit in Stuttgart, Germany. In 2019, their tripods have been redesigned (therefore the ‘II’ suffix) and manufacturing of those new fashions was transferred to FLM’s Chinese language subsidiary. Given FLM’s repute for stability and uncompromising engineering, bringing one in all their tripods to this group comes with fairly large expectations.

With the CP34-L4 II, these expectations are initially met by the large stature of this ‘lengthy leg’ sort of ‘sequence -Three systematic’ tripod. FLM produces tripods in ‘S’ (small), ‘M’ (medium) and ‘L’ (massive) dimensions through the use of longer or shorter leg sections between every lock, just like the alternatives provided by different producers. Nonetheless, with no particular order, the CP34 mannequin is barely stocked and out there because the ‘L4,’ or massive, four-section mannequin, within the North American market.



Specs and what’s included

  • Max. top 173.5 cm (68.3″)
  • Minimal top of 11.Three cm (4.5″)
  • Folds to 60 cm (23.6″) with 14 cm (5.5″) diameter
  • Weighs 1.95 kg (4.Three lbs) with flat platform
  • 33kg (72.7 lbs) load restrict
  • Three leg angles (25° / 54° / 84° )
  • 4 leg sections (34mm prime leg diameter / 30 / 26/ 22mm)
  • 78mm platform secured with three hex bolts
  • Built-in 75mm video bowl
  • Bubble degree included on apex
  • Detachable 44mm mushroom toes on normal 3/8″ thread
  • Consists of instruments, directions and 40mm metal spikes

With the replace of your entire tripod line to Collection II in 2019, FLM not solely moved tripod manufacturing from Germany to China, however the brand new sequence now all use 10-layer carbon fiber tubes, a slick black end, wider leg angles, and no heart columns on any tripod. These fashions vary from the CP26 Journey tripods and CP30 sequence with compact apexes, to the bigger CP34 and CP38, with 34mm and 38mm prime tubes respectively, which have built-in video bowls as a part of their column-free apexes.

The built-in 75mm bowl units the apex of the CP34 sequence aside from their very own, smaller CP30 sequence, in addition to many different tripods.

FLM gives the HB-75 leveling half ball to pair with this included function, including 15° tilt in any course and a brief deal with for low setups. Moreover, there are FLM leveling options for the 100mm bowl within the CP38, in addition to a standalone leveling base, LB-15, for the smaller tripods in vary. These are along with the gathering of extraordinarily stable ball heads that FLM is known for.

In comparison with others

This tripod was examined and in contrast with its modular apex friends. Left to proper; ProMediaGear TR344, Actually Proper Stuff TVC-34, Sirui SR-3204, FLM CP34-L4 II, Leofoto LM-364C, Gitzo GT3543LS.

The FLM CP34-L4 was examined and in contrast alongside tripods in the identical class of ‘Collection 3′ (33-36mm prime leg tube diameter) “Systematic’ (modular apex with detachable platform) sort, together with merchandise from Gitzo, Actually Proper Stuff, ProMediaGear, Leofoto and Sirui. Contemplating how the entire different producers on this group, besides Sirui, additionally provide longer variations of their tripods underneath overview, this large FLM gives a pleasant instance of these taller choices, by way of packed dimension and supreme top

All of those tripods have been utilized in 4 seasons of sand, snow, mud, rain, and saltwater; arrange within the bog-like Atlantic salt marshes and the wind-swept Appalachian mountains. They’ve been loaded with gimbal heads, ball heads, geared and pano-heads, and as much as 4kg (8.8lb) lenses hooked up to cameras starting from APS-C to medium-format, capturing something from long-exposure landscapes to excessive telephoto birds-in-flight. The one check they didn’t undergo was being rough-handled on the airport, because of pandemic journey restrictions. We’re publishing these critiques sequentially over the approaching days, with a remaining roundup to return shortly.

Top comparability

Beneath is a relative top comparability between the FLM CP34-L4 II and a 6 foot (1.83m) photographer.

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First impressions

The shiny black end of the FLM CP34-L4 II is constant all through, as is the tight building.

The FLM CP34-L4 II actually stands proud from the remainder of the tripods it was in comparison with by advantage of its longer leg tubes, which add a formidable 23cm (9″) in top over the following tallest when absolutely prolonged, however solely 5cm (2″) extra when packed away. Gitzo, RRS, PMG and Leofoto all provide longer-legged variations of their tripods on this group, however not all obtain the identical top with such a small penalty in folded size.

Earlier mannequin tripods from FLM had the distinctive brilliant aluminum end to their machined leg locks, in line with the assorted ball heads they make, however now those self same elements are completed in a constant, easy black. The usage of all-metal leg locks continues to be uncommon when in comparison with the rubber-wrapped locks on nearly each competitor, and whereas they don’t seem to be troublesome to know in good climate with naked fingers, we had some difficulties within the chilly.

Following an FLM custom, there’s a distinctive cork/ rubber composite pad on the systematic platform, which gives each some vibration damping and a agency grip on no matter head is put in.

To make mounted units much more safe, there are Three plastic-headed retention screws that may be tightened from beneath with a hex wrench, via holes within the built-in video bowl. Why three screws? They maintain issues symmetrical on the aluminum platform.

We’re not followers of the ‘carbon-fiber look’ stickers round every leg clevis. This sort of ‘bling’ on steel elements is often seen on lower-end tripods, and because the sticker’s weave sample would not even match the relatively high-end ‘mountain’ sample of the actual carbon fiber legs proper beneath them, they’re much more misplaced. A foolish factor to choose on, for positive, however at the least one simple space for enchancment on a tripod of this value.

The angle locks for every leg are thick steel with a beneficiant indent on the again, underneath the apex, permitting them to simply be pushed out to regulate every leg. Pulling them from the entrance requires extra dexterity attributable to a smaller indent on the perimeters, however in addition they click on forwards and backwards with a pleasant ratcheting motion, so it’s at all times simple to inform when the angle is locked or able to be adjusted.

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Use within the subject

Generally the FLM CP34-L4’s spectacular top shouldn’t be wanted, however the stability of utilizing simply the highest two sections in some conditions is appreciated.

Even in case you are not significantly tall, one of many nice benefits of this sort of a ‘supersized’ tripod over the extra typical heights is when establishing on a downslope; with one or two legs absolutely prolonged, it will possibly nonetheless retain an eye-level view to a digital camera. Or, as demonstrated within the first photograph of this overview, capturing overhead with a protracted lens, and never needing to crouch right down to see a viewfinder or non-tilting again display screen. The minor annoyance that comes with that is that, for some folks, the assorted heights of absolutely prolonged or closed legs might not meet their wants with out adjustment.

When the leg locks are grasped with a large hand and given 1 / 4 flip to unlock all of them, the leg tubes slide out in a quick and fluid cascade of carbon fiber that’s nearly disconcerting. No want to tug on the ends to increase them, as they may fly to full extension with out even a shake. In contrast to the Leofoto, the tubes themselves don’t wiggle or wobble on the way in which out, and even when prolonged and nonetheless unlocked. This says the leg tubes are exactly mated to one another, however the mixture of steel locks and polished tubes is sort of slick. This makes setup very fast, in addition to adjusting the peak of every leg fairly simple, however takes some getting used to.

The FLM leg locks have vertical indents machined into them, and so they have the identical slick black end as the remainder of the aluminum elements.

We want these locks have been simpler to seize and switch, particularly with gloves on. Whereas not a giant deal indoors or in kinder climate, as soon as it received chilly, the CP34 grew to become a check of hand power to know the locks with gloved fingers. Taking off gloves to seize naked steel in some temperatures shouldn’t be advisable.

Eradicating the flat, systematic platform to disclose the properly integral video bowl requires a hex wrench and a spot for Three lengthy bolts, so that is finest completed earlier than heading out into the wilderness. What the bowl gives is a pleasant place for a leveling half ball, like FLM’s personal inexpensive unit, or one from one other producer within the 75mm dimension. There isn’t a provision for a middle column to be added to the CP-series, and the opening on the base of the bowl would prohibit the scale of the column anyhow.

When stability is the prime concern, the CP34-L4 rests simply on its 34mm prime tubes, however the lack of a middle weight hook was a real ache. The tiny 6.25mm (1/4″) weight gap underneath the platform was taunting the heavy baggage and strap handles; successfully saying “discover a sufficiently small carabiner after which I will maintain you.” A sufficiently small carabiner was not equipped within the field.

Additionally seen listed below are the well-shaped leg angle locks, the platform securing bolts, and the 1/4″ threaded accent attachment factors.

Apart from the additional top, the CP34-L4 was not too completely different from different tripods on this class with regards to packing it up and transporting it. The addition of some further centimeters of carbon-fiber tubing provides little or no to the load, and the additional packed size would solely be a difficulty when making an attempt to suit this right into a carry-on bag for air journey. Total, this ‘massive’ sort tripod from FLM signifies that any of the assorted sizes within the CP34-series might be greater than secure sufficient for heavy gear, but mild sufficient for longer hikes. With just a few areas for enchancment, FLM has created a really good set of legs for any of their ultra-stable ball heads to relaxation on.

Upkeep

FLM locations a excessive precedence on the upkeep of their tripods and has movies and directions on their worldwide web sites, in addition to within the included directions sheet. FLM gives alternative shims, locks and grease for under the value of transport, as nicely. The usage of a one-piece shim makes disassembly simple, and the machined locks are simple to wash.

It’s throughout this upkeep that you’re going to discover the precision of the match of the legs.

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Take a look at outcomes

Vibrations could make even the sharpest lens prove mushy, blurred images, and may spoil lengthy exposures. Within the typical use instances for this class of tripod, lowering the consequences of vibration turns into extraordinarily necessary, since longer focal lengths and better resolutions amplify the consequences of any motion, and environmental vibrations like wind and water may have an rising impact on bigger legs and kit. Digital camera vibration may be mechanically minimized with mirror lockup, digital shutters, and a distant shutter launch, whereas including weight to the underside of the tripod (with a carabiner or a tripod stone bag) can assist stabilize the entire setup. Nonetheless, not all sources of vibration may be eradicated, so we examined whether or not the tripod will dampen them or transmit and replicate them to the digital camera.

The tripod legs have been absolutely prolonged, and our vibration analyzer for heavy-duty tripods (an iPad on a 3.2 kg (7 lb) cantilevered weight) was mounted on to the flat platform’s 3/8″ threaded bolt with a protracted lens plate. An industrial solenoid valve with a plastic hammer was used as a supply of vibration (a knock to the underside of 1 leg). The ensuing graph of all three accelerometers reveals each the resistance of the tripod to the preliminary shock, in addition to the speed of decay for residual vibration inside the tripod.

FLM CP34-L4 II vibration resistance check outcomes – click on for bigger graph

*Notice that this graph is relative solely to this class of tripods. The load and check gear was adjusted to supply a conclusive end result for this dimension of tripod.

In the course of the vibration checks, the FLM CP34-L4 was at a slight drawback by having longer leg tubes than shorter tripods, however nonetheless carried out admirably. The preliminary shock was transmitted pretty instantly, however then rapidly dampened to a low degree, and decreased to nearly nothing in just a few seconds. Whereas this isn’t within the prime of this class, it is rather good for the scale and size of this FLM tripod at full extension.

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Conclusion

FLM has constructed its repute on the rock-solid stability of its numerous heads, in addition to standing behind its merchandise. Whereas these new tripods are made in China, the identical sturdy engineering and tight building is carried over, making the CP34-L4 II a really tall element in a extremely secure system. Just a few missteps within the design are evident, such because the lacking weight hook and lack of even an non-obligatory column, however these are offset by the affordable value and built-in video bowl. The top result’s an simply beneficial different to the top-end tripods from another producer, and nicely definitely worth the particular order in some markets if one thing lower than the examined ‘massive’ tripod is required.

What we like

  • Affordable value for wonderful high quality and good options
  • Excellent vibration resistance for the scale
  • Built-in video bowl is one much less merchandise to purchase
  • Equipment are additionally moderately priced
  • Spare elements are simple to acquire

What we do not like

  • Non-long legs are particular order in North America
  • Heart column not out there as accent
  • Leg locks laborious to make use of in excessive chilly
  • No weight hook – solely a 1/4″ gap

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