RedShark Review: Really Right Stuff already has a reputation among photographers for making some of the best gear in the business. On the basis of its TVC-24, its carbon fibre tripods only serve to enhance that.
Really Right Stuff has a reputation among photographers for making some of the best gear in the business. When I was shooting with a 6-pound Ebony 4x5, I used a Really Right Stuff ballhead and a hefty Gitzo Series 1 leg set. When I started going on longer trips in more challenging terrain, I started looking for a lighter and more compact travel kit, which eventually lead me to a Three Legged Thing tripod, which folds up into a very compact package and is also very light.
The Three Legged Thing tripod, however, isn't a particularly heavy duty piece of gear. It's sufficient for a lightweight Arca-Swiss monorail, but my Cion rig was too much for it. It handled my lighter Epic-W kit reasonably well until the platform came off from the centre column. After glueing it back in place, it holds the camera stable, but its platform has a significant amount of flex now, so getting a precise frame is quite a drag.
Several years ago, Really Right Stuff introduced a series of carbon fibre tripods, ranging from very heavy duty models all the way down to compact travel models. I recently took delivery of a Versa Series 2 4-section tripod, and have tried out a few configurations, using it on some small shoots. Having had very good experiences with one of Really Right Stuff's ground pods, I decided to take a chance on one of RRS' carbon fibre models, specifically a Versa Series 2 4-section tripod, aka the TVC-24.
For informational purposes, I'm testing this out with a photography-oriented ball head by Arca-Swiss, specifically a Monoball P0, with a SlideFix clamp to tide me over until I get a proper fluid head.
The basic tripod
The first impression of the tripod after unboxing it is about what you'd expect of a tripod from a company with RRS’s reputation. Its fit and finish look top notch and it feels very solid. The leg locks have robust knurled knobs that are very easy to grip, and it's easy to tell when the legs are locked. The stock feet are relatively large rubber hemispheres, designed to ensure good contact with most surfaces regardless of the leg angle. RRS does offer other options, including steel spikes and rock claws. I currently have only a set of stock feet.
The leg locks took quite a bit of torque to lock and unlock the first few times, but now they're nice and smooth. They lock quite solidly, and I wouldn't be worried about a leg collapsing under my expensive Epic-W once they're locked down. The tripod feels extremely solid, feeling more like a studio tripod than a field tripod.
The leg angle stops have an interesting ratcheting mechanism. Pull the leg lock outwards and lift the leg until it reaches its maximum extent and the angle lock automatically snaps back into place. Lower the leg and the lock snaps into place at each stop, again automatically. It's a very user-friendly setup and the highest level allows the tripod to lie nearly flat on the ground, making for a low minimum height.
Its maximum height is 49 inches, and it collapses down to right around 19.1 inches, making it a pretty good size overall, given its height and weight. It's rated for 40 pounds, but RRS has a reputation for being conservative with its load ratings.