by Tim Fok | 17th November 2015
Aviator Camera Gear, makers of the successful Aviator Jib brings their latest product to the Kickstarter stage. The International is lightweight and compact; perfect for filmmakers looking for a traveller tripod, yet it holds the same features as many full sized tripod systems. For me, a tripod system is the most important accessory in a filmmaker’s toolbox. Its weight, fluidity and speed of adjustment has such a bearing on how you travel, how fast you operate and most importantly, the quality of your output. It can be such an overlooked bit of kit by many filmmakers, good ones are expensive and it’s not quite as exciting as a new lens, camera body or slider. I have several tripods; one is never the perfect tool for every kind of job. One thing I definitely struggle with is a good ‘heavyweight’ solution in a compact form; one the industry itself definitely has a lack of. The Kickstarter campaign for the “International” tripod looks to target that specific pocket of the market, a compact and lightweight tripod that at the same time operates as a ‘full sized’ one. The International provides a maximum height of 5.5 feet (170cm) down to 2.5″ (6cm ish) at its minimum. Like many travelling photographers tripods, the legs fold back on themselves when packing down to provide a much more compact form factor when closed, 20″ (51cm) with the head. What’s impressive is that these traveller characteristics are accompanied by ‘full size’ characteristics – an industry standard 75mm bowl and a maximum payload of 11lbs (5kg). The fluid head + legs have a total weight of 4lbs (1.8kg). To put these figures into perspective, it’ll take the weight of a modest RED Epic setup at half the weight of a Sachtler FSB 8 system. The legs are telescopic and require no spreader to retain solidity; this helps the broad max/min height of the tripod and is a must design for on-location legs in my opinion. They operate using aircraft aluminum twist locks for fast operation. Furthermore to the International tripod package is the SWAP System, this includes a ball head for photography, video fluid head and quick release plate system for quick switch between cameras and grip accessories. There a couple of plates on offer, a small and large length wedge with 1/4″ and 3/8″ thread options, plus a smaller rectangular plate with raised back to offer a non slip plate for mirrorless and DSLRs. There’s also an adaptor plate to convert other plates to the SWAP System, and a circular thread plate for adding third party heads to the International legs. All SWAP plates are the same, so you can switch between the tripod head, to slider, to jib in a second. Nothing overly new to camera systems in general, as a shooter there’s no excuse not to have your grip already setup to one plate system. However what I like about the SWAP System is the fact that the tripod heads adhere to the plate too; the fluid and ballhead split from the ball joint via quick release SWAP plate. This can only be done with one other camera system currently on the market; the fantastic but expensive Really Right Stuff F350 Head and Arca Swiss plate system. It’s such an overlooked feature by other tripod manufactures, but splitting the head from the ball joint in this way means you can add your jib or slider instantly whilst retaining your ball joint adjustment, only requiring one main fluid head. This function keeps your setup smaller, with fewer axes to tighten off and less tripod heads to carry around. SWAP actually adheres to the Arca Swiss standard so is compatible with plates from Kessler, Really Right Stuff and Zacuto to name a few, a very smart move in keeping their kit universal with other systems. Specifications for the International Tripod Package: Carbon Fiber Legs – Maximum Height: 5’ 7″ / 170cm (*with fluid head) Max Payload: 55 lbs / 25 kgs Minimum Height: 2.5″ / 6.35cm Packed Down size: 20.5″ / 51cm (*with fluid head) Weight: 4 lb / 1.81kg Bowl: 75mm Half Bowl Sections: 4 Stage Clasps: Aluminum twist locks w/ diamond knurling Fluid Head – Maximum Payload: 11 lb / 5kg SWAP Plate (Arca Swiss compatible) SWAP Quick Mount Base (Arca Swiss compatible) Bubble Level Spring-Loaded Counterbalance Additional 3/8″ Bottom Mount with Adaptor Ball Head – Supports Cameras up to: 25 lb / 11kg SWAP Plate (Arca Swiss compatible) SWAP Quick Mount Base (Arca Swiss compatible) Aluminum Alloy Construction Independent pan lock and angle lock Includes Short Quick Release Plate w/ 1/4″ Camera Attachment Additional 3/8″-16 Bottom Mount Aviator Camera Gear are no strangers to a successful Kickstarter, owner Zeke brought us the Aviator Jib a few moons ago, a product that is now readily available off the shelf as a result of a achieving over 10 times its original $20,000 Kickstarter pledge. The International goal is much larger, at $100,000; past experience can only be a virtue in successfully completing this latest campaign. Packages start at $729 for legs only, up to full SWAP traveller tripod packages at $1299. These are early bird prices, so get in quick if you want a deal. The tripod industry is a slow burning one, its nice to see a new company shaking things up a bit. The fact that the International adheres to the Arca Swiss system I think is vital, it makes it compatible with many of companies accessories and plates. It would’ve been nice to see some proper clasps on the legs, twist locks are a feature I’d rather not have migrated from photography legs; you never quite know whether they’re locked or not! I’d also like to hear more about the fluid head, I’m hoping we can get some more information on the spring loaded counter balance and friction stages.Read more
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