Tripods are like photo backpacks. You need a variety to match the various shooting scenarios you encounter. And lighter weight is always a good thing. Enter the Really Right Stuff Ascend-14 tripod.
If you have been to any popular photography destination in the last decade, chances are good you saw a lot of RRS tripods, heads and plates. Why? Because, in my opinion, they are the best tripods out there for outdoor photographers. They aren’t cheap…but you know the saying…”you get what you pay for.” I know many photographers who have cycled through various brands and finally just settled on RRS. And combined with their extensive custom plates, L brackets and replacement lens feet, you are set to go.
We use their larger versions with gimbal heads for long lens wildlife shooting. For lightweight shooting Cree uses an Ultralight version with BH40 head. Tall enough and lightweight for many shooting situations. I was in the market for a lightweight version as well, but I needed one that extended to six feet. When RRS announced the Ascend-14 tripod series, I was first in line to get one. I bought the ‘L’ long version (Ascend 14L).
The Ascend offered something new in a RRS tripod. A built in head and a center column came standard. Take a look at the head above. This head uses levers to lock the ball in position, different than a standard head. There is also a lever that allows you to unlock/lock the center column. This column easily slides out and can be reversed if you want to use it for a macro situation. Here is the good news…I now have a six foot tripod with head that weighs 3 pounds, and packs down to 21 inches…just incredible! The price is $1500. Consider it a lifetime photography investment. We have been using RRS tripods for decades.
I used the tripod a lot last week in Arches NP. The biggest change was getting used to the different head style and levers. I’m so used to twisting dials it took a little time to get familiar with the levers. Also, one level controls tightening and the drag. If you really like to set the drag at a certain point, you can choose the Ascend with a standard head like the BH-40. I found using the tripod with cameras and lenses up 70-200mm was perfect. I also attached my D6 with 180-400mm F4 and it worked fine, although this is getting heavy for any lightweight tripod….better to use my bigger Versa MK2 for this setup.
This tripod is compact enough that it fits easily on the side of a photo backpack. And at 3 pounds you won’t think twice about carrying it with you. Once again RRS has shown the attention to detail and innovative approach that has made them a favorite with photographers.