3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fibre Tripod Review
Lightweight, sturdy, exceptionally built – is the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy the travel tripod of your dreams? Read our review to find out.
By Greg Cromie
For years now I have been carrying around a ‘travel’ tripod that I thought was pretty light and relatively compact for the price that I had paid. I thought I was onto a good thing, despite some shoulder fatigue every now and then from a long day of use.
Then, I had the opportunity to take a look at the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fibre Tripod and my entire perception of quality travel tripods changed forever.
The Billy is made from durable and yet lightweight materials throughout. Clever design choices ensure that it is easy to operate and has a range of features sometimes only seen in higher-end tripods.
With adjustable legs and a long adjustable centre pole, the Billy will accommodate even the tallest among us. Further to this, it can quickly be configured into the detachable and full height monopod, if that is your style. The customisable functions don’t end there, either.
Overall it is a fantastic and well-considered product and one that should suit any level of user in any environment.
However, it is the little details that I continued to discover about this tripod that pushes it to achieve more for photographers like you and me.
3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fibre Tripod Specs
- Exceptional build quality and design
- Lightweight and portable
- Incredibly sturdy
- The fully customisable configuration including a functional monopod
- Leg locking clamps turn too many times to lock and unlock.
3 Legged Thing is a UK-based company well-known in the industry for creating durable, innovative and high-quality tripods (they also produce the Toxic Valkyrie backpack too.)
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fibre Tripod has exceptional build quality from top to bottom.
The use of long carbon fibre extendable legs and a long carbon fibre centre pole has provided increase strength and durability. All fittings and hardware are made from alloy and streel and also add to the overall durability of this tripod.
[Related: Carbon Fiber vs Aluminum Tripods]
The ball head is a completely detachable piece and fits snugly to the top of the centre pole. The ball head and mount plate are made from durable alloy and controlled with rubber-coated dials for all functions.
It is very clear that the quality of machining used to manufacture each part is of the highest quality and control.
Tolerances are exceptional and the amount of glide needed in various features is smooth and responsive.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy could take quite the beating on a rugged expedition and show no sign of wear or disruption.
Size & Handling
When I first received the Billy, it is was packed neatly inside a carry pouch. I was surprised by the size of this folded tripod compared to what I had expected and experienced in the past.
At a folded length of 460mm/18″, this tripod comfortably folds out to its maximum height of 1.645 m/65″.
When folded, the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fibre Tripod could certainly fit into a larger camera backpack or comfortably be strapped to the side of such a bag without upsetting the weight balance.
Equally, it could be comfortably carried over the shoulder thanks to the included pouch with carrying strap.
At the other end of the scale, the centre pole can be completely removed and the ball head re-mounted to the core of the tripod frame.
Then, with the three legs spread wide open, the tripod can be set down to allow for low-to-ground photography. This is ideal for working with macro photography and even landscape.
One of the three extendable legs can be removed and attached to the centre pole via a solid screw mount.
Then, with or without the ball-head, you can use this single stem as an adjustable monopod with a maximum height of 1.71 m / 67.5 “.
These present alternatives to users of this product and potentially an even lighter travel option for steady shooting.
[Related: How to use a monopod]
The tripod itself weighs just 1.38kg / 3 lbs and this makes it perfect for a full-size travel tripod.
What’s more, it can take a load capacity of 18 kg / 40 lbs. That is an impressive amount of gear that it can support in a multitude of different configurations.
Leg Locks & Joints
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy has three extendable carbon fibre legs with each leg having four sections. Each leg is attached to the core frame via an alloy and metal hinge with each housing a lock to control the angle of the legs when extended.
The locking mechanism is very simple to engage and disengage to fold up the tripod.
These hinges are incredibly sturdy and would withstand a lifetime of use in most conditions.
To adjust the length of the legs, each leg has a set of three alloy clamps that twist to tighten the connection and eventually clamp the leg joints together to prevent slipping.
These clamps are coated in a textured rubber to make gripping easy and tapper down in size as the leg sections become thinner.
The amount of tension required to lock the length of the leg is not excessive and they each glide smoothly inside on another.
My only complaint with this style of leg lock is that you feel like you are turning too many times just to unlock the section… and with three such clamps on each of the three legs, you can feel like you are turning forever.
At the end of each leg is a hard rubber foot that is designed to prevent slipping on almost any surface.
These are completely removable, and you can purchase a range of steel feet for more extreme conditions such as ice and rock separately from 3 Legged Thing.
Whilst you cannot extend the legs one-handed, when they are fully extended, the legs are incredibly sturdy and have absolutely no wobble in them.
That is the beauty of using full carbon fibre legs on the Billy.
The Billy comes fitted with the 3 Legged Thing Airhead Neo ball head. This head is completely removable and could be replaced with one of the other ball heads that the company have on offer, such as one with a different clamping style.
The Airhead Neo is solidly built with anodised alloy and steel manufactured parts. Again the precision and tooling are clearly evident in the quality of the product and in the tolerances involved. Movements are smooth and not jolty and the ball glides smoothly.
The base of the head features a twist style clamp to allow the ball to rotate and move freel,y and just as easily is securely clamped.
A second rubber-coated dial clamp allows for the very base plate of the head to stay locked to the tripod and for fine panning adjustments on the horizontal plane to be made.
The ball is securely attached to the mounting clamp on the Airhead Neo, and with a twist of the rubber-coated alloy dial, you can clamp and unclamp the release plate and your attached gear.
The clamping motion is incredibly smooth and spring-loaded to ensure a smooth return when unclamping your gear.
The Billy includes one standard mounting plate, with additional and various sized plates, including L brackets, available for purchase separately from 3 Legged Things to optimise and customise your use of the product.
Recessed into the allow housing of the mounting clap are two small leveling guides. A third is located on the end of the anodised clamp dial for when you are shooting with the clamp at a 90-degree angle. A fourth leveling guide is recessed into the core frame of the tripod itself.
It is these kinds of little features and attention to detail that I find appealing with the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fibre Tripod, compared to other similar DSLR tripods on the market.
Value for Money
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fibre Tripod screams premium quality from the moment you first pick it up and put it to use.
At around US$320, you get an incredibly versatile and well-built tripod that could be put to use in the home studio or out and about on the rugged trail.
When comparing the Billy to other tripods at this price-point, you are not getting anywhere near the amount of quality machining, design and usability. Nor are you getting the extra little details and features that make this tripod so easy to use and clever addition to your kit.
For that great price, you get a very convenient and highly customisable product that can be further tailored to meet your individual camera tripod usage needs.
3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Tripod Review | Conclusion
If you are in the market for a new lightweight, sturdy and user-friendly tripod, then look no further than the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy.
I was amazed at the overall experience and little individual details that this tripod provides. Of course, there are smaller and bigger tripods on the market, but the Billy seems to be built to a ‘just-right’ quality that is lightweight, portable and highly adjustable.
The level of precision machining involved in every element is evident, and results in a product that is exact in what it achieves.
Every joint of the extendable legs have just the right tolerance to ensure they slide smoothly within one-another.
The locking rings have a tactile feel whilst guaranteeing strength when locking them down tight.
The whole frame can be disassembled in various stages so that you can customise how the tripod is set, and even create a monopod that is not an add-on gimmick, but a respectable stand-alone product.
The ball-head has incredible control and a smooth set of operating mechanisms to ensure precision in your photography even at a heavy load.
And finally, the value for money is exceptional when you consider just what you are getting.
I found it incredibly hard to fault this tripod. It is a fantastic product and one that is sure to last a lifetime of fair use.
Even if the Billy is not quite perfect enough for you, then you can always customise it further via the broad range of additional products and accessories that 3 Legged Thing has on offer for this range.
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