Oben CT3535 Review – Folding Carbon Fibre Tripod
After about three years traveling with the Oben CT3535 Travel Tripod, I’ve come to really appreciate its combination of weight, size, and performance.
There are a lot of options when it comes to travel tripods, but this is one is well worth considering.
For years, I used larger, less expensive tripods that were ok but always felt clunky and heavy. I was searching for a tripod that I would never hesitate to throw in my bag or backpack when traveling.
Thing is, I’d often end up forgoing the tripod only to find out that there were amazing night skies I wouldn’t be able to photograph without one. With the Oben CT3535, I never have to make that mistake because it always comes with me!
If you want a tripod that’s extremely lightweight, packable, and still functional, the Oben CT3535 is a great option. It’s so lightweight and compact that you’ll never leave home without it!
Table of Contents
Oben CT3535 Specs
- Extremely compact
- Excellent value
- Carbon fiber is stable
- Ball head is smooth
- Twist locks (I forget which way to turn them)
- Not very tall
- Center column could be sturdier
- Max Height: 51″ (130 cm)
- Min Height: 9″ (22 cm)
- Compact Length: 12″ (31 cm)
- Max Load Capacity: 9 lbs (4 kg)
- Weight: 2.5 lbs (1.1 kg)
- Feet: Rubber or spike
- Leg Lock: Twist
- Leg Sections: 5
- Ballhead Plate: Arca-Type
When you pick up the Oben CT3535 you quickly realize how impressively lightweight it is.
My first question was if it would hold my camera steady. The short answer is definitely!
At just over 1kg (2.5 lbs) this tripod is a featherweight. I was concerned that there would be sacrifices in build quality or the steadiness it would offer but after nearly three years of use, I haven’t had any issues.
If I’m ever concerned about stability, I’ll simply hang a backpack or other heavy object from the center post hook. This makes the tripod very stable even in high winds.
The carbon fiber legs are small but sturdy. They provide just enough length and stiffness to hold any combination of camera plus lens I have in my bag.
Unlike some other tripods I’ve used, the Oben CT3535 carbon fiber legs feel solid and the rubber-coated twist locks are effective.
The BE-208T ball head that comes with it feels smooth and well built. It may not be quite as smooth as some of the very expensive ball heads you might buy separately, but I found it to be very functional for my purposes.
I’ve been impressed by the overall build quality of the Oben CT3535. After three years of carrying it around (flights, hiking, bouncing around in my car, etc), it’s still in great condition.
The only maintenance I’ve done on it is tightening a few screws and keeping it clean.
It still operates smoothly and functions like it did when I bought it. I’m sure if you were excessively abusive this tripod might fail (due to its lightweight build) but so far it has proved completely adequate for my use.
Size & Handling
In regards to size and handling, you must keep in mind that this tripod’s main feature is its compact size and low weight. For a tripod that’s only 12 inches (31cm) long when folded, you can’t expect it to extend to 7ft!
Because I mainly use a tripod to shoot astrophotography or long exposures of landscapes, I don’t need it to be exceptionally tall. If you’re shooting portraits or some other subject that requires a tall tripod, the Oben CT3535 might not be the right choice.
The max extended height without using the center column is just 41 inches (100cm) but it’s quite stable at that height.
If you have a heavy camera setup (large DSLR with heavy zoom lens), the tripod might get a little wobbly when you extend both center columns, but I’ve never had any issues with my mirrorless setup (Sony a7III & Sony 16-35 f/2.8 GM).
It does offer a hook on the center column and with a little added weight, this tripod gets a lot more steady. Over the last few years, I’ve never had any issue with getting tack sharp images.
One thing I love about this tripod is how light and compact it is! I never hesitate to throw it in my bag and it even fits on the inside of my backpack, something few tripods can do!
Typically a tripod gets strapped on the outside of a pack as an afterthought and is the first thing to get left behind when you need to save weight. This never occurs with the Oben CT3535.
Because it isn’t extremely tall, it easily functions at low heights. The legs have three locking positions to allow it to get very low.
Additionally, the center column can be reversed (or removed) for shooting in macro mode or to make this tripod even lighter.
Leg Locks & Joints
Having used several very cheap tripods, I was impressed with the quality of the legs/joints on the Oben CT3535. They feel smooth and quick to operate. I never had any issues getting the legs to slide in/out or tightly lock down.
If you’re familiar with the flip lock style legs on a tripod it may take some time to get comfortable with the twist lock legs. They are easy to operate but sometimes it’s tricky to remember which way to turn the screws to tighten vs loosen.
I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to loosen the twist locks less than a full turn so that if I go to tighten them and nothing happens after a partial turn, it’s easy to know that I’m going the wrong way.
Maybe I’m the only one who struggles to remember which way to twist the locks but hopefully this tip will help someone avoid tripod frustration!
Another thing I appreciate is how the legs rotate out smoothly but firmly (they flip almost 180 degrees from travel position to upright position).
You can adjust the tension with the Allen key but it’s nice to have a tripod that stays folded up even when you’re grabbing it by one leg. I’ve dealt with floppy tripod legs before and they’re frustrating. The Oben CT3535 stays tight and only folds out when you want it to!
Another complaint I’ve had with other tripods is the legs slowly sliding because the locks aren’t adequate. The twist locks on the Oben CT3535 have never failed to hold things in place giving me the comfort of steadiness during a long exposure.
At the end of the legs, you also have the option of rubber feet or spikes. Personally I’ve never used the spikes because the rubber feet have been functional on almost every surface, but if you like to use spikes, the Oben CT3535 gives you the option.
The Oben CT3535 is sold as a package deal with the BE-208T ball head (also made by Oben). It’s a fully-featured ball head at a very reasonable price.
With cheap ball heads I’ve used, it’s either locked down or falling over. The BE-208T was my first experience with an affordable AND functional ball head. It locks down when you want it to, but also offers the sweet spot of adjustability.
You can loosen it just enough to move your camera around and have it stay where you put it without turning the knob. Once you’ve got your framing, the knobs are quick to firm up the tension and lock down the camera.
I’ve never felt the need, but the ball head can be removed and swapped out. This might come in handy if you wanted to put a video head or other type of mount on the tripod.
The included Arca-Type plate is easy to mount but this tripod also works great with other mounting plates. I consistently use both the Peak Design plates and the Spider Holster camera plate.
Although it may not be up to par with a $500 dollar ball head, the BE-208T is a major step up from the cheap mounts you find on inexpensive tripods. I found it to be totally functional and reliable.
Value for Money
At around $150, this tripod is an amazing deal. It offers excellent performance for the price.
I considered upgrading to the Peak Design tripod but, so far, this tripod has been holding up so well that I haven’t felt the need.
I would argue that other tripods at similar price points don’t offer the quality or specs that the Oben CT3535 has. After years of use, it’s still going strong! Something I can’t say for the cheap tripods I used previously.
The other amazing feature you get at this price is the weight savings and rigidity of carbon fiber. Most carbon tripods are much more expensive.
With this tripod, you get all the features plus the strength and stiffness of carbon fiber without having the expense!
If you’re looking to upgrade to a fully-featured but still relatively cheap travel tripod, I’d highly recommend the Oben CT3535. With its compact size and functional design, you’ll get years of use out of it.
Oben CT3535 Review | Conclusion
For me, the Oben CT3535 is the best balance of quality, weight, and value.
It offers the quality of much more expensive tripods at an excellent price. The carbon fiber legs are very sturdy and it folds up small enough to fit inside my backpack sideways!
For years I fumbled with cheap aluminum and plastic tripods. They never felt sturdy, had funky features that would fail on me at the critical moment, and were so heavy that I often left them behind.
When I found the Oben CT3535, my perspective completely changed. Although it isn’t as tall as some other tripods, I never leave it behind because it’s so compact and lightweight.
Having a small tripod is better than not having one at all, right?
Despite its shortcomings in height, this tripod performs exceptionally well in a variety of situations. I’ve been impressed with the quality of images it has helped me create, and I love how it still functions like new after years of use.
It’s been in the ocean, in the sand, on mountain tops in the rain/snow, and bounced around in my car without missing a beat.
The Oben CT3535 is an excellent tripod for photographers looking for the perfect combination of something lightweight/compact yet still fully functional!
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