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MPB Harrier Tripod review

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MPB ‘Harrier’ Tripod review

The carbon fibre tripod/monopod combo


There are an awful lot of gadgets and accessories for photographers, of varying utility and quality…

Keith looks at a new lightweight carbon fibre tripod from MPB in the UK, which with a simple conversion makes for a full height monopod as well.

We’ve used MPB as our No.1 source of used lenses in the UK for several years.

harrier tripod

My own tripod use

I have a couple of pretty hefty tripods for general use, including a very robust survey tripod for use with my Gigapan. The only lighter tripod is a rather cheap one, obtained from a department store after I found myself on a job without an important part of my normal kit (sitting on my desk 120 miles away). It works, but the whole head assembly is plastic, and not really good for on-site use.

I don’t use tripods very often for my landscape photography, but moving up to the 50MP Canon 5Ds made me wonder about getting a more general use lightweight tripod.

I recently looked at MPB’s ‘Falcon’ lightweight carbon fibre monopod and found it more useful than I’d first thought. The ‘Harrier’ tripod is also carbon fibre (stiff and light), and if you detach one leg, can be transformed into a monopod, when needed.

We've reviews of many MPB products. See the MPB Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

What do you get

The “Harrier” is a lightweight carbon fibre tripod, that doubles as a monopod via a simple conversion. Supplied without head. The Harrier legs can be folded back through 180 degrees, for compact storage compact. One leg is removable, and when attached to the centre column, converted to a full size monopod.

Max. load: 13kg. Weight: 1.0kg. Height: 1460mm. Folded: 430mm

tripod and carry bag

Supplied with a useful carry bag.

Whilst using a monopod, you can just directly attach the thread to a camera or lens mount, for the tripod, you’ll need some form of mount or head. This is from my kit box, and included the big Induro PHQ head I often use in my architectural work (right) and assorted brackets, plates and clamps I’ve collected.

assorted tripod heads

Personally I’ve never much liked ball heads, so for a lighter tripod like this, I’d likely use the middle one, or even the PHQ, since the handles fold up when not in use, and it’s got good levels.

For lightweight use at night I did use the ball head – the legs collapse down quickly and the lightness of the tripod made the combination of lens/camera/tripod easy to move around and set up quickly.

Using the tripod/monopod

The red clips lock the legs into several different angles, or for folding up. The metal parts feel solid and well made.

top of legs, with lock fittings

At the end of the legs there is a choice of rubber foot or spike.

tripod foot options

Fortunately a small bag to keep the spikes from together.

metal spikes

The centre column locks with a simple twist grip – note how I’ve folded one leg almost fully forward.

centre column

There is also a short version of the central pillar.

two versions of central pillar

The threaded section can have the screw reversed for 1/4″ or 3/8″ fittings

fittings for centre column

Here’s the short column fitted.

short centre column fitted

This short column and the flat setting of the legs, allows a very low to the ground mount point.

low level mount

Here, I’ve fitted a small but sturdy dual axis tilt head.

tilt head fitted

A ball head.

tripod with ball head

My heavier Induro head.

Induro PHQ head

Here’s the tripod at full extension with the EF11-24mm and 5Ds in place on a solid ball head.

That’s quite a heavy (and very expensive) lens, so even looking at this photo, I’m thinking that I just never feel completely safe with ball heads ;-)

tripod at full height

The tripod bag has a convenient snaplock clip that can attach to the hook on the centre column. This can make the tripod a lot more stable if it’s windy, although using any such lightweight kit needs care if left unattended.

For an example of a tripod that’s very unlikely to move, see my use of a survey tripod for my Gigapan.

One of the legs of the ‘Harrier’ model unscrews at the top.

removing leg for use as monopod

Add this to the centre column, and you have a monopod.

attach centre column to monopod

A useful device, although not quite as light at the ‘Falcon’ model I looked at.

full height monopod

Conclusions

A very light tripod that is nonetheless very stiff and rigid. Good design keeps it compact and easy to assemble, with an impressive low height configuration too.

At 13kg. load you have a good choice of head options (not supplied) and it supports lenses much heavier than you feel it really should, given how light it looks.

This shot (from two 5Ds 50MP shots stitched together) was 0.6s exposure with a TS-E17mm shift lens.

It’s Leicester cathedral, where earlier in 2015, the remains of King Richard III were re-interred.

Leicester cathedral at night

The detail is just fine (I have a half second delay on the 5Ds between the mirror going up and the shutter firing).

detail of clock

The monopod option is useful for where you just need support for your kit.

Summary

The “Harrier” is a lightweight carbon fibre tripod, that doubles as a monopod via a simple conversion. Supplied without head.

The Harrier legs can be folded back through 180 degrees, for compact storage compact. One leg is removable, and when attached to the centre column, converted to a full size monopod.

Max. load: 13kg. Weight: 1.0kg. Height: 1460mm. Folded: 430mm

Price £119.99 from MPB

See also our review of the ‘Falcon’ monopod from MPB

We've reviews of many MPB products. See the MPB Category in the dropdown menu at the top of the right column.

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