FLM CP30-L4 II Review

Test Results


There is no free lunch with tripods. Making tripods compact, lightweight, and tall inherently reduces stability. The diameter of the tubing used in the legs is the most important factor in tripod stiffness but larger tubes are bigger and heavier.  The longer legs required to make a tripod tall also reduce stiffness.  So on its face, the stiffness performance of the CP30 doesn’t look great, but it is actually very good for a tripod at this height and weight.  This is reflected in the strong performance in the rankings.

Harmonic Mean Stiffness791.69
Yaw Stiffness501 +/- 1 Nm/rad
Pitch Stiffness1886 +/- 5 Nm/rad
Yaw Damping0.096 +/- 0.009 Js/rad
Pitch Damping0.252 +/- 0.025 Js/rad

The stiffness and damping data are the averages of 10 trials for each measurement. The reported error is the standard error, except in the case of the damping data. I have set the error in the damping at 10% as the standard error metric does not appropriately capture the error in fitting to the data.  The tripod is measured at full height, with the center column (if applicable) down.

The damping performance however is somewhat disappointing.  FLM touts its cork & rubber mix on the top plate as having excellent damping properties, but I don’t see evidence of that.  Note that the tripod is tested with the set screws on the top plate engaged.  This maximizes the stiffness but reduces the damping by effectively bypassing the pad on the top plate.  As we have seen with other FLM tripods, not engaging the set screws does help damping performance and is recommended if you are using longer lenses where damping is more important.

Bonus Data:

As a tall tripod, I tested the stiffness and damping with only the top three leg sections extended.  This is closer to the height at which many people will actually use the tripod, so may be a better representation of performance for you than that at full height.

Harmonic Mean Stiffness1284.3
Yaw Stiffness806 +/- 2 Nm/rad
Pitch Stiffness3158.9 +/- 7 Nm/rad
Yaw Damping0.136 +/- 0.014 Js/rad
Pitch Damping0.615 +/- 0.062 Js/rad

As we always see with tripods, the performance is much better when the legs are not full extended.  The CP30-L4 shows a performance increase in line with what we typically expect given our previous data on tripod performance vs height.

Recommended Gear Limit

The exact gear limit is highly dependent on the external conditions such as wind, and technique, such as the use of a cable release. Under perfectly still conditions using perfect technique, sharp images can be obtained using any tripod. Developing a consistent and broadly applicable set of guidelines for what kind of gear a given tripod can reasonably support is still a work in progress on this site.

Example Test Data

The following data is example raw data from the stiffness and damping measurements. The relevant information with regards to the tripod performance is entirely contained within the stiffness and damping figures presented above. The plots below are solely present so that the tested stiffness and damping figures are believed. Each plot and the corresponding Fourier frequency space plot correspond to one of the ten trials done on each axis to obtain the test results. For a more in depth discussion on the meaning of these graphs, see the methodology section and the “understanding the test results” page.

Yaw oscillations with the test rig:

And for the tripod at 3/4 height.

Damping is a little bit better, stiffness is much better.

Overall very clean data, as is typical with lower damping tripods.

Pitch oscillations at full height with the test rig:

Below is the oscillation for the 3/4 height data.  Note the change in time scale on the x axis:

And the Fourier:

Overall very clean data from the pitch oscillations too.