FLM CP30-M5 Review

Introduction & Specifications


The CP30-M5 Hybrid is part of new line of tripods coming from FLM re-designed without a center column to shed size and weight while maximizing stability.  The CP30-M5 is a unique entry into this lineup that strives to add as much height for the smallest possible folded size.  In this effort it largely succeeds, but like all tripods, it does so only as a result of compromise.  Adding height while maintaining folded length can only happen by adding more leg sections, and in this case we get a narrow fifth leg section.  Luckily we have tested two other very similar models from FLM in the CP30-S4 and CP30-L4 and will thus be able to clearly identify how those compromises manifest and help you choose between them.

Note that sections of this review will be very similar, or identical to sections from the review of those aforementioned tripods as most of the design and construction of these tripods are identical.  If you have already read through the ‘Design & Operation’ section of one of these reviews, there won’t be any new information in the others.

This tripod was generously loaned to me for review by FLM Canada.  I was not paid for this review and all opinions are my own and are based largely on the raw test data presented in this review.

And here are the specs.  With the exception of the weight rating, these specifications are all measured, not taken from a data sheet.

NameFLM CP30-M5 Hybrid
ClassAll Purpose
Yaw Stiffness464.5 +/- 1 Nm/rad
Yaw Damping0.109 +/- 0.011 Js/rad
Pitch Stiffness1773 +/- 3 Nm/rad
Pitch Damping0.196 +/- 0.02 Js/rad
Retail Price$495
Weight3.02 lbs (1.37 kgs)
Manufacturer weight rating44.1 lbs
Maximum Height59.0 in (149.9 cm)
Minimum Height3.1 in (7.9 cm)
Center ColumnNo
Base Diameter2.1 in (5.3 cm)
Folded Length18.3 in (46.5 cm)
Folded Circumference9.5 in (24.1 cm)
Folded Volume131.0 cu. in. (2.2 liters)
Leg MaterialCarbon Fiber
Leg Sections5
Primary Leg Angle23.0 deg
Leg LocksTwist
Top Tube Diameter30.2 mm
Second Tube Diameter26.2 mm
Third Tube Diameter22.2 mm
Fourth Tube Diameter18.6 mm
Fifth Tube Diameter15.4 mm
Exchangeable FeetYes
Foot TypeRubber
Bottom HookYes

The test results are included here as I consider them to be part of the tripod’s specification.  For full discussion of the stiffness and damping, see the test results page of the review.

The most notable spec here is the combination of height and reasonable folded length and size.  A folded volume of 2.2 L is quite compact and is a size we typically expect to see from travel tripods.  However, at 59 inches in height (~150cm) the tripod is tall enough to get the camera up to eye level for most people.  While many tripods are capable of this height with an extension of the center column, the CP30-M5 avoids the problems that a center column incurs and thus provides better stability at this height than we have seen from any other tripod this size.  And this is the key point, and why FLM has added the ‘Hybrid’ moniker to the name.  This tripod combines elements of design that we typically see from both all-purpose and travel tripods.

The CP30-M5 compared with a standard 1L nalgene water bottle and a Fuji X100F camera.

It would be very reasonable to categorize the CP30-M5 as travel tripod but given that its folded length is still a little bit on the long side for a travel unit and that its larger brothers are more solidly all-purpose models, I have thrown it in with the larger units.  If you are looking for a travel tripod though, please don’t discount this one due to my rather arbitrary distinction.

What’s in the Box? 

The contents of the box are fairly sparse.  The tripod comes nicely packaged and includes a set of spiked feet and an allen wrench.

The entire useful contents of the box.

I prefer this approach as the accessories included with tripods are often poorly made and/or useless.  Few people use a carry case with their tripod, much less a poorly made one.  For a discussion of the spikes shown here, see the next page.