FLM CP30-M5 Review

Test Results


There is no free lunch with tripods.  Making tripods compact, lightweight, and tall inherently reduces stability.  The diameter and length of the tubing used in the legs are the most important factors in tripod stiffness, so having a tall five section tripod is a difficult ask.  Indeed we see that the stiffness on this tripod isn’t great for an all-purpose tripod:

Harmonic Mean Stiffness736.14
Yaw Stiffness464.5 +/- 1 Nm/rad
Pitch Stiffness1773 +/- 3 Nm/rad
Yaw Damping0.109 +/- 0.011 Js/rad
Pitch Damping0.196 +/- 0.02 Js/rad

However, for a full height tripod in a travel tripod form factor, these results are excellent.  As of this writing no other tripod can get to full height with this level of stability and portability.

As I have seen with the other FLM CP30 tripods, the damping isn’t great.  I was surprised by this result given that FLM uses a proprietary blend of cork and rubber on the top plate that purportedly has good damping properties.  Note that these tests are conducted with the set screws engaged.  Disengaging the set screws does increase the damping at the cost of a small decrease in stiffness.  For most users though, using the set screws is the preferrable configuration for stability.

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.  All of the reported specifications are measured, with the exception of the weight rating. The tripod is measured at full height, with the center column (if applicable) down.

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.


Note that I have accidentally mislabed the graphs as ‘Arca Cube’ as opposed to CP30-M5.  These are indeed the test data for the CP30-M5.

Very clean data.


Again, very clean.