FLM CP34-L4 II Review

Comparison & Conclusion

Contents

The CP34-L4 II sits in the middle of FLM’s tall tripod lineup.  It doesn’t have the massive stability seen in the larger CP38-L4 or the portability of the CP30-L4.  The CP34-L4 doesn’t provide either of those features, but instead a very good compromise of both.  It has the flexibility and large top plate that we associate with systematic style tripods, but still remains fairly relatively compact and lightweight, especially given the height.  The build quality and mechanics are all excellent, and the price is very reasonable, especially compared with the competitors in this space.  The CP34-L4 should be very popular among people looking for a general purpose tripod.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality
  • Good stiffness given the size and weight
  • Inexpensive compared to its peers
  • Built-in video bowl

Cons

  • Mediocre damping
  • No rubber grips on the twist locks
  • No center column option

Compared To:

I haven’t tested many tall tripods, which makes doing exact comparisons somewhat difficult.  But it is not too difficult to normalize performance by height and get a reasonable expectation of the differences.  For a more complete list, see the systematic tripods ranking page.

FLM CP34-L4 IIFLM CP38-L4 IIFLM CP30-L4 IIRRS TVC-34LGitzo GT3533LS Sytematic
Stiffness Nm/rad1393.02224.0792.01656.02147.0
Damping Js/rad0.220.360.210.360.54
Weight lbs (kg)4.175 (1.894)4.925 (2.234)3.239 (1.469)4.53 (2.055)4.586 (2.08)
Height in (cm)68.0 (172.7)67.5 (171.4)68.0 (172.7)67.8 (172.2)59.7 (151.6)
Price$683$841$459$1160$860

FLM CP38-L4 II – The most obvious comparison is against the CP34’s larger sibling.  The CP38 is basically the same tripod but with larger diameter tubes and a larger apex.  It is heavier and bulkier than the CP34, but is significantly more stable.  If you are shooting professional sized telephoto lenses or demand ultimate rigidity you will appreciate the larger tripod.  For most people though, the smaller tripod will be sufficient and more portable.

FLM CP30-L4 II– The CP30-L4 is the same length as the CP34-L4, but is significantly smaller and more portable due to its lack of a bowl apex.  Of course the smaller tubes make it correspondingly less stiff.  If you do a lot of hiking with your tripod, you will appreciate this smaller set of legs.

The CP34-L4 (bottom), RRS TVC-23 (middle), and CP30-L4 (top). The CP34 is a significantly larger tripod than the other two. The difference is larger in real life as taking the photo collapses one dimension.

RRS TVC-34L – The RRS performs better, but is also a significantly larger tripod.  It weighs a little bit more and has fatter tubing, contributing to the performance but making it bulkier.  It is reasonable to assume that if the FLM and RRS tripods were built to the same dimension, they would perform similarly.  The RRS is also vastly more expensive.

Gitzo GT3533LS – While labeled as a ‘long’ version, the 3 series Gitzo I have tested is substantially shorter than the FLM, heavier, and bulkier with its 3 leg sections.  While these all contribute to the excellent stability figures we see, they make the tripod less portable and less versatile than the FLM.  Add in the superior build quality of the FLM’s machined components vs. the molded ones on the Gitzo, I have to give the nod to the FLM tripods in this case.

Who is it for?

If you want a tall systematic style tripod but don’t need the ultimate stability offered by the larger models with fatter tubes, the FLM CP34-L4 II is great option.  If you are shooting with larger telephoto lenses I would recommend sizing up, or if you plan on carrying the tripod for long distances, sizing down.  But for many, the CP34-L4 will be the goldilocks ‘just right’ size,

Where to Buy

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