Really Right Stuff TVC-33 Review

The Really Right Stuff (RRS) TVC-33 is the quintessential RRS tripod.  It is the the set of legs that most completely exemplifies the combination of stability, portability, build quality, and versatility that RRS has become known for in tripods.  As such it has set the standard by which we compare all other tripods in the systematic category.  This isn’t to say that the TVC-33 is the best for every person and application, but it is probably the most versatile and broad in application.

Versatility is a big strong point of the RRS tripods in general.  It is fairly easy to transform the TVC-33 to a variety of tasks using the available accessories such as the fixed base, which converts the tripod in the TFC-33 version, or the center column to add quick height adjustment.  Given that swapping the base costs a fraction of buying an entire new tripod, it makes the most sense to consider these tripods to be the same model.  Throughout the review, I will try to emphasize where the major differences would be.

Note that the tripod tested here is the 1st generation version, and RRS has now released an updated line of ‘Mark II’ tripods.  For the most part though, these tripods have nearly identical specifications and performance.  I will mention the places in which the tripod has changed in the Mark II version, but the bulk of this review will apply equally well to both versions.

This tripod was purchased through retail channels.  I was not paid by any party to write this review, and the opinions are entirely my own.

NameRRS TVC-33
Yaw Stiffness1509 +/- 4 Nm/rad
Yaw Damping0.215 +/- 0.022 Js/rad
Pitch Stiffness3949 +/- 8 Nm/rad
Pitch Damping0.255 +/- 0.026 Js/rad
Retail Price$975
Weight4.25 lbs (1.93 kgs)
Manufacturer weight rating50 lbs
Maximum Height58.4 in (148.3 cm)
Minimum Height17.0 in (43.2 cm)
Center ColumnNo
Base Diameter3.0 in (7.6 cm)
Folded Length25.8 in (65.5 cm)
Folded Circumference14.1 in (35.8 cm)
Folded Volume408.0 cu. in. (6.7 liters)
Leg MaterialCarbon Fiber
Leg Sections3
Primary Leg Angle26.0 deg
Leg LocksTwist
Top Tube Diameter36.8 mm
Second Tube Diameter32.6 mm
Third Tube Diameter28.6 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.

Most of the specifications are fairly self explanatory.  You should already have a reasonable idea of what you are looking for.  The TVC-33 is tall enough to get the camera easily to eye level or above for most people.  If you need something even taller, you will likely have to look for a dedicated ‘long’ or ‘tall’ tripod.  Where we really find TVC-33 stands out is the weight, or lack thereof.  At 4.25 lbs (1.93 kg), this tripod is among the lightest of the ‘systematic’ tripods.  It has the size and versatility of a full systematic while coming in at a weight that we expect to find in a smaller all-purpose style tripod.  Note that the newer mark II tripods are even a little bit lighter.  This is what the extra money for a high end tripod buys you.  High performance despite the lower weight.

The primary way that RRS achieves this performance is by using fatter leg tubes than we typically expect to see in a 3 series tripod.  The fat tubes and 3-section design though don’t combine to make a compact package when folded up.  It isn’t a problem when shooting out of a car or large backpack, but it will need a larger size suitcase for air travel.

What’s in the Box?

Compared to many manufacturers, the contents of a Really Right Stuff tripod box are fairly sparse.  The tripod comes with the necessary hex wrenches and a small tube of blue Loctite to prevent the feet from coming loose if you choose to use it.  There are no spiked feet, carry case, or any of the other accessories that are often found accompanying a tripod.  These are of course available from RRS at additional cost.  Expect theses to be of typical RRS cost and quality.