Really Right Stuff TFC-33S Review

    1. Introduction & Specifications
    2. Design & Operation
    3. Test Results
    4. Head Choice
    5. Comparison & Conclusion

The Really Right Stuff (RRS) TFC-33S is a version of their 3 series tripod that replaces the standard versa (TVC) apex with a fixed (TFC) one.  While the versa apex allows a variety of accessories to be used on the tripod, and is thus much more versatile, the fixed base only provides a platform to affix the legs and head to.  If you don’t need leveling bases, video bowls, or center columns, using the fixed apex makes for a much more compact, portable tripod.  As we will see in this review, using the fixed apex makes the TFC-33S the best performing portable tripod I have tested to date.

This tripod was purchased through retail channels.  I was no paid by any party to write this review, and the opinions are entirely my own.

ClassAll Purpose
Yaw Stiffness1733 +/- 4 Nm/rad
Yaw Damping0.355 +/- 0.036 Js/rad
Pitch Stiffness5088 +/- 8 Nm/rad
Pitch Damping0.552 +/- 0.055 Js/rad
Retail Price$945
Weight3.46 lbs (1.57 kgs)
Manufacturer weight rating50 lbs
Maximum Height50.5 in (128.3 cm)
Minimum Height4.0 in (10.2 cm)
Center ColumnNo
Base Diameter2.0 in (5.1 cm)
Folded Length22.7 in (57.7 cm)
Folded Circumference10.0 in (25.4 cm)
Folded Volume181.0 cu. in. (3.0 liters)
Leg MaterialCarbon Fiber
Leg Sections3
Primary Leg Angle24.5 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.

The first thing to notice is the size and weight, or the lack thereof.  At 3.46 lbs (1.57 kgs) the TFC-33S is the lightest 3 series tripod I have tested to date.  This is in part due to being relatively short, but also from the removal of the large systematic style apex.  The TVC version of this tripod is 7 ounces (200 grams) heavier.  That is a small but significant difference if you spend a lot of time carrying your tripod.

Most 3 series tripods are taller than the TVC-33S, and this is explicitly a short version.  The height is is only 50.5 in (128 cm) when full extended.  This allows the tripod to be both very stiff and compact.  Shorter tripods are stiffer than similarly built taller ones, but the two are roughly the same stiffness when used at the same height.  The TVC-33S won’t get the camera up to eye level for most people, and there is no ability to use a center column to that affect.  This may or may not be a deal breaker for you.  If you use a camera with an optical viewfinder, (DSLR) I recommend being able to use the camera at eye level.  A camera with a tilting screen may afford you a lot more flexibility on this matter.

What’s in the Box?