Design & Operation
The basic design does not deviate dramatically from that of most tripods. What is unique about the Vuepoint is the paring down of features to the absolute necessities in order to simplify the design and save weight. We don’t have replaceable feet, a center column, or multiple angle selections for the legs. What we are left with is a set of three legs that can support a camera at a normal human height.
The build quality is the biggest question mark surrounding the Vuepoint. Unlike any other tripod I have tested, the apex and leg joints are made from plastic resin. As discussed on the next page, these don’t present a stability issue to the tripod, but do present a durability issue. While I haven’t done so myself, it would certainly be possible to break the plastic by pulling hard on one of the legs or stepping on the folded up tripod by accident. This is a tripod that will need to be treated with care. I don’t have the means to test the long-term durability of the tripods I review, so unfortunately this will remain an open question. I have been assured by Vuepoint that replacement parts will be readily available at a reasonable cost if necessary. This is a critical service for any tripod company and its good to see this being addressed from day one.
I would have liked to have seen the plastic parts on the Vuepoint made of machined aluminum instead, but this would add significant weight and cost to the tripod. The reality is that the Vuepoint likely wouldn’t exist if every plastic part were required to be made from metal. Perhaps one day in the future we could see the Vuepoint with metal, but for now having two ultralight tripods on the market is far better than zero.
The locking mechanism on the Vuepoint tripods is unique in the tripod world. The carbon fiber of the legs are tapered such that they cannot pull through each other when extended. The tapering of the smaller leg section wedges itself into the bottom of the next largest section. This ‘friction lock’ mechanism has some big advantages and disadvantages that explain why they aren’t typically used on tripods, but make sense here. There is one major disadvantage and that is the strength of the lock is far less than that of the lever locks or compression rings (twist locks) that we are normally familiar with. In theory, heavy enough gear could collapse the tripod leg. In practice though, if you are interested in the Vuepoint it also means you aren’t carrying heavy enough gear to be anywhere close to the limit for the strength of the friction lock.
There are three very significant advantages to the friction lock though. First, it is extremely lightweight requiring only a little extra carbon tubing on the leg sections to make work. This is of course the dominant factor in the design choice for the Vuepoint. Second, it makes setup and takedown extremely fast compared to twist or flip locks. One need only to pull the legs out with some force to set the tripod up, or hit the feet of the tripod on the ground to get it to fold up. Finally, and most subtly, it minimizes the amount reduction in tube diameter necessary between each subsequent leg section. Twist locks require a set of anti-rotation shims between each section taking up valuable space and making the smallest leg section very skinny. The friction lock therefore allows the Vuepoint to maintain a reasonable leg diameter throughout the length, enhancing stability.
The feet on the Vuepoint are simply plastic caps on the carbon fiber tubes covered by sheet of rubber. Replaceable feet and their associated metal bolts would simply be too heavy for this application. These feet work just fine and grip any sort of rough outdoor surface well. They do tend to slip on the polished wood and tile surfaces commonly found indoors however.
The top plate is simply a ridged plastic surface with a hole in the center for the included 1/4″-20 titanium mounting bolt. The size of the mounting base is very small compared to most tripods but one would never want to mount a larger head to the Vuepoint anyways. A rubber washer is included with the Vuepoint to provide a small amount of additional damping and to prevent the head from unscrewing. This works nicely but a larger washer or bit of glue may be desired if using a larger head.
There is only one leg angle setting on the Vuepoint which is built into the design of the hinge. This tripod won’t go all the way flat to the ground.
Carbon Fiber Quality.
The carbon fiber on the Vuepoint appears to be a unidirectional fiber base wrapped in a covering that is printed to mimic the look of a woven carbon fiber. While this clearly isn’t the highest quality tubing available, the test results seem to indicate that it is at least performing reasonably well from a stiffness perspective given the low weight and narrow diameter of the tubing used.