So you have decided that you need a new set of legs and you like what you see in the Leofoto Ranger series of carbon fibre tripod legs (If you want to know more about the Leofoto tripods you can read this primer on understanding what makes them different: https://landscapegear.co.za/blogs/news/introducing-the-ranger). Here comes the crunch then, The LS-324C and the LS-285C are the same price and have very little difference between them on paper. So how do you decide which one to go for? Let’s start by looking at the actual specs between the two sets of legs:
Ultimately the only identical aspect is the price, but the similarities still make a decision a little more complicated.
In a nutshell though, the LS-285C is the more packable, lighter of the two tripods and also interestingly, reaches a higher working height than the LS-324C. The LS-324C is slightly longer when packed (3cm), weighs marginally more (add a mini, 200ml, can of cool-drink to the weight of the tripod) and is more rigid and stable than the lighter LS-285C.
The LS-285C’s core strength is that it is extremely pack-able and lightweight (this tripod will even fit into a conventional overnight travel bag, yet is stable enough to handle a DSLR rig. The core strength of the LS-324C is that is it is very rigid and able to handle heavy rigs for a tripod of it’s weight class. If you intend to do a lot of hiking then then the LS-285C is probably going to be the better suited tripod, and more likely to be brought along.
The extreme packability of the LS-285C is thanks to it’s 5 tripod leg sections. The LS-324C is always going to be more rigid as it has 4 leg sections (yes, a three section tripod is going to be more rigid still, but has the significant disadvantage of a being very long when packed, making transport and travel with the tripod more difficult).
The rigidity of the LS-324C means that if you are going to be shooting a lot in windy conditions, or along the coast with the legs literally sticking into the water where tidal flow works against the tripods stability, then the heavier more stable of the two tripods is a better bet.
Of course there are other options. If you want more height to go with he rigidity of the LS-324C, then the LS-325C is an option, but isn’t quite as rigid as the LS-324C and costs R1000 more. If you need anything lighter than the LS-285C, you will lose significant stability or height.
Another way to look at the options is with the equipment that you are likely to be using. If you are using a DSLR system with a large and heavy lens (Canon 5D with 70-200mm 2.8/Nikon D850 with 70-200mm 2.8) then the heavier LS-324 with a LH-40 ball head is a good option. If you are using a smaller crop frame body, particularly if it is mirrorless (any x-mount Fujifilm, Sony A6300, Olympus, Canon M series or Nikon Z50) then the LS-285C is a better fit for weight and packability and continues the small and light ethos of the camera system in use. The LS-285C will marry nicely with the slightly smaller LH-36 ball head, but also works well with the LH-40 head.
Finally, also consider your own height. A tripod with a shorter maximum height requires stooping down. If you need a tripod that essentially reaches eye-level, you need to make sure that it actually reaches that height. With this in mind the LS-285C can be comfortably used at eye-level by a photographer with a height of 6ft2” (190cm). The LS-342C does have a slightly shorter working height, and is better suited to a photographer of 5ft7” (175cm).
Of the range of tripods available these two are perhaps the closest in spec and price to cause a small amount of angst in deciding between the two. The range is vast though, so it is entirely possible to opt instead for a larger, smaller, lighter, heavier, more rigid, or more pack-able option. Ultimately, the best way to decide on which tripod to purchase is to rank the importance of these criteria:
Every photographer has their own personal take on which is more important (an overnight mountain landscape photographer is going to view their choice very differently to a bird photographer toting a 600mm lens).
Sometimes the best thing is to actually see the tripod up close and personal. We carry a limited amount of stock in the Durban/Kloof office for viewing by appointment. Similarly demo models can be viewed at the distributors offices in Stellenbosch (contact us for details).