Oben Tripods: Camera Support for Every Point of View
Nobody slips through the cracks with Oben. With variations in size, load capacity, composition, leg locks, and numerous other features, there is an Oben tripod for every photographer and every situation. In this overview, we will profile the wide range of available tripods, monopods, heads, and accessories from Oben.
However let’s start with a brief introduction to the nomenclature used to classify these tripods. Understanding this system enables you to identify the relative size, weight capacity, and important features of each tripod. The first letter represents the build material and is either “A” for aluminum or “C” for carbon fiber. The second letter is either “C” or “T,” and represents the type of leg lock, the “C” standing for “clip” on the flip-lock legs and the “T” standing for “twist” on the twist lock legs. The first number of a tripod name represents the relative size of that series, either “1,” “2,” or “3,” with 1 being the smallest. The second number, either “3,” “4,” or “5,” corresponds to the number of leg sections in the tripod, and the last two digits, spanning 21 to 91, represent the weight capacity. For example, the tripod named AC-1321 is an aluminum tripod with flip locks and is not only relatively small (the first 1) but handles the least weight (“21” tripods can hold up to 6.6 lb) within the 1 series. It also has 3 leg sections, identified by the second digit in the nomenclature. Tripod CT-3581 is made from carbon fiber with twist locks, is from the largest tripod series, has 5 leg sections and can hold up to 26.4 lb. Tripods whose name ends with an “L” use the same naming convention, with the “L” indicating “lateral” tripods.
Aluminum Tripods with Heads
The bread and butter of the Oben brand, sturdy aluminum-alloy tripods are available in a range of sizes, weight capacities, and with varying feature sets. The lightweight AC-1300 series and AC-1400 series, each of which comes with a removable head, are ideal for the hobbyist or those shooting primarily with mirrorless or compact DSLR cameras. The weight capacity of these two series runs from 6.6 lb to 17.6 lb. With five 1300- and five 1400-series tripods available, you can choose which size best suits your needs. The most compact weigh just 2.9 lb and provide a maximum extension of 57.5". The largest of this series reaches 69" when fully extended.
AC-1300 and AC-1400
Each of the tripods in this series features an adjustable, split center column to enable easy low-angle shooting, independent three-angle leg positioning for stability on uneven ground, and adjustable flip locks for simple control of leg extension. In addition, they offer a counterweight hook, integrated bubble level, strap mount, rubber feet, and a foam leg warmer. The difference between the 1300 series and 1400 series is simple to identify―the 1300 tripods have three leg sections and the 1400 tripods have four leg sections. Tripods of the same load capacity with four leg sections offer a slight height advantage over their three-leg-section counterparts, but more importantly, they collapse shorter, making them compact for transport. Some feel it’s also easier to make exact height adjustments with four sections, but the clear advantage of a three-leg section tripod is simply the speed with which you can set it up and break it down.
Aluminum and Carbon Fiber Tripods
Going up the size and performance ladder, Oben offers the AC-2300-, CC-2300- and CC-2400-series tripods, which they refer to as their “workhorses.” These are tripod legs only, with additional features to benefit the professional or advanced amateur. They do not include a head but, when you reach this level of performance, buying a head should be a separate decision made to match your specific applications and needs. Later in this piece, we will discuss some of the fine heads offered by Oben, but of course, with their reversible ¼"-20 and 3/8"-16 head attachment mount, you can use heads from almost any manufacturer on these sturdy tripods.
From left to right: AC-2300, CC-2300, CC-2400
From the AC-2341 to the CC-2491, this group of tripods provides weight capacities from 11 to 39.6 lb, sufficient for DSLR cameras and long lenses. The larger tripods in this series offer a clear increase in maximum height compared to the AC-1300/AC-1400 series, but the smaller models of this series tend to top out at about the same height as their lighter cousins. Where their real advantage lies is in their strength and stability and professional features such as the rubber feet with retractable spikes for a firm grip on soft terrain. They, too, offer an adjustable, split center column with rubber damper and steel locking screws to securely attach a head. A counterweight hook, strap mount, bubble level, and leg warmer are provided, as well as independent three-angle leg adjustment.
As mentioned, the second “C” in the name’s prefix indicates that these tripods use adjustable flip locks to control leg height, and this series also offers three-leg-section and four-leg-section varieties. Because they are designed to hold more weight, the aluminum (AC) models are heavier. Nonetheless, in the 2000-series, Oben introduces “CC” tripods, constructed from carbon fiber as opposed to aluminum. The primary advantage of carbon fiber tripods is that they offer the same load-bearing strength yet weigh significantly less. For example, the CC-2341 model and the AC-2341 provide the same maximum height, closed height, and load capacity yet the CC-2341 weighs one-third less than the AC-2341. On smaller tripods, the weight difference may not seem so important, but when you lug around medium to large tripods for a full day your back will note the difference. Also, carbon fiber reacts better in extremely cold weather, staying rigid while retaining enough malleability so as not to crack. Carbon fiber is also not as cold to the touch as aluminum.
The CT-2300 and CT-2400 Oben tripod legs are much the same as the CC-2300 and CC-2400 models, with one major distinction: their legs adjust and lock in place using non-rotating twist-locks, which enable faster opening and closing of the legs. With one twist, all three sections can be loosened and the legs extended. Once extended to the desired length, the locks twist easily to secure the legs in their position and, when finished, all the locks tighten with one swift gesture, offering a speed advantage that serious shooters can appreciate. When compared to the CC-2300/CC-2400 tripods of the same weight capacity, the twist-lock models afford a slightly higher maximum reach, slightly smaller closed height, and are lighter to carry. In terms of a high-performance standard tripod, a selection from the Oben CT-2300 or CT-2400 series is sure to be a wise investment.
From left to right: CT-2300 and CT-2400
Travel Tripod/Monopod Kits
As mentioned, each letter and number provides a partial description of the size and type of tripod you are getting. This is true, of course, with the 3400 and 3500 series, as well. They offer aluminum and carbon fiber models with four leg sections and five-leg sections and they all utilize a fast twist lock on their legs. These series’ also run the gamut in terms of load capacity (6.6 to 26.4 lb) and maximum height. Also, as explained earlier, the models with five leg sections will collapse shorter than their counterparts with four leg sections.
From left to right: AT-3400, CT-3400, and CT-3500
However, the 3400 and 3500 tripods are significantly different than the other models already discussed. These models are referred to as “Travel” kits because they fold up to create a significantly smaller package for transport and they can convert into a monopod when needed. These models also include a narrow ball head specifically designed to fit inside the fold-up legs.
The reverse folding leg feature allows the legs to fold up 180°, concealing the ball head and creating a more compact folded tripod. Also, the ability to fold up the legs to such a degree, in combination with the short column section, enables extreme low-angle shooting. The versatility of the 3400 and 3500 is also demonstrated by their ability to convert into a monopod. Simply unscrew the leg that forms the base of the monopod, remove the center column from the chassis, and screw these two elements together. With the head and center column mounted on the extended leg, you have a full-size monopod that's even taller than the tripod at full height.
Each of these models includes an Oben ball head that matches the tripod in terms of size and weight capacity, the carbon fiber models featuring BE-series head with Arca-Swiss type compatibility. These tripod kits also offer professional features such as rubber feet with the retractable metal spikes.
Lateral Column Tripods
These Lateral Column Tripods are tripod legs available in aluminum and carbon fiber models with load capacities between 11 and 26.4 lb, and offer the same set of specs and features as the various AC-2300, CC-2300, and CC-2400 tripods, including flip locks, retractable spikes, and three-angle leg adjustment. However, in addition to serving as a standard support, they boast a unique center column that can be positioned perpendicular relative to the chassis. This design better serves macro photography applications or any situation in which your camera needs to be very close to or directly over your subject. Furthermore, when the column extends past the chassis, it can swivel up to 180° and be placed in an infinite amount of positions for stable shooting from any angle.
From left to right: AC-2300L, CC-2300L, and CC-2400L
Several tabletop tripods are available from Oben and they all share the basic principal of ultra-compactness for lightweight cameras. Each model includes a ball head with a 90° groove for vertical-orientation shooting and the maximum load capacity for each is approximately 6 lb. Made from durable aluminum, they serve low-angle, macro, and product shooting. The TT-100 features a removable ball head and a 360° panoramic base, and the TT-200 and TT-300 models incorporate an extendable center column with twist lock. The tallest of the lot, the TT-300, has a maximum height of 17".
From left to right: TT-50, TT-100, TT-200, and TT-300
Due to space, weight, portability, or even legal concerns, monopods can be preferable to tripods, and Oben produces five monopods with distinct features, allowing you to choose the model most appropriate for your work. They range in maximum height from 61" and 67" and in weight capacity from 17.6 lb and 26.4 lb. There are carbon fiber and aluminum models as well as flip-lock and twist-lock versions. Also, monopods are available with four leg sections or five leg sections. Two aluminum models come with rubber feet, all the carbon fiber models have retractable metal spikes, and the ACM-2400L also features detachable 9" legs that fit inside the monopod and can emerge to convert your monopod into a tripod. All models provide a hand strap with belt clip, a leg warmer, and an integrated top mount with a reversible 1/4"-20 and 3/8"-16 fitting, either to attach the camera directly to the monopod or to attach a head for greater camera control.
From left to right: ACM-1400, ACM-2400, ACM2400L, CTM-2400, and CTM-2500
Tripod and Monopod Heads
In all, Oben offers 24 different tripod heads, all but two of which are ball heads. They differ in base size, weight, locking and panning controls and compatibility; however, their principal difference is in weight capacity, with the smallest holding just 4.4 lb and the largest capable of supporting a hefty 66.1 lb. The BA Series ball heads are the lightest and provide a single lever to lock both ball movement and the panoramic base. A dual-locking quick-release lever holds the quick-release plate. The BE Series ball heads are more robust than the BA series, and provide independent locking knobs for the ball and panoramic base. A quick-release knob and clamp hold the included Arca-style quick-release plate firmly in place. The BC Series Ball Heads are the most sophisticated produced by Oben and improve on the BE series with an integrated tension control thumbscrew for more precise control of camera positions. Each series features a 90° groove for vertical camera placement, and a bubble level.
From left to right: BA Series, BE Series, and BC Series
The PD-117 3-Way Pan/Tilt Head enables independent horizontal and vertical adjustment, as well as 360° panning. Two large locking handles control tilt movements, and a thumb screw locks and unlocks the panning motion. The tripod can hold as much as 17.6 lb, making it a versatile and sturdy choice for most DSLR/lens combinations.
From left to right: BD-O Ball Head, PD-117 Pan-Tilt Head, and VH-R2 Tilt Head
Also produced by Oben is the VH-R2 Tilt Head, designed specifically for monopods. A tilt locking knob enables 180° vertical movement to switch easily from horizontal to vertical orientation and it includes a quick-release plate secured by a dual-locking quick-release lever. The maximum load it can carry is 11 lb. Finally, the BD-0 Ball Head is a basic, lightweight head with a single locking knob, ¼"-20 mounting screw and 90° groove for vertical camera positioning. It is ideal for use with tabletop tripods or even mounted on a light stand for attaching accessories.
Accessories and Hardware
In addition to several straps and the QRA-R2 Quick Release Assembly, Oben offers the hardware and replacement parts for all of their tripods and monopods. The QRA-R2 adds quick-release capability to the tripods and monopods that do not come supplied with a QR assembly. With the included reducer bushing, this quick-release will attach to any 3/8"-16 or ¼"-20 screw mount. It features the dual-locking quick-release lever, center video pin, and multiple bubble levels.
Oben’s line of tripod straps includes models featuring a clip for tripods with a strap mount, and cinches for those that do not have said mount. The TS-110 Tripod Strap is the deluxe model, featuring wide, neoprene padding and a zippered accessory pocket.
All of the hardware and parts included with the many Oben tripods can be purchased as replacement or spare parts. From monopod leg assemblies to tool clips to tripod-hanging hooks to reversible mounting studs and locking knobs, all can be purchased a bhphotovideo.com or at the B&H SuperStore.