So as some of you may know, I have recently moved back to the United States after about 5 years of living in Peru. Right before my move, K&F Concepts contacted me to see if I might do a review of an update of their travel tripod series as well as a magnetic filter setup. I had already realized that I was probably only going to be able to bring one of my two tripods back from Peru at this time and decided that it would be worthwhile to take them up on their offer and be able to bring my full size tripod back..
I was told that I could be honest about my experiences and I am not sponsored by them so will not receive any commissions from them on affiliate link sales or anything like that. It’s important to keep in mind that I mostly do landscape photography and have been shooting for many years using a fairly wide range of tripods from the ultra cheap to the more expensive pro options as well. I used the entry level tripods sold at big box stores for camcorder use for many many years and learned how to get the most out of them and similar methods can be used to use a travel tripod in more demanding applications..
My previous travel tripod was a Manfrotto BeFree model and I knew that would primarily be my most direct comparison. This K&F Concepts BA-225 tripod seems to have different prices depending on where you look, but the most consistent price seems to be about $115 compared to the nearly $200 that you find the Manfrotto model for..
The first thing I would like to say is that my expectations for a travel tripod are less rigorous than what I expect out of a full size tripod and the K&F Concepts tripod is no exception. This was true of the Manfrotto and is true of the BA-225 as well. The BA-225 combines a mix of helpful features borrowed from lots of other manufacturers over the years and does so at a very inexpensive price point.
The next thing I would like to say is that this tripod is not particularly stable at its highest settings but luckily much of landscape photography benefits from having the camera lower to the ground to help emphasize foreground elements and bring depth into your image. It can be uncomfortable working so close to the ground, but can be very worth the hassle to help you get better images. This tripod has a few features that can help in that pursuit with legs that can spread out over a wider distance as well as a center column that can be inverted for hanging your camera upside down very close to the ground.. Both fantastic ways to get the lower vantage points and features often left out of many budget tripods.
One thing I really like about this tripod is that it is exceptionally light and compact when folded. It folds down to about fourteen inches and one nice thing is that you don’t have to invert the center column to do so. The obvious trade off to this light weight and portability is of course sturdiness at its highest settings, however in a travel tripod, this is a compromise often worth making. I personally don’t like using the final section of the legs on this tripod and left them unextended most of the time. By making them any sturdier, it would have made the whole tripod bigger and heavier. I would be okay with a shorter tripod that was a little sturdier, but for many this is a compromise not worth making and most companies would not make a tripod like that!
There are many nice features borrowed from many years of tripod advancement that you often wouldn’t find on budget offerings just a few years ago… The invert-able center column and Arca Swiss rotating ballhead with markings for panorama shooting among those nice features. They added a hook to the center column to allow you to add some extra weight to help sturdy the tripod (a feature that is super useful on a lightweight budget offering.. A built in bubble level is another nice little extra feature making it unnecessary to have one on top of your camera.. They also left a threaded mounting space to be able to add accessories. Not an important feature for most landscape photographers, but definitely useful for people who need a microphone mount, light mount or a myriad of other options.
There were a few compromises I mentioned above that were expected, but there were a few shortcomings as well from my experience. I had a little trouble when I went to invert the center column and a plastic bushing got stuck on the shaft. It took me a little while to get it unstuck and then re positioned properly to reassemble. I also had left the carrying case in my car as I walked to a local waterfall to take a few shots in the rain.. Unfortunately, the mounting plate had worked itself a little loose on the ballhead and it took more work to get a steady shot. The manufacturer had included two hex keys for such an occasion (and its the same size as the one used by many other photographic accessory manufacturers), however I had left most of that stuff in the car and had to make due in the situation.. Make sure to check the tightness of the different screws before an important shoot.. This is something you should do with any tripod, but it definitely was a surprise after a fairly small amount of time with the BA-225.
Another complaint you’ll find from many reviewers of this tripod is that the feet are slightly too plasticky as opposed to a more rubberized surface.. This makes it slightly unstable on certain surfaces. In many landscape photography situations you will not find it to be a problem, but on certain types of rock and definitely on many man-made surfaces, it can be a bit of an issue.. All of these issues could be a resolved by the company for future products if they are willing to take the extra steps necessary and listen to the feedback from their customers..
Overall, I am quite happy with this product and K&F Concepts is a company I will keep an eye out for in the future.. I can say that the BA-225 is a great option compared to a few other more expensive travel tripods on the market today and can save you a bit of money if you are realistic about your expectations and willing to make a few compromises versus carrying a full size tripod. This is a great option for a hiker or someone traveling via bus and airplane, etc. I would highly suggest this for anyone on a budget, anyone with a smaller lighter camera/lens setup, and anyone who just needs a travel tripod occasionally.. Me personally, I will probably keep this in my car in case I ever need it while on the road. I wouldn’t expect it to take the place of my full sized tripod, but I’m pretty happy with it for its intended use. I imagine this would be a fantastic setup for a travel vlogger as it could serve well as a standalone tripod and would also work well as a sort of faux gimble setup.
On to the magnetic filter setup they sent me. I requested the 72mm size, but they had quite a few sizes available for purchase. The kit contains the mounting ring and then a UV filter, circular polarizer, as well as a ND1000 filter and comes with a nice holding pouch. I’m not an extremely technical person when it comes to photography, so I won’t be too technical when it comes to filters either. I rarely use the UV filter as the lenses that I use usually do a a pretty good job of managing that kind of thing. The ND filter and CPL worked as expected without introducing any crazy color shifts or other problems. I used the CPL trying to get the most out of some fall color portraits of my daughter and landscapes!
Using a single filter was fine but I did have some pretty bad vignetting when trying to stack my CPL and ND filter when shooting at 24mm focal length as seen in this example here!
I think I would use this kit the most when I just need a CPL filter for one particular lens as part of a day kit or a specific shoot. I have been using a square filter holder setup for many years and I prefer that when carrying different lenses with different sized threads and because it also eliminates the potential for vignetting to ruin an image. That also give the option for a graduated ND filter to help take care of exposure differences between a foreground and sky for example.
Overall I would say that I don’t much like screw in style circular filters, but the magnetic aspect makes these much more user friendly. The adapter ring screws in as normal but you can leave it on the lens in between shots and still use the lens cap (at least on my lens). I can carry this kit for everyday shooting and it takes up way less room in my bag compared to my 100mm square filter holder setup plus the filters and so I definitely see myself using it into the future. The filters are decent quality and pretty slim and I definitely foresee more manufacturers going this route in the future!
As of now, I see this setup on the manufactures website posted for 50 percent off the normal price. The list price seems a bit steep in my opinion, but for about $100 it seems like a pretty good option. As with the tripod, the prices seem to fluctuate a lot depending on where you look… I assume it can be hard to price a product on many international markets for a single price that will be attractive to potential buyers from different countries.
Thanks again to K&F Concepts for sending me these items for review. If you guys have any questions about this stuff that I didn’t talk about in my article you can feel free to reach out to me about it. Hope this helps some of you find the the right gear for you and thanks for reading!
Tripod on K&F Concept online shop: https://bit.ly/3busDjU
10% OFF code : KF10US
Magnetic filter on K&F Concept online shop: https://bit.ly/30Shisb
10% OFF code : KF10US
Magnetic filter on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/page/592896B7-A7FC-4D38-841D-56EA963692C6?channel=KF%20magnetic%20filter