The ProMediaGear TR344L tripod is easily one of the best tripods around right now, but do you really need to spend a whopping $1,079.95 (about £849/AU$1,499) on supporting your camera? Perhaps you don’t, but landscape and nightscape photographers after an ultra-durable, ultra-lightweight and yet highly capable best travel tripod will adore the TR344L.
Made by ProMediaGear, the TR344L is the top-of-the-range tripod in a range that also includes the small TR343, TR343L and TR344. This tripod has no center column, but with its huge maximum height, will you actually need one? Here’s how we got on with using the TR344L in the field.
Material: Carbon fibre
Extended height: 180cm/70.7”
Folded height: 60cm/23.8”
Feet: Pads and spikes
Leg sections: 4
Max load: 27kg/60lbs
Let’s begin by breaking down the TR344L’s name, which is an amalgamation of tripod, 34 (for its 34mm diameter legs), four (for its four-section legs) and long (because it’s 30cm/11.8” longer than the TR344). It's enormous when fully extended, reaching a mighty 180cm/70.7”. It supports 27kg/60lbs.
There are some easy to see features, and some that only reveal themselves on close inspection. In the first category there’s a built-in (and removable) spirit/bubble level (for getting the TR344L level on uneven ground), twist locks on the three four-section legs (which are nicely grooved and large, so easy to operate with gloved hands) and a 3/8-16 mounting stud for attaching a ball-head. You can upgrade the latter by replacing the existing plate with a ProMediaGear 75mm Bowl Head Adapter.
In the second group of hidden features are thumb-shaped stops (for putting the TR344L into all kinds of contorted positions) on the leg collars and 1/4-20 mounting holes on the tripod head for attaching ‘magic arms’ for LED lights, accessories and so forth.
There’s one more secret feature. Although each hollow leg has a rubber moulded foot that’s pretty substantial, you can unscrew it to reveal a stainless steel spike inside that can be swapped-out.
In the box is a hex key for tightening and loosening the various components – including those foot spikes – and a soft drawstring bag that wisely uses the same fabric as a lens cloth.
Of course, there is one feature you usually find on a tripod that is missing here, and that’s a centre column. However, since the TR344L can reach 180cm/70.7” you’re unlikely to miss it.
Performance and usability
It’s pretty obvious from the price that despite its enormous reach the TR344L weighs almost nothing. Its leg segments are obviously made from carbon fibre – 10 layers of the stuff, in fact – with aluminium collars and stainless steel components together creating a product that weighs only 1.95kg/4.3lbs. Being able to pick up something so huge in one hand is a marvellous feeling when you’re out on a shoot (and particularly when you’re moving location or packing up to go home), but that’s not all you’re paying for.
The TR344L is also super quick and super-smooth to set-up. The twist locks go from rock-steady to loose in seconds and it’s even possible to work them all in one go using just one hand. The end result is that you can have the tripod fully extended or packed away in seconds. It’s the ultimate in grab-and-go. Sure, those twist-locks do get really cold – they’re aluminium, after all – but they work well with gloves.
There’s a nice hook underneath the TR344L that’s useful for hanging a camera bag if you want to add some stability. You can tighten the legs at the collar using a hex key, which you’ll find in the box in the shape of a keyring-style multi-tool.
However, the TR344L isn’t perfect. Those reversible spikes, though a genius idea, are very stiff. It’s quite time-consuming to unscrew them from the inside of the rubber feet then attach them to the outside, and the stiff thread made it impossible to get them looking as good as they did out of the box.
The ProMediaGear TR344L is a really expensive and very impressive tripod that’s been made to suit the needs of dedicated landscape photographers. Sure, it’s way over most budgets and it’s over-specified for what it is for most photographers, but if you’re going to be spending the next decade outdoors in all kinds of weather and you don’t want to spend your time cursing an awkward or heavy tripod then the durable and quick to set-up and pack-up TR344L is worth the investment.