The SmallRig Heavy-Duty Fluid Head Tripod AD-01 3751 has a slightly misleading name. An affordable tripod specifically aimed at videographers, it has a maximum load of 8 kg. That hardly makes it heavy duty at all, while its easy-to-carry design means it should probably instead be called a ‘super lightweight’ tripod.
However, what SmallRig is trying to underscore are its high-end characteristics; the SmallRig AD-01 3751 has three-section double-shaft legs that reach a maximum height of 1.86m/6.1 ft. If that sounds like the kind of thing you might find around professional filmmakers then you’d be right, though the SmallRig AD-01 3751’s low price – and lightweight design – warrants a deeper investigation. After all, it’s selling for just $159 (about £121/AU$208).
What is SmallRig? It's a Chinese company that’s been around since 2013 and sells from its own website as well as regular resellers around the world. SmallRig makes photography and video accessories, with its most well-known product so far being its camera cages, or rigs.
• Read more: 7 ways video tripods are different to regular ones
Dimensions: 160 x 165 x 890mm
Material: Aluminium alloy
Maximum load: 8kg
Leg sections: 3
Max height: 1.86m
Min height: 0.85m
Folded height: 0.89m
Bowl base diameter: 75mm
Tilt range: +90 to -75 degrees
The SmallRig AD-01 3751 tripod weighs just 2.86g/6.3lbs yet builds-in a lot of features you would expect to find on a high-end tripod aimed at professional broadcasters and filmmakers.
First, there’s the three-section double-shaft leg design, which is 89cm long when closed and achieves three heights; a minimum of 85cm, a mid-choice of 135cm and a maximum of 186cm. Secondly, there’s a three-pronged spreader between the first and second stage to add some extra stabilisation. Thirdly, it’s got a fluid two-way ball-head and a detachable pan handle.
That head – which on its own weighs 696g/1.53lbs and attaches to the SmallRig AD-01 3751 via a 3/8-inch thread – even has a 75mm levelling bowl base for setting-up perfectly level shots. It also boasts a spirit level/bubble level to help get the tripod itself level.
The head is compatible with DJI RS 2 and Manfrotto quick release plates, with a switch to toggle between the two. The plate itself has a cute ‘hidden’ hex key for attaching it to the tripod thread of a camera. That hex key also magnetically stays in place, though there’s a spare in the bag just in case you do lose it. The entire ball-head also comes with a square drawstring cover.
A final delight during set-up was our discovery that at the top of each leg and on the head itself are several 1/4-inch threads for articulating ‘magic arms’ for attaching stuff like LED lights and other accessories.
Performance and usability
The SmallRig AD-01 3751 is really easy to travel with and to set-up, but it’s more rudimentary than it sounds when you just look at the specs. It ships with a smart and stylish soft bag, which measures 92cm/3ft. long and comes with a basic shoulder strap. Inside is a long zipped area that the pan handle. The bag opens fully in each corner so it’s easy enough to extract the SmallRig AD-01 3751.
Despite being a rather unwieldy size (it measures 43cm/17” around the product) when packed up, it’s reasonably easy to grip one of the double-shafts (at least it is with a large hand). The tripod is then simple to set up, with quick-release flip leg locks making it a one-touch exercise. We also like the large rubber feet on the bottom of each leg, which together with the mid-level spreader keeps the tripod in one place, but doesn't prevent it being used on uneven ground.
An immediate limitation with the SmallRig AD-01 3751 is its load, which is limited to 8kg/17.6lbs, so we used a mirrorless camera with a variety of lenses. We found it easy to align the tripod using the spirit level, with the handle underneath the ball-head to tighten it in place. The levelling bowl base makes it even easier to position while the tilting position can be from +90° (pointed straight down) to -75°. That fluid head design also means smooth panning, with a hydraulic damping and balance system defaulting it back to a neutral vertical position if you let go of the pan handle.
It always felt stable enough during our tests, though we’re not convinced you’d want to use it with heavy gear or exclusively outdoors.
The SmallRig AD-01 3751 does a convincing impression of a high-end product while being highly affordable. Eschewing any expensive materials, it’s entirely constructed using aluminium alloy and plastic, which makes it best considered for use with mirrorless cameras.
With lots of advanced features for a low price we think that the SmallRig AD-01 3751 deserves consideration by anyone on a tight budget who’s just starting out in videography and filmmaking and needs a capable entry-level tripod for a mirrorless camera.