In-depth tripod overview: FLM CP34-L4 II: Digital Images Overview


FLM’s CP34-L4 II tripod at full top, nearly towering over your 1.83 meter (6 foot) tall reviewer.

FLM is well-known for German ingenuity and very good building within the tripod and ball head realm, beginning with their extremely steady CB-58FTR ball head which was this reviewer’s introduction to the model. Since that overview, the corporate was purchased by MK Messtechnik, who proceed to design and construct the FLM heads and plates at their manufacturing facility in Stuttgart, Germany. In 2019, their tripods had been redesigned (therefore the ‘II’ suffix) and manufacturing of those new fashions was transferred to FLM’s Chinese language subsidiary. Given FLM’s repute for stability and uncompromising engineering, bringing one in every of their tripods to this group comes with fairly massive expectations.

With the CP34-L4 II, these expectations are initially met by the super stature of this ‘lengthy leg’ sort of ‘collection -3 systematic’ tripod. FLM produces tripods in ‘S’ (small), ‘M’ (medium) and ‘L’ (massive) dimensions by utilizing longer or shorter leg sections between every lock, much like the alternatives provided by different producers. Nevertheless, and not using a particular order, the CP34 mannequin is just stocked and accessible because the ‘L4,’ or massive, four-section mannequin, within the North American market.

Specs and what’s included

  • Max. top 173.5 cm (68.3″)
  • Minimal top of 11.3 cm (4.5″)
  • Folds to 60 cm (23.6″) with 14 cm (5.5″) diameter
  • Weighs 1.95 kg (4.3 lbs) with flat platform
  • 33kg (72.7 lbs) load restrict
  • Three leg angles (25° / 54° / 84° )
  • 4 leg sections (34mm prime leg diameter / 30 / 26/ 22mm)
  • 78mm platform secured with three hex bolts
  • Built-in 75mm video bowl
  • Bubble stage included on apex
  • Detachable 44mm mushroom ft on customary 3/8″ thread
  • Consists of instruments, directions and 40mm metal spikes

With the replace of your complete tripod line to Collection II in 2019, FLM not solely moved tripod manufacturing from Germany to China, however the brand new collection now all use 10-layer carbon fiber tubes, a slick black end, wider leg angles, and no middle columns on any tripod. These fashions vary from the CP26 Journey tripods and CP30 collection with compact apexes, to the bigger CP34 and CP38, with 34mm and 38mm prime tubes respectively, which have built-in video bowls as a part of their column-free apexes.

The built-in 75mm bowl units the apex of the CP34 collection other than their very own, smaller CP30 collection, in addition to many different tripods.

FLM gives the HB-75 leveling half ball to pair with this included characteristic, including 15° tilt in any path and a brief deal with for low setups. Moreover, there are FLM leveling options for the 100mm bowl within the CP38, in addition to a standalone leveling base, LB-15, for the smaller tripods in vary. These are along with the gathering of extraordinarily strong ball heads that FLM is known for.

In comparison with others

This tripod was examined and in contrast with its modular apex friends. Left to proper; ProMediaGear TR344, Actually Proper Stuff TVC-34, Sirui SR-3204, FLM CP34-L4 II, Leofoto LM-364C, Gitzo GT3543LS.

The FLM CP34-L4 was examined and in contrast alongside tripods in the identical class of ‘Collection 3′ (33-36mm prime leg tube diameter) “Systematic’ (modular apex with detachable platform) sort, together with merchandise from Gitzo, Actually Proper Stuff, ProMediaGear, Leofoto and Sirui. Contemplating how all the different producers on this group, besides Sirui, additionally supply longer variations of their tripods beneath overview, this big FLM offers a pleasant instance of these taller choices, when it comes to packed dimension and supreme top

All of those tripods had been utilized in 4 seasons of sand, snow, mud, rain, and saltwater; arrange within the bog-like Atlantic salt marshes and the wind-swept Appalachian mountains. They’ve been loaded with gimbal heads, ball heads, geared and pano-heads, and as much as 4kg (8.8lb) lenses connected to cameras starting from APS-C to medium-format, capturing something from long-exposure landscapes to excessive telephoto birds-in-flight. The one check they didn’t undergo was being rough-handled on the airport, due to pandemic journey restrictions. We’re publishing these evaluations sequentially over the approaching days, with a ultimate roundup to come back shortly.

Peak comparability

Beneath is a relative top comparability between the FLM CP34-L4 II and a 6 foot (1.83m) photographer.

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First impressions

The shiny black end of the FLM CP34-L4 II is constant all through, as is the tight building.

The FLM CP34-L4 II actually stands proud from the remainder of the tripods it was in comparison with by advantage of its longer leg tubes, which add a formidable 23cm (9″) in top over the subsequent tallest when totally prolonged, however solely 5cm (2″) extra when packed away. Gitzo, RRS, PMG and Leofoto all supply longer-legged variations of their tripods on this group, however not all obtain the identical top with such a small penalty in folded size.

Earlier mannequin tripods from FLM had the distinctive shiny aluminum end to their machined leg locks, in line with the assorted ball heads they make, however now those self same components are completed in a constant, clean black. The usage of all-metal leg locks continues to be uncommon when in comparison with the rubber-wrapped locks on nearly each competitor, and whereas they aren’t tough to know in good climate with naked arms, we had some difficulties within the chilly.

Following an FLM custom, there’s a distinctive cork/ rubber composite pad on the systematic platform, which offers each some vibration damping and a agency grip on no matter head is put in.

To make mounted gadgets much more safe, there are 3 plastic-headed retention screws that may be tightened from under with a hex wrench, by way of holes within the built-in video bowl. Why three screws? They preserve issues symmetrical on the aluminum platform.

We’re not followers of the ‘carbon-fiber look’ stickers round every leg clevis. This sort of ‘bling’ on metallic components is often seen on lower-end tripods, and for the reason that sticker’s weave sample would not even match the somewhat high-end ‘mountain’ sample of the actual carbon fiber legs proper beneath them, they’re much more misplaced. A foolish factor to choose on, for certain, however at the least one straightforward space for enchancment on a tripod of this worth.

The angle locks for every leg are thick metallic with a beneficiant indent on the again, beneath the apex, permitting them to simply be pushed out to regulate every leg. Pulling them from the entrance requires extra dexterity as a consequence of a smaller indent on the edges, however additionally they click on backwards and forwards with a pleasant ratcheting motion, so it’s all the time straightforward to inform when the angle is locked or able to be adjusted.

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Use within the subject

Generally the FLM CP34-L4’s spectacular top will not be wanted, however the stability of utilizing simply the highest two sections in some conditions is appreciated.

Even if you’re not significantly tall, one of many nice benefits of this sort of a ‘supersized’ tripod over the extra typical heights is when establishing on a downslope; with one or two legs totally prolonged, it will probably nonetheless retain an eye-level view to a digicam. Or, as demonstrated within the first photograph of this overview, capturing overhead with an extended lens, and never needing to crouch all the way down to see a viewfinder or non-tilting again display screen. The minor annoyance that comes with that is that, for some individuals, the assorted heights of totally prolonged or closed legs could not meet their wants with out adjustment.

When the leg locks are grasped with a large hand and given 1 / 4 flip to unlock all of them, the leg tubes slide out in a quick and fluid cascade of carbon fiber that’s nearly disconcerting. No want to drag on the ends to increase them, as they may fly to full extension with out even a shake. In contrast to the Leofoto, the tubes themselves don’t wiggle or wobble on the best way out, and even when prolonged and nonetheless unlocked. This says the leg tubes are exactly mated to one another, however the mixture of metallic locks and polished tubes is nearly slick. This makes setup very fast, in addition to adjusting the peak of every leg fairly straightforward, however takes some getting used to.

The FLM leg locks have vertical indents machined into them, and so they have the identical slick black end as the remainder of the aluminum components.

We want these locks had been simpler to seize and switch, particularly with gloves on. Whereas not a giant deal indoors or in kinder climate, as soon as it bought chilly, the CP34 turned a check of hand power to know the locks with gloved arms. Taking off gloves to seize naked metallic in some temperatures will not be advisable.

Eradicating the flat, systematic platform to disclose the properly integral video bowl requires a hex wrench and a spot for 3 lengthy bolts, so that is greatest executed earlier than heading out into the wilderness. What the bowl offers is a pleasant place for a leveling half ball, like FLM’s personal reasonably priced unit, or one from one other producer within the 75mm dimension. There is no such thing as a provision for a middle column to be added to the CP-series, and the opening on the base of the bowl would limit the scale of the column anyhow.

When stability is the prime concern, the CP34-L4 rests simply on its 34mm prime tubes, however the lack of a middle weight hook was a real ache. The tiny 6.25mm (1/4″) weight gap beneath the platform was taunting the heavy luggage and strap handles; successfully saying “discover a sufficiently small carabiner after which I will maintain you.” A sufficiently small carabiner was not provided within the field.

Additionally seen listed here are the well-shaped leg angle locks, the platform securing bolts, and the 1/4″ threaded accent attachment factors.

Apart from the additional top, the CP34-L4 was not too totally different from different tripods on this class on the subject of packing it up and transporting it. The addition of some further centimeters of carbon-fiber tubing provides little or no to the burden, and the additional packed size would solely be a problem when making an attempt to suit this right into a carry-on bag for air journey. General, this ‘massive’ sort tripod from FLM signifies that any of the assorted sizes within the CP34-series will likely be greater than steady sufficient for heavy gear, but gentle sufficient for longer hikes. With only some areas for enchancment, FLM has created a really good set of legs for any of their ultra-stable ball heads to relaxation on.


FLM locations a excessive precedence on the upkeep of their tripods and has movies and directions on their worldwide web sites, in addition to within the included directions sheet. FLM gives substitute shims, locks and grease for less than the worth of transport, as properly. The usage of a one-piece shim makes disassembly straightforward, and the machined locks are straightforward to wash.

It’s throughout this upkeep that you will discover the precision of the match of the legs.

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Check outcomes

Vibrations could make even the sharpest lens end up mushy, blurred pictures, and may spoil lengthy exposures. Within the typical use instances for this class of tripod, lowering the results of vibration turns into extraordinarily vital, since longer focal lengths and better resolutions enlarge the results of any motion, and environmental vibrations like wind and water may have an growing impact on bigger legs and kit. Digicam vibration will be mechanically minimized with mirror lockup, digital shutters, and a distant shutter launch, whereas including weight to the underside of the tripod (with a carabiner or a tripod stone bag) may help stabilize the entire setup. Nevertheless, not all sources of vibration will be eradicated, so we examined whether or not the tripod will dampen them or transmit and replicate them to the digicam.

The tripod legs had been totally prolonged, and our vibration analyzer for heavy-duty tripods (an iPad on a 3.2 kg (7 lb) cantilevered weight) was mounted on to the flat platform’s 3/8″ threaded bolt with an extended lens plate. An industrial solenoid valve with a plastic hammer was used as a supply of vibration (a knock to the underside of 1 leg). The ensuing graph of all three accelerometers reveals each the resistance of the tripod to the preliminary shock, in addition to the speed of decay for residual vibration inside the tripod.

FLM CP34-L4 II vibration resistance check outcomes – click on for bigger graph

*Notice that this graph is relative solely to this class of tripods. The burden and check tools was adjusted to supply a conclusive consequence for this dimension of tripod.

Through the vibration assessments, the FLM CP34-L4 was at a slight drawback by having longer leg tubes than shorter tripods, however nonetheless carried out admirably. The preliminary shock was transmitted pretty instantly, however then rapidly dampened to a low stage, and diminished to nearly nothing in a couple of seconds. Whereas this isn’t within the prime of this class, it is rather good for the scale and size of this FLM tripod at full extension.

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FLM has constructed its repute on the rock-solid stability of its numerous heads, in addition to standing behind its merchandise. Whereas these new tripods are made in China, the identical sturdy engineering and tight building is carried over, making the CP34-L4 II a really tall part in a extremely steady system. Just a few missteps within the design are evident, such because the lacking weight hook and lack of even an non-compulsory column, however these are offset by the cheap worth and built-in video bowl. The top result’s an simply really helpful different to the top-end tripods from another producer, and properly well worth the particular order in some markets if one thing lower than the examined ‘massive’ tripod is required.

What we like

  • Cheap worth for wonderful high quality and good options
  • Superb vibration resistance for the scale
  • Built-in video bowl is one much less merchandise to purchase
  • Equipment are additionally fairly priced
  • Spare components are straightforward to acquire

What we do not like

  • Non-long legs are particular order in North America
  • Heart column not accessible as accent
  • Leg locks arduous to make use of in excessive chilly
  • No weight hook – solely a 1/4″ gap


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