Long-term blog readers will know that I’ve relied on tripods and heads from Really Right Stuff for many years. For a long time the TVC-24L was my primary tripod – I just loved the height to which it could extend, even for a tripod of relatively modest weight. With it’s 40lb load rating I trusted that tripod with the heaviest of Canon super telephoto lenses and greatly appreciated the light weight while traveling.
Then along came the TFC-14 which had a fixed apex (the platform on top of the tripod) at the top of the legs, compared to the removable accessory-friendly Versa apex on my TVC tripod. A fixed apex means the folded diameter of the tripod is considerably smaller, but it lacks the ability to install a quick column or a levelling base. Initially the only TFC tripod was the ultralight Series 1 TFC-14. This was (still is) a perfect tripod for backpacking and ultralight travel, but part of me wished they would make a Series 2 tripod in the same design…
Fast forward to 2019 and now they have! All RRS tripods are now available with a fixed apex instead of the removable Versa apex – the choice is yours. If you don’t plan to add one of the company’s levelling bases or quick columns, there’s just no reason to have the removable Versa apex version. The photo below will show you why!
The TFC versions are very slightly lighter, but most importantly they are quite significantly smaller in width around the top of the legs when collapsed. This makes them much easier to pack, and I was also able to fit it into a smaller and lighter tripod bag than my previous one. In fact it fitted into a bag that I have been using as a monopod bag!
Aside from the addition of the TFC versions of all tripods in the lineup, you probably also noticed the Mk2 designation. On the face of it there aren’t a huge number of changes to the new tripods, but when you dig deeper there is one thing they have worked hard at: Ease of cleaning!
Tripod twist locks can be a huge pain in the ass to clean when you get sand and grit in them. I’m not kidding when I tell you I recently spent over an hour cleaning the twist locks from my old TVC-24L after one quick trip to a beach. The issue is (or was) that if you don’t clean them out, every time you twist them you’re essentially sandpapering the thread off the inside of your leg locks. Not good!
Well for the new Mk2 tripods RRS have rethought the twist lock design and added rubber seals to the locks to prevent the ingress of unwanted particles, as well as tweaking the design of the leg collets inside the leg locks to make them much more user-friendly to remove and install. Nice one RRS! Happy to have the new TFC-24L Mk2 in my kit as my primary tripod from now on.
Here’s a link to all the new Series 1, Series 2 and Series 3 TFC tripods on B&H Photo.
How do you use the TFC-24L with the PG-02 gimbal head? With a leveling base like RRS TA-2U or directly without a leveling base?
I have gone back and forth on this one. I did own the older version of the series-2 levelling head but sold it because I found it added more weight that I was happy with. Now they have a new, smaller version that I’m keen to try out. But right now, I just level it using the tripod legs.
I mean when you use big lenses like 600mm f/4.
I’m in the last stages of tripod decision making, having already purchased the RRS BH-40, between the TVC-24L vs TFC-24L (and well…the Promediagear TR424L 42mm Series 77″ Pro-Stix is also a contender but I worry a bit since they are a relatively new company).
I am only 5’4″ but have been told I would still need the height for uneven ground. I’ll use the tripod for both landscape and bird photography. I shoot with a Nikon D850 (and a backup D750). My longest and heaviest lenses are my 500 mm f/5.6 PF and 70-200 mm f/2.8. I don’t see myself getting a longer lens due to my age and back issues. I do like to travel some but Covid has put a hold on that for now. I hike a little but nothing too extreme.
I did also just purchase the RRS TFA-32G for macro and low-level bird in reeds/water shots and, for now, have the ballhead from my Manfrotto Elements tripod (which I’ve never liked and is the tripod being replaced) on it. And I wonder if down the line if I might also want a dedicated travel tripod and then use my RRS or PMG for when I’m at home or car traveling.
So my questions are: People tell me I might eventually want a gimbal and I’m a bit confused. Can I even use a gimbal on the TFC? Will I want to (need to?) put a leveling head on it and can I do that with the TFC model? I didn’t think the fixed apex allowed for these attachments. If they do, then I think the TFC would best meet my needs. If they don’t, then probably the TVC. I wouldn’t have a choice with PMG.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts!
A lot of questions can be answered from my RRS tripod guide here: https://shuttermuse.com/really-right-stuff-tripod-guide/
Yes, you can put a gimbal on a TFC. I do this myself. RRS sell a universal levelling head that sim0ly screws onto the top of the tripod.
You can read about that here: https://shuttermuse.com/really-right-stuff-ballhead-gimbal-showdown/
Fantastic–thanks! I read your articles and I think the TFC meets my needs. I also looked at the RRS website. They just announced pre-orders for the Ascend-14 Adventure Tripod. When travel opens up again, that might be the next thing I’d get.
Make sure you subscribe to my ShutterMuse.com website. I have an Ascend-14 tripod on its way and there will be a very in-depth review in the coming month or two once it arrives.
Yes, the fixed Apex does allow for various RRS attachments and 3rd pry head…
What you need is to try either Leofoto QS-60 or Arca-Swiss Quicklink.
I bought many QS-60, and I can swap all RSS and Arca-Swiss stuffs with each other.
I have TVC-34L, TVC-24L, TFC-24L, Acend-14L PF, RRS monopod, and confirm this solution work with TFC-XX perfectly.
You can use Arca Swiss Quicklink too, but very expensive.
I have read with attention your tripod’s guide. Many thanks for this complete and clear review. I am in my last stage to choose my tripod for landscape photography : long exposure, seascape, one day hiking in moutains with a nikon D850 my longest and heaviest lens for the moment is a 70-200 f2,8. I am looking to add à 200-500 f5,6 or a 500 f5,6 in the future.
My question is : Is the TFC/TVC 24L is enough sturdy to absorb vibrations to have sharp images with à full frame 45,7 megapixels sensor (in windy conditions or in the water with little waves for example, or it is better to look on the TFC/TVC 34L ?
Many thanks for your thoughts !
Good question. I think that in very windy conditions I would prefer the 3-series tripod. But I think you should consider how often you find yourself in that situation. If it is often, use a 3-series tripod. If it is rarely, use a 2-series. There’s no point in having a big heavy tripod if you only need it to be big and heavy for 5% of your shooting. Also consider the head. You can get somewhere in the middle by using a bigger heavier head on the TVC-24L. For example, I use the BH-55 on this tripod when I need a bit more stability, but then I can at least make the change to a smaller and lighter head on days when I don’t need that.
To change the head is effectively a solution to be considered. I haven’t thought about it before. Many thanks for your answer.