Tripods: twist lock vs flip lock

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by hjoseph7, Jan 1, 2022.

  1. What type of tripod would you rather use a twist lock, or a flip lock ? My first Tripod was a twist lock because it was much cheaper than a twist lock tripod. After years of using this tripod, I found it inconvenient, because the tripod legs use to drop out with no control whatsoever once you flipped the switch. I thought that most'Professional' photographers used the twist lock tripods, so that was my aim.

    When I was finally able to afford a fancy twist lock Carbon-fiber tripod, I though I had reached seventh heaven. Unfortunately, now that I actually have to use a tripod on my job on a daily basis, I find that the twist lock on my fancy tripod is actually more inconvenient, because you have to constantly remember which way to twist the locks and because you can't really tell whether the tripod legs are fully locked or not !

    If the tripod legs on your tripod are not locked, or not locked securely, all types of things can happen before you even realize it. On the other hand, with a flip-lock tripod it is very easy to tell whether the legs are locked or not . What are your thoughts ?
  2. My first tripod some thirty years ago was a small Gitzo with twist locks that apparently were designed to strip the skin off your hands rather than turn. Learning from the experience, my next ones were Manfrottos with flip locks. Plus is that they are adjustable - though I never had to. But they can get loose and then one things the legs are locked down when they really aren't. Negatives are that at least on the ones I had, each lock had to be flipped independently - so things took time. The locks tended to catch on little twigs or grass and collected dirt. Was happy to get rid of the Manfrottos when I needed bigger, more sturdy tripods - and went with Induros and twist locks again. They work fine and I can do all the ones on one leg with one twist when setting up the tripod or breaking it down. Never had an issue with the direction of turn to lock or unlock and never was uncertain whether or not the locks actually were locked. Also acquired another Gitzo for travel - also twist locks (which are much improved from the ones I had on my earlier Gitzos).
  3. Everything has it's place. (Big!) If the logistics are less of an issue, my Manfrotto monster, with central operation of the 2nd leg segment, is awesome to work with.
    If I want something to weigh close to nothing and maybe even fit into my backpack, I 'll have to pay a price, not just money. I might buy the darn twist lock Gitzo / whatever someday. I don't think it will be overly hard to get the drill about it down. I would of course start taking pictures of my home town at night, when I am unlikely to get rushed or distracted. And I wouldn't hesitate to paint arrows on all legs, to remember the twisting direction, if Imfelt the need. Since I don't own one yet I can't tell how many twist locks are too many for my scatterbrain. If 9 segment legs existed, they 'd surely be too much. Still: Leaning my overweight on the tripod, cursing, retightening seems an option.

    In the past I used cheap lever locked metal tripods. Never been into wildlife, noise wasn't my issue. Control? Why? Legs seemed too short anyhow. And otherwise there is always a floor to drop them on, before you lock the last segment and spread them out.
    I might end making a saddle bag to leave my old junk tripod on the moped and skip the carbon stuff. For daily use in the field I 'd end shopping around.
  4. AJG


    I've never liked the Gitzo style twist locks, like Dieter Schaefer I found them better at removing skin than locking tripod legs. I've been using Manfrotto tripods for 40 years with lever locks and have needed to tighten the locks every few years or so but the tool stays on the tripod so it isn't a big deal. This is one of those things where buying in a store where you can try out the tripod before you buy it would seem to be important, although after buying my first Manfrotto I have bought the other 3 from on line or mail order sources.
  5. How are the new Gitzo's better?
  6. The twist locks turn a lot more easily and their rubber doesn't try to strip the skin off your hands. And, like with the Induro, one can grab all locks of one leg with on hand and turn them simultaneously.
  7. I'm not a tripod connoisseur so don't grok the lingo. I see collet twist locks like my Tiltall, side facing knob twist clamps like my Bogen and lever locks like my cheap lightweight Slik "Instaloc". I think they all have their place. The Tiltall design is extremely rugged and rigid. I use collets in machine tools and, properly designed, they probably clamp best. The Tiltall knurl was aggressive and good for removing any skin you might not need. Rarely fail outright, though can get stuck and clogged with river grit. Needs occasional cleaning and maintenance. Knob clamps usually have more leverage but it's a double edged sword because they can crack and fail if abused. The lever locks are, IMO, light duty, but very fast to operate and get the leg lengths set for the situation. I'm good with all of them, thought the side knob clamps make me nervous because I've had so many fail on lighting and similar things, though never on a tripod.
  8. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    The easiest tripod to set up that I have encountered is my ancient Welt Safelock. A simple lever at the top of each leg locks at any length chosen. Flipping all the levers and pressing down collapses all simultaneously. Not the heaviest but sturdy, and has held up for 50+ years.
  9. I meant my first tripod was a flip-lock
  10. A bit off topic, but the grips on old Gitzo twist-lock collars are easily replaced and improved upon. In any case the serrated rubber bands originally fitted to Gitzo 'pods quickly get loose and (even more) useless.

    My solution is to simply remove the grey rubber grips - if they haven't already split - and wrap some strips of 3 to 4mm thick rubber sheet around them; held in place by good double-sided tape or a coating of contact adhesive.

    It doesn't take much of an increase in the thickness of the grip material to greatly improve the traction and ease of turning of the collars. Plus, IMO a plain black rubber grip actually looks better and is easier to locate.
  11. I've got at least a dozen tripods that I have accumulated through purchase, gifts, and as parts of lots in auction. I started off with twist, but now practical experience has led to almost exclusive use of flip-lock.

    I use tripods mostly for huge, long lenses, so the ones I use are all pretty heavy and solid.


    it's such an individual choice that I'm not sure how much "other opinions" can help much.
    Jochen likes this.
  12. I'm firmly in the twist lock club. They're quick (1/4 turn), compact (no snags), and self-adjusting (levers must be tightened from time to time). The latest versions of Gitzo (and RRS) have tapered bushings, which stay tight even if the collar is slightly loose. They're keyed to the collar and forcibly withdrawn to loosen the joint. The leg sections are also keyed so they don't rotate.

    An exception would be a professional video tripod, some of which have a single lever near the top of each leg, which tightens and loosens all the sections at once. For video, you need speed and convenience, at the expense of bulk and weight.

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