3 Legged Thing MIKEKIT with Arca Swiss Airhed Cine review

3 Legged Thing sent me a MIKEKIT, a carbon fibre tripod with an Arca Swiss Airhed Cine. This tripod has a maximum height of 1.48 metres (58″) and the ability to get as low as 13.5cm. It has a load capacity of 14kg/30lbs, weighing just 1.65kg/3.64lbs itself and 2.38kg/5.25lbs with the Airhed mounted.

The MIKE supports leg angles of 23, 55 and 80 degrees with a very easy to operate latching mechanism. The friction of its leg latches can be adjusted by tightening the hex screws with an appropriate tool. The MIKE tripod has a levelling base system based on the combination of a friction adjustment D-ring underneath and a base lock on the side. The levelling base is asymmetrical and equipped with a spirit level. The base locks and spirit levels also appear on the rotating base of the Airhed and the Airhed’s mounting plate itself. The base lock can be moved out of the way by simply pulling it out and rotating.

The three legs can be detached and used as monopods, while MIKE’s levelling base can be converted to a table top/low-level tripod or a foot stabiliser for the monopod. The latter requires adding optionally sold 3LT footwear.

The tripod has a very nice design and feels robust but not heavy. You extend the legs by using raised O-pads with silicon rubber bubble grip texture. They’re very easy to lock and unlock, even with gloves, offering a firm torque and locking feel. The carbon tubes do not rotate at all and exerting down force to the tripod doesn’t cause any springing reaction like a cheap aluminium tripod would.

The MIKE is also very silent to operate, i.e. it doesn’t make a sound when lowering or retracting the legs; that is very important for wild and bird photography.

The head

The AirHed Cine Arca Swiss model head is surprisingly compact and light, making it the perfect choice for mobile imaging and video creation. The Kit comes with a QR-plate and a removable panning arm that can be mounted on the left or right hand side of the head. The AirHed Cine has a fluid-motion, spring-balanced tilt action and allows for really smooth panning.

There’s no system to loosen the Airhed’s vertical movement, so with heavy equipment it will tilt much faster and with less counterforce than with my 3kg heavy camera mounted on top. The tilt lock does allow you to make movements a bit more stiff by barely loosening but it would have been nicer if you could dial in equipment weight. With my camera, the head had a very nice, slow self-inclination up to about 45 degrees after which I had to apply some force to the panning arm to further move the lens down.

I noticed the AirHed Cine has a comfortable 165 degrees of movement with 90 degrees down and 75 degrees up. The only remark I have is that the clamp knob was a bit awkward to operate with my DSLR due to the body partly blocking it. However, you won’t have that problem with a system camera nor, I should imagine, with the body of most average sized film cameras like Blackmagic Design’s Ursa Mini and Canon’s C-range videocameras.

The verdict

With a quality of build and a performance that offers flexible capabilities and comfortable photo and video shooting, at roughly 800 Euros for the MIKEKIT, this 3 Legged Thing tripod is a serious competitor for Manfrotto’s current high-end tripods.