I'm currently using a Manfrotto tripod that has the typical "screw" system to extend legs, 3 sections in this case. Maybe it is me being clumsy but I find this system to be very impractical. It takes me quite a lot of time setting up the tripod this way, particularly when I need a very specific height.

I've seen alternative systems, one being a lever. That one looks more practical. Even better is a system where you just pull the leg to the desired length and it sticks. The problem is that I don't know the official terms for these leg extension systems (english is not my first language), and thus I don't know how to search for them and compare them. I know of some excellent stores having hundreds of tripods, but I need guidance on this aspect of a tripod specifically.

Does anyone have an overview of the available leg extensions mechanisms and what they are properly called?


There are 3 types:

  • Screw-Lock: You twist a round ring which tightens the legs. Untwist to unlock. The original ones were terrible because they would spin freely if you did not apply enough force. New ones from top brands have a system to prevent them from spinning.
  • Clamp: This is basically a small lever at each joint which applies pressure to immobilize it.
  • Neotec: This is a Manfrotto term to designate their self-locking tripod. Just extend the legs and they lock in place. Use a switch at the top of each leg to release.

Some tripods have a different mechanism for the center-column which was a turning lever and gear system to lift the column without losing support, meaning you do not have to hold the weight of the camera while lifting the column. This is called a geared-column.

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