Tripods have a trinity of key characteristics and it is said that any one tripod has only two of those three characteristics. They are stability, weight and cost – we want our camera to be as still as possible, we want our tripod to be light and we want the cost to be low. Tripods tend to be made of one of three materials. Aluminium or some other lightweight alloy, generally provides good stability at a reasonable price, but at the disadvantage of being heavy. Plastic is cheap and light but lacks stability. Carbon fibre is stable and light, but expensive. This is the basis of the “two out of three” argument.
Innorel is not one of the well-known brands like Manfrotto, Gitzo, Really Right Stuff or 3 Legged Thing. The main route to market in the UK appears to be through Amazon rather than through traditional camera retailers. Furthermore, this brand is almost ignored by the photography review sites. So why look at this lesser known model? Simply because it works remarkably well.
Features and Specifications
The Innorel RT90C has a flat plate top, which is consistent with top range tripods from other manufacturers. This configuration provides excellent stability and the flat plate can be swapped out with the supplied bowl and levelling base (included) or the centre column (optional extra).
Innorel RT90C Legs
The legs are carbon fibre, reducing the weight to less than 3kg and, with the leg sections measuring 40mm at the top and 29mm at the bottom, there is excellent stability.
The legs are attached to the tripod base by a bolt that can be adjusted (with the supplied hex keys) to provide the desired tension, and the angle locks (that keep the legs at the desired angle) are the slide rather than the sprung variety. This has caused some comment, with some disapproving. I have never found this to be an issue. The leg sections are secured with twist locks, which are sturdy, made from metal and lock the legs very firmly.
The feet attached to the Innorel RT90C on delivery are rubber, and 2.5cm spikes are included. The feet are attached by a ⅜” screw and there are many tripod feet of that fitting on the market.
Mounting a Head
All three mounting options (plate, bowl and centre column) have a ⅜” screw to attach a tripod head. The plate, bowl and centre column are kept in place with a safety clip and secured with a tension lever, making them very secure.
The Innorel RT90C In Use
I have been using the Innorel RT90C for a couple of months, and have found it to be excellent. It is remarkably easy to use, nothing is fiddly and at no point does anything feel fragile.
I have elected to use spikes rather than the rubber feet, which provides good contact with the ground and minimises vibration, even in high winds. For normal use it isn’t too heavy – I would be very happy to walk some distance with it. But it is neither a hiking nor a travel tripod.
The only significant disadvantage is that I also use a geared head. This works fine with the centre column fitted. On the plate and bowl fittings movement can restricted when the geared head meets the tripod. This is a feature of tripods with this size base rather than a specific Innorel RT90C issue.
Overall, this is a good purchase and I am happy to recommend it to others.
Innorel RT90C compared with other similar tripods
There are a number of tripods of this type on the market, and the Innorel RT90C is compared with the offerings from Gitzo and 3 Legged Thing. It is also worth noting that this style of tripod is often marketed as a video tripod, but even when this is the case, there is often an option for it to be sold with a stills ball head.
|Characteristic||Gitzo GT5543LS Series 5 Systematic Long||3 Legged Thing: Nicky||Innorel RT90C|
|Diameter top leg||41.3mm||32mm||40mm|
|Diameter bottom leg||29mm||–||29mm|
|Bowl adaptor*||Not included (approx £140)||Included||Included|
|Levelling head*||Not included (approx £200)||Not included (approx £150)||Included|
|Centre Column*||Not available||Not available||Not Included (approx £80)|
Cost and Major Differences
Comparisons are not, of course, perfect as there are differences between the tripods offered here. One notable difference is leg diameter – similar between the Innorel RT90C and the Gitzo, but the top section on the 3 Legged Thing is similar to the bottom section on the other tripods. This would suggest that the 3 Legged Thing tripod is likely to be less stable. Another difference is what the box contents. Confusingly, the 3 Legged Thing tripod includes a bowl, but not the levelling head that fits into it. To make the price comparisons the same, the Gitzo is available with bowl and levelling head at £1274, the 3 Legged Thing at £849 and the Innorel RT90C at £309. This makes the Innorel RT90C a quarter of the price of the Gitzo and much less than half the price of the 3 Legged Thing tripod.
The minimum height is a measure of how close to the ground the tripod can get. In all three cases this will be with the plate in place, as even the levelling head will force the tripod higher. Height is from the ground to the plate; in real world activity, you need to add the height of the tripod head. The maximum height is without a centre column (only available on the Innorel RT90C which, for completeness, raises the height to 200cm).
The number of leg sections is identical and the size when folded is not significantly different. Neither is there a significant difference in weight between the Gitzo and the Innorel. The lower weight of the 3 Legged Thing being accounted for by the diameter of the legs – again the play-off between weight and stability.
Like all tripods, the Innorel RT90C is a compromise between weight, stability and cost: but it is a pretty good compromise. The stability is excellent, and using spikes makes it better still. The only downside is that, like all tripods of this design, it is too heavy for hiking or travel.
- Excellent Construction
- Great Stability
- Good Height
- Excellent Price Point
- The weight is good, but not for a long walk
- Angle locks need to be deliberately closed