Typically, people who first start out in photography purchase an inexpensive, poorly constructed tripod. Why spend more when they all do the same thing?
That may seem true in the beginning, but over time you develop a deeper appreciation for how important the humble tripod truly is. The cheap ones eventually fall apart, and are typically not strong enough to minimize vibrations (which can cause less-than-sharp images with slow shutter speeds). A bad tripod can literally make or break your photography.
The ProMediaGear TR344L is the kind of tripod you buy when you’re ready for something better than average. A tripod that can withstand years of use (and abuse). A tripod so well designed and engineered it may be the last one you ever need to buy.
Disclaimer (July 2022): Since publishing this review in late 2021, ProMediaGear invited me to be a brand ambassador. My affiliation has no effect on the opinions shared in this review, nor has ProMediaGear paid for or sponsored this article. All opinions are my own.
ProMediaGear TR344L Tripod
The TR344L is the tallest tripod in ProMediaGear’s line of 34mm carbon fiber tripods. It weighs just over four pounds or 1.8 kilos, and folds down to just under two feet or 60 centimeters in length. With the legs unlocked and lowered, the tripod stands 3.8 inches or 9.7 centimeters off the ground. Fully extended, the tripod reaches a maximum height of 71 inches or 180 centimeters.
71 inches is taller than the average tripod, which is obviously great for tall photographers (like me) for the camera then reaches eye level. But tall tripods are also better for anyone (especially landscape photographers), for their longer legs provide better flexibility and control when shooting on an incline or uneven terrain.
The top of the tripod is called Apex. It includes a 75mm diameter aluminum plate with a ⅜” thread for mounting all types of tripod heads. This large surface area is bigger than your average tripod, and ideal for larger fluid heads and ball heads.
Maximum load capacity (how much weight can may safely mounted on top) is 60 pounds or 27 kilos. This should be more than enough for everyone using this tripod.
Apex also includes a sturdy aluminum hook for hanging a bag or weight to give the tripod extra stability outdoors, a large, easy to see spirit level, plus ⅜” and ¼” mounts around the outside for attaching magic arms, monitors and other accessories.
What’s missing from the TR344L is a center column. If you like center columns or at least want the option of using one, you will have to buy one separately from ProMediaGear.
The legs are constructed using ten layers of woven carbon fiber. This makes the legs strong yet lightweight, and helps reduce vibration to keep the camera more stable. If the legs get loose with wear and tear, they may be tightened using a standard allen wrench, which ProMediaGear conveniently includes with the tripod as a small, handy keyring for your keychain.
Legs are extended and adjusted using quarter-turn twist-locks. “Quarter-turn” meaning the locks require only a short twist for the legs to unlock and extend (some tripod twist locks must be repeatedly turned which gets really old).
Also, unlike most tripods, ProMediaGear twist locks are made of solid, durable aluminum (not cheap plastic). They also have a knurled-pattern for a better grip when turning. If your hands are large enough, you can lock and unlock all three twist locks at once with a short quarter turn.
The feet are made of rubber, with stainless steel metal spikes stowed-away inside for extra stability on soft terrain. The spikes are easy and fast to mount, though I would recommend unscrewing the spikes at least once before traveling because mine were screwed in very tight from the factory.
Now that we’ve covered the basic specs and construction, what about real world experience with the TR344L?
Using the ProMediaGear TR344L Tripod
I recently traveled around Iceland for nearly two weeks with this tripod. I found the TR344L to be light enough to comfortably hike with, smooth and easy to set up, and stable and strong when shooting long exposure images. The knurled twist locks were silky, smooth, and a pleasure to grip and turn compared to cheap, plasticky leg locks on other tripods.
I carried the tripod either by hand or strapped to the side of my camera bag. Throughout the trip, I never felt burdened by the weight of the tripod, nor did I dread the thought of setting it up and breaking it down (which can happen with cheaper, fussier tripods). Everything about the TR344L felt high quality and well engineered.
Did the lack of a center column bother me? At times I did wish the tripod came with one, for it would have helped me raise and lower the height of the camera faster than adjusting the legs.
But on a positive note, the TR344L gets plenty tall by itself, and the lack of a center column makes the tripod lighter to carry and faster to setup when lowered to the ground (because there’s no column to remove).
ProMediaGear Leveling Bowl and Head
For Iceland, I swapped out the standard aluminum base plate with ProMediaGear’s 75mm leveling bowl and head to make leveling my camera faster and easier in the field. The process was fast and easy, taking only a couple of minutes at most.
In use, the leveling bowl’s grip was super strong, and there was little to no slip when the handle was tightened. The tripod head and camera always stayed exactly where I wanted. The leveling handle underneath was comfortable to hold, easy to turn, and never felt unwieldy even with the heaviest of camera setups.
Videographers, filmmakers, and photographers using fluid video heads should find the leveling bowl and head most useful. That’s because fluid heads depend on level bases, unlike ball heads which may be leveled independently.
Speaking of ball heads, it’s worth noting that the ProMediaGear leveling head does not include a spirit level. This makes leveling a ball head for panoramic photography more difficult, for there’s no way to tell when the base of the ball head is level (unless the ball head includes its own spirit level, which ProMediaGear’s BH1 does, but most do not). I’m hoping ProMediaGear eventually designs an updated version of this leveling head to include a spirit level.
Speaking of the BH1, let’s take a look at that.
ProMediaGear BH1 Ball Head
To clarify (and potentially state the obvious) you may use any tripod head with the ProMediaGear TR344L tripod. But if you appreciate the design and engineering of the tripod, you should also check out the ProMediaGear BH1 ball head.
In a word, this ball head is robust.
The BH1 is a beefy chunk of hardware. It includes a substantial friction knob on the side for positioning the camera, a large pan knob for rotating the head 360 degrees, and a unique rotatable plate slot that allows the camera to be moved down 90 degrees from any angle (most ball heads only offer one or two notches to do the same).
The BH1 is also heavier than the average ball head; weighing just over two pounds or 920 grams. That’s because this ball head is built using CNC-machined aluminum and steel (no plastic here).
Physically, the BH1 is nearly 6 inches square, which is bulkier and more cumbersome than the average ball head. The BH1 will consume a fair bit of space in your camera bag.
In use however, that weight and bulk makes the BH1 strong and durable. The ball head can handle up to 50 pounds or 23 kilograms mounted on its plate. My heaviest setup while in Iceland was a Canon EOS R5, a telephoto lens, an L-bracket and an HDMI monitor for video, and the ball head never slipped or dragged when locked down.
The top clamp is Arca compatible, so you may use any Arca-Swiss plate you own or the PBX3 plate that comes with the ball head. I already owned a Canon R5/R6 L-Bracket, also made by ProMediaGear, and it was a perfect combination.
As for the visual design of the BH1, it’s a subjective thing, but I think the ball head could use some refinement. The aluminum alloy construction and black anodized, scratch-resistant finish are great, but I’m not a fan of the red color next to the friction knob (wish it was dark gray or black like everything else).
I also think the silver aluminum plate lock looks visually out of place, and it feels more slippery as the pan and friction knobs. Ideally, I think the plate lock would look and feel better if it were more similar to the pan knob. Or even better, an entirely different lever-release clamp option.
But if visual aesthetics don’t bother you, and you’re simply looking for a sturdy, hefty ball head that can hold just about anything and everything, the BH1 will absolutely do the job. If the BH1 is overkill for your needs, ProMediaGear also sells smaller, lighter versions with similar hardware and design.
The price of the TR344L tripod, at the time of this video, is just over a thousand dollars in the United States. Which, yes, is on the expensive side for a tripod.
But this tripod is not intended for casual photographers who just need to occasionally prop up a camera. Rather it is designed for photographers who actively use their gear — especially outdoor, wildlife or landscape photographers.
For me, the long term value of a quality tripod is better than buying cheap, less durable tripods that aren’t going to hold up.
Plus, when you consider the total cost of professional camera bodies and lenses, it makes sense to provide them a secure and stable footing. That’s my opinion on the matter, regardless of whether you choose to buy a tripod from ProMediaGear or a different premium tripod brand.
The ProMediaGear leveling bowl and base are well designed and engineered. Other than not including a spirit level, they’re perfect and absolutely worth the money. But unless you frequently use a fluid video head, the standard tripod base plate with a ball head may be all you actually need.
As for the ProMediaGear BH1 ball head, it is — in my opinion — a bit on the heavy side and more cumbersome than I’d like to pack and travel with. I also think the overall visual aesthetic could be improved, but the BH1 is unquestionably the strongest, most durable ball head I’ve ever used.
All together, I very much enjoyed using the ProMediaGear tripod, leveling base and BH1 ball head during my trip to Iceland. They were perfect for the trip, and I can’t wait to get out and use them again. I plan on using the TR344L a long, long time, and will update this review in the future if anything changes my opinion of it.
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Everything featured in this review is linked below.
TR344L 71" Tripod
75mm Bowl Head Adapter
75mm Half-Ball Leveling Head
BH1 Ball Head
Tripod Center Column
TRS344L 71" Tripod with Smaller Apex
TRS01 Compact Apex
BH50C60 Ball Head
BH50C40 Ball Head
Canon EOS R5/R6 L-Bracket
Embedded below is the video version of this review.