SmallRig FreeBlazer heavy-duty carbon fiber tripod kit AD-100 3989 review

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REVIEW – Having a tripod for your video camera is just another tool in the proverbial toolbox for filmmakers and videographers alike. But not all tripods are made alike. The SmallRig SmallRig FreeBlazer Heavy-Duty Carbon Fiber Tripod Kit is one that is worth checking out. If you have used a standard video tripod before then the FreeBlazer will be a new experience in the way you use and operate a video tripod. You will appreciate some of the features the FreeBlazer has that some of your typical video tripods don’t have. The FreeBlazer Tripod Kit consists of the #4167 Heavy-Duty Carbon Fiber Tripod and the #4165 Heavy-Duty Video Head.

What is it?

The FreeBlazer Tripod is a heavy-duty carbon fiber tripod featuring quick height adjustment legs and stepless damping video head allowing you to customize the tension when panning the tripod. The carbon fiber makes this tripod lightweight and sturdy enough to support heavy loads up to 22 lbs. Although this tripod can handle heavier cameras, it is just as good for smaller and lighter weight DSLR, and mirrorless, cameras as well.

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What’s in the box?

  • SmallRig FreeBlazer tripod
  • DH10 Video Head
  • Carrying bag
  • User manual
  • Allen wrench

Hardware specs

Tripod Height: 37″ in. – 77.6″ in. (94 cm -197 cm)
Product Weight: 11 lbs. (5 kg)
Bowl Base Diameter: 75.0mm
Tilt Range: 90°/-60°
Counterbalance: 8.0kg
Load Capacity: 22lbs. (10kg)
Handle Length: 9.1″-14.2″ (23.0~36.0cm)
Material(s): Carbon Fiber, Aluminum Alloy, POM, Stainless Steel, Silicone

Design and features

The SmallRig FreeBlazer Tripod Kit 3989 consists of the SmallRig Heavy-Duty Carbon Fiber Tripod (4167) and the Heavy-Duty Video Head DH-10 (4165). Together, this tripod kit weighs in around 11 lbs. There are features the FreeBlazer has that I look for in most tripods and this tripod checks several of them on my list. To start with, the weight of a tripod is always a concern for those times when I have to lug one around in addition to the other camera equipment I have to bring along for shoots.

The SmallRig FreeBlazer video tripod can be raised and lowered effortlessly with just one hand with the help of  SmallRig’s innovative FreeSpeed technology. This FreeSpeed tech is centered around the locking clamps, or flip locks, located at the top section of each leg making locking and unlocking fast and easy. After unlocking the clamps, you can quickly and smoothly extend and adjust the height of the tripod.

As most tripods have two clamps, or knobs, on each leg, there is no need to spend the time or deal with the hassle of unlocking each individual one. Typically, you unlock the clamps, or knobs on some tripods, by reaching to each individual one or you have to spin the tripod around to get to each clamp. That is six clamps to unlock and lock altogether. And what if you don’t like the height you selected and need to adjust the height after you set it? Well, you are going to have to unlock each individual clamp to set again. With the FreeBlazer tripod, it eliminates that hassle since you only have to unlock three clamps and adjust the tripod to the desired height with just one hand.

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What also helps with making the FreeBlazer easy to adjust single-handed is that it is significantly lightweight thanks to its 3K twill carbon fiber legs.  The carbon fiber legs also makes the FreeBlazer sturdy enough to support load capacities up to 22lbs (10kg). Even though the tripod’s light weight makes it easy to carry, it’s even easier to carry with the built-in silicone grips just at the top of each leg. This soft grip makes moving the tripod around effortless as well as comfortable to carry.

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SmallRig includes a carrying bag for the FreeBlazer which is great to have so you can sling the tripod over your shoulder to keep your hands free. Plus, it helps keep the tripod protected when not in use. The carrying bag is refreshingly sturdy, feels durable, and doesn’t appear to be poorly made. I like that. I have gotten carrying bags before and they were made from thin cheap fabric. which caused the bag to tear and fray.

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The FreeBlazer’s video head has a telescopic handle on which is removable and can be attached on either the left or right side of the tripod head. This comes in handy if you are a left-handed person or if you just prefer having the handle on the left side of the tripod. And with the handle being able to extend and retract, you can put the handle at your desired length. In addition to the telescopic handle, the video head has a step-less damping system which allows you to adjust the tension for panning the camera. You can go from a light tension for faster panning to an increased heavier tension for a much smoother panning experience.

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I found the damping system to be very helpful in nailing those super slow pans. Plus, it allows the camera to come to a much slower and softer stop rather than such an abrupt one, which helps give your footage a more professional look. The tripod head also has a counterbalance for smooth movements when tilting the camera. The tilt range for this DH10 video head goes from 90° to -60°.

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The FreeBlazer comes with a metal quick release plate that looks and feels solid just like this tripod kit itself.  The quick release plate has two threaded screws , a 1/4″-20 screw and a 3/8″-20 screw. I found that having two threaded screws on the quick release plate is a nice touch since your camera, camera cage, or other camera equipment may have one or the other size threads. I know one time or another that I found myself with the wrong size tripod screw mount to fit my DSLR, so, I had to skip using that tripod for the time being. A nice feature with this FreeBlazer video head is that it’s compatible with a standard Manfrotto and a DJI RS 2, RS 3, and RS 3 Pro Quick Release plates. If you are using a camera stabilizer along with the FreeBlazer, having the quick release plate makes it fast and easy to switch between the two. Just as long as this quick release plate fits the camera stabilizer then this will help save time in production.

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There are several features on the video head that may be small but I greatly appreciate them, especially since they can come in very handy at times, such as the bubble level. Although I can use my camera’s built-in digital level gauge, it’s nice to have that physical bubble level. And also, I really like the addition of the 1/4″ thread hole for accessories on the front edge portion of the video head. I attached an articulating arm with a monitor to the 1/4″ thread and really like how convenient the thread can be used for additional accessories and attachments such as this.

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An extra addition included with the SmallRig FreeBlazer tripod is an Allen key for the base plate screws. What’s nice about the Allen key is that it is hidden and out of sight just under the base plate. The Allen key is magnetically held in and stored away so you don’t lose it. This way you don’t have to go looking for an Allen key when you need it.

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The FreeBlazer has rubber feet that you can easily remove with a click of a button to reveal an all-terrain steel spikes. These spikes come in handy when the flat rubber feet aren’t going to be the best choice for the environment you are in. The spikes help with the stability and grip of the tripod on surfaces and terrain such as grass, sand, mud, ice, gravel, and more. The spikes help the tripod dig into the surface to help keep the tripod steady. Obviously, the spikes are not made for interior floors so that is when you can snap the rubber feet back on. And, it is just as simple to replace the rubber feet as it is to remove them. Keep in mind, although you will be able to set the spikes in sand, the tripod is not sand or dust resistant.

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The FreeBlazer has a center spreader to assist with the stabilization as well as the sturdiness of the tripod.  Plus, when the knobs on the center spreader are locked, it helps prevent the tripod legs from sliding apart. Just remember to loosen the knobs when you are done and closing the tripod legs.


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This tripod has a 75mm base bowl which I find useful to help fine tune the leveling of the video head. Having the bowl head lets you make simple horizontal adjustments without having to bother extending or collapsing the tripod legs. This is helpful during those times when the surface isn’t perfectly level and you only need to adjust the camera just a bit. Having the base bowl lets you fine tune the level of your camera without adjusting the tripod legs.


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I really enjoy using this tripod. It really is a big difference going from the standard video tripods that I have always been using to the FreeBlazer. The panning on this tripod is one of the smoothest I had the pleasure to experience. With the damping system’s drag control, getting those slow and steady pans are no problem. Plus, you can rotate damping dial to where there is no resistance should you want faster panning on the tripod. With the tension settings I used on the damping dial, I love how the tripod would slowly ease into the stop of the pan as you finish panning. The tripod doesn’t just abruptly stop like it can on my other tripods. Normally, I have to concentrate on not getting that hard stop as I end my panning. Now, with the FreeBlazer, I can achieve a softer stop this with no effort.

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When they say that you can adjust the tripod’s height in one step, they mean it. The way that this tripod can be extended and retracted, before and after setting the desired height, is so much faster than having to go through the typical locking and unlocking of each individual clamp locks like on other tripods. Because of the FreeBlazer’s sliding carbon fiber legs, the tripod seems to fall into place as you raise or lower the tripod. I really like how the carbon fiber legs smoothly slide like they are on a track. I have an older Bogen (now Manfrotto) tripod that has legs that will slide when I lift the tripod, however, but that’s due to the tripod being all metal, and heavy. So, naturally, the legs will slide down due to the weight. But who wants to lug around a heavy tripod these days? With some of my other tripods, you have to pull the leg sections one by one to extend them and then lock them. Before using the FreeBlazer, I just accepted that this was the standard way of setting the tripod legs. But now, I’m grateful that SmallRig has shown me that there is a much faster and better way with the FreeBlazer.

What I like

  • Easily to adjust tripod height
  • Lightweight
  • Telescopic handle suitable for left or right hand users
  • Adjustable damping dial for panning speed
  • Snap-on quick-release plate mount
  • Base bowl

What I’d change

  • Not much I would change

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Final thoughts

The one-step height adjustment of the SmallRig FreeBlazer tripod is certainly a feature that makes having this tripod a perfect productivity tool for your video shoots. In addition, the Quick Release Plates are another feature that should help move your production along, especially if you are planning to go back and forth with a camera stabilizer. As simple as it may seem to remove and attach a camera to and from a tripod to a stabilizer and back again, seconds count, especially when time is money. Besides, have you ever had to wait on someone to get out an Allen key, remove a camera from a tripod then have to attach a stabilizer? Or even worse, have you ever had people waiting on you to do it? Well, I have done my share of one-man shoots in the past, and I know the pressures of people waiting on you. It’s not fun.

The SmallRig FreeBlazer Heavy-Duty Carbon Fiber Tripod Kit is one tripod that I will definitely be in my collection of video camera tripods, and quite honestly, will probably be the only video camera tripod I will be bringing with me on video shoots for a while. With this tripod being as lightweight as it is, having it on shoots is a no brainer. I feel like I can have my shoots move along quicker with the help of the FreeBlazer’s fast setup and especially with the quick release plates, especially when I can quickly take my camera from the FreeBlazer tripod to a camera stabilizer using the same quick release plate. When it comes to video production, time is a major factor. And any time saved is also money saved.

Price: $399.00
Where to buy: FreeBlazer Tripod and Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by SmallRig.

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