Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 carbon fiber tripod review – light and fast!

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REVIEW – I am, at best, an amateur photographer. I don’t have a lot of fancy equipment. I do have what I consider to be a good camera but my tripod was getting long in the tooth. One of the legs just flops around willy-nilly and I have to take apart the head numerous times and futz around with it to get it to stay locked into place. The feet have spikes in them and when you unscrew the feet the rubber part will cover the spikes so you won’t mar the surface you’re shooting. The feet on mine, however, don’t stay in position, so I’m constantly fiddling with them. On top of all that the mount has worn over the years so there’s wobble I have to account for when setting up a shot. I wanted a new tripod and now, thanks to Smallrig I have one. If you’re looking for a great tripod, read on to see if the Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 carbon fiber tripod is for you.

What is it?

The Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 is a carbon fiber tripod making it lightweight and sturdy employing what Smallrig calls a freespeed rotate design that allows you to extend or shorten the legs quickly.

What’s in the box?

  • Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 carbon fiber tripod
  • User manual
  • Carrying case

Hardware specs

  • Product weight – 1380g/48.7 oz
  • Height range – 5.1 in – 59.1 in
  • Materials – carbon fiber, stainless steel, aluminum alloy, and ABS plastic
  • Angle range – 23/55/83 degrees

Design and features

One of the main features of the Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 carbon fiber tripod is the materials used, mainly carbon fiber. We all know it’s lightweight, strong, and looks killer. This thing should be able to stand up to whatever abuse can be thrown at it. Airline baggage handlers, I’m looking at you!

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The next feature I really like is the ball head. First I simply like the looks. I love the industrial aesthetic. It looks and feels like a real tool versus what I had been using which certainly favored decent function over form.

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Not here though, Smallrig’s FreeRover ball head and mount look great while working just as well. To release your camera from the tripod, simply twist or unscrew the mount. That’s so much nicer than having to release a locking pin that gets stuck half the time and then flip a lever to remove it.

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The legs extend using the FreeSpeed design. Simply twist one way to unlock the legs and twist the other to lock it right where you want it.

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Slam it to the ground or heights of almost 5 feet quickly and easily. The locking mechanisms that allow you to change those angles look cool too rocking that industrial vibe.

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The feet are a nice grippy rubber so it won’t be sliding around while you try to grab the perfect shot. But, don’t worry if you need spikes, you can remove the feet and reveal them. It’s not as convenient as my old tripod because I have to remove the feet completely, but I also don’t have to worry about them working loose and covering the spikes again.

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The central column lock is fantastic too. Flip the lever up to unlock it, raise the column to your desired height, then flip the lever down. Done.

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The maximum load of the Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 carbon fiber tripod is 33 lbs so it handles my DSLR just fine. My old tripod supposedly could too, but I could never just set it and forget it. There was some slop somewhere that caused my camera to droop after locking everything down. That gets old fast!

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Before I forget it, I want to mention the case it comes with. It’s not some thin nylon bag with a drawstring. It’s actually padded and zippered. I’m sure the case isn’t in the same class as a much more expensive tripod case but it doesn’t seem like an afterthought.

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Ok so the Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 carbon fiber tripod looks good and sounds good on paper but how well does it work? It far exceeded my expectations. I mean, I knew I wanted a new tripod but I didn’t realize how much I needed a new tripod. The FreeRover is fantastic with its fast setup and takedown. It’s also rock solid. I no longer have to anticipate how much my camera will droop after locking it down. That alone makes the Smallrig FreeRover a winner.

What I like

  • The design
  • The materials
  • Ease of use
  • Lightweight and strong

What I’d change

  • Nothing

Final thoughts

I’m quite happy with the Smallrig Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 carbon fiber tripod. Don’t base your opinion of it base on my photos. It’s hard to get pictures of the tripod if you’re using it! Suffice it to say, that my old tripod is getting kicked to the curb. The Smallrig FreeRover tripod has easily trumped it. I’m sure I will be using it for years to come.

Price: $239.00
Where to buy: Smallrig and Amazon
Source: The sample of this product was provided by Smallrig.

6 thoughts on “Smallrig FreeRover AP-100 carbon fiber tripod review – light and fast!”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. So what kind of carbon fiber is it? How many layers? Is the head Arca Swiss compatable? Can you disassemble the legs for cleaning?

    These are usually mentioned in tripod reviews.

    1. This is my first tripod review so I will keep your suggestions in mind if I ever get to do another, Thanks!
      To answer your questions:
      1. I don’t know. I do know it’s 1.2mm thick though
      2. I didn’t see anything specifying the number of layers.
      3. Yes the head is Arca Swiss compatible
      4. I don’t think so, again I didn’t see anything saying they were and I didn’t try to take them apart.

  3. Glad to hear yours is working well. I just picked one up from Amazon and right out of the box two legs wouldn’t fully extend (second section from bottom wouldn’t unlock or move) and the third leg fully extended and locked, but now won’t fully retract (same section won’t unlock and retract). Too bad, as it seems to be a pretty good bit of kit!

    1. Aww man. That’s terrible to hear. I can’t imagine how they could be that drastically different. Sorry to hear you’re having those issues. Hopefully Amazon makes it right.

      1. Actually……
        With a little finesse and a little brute force, I was able to get the lock rings for those sections to break free, and now all sections are locking and unlocking as designed with the FreeSpeed ring. I believe I’ll be keeping it, as it’s the perfect size for my travel plans, and it does have some really cool features!

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