Tripod Review: Induro AT 113 8m alloy with a BHD-1 Ballhead


Every house needs a rock solid foundation and Landscape photographers are no different. A great landscape shot is made with the photographers creative vision as well as with the solid support of a trusty tripod under the camera. You should make no compromises when it comes to a tripod and beginner to intermediate shooters will find the Induro AT 113 8m alloy with a BHD-1 ballhead budget friendly as well as a steady and dependable friend while out in the field.

I write the following review after using this tripod and ballhead combination for over 5 years now quite extensively out in the rugged Vermont landscape. It is actually the second tripod/ballhead combo as I managed to break the first set in a tale I will relate further into this review. I do not work for nor am I paid by Induro to write this review. My only connection with the company is that I have been featured twice on their company blog with images that I have shot using their products which you can find here and here. I wanted to evaluate the gear and the company from a working landscape shooters perspective and give my honest opinion about the products.

I have been shooting landscapes and business photography here in Vermont for several years now and early on I chose to go with the Induro line of products after some exhaustive research on tripods. My main reason for going with Induro was the price to features ratio in their products. While I do make money from my landscape work I am not swimming in cash so I have to look at my price point for a tripod and ballhead to its features and dependability. I need to trust the company and it’s products and know that my gear is going to help me get the job done.

How I use the Induro AT 113 tripod and BHD-1 Ballhead: 

I shoot as often as I can and average about two to three times per week that I travel around to make images. This tripod set up goes everywhere with me into any weather conditions you can imagine, In all seasons and onto terrain of all types including forests, ponds, rocky shorelines, soft sand, and snow-covered ridge lines. I generally never shoot on even terrain and I use my tripod setup from fully extended to mere inches from the ground. 90% of the time I shoot with Induro’s short center column attached for ground level and telephoto shooting but when needed I add in the regular center column that comes with the tripod.

Ballhead Basics:

The BHD-1 ballhead is a 360 degree panning head with tension control knobs and an Arca-Swiss compatible quick release plate and holds a max of 26 pounds. Construction here is rock solid as this ballhead has taken it’s fair share of knocks against Vermont granite while out hiking. Obvious paint chipping and metal dings have occurred of course but nothing to inhibit the proper functioning of the knobs and ballhead. The ballhead action is smooth and can hold a camera, L bracket and telephoto lens with ease. While this is a solid working ballhead there are three areas of concern for me:

1. While you can move the quick release plate into a vertical position with a camera attached but sitting at 90 degrees the camera will tilt inwards slightly towards the ballhead throwing off a vertical composition by a degree or two. I currently shoot with a Canon 7d and you have to tilt the camera up by that same one or two degrees to get back to vertical. In the end I solved the problem by buying an L bracket which made compositions much faster, easier and I never again had to deal with that slight quirk with this ballhead, However this adds $140.00 to the cost. To me the head should stop and be level at 90 degrees and not keep going to 92 even with the weight of the camera.

2. The quick release mechanism is attached to the ballhead by means of an allen wrench style screw. Over time and use this screw can become loose and at times throw off compositions from shot to shot. When this screw is not tight there is a slight wiggle to the ballhead.  While I periodically test and tighten this screw when needed I wish there was a better design for this interface as it is an important connection point.

3. This is a 360 degree panning ballhead and this works smoothly and flawlessly with the one exception where the ballhead meets the base of the center column. The two are attached by means of a screw and you simply place the ballhead onto this screw and tighten. There are also three small allen wrench screws underneath the base plate of the center column to also tighten against the ballhead but these seem to make no difference in this quirk. Over time however as you pan with the ballhead the connection between the two likes to loosen itself simply from the action of panning. When you have thousands of dollars sitting on top of the ballhead this is not a good thing. Again another instance where I wish the design of the interface between the ballhead and the center column were improved. I have never found a workaround for this and you have to be vigilant about maintaining this connection. This connection simply does not stay tight.

Leg Basics:

These are what you would expect from a tripod…Three section, twist lock legs that are resistant to dust and moisture. The legs are covered with a very durable foam padding on the upper portion making gripping the legs in extreme cold or damp conditions much easier. The maximum height of the tripod is 58 inches while the adjustable legs let you get only a few inches off of the ground with a short center column attached. The leg section is well-built, strong and can take a pounding during long hikes and still deliver on performance. I have two areas of concern with the leg section:

1. The twist locks are not appropriate for people with carpel tunnel and other wrist problems. After working as a professional chef for most of my life I can tell you that my wrists are not what they used to be and I do have carpel tunnel problems and twisting the leg locks can be an issue for me at times especially if I am working fast in rapidly changing light. This really is not a fault of the manufacturer but I wish Induro had some other options other than twist lock or the flip lock for those of us with wrist issues.

2. It really does pain me to write this as I sincerely like Induro products but after a few years of use the hardware ( screws, etc.) in the leg section simply wore out and became stripped. The legs no matter what you do are always loose and many times while out on a hike I have to tighten down the screws only to have them loosen up each time. Since my warranty was up and I did not register the legs with Induro I was more than willing to pay whatever it cost for the leg hardware to be fixed. I sent the legs into Induro’s repair department with an explanation as to what needed to be repaired and after about two weeks I received the legs back.  My excitement was short-lived when after a day the same problem was happening. In my opinion nothing was fixed or replaced on my leg section after paying shipping and repair costs. The “repair” on the legs was right at $45.00 but when you add in the shipping costs I my as well have bought a new set of legs. The ballhead was repaired with a new locking knob per my request but the legs were not fixed. You can see how one would be upset….I wanted to pay to have a professional repair done on my tripod legs and got nothing. When a brand new set of legs costs $117.00 according to the Induro website I simply refused to send the legs back again and not be able to shoot for another few weeks. To spend that money again when I could buy a new set of legs was pointless. This is a huge negative for me as I do love the product, use it everyday and expected more from the company. After this experience I simply can not recommend repair services at the company.

Cost: 

While not an overriding factor when choosing gear it is a consideration for me as I am not a Professional level photographer that makes my entire living from my photography work. While the price point for the tripod legs, ballhead and the add-on short center column that I use is on the low to mid range of the price spectrum taken as a total you do get a lot of features for what you are paying. The Induro AT 113 tripod legs are $117.00 and the BHD-1 ballhead is $160.00. Add in $29.00 for the short center column and you have a total of $306.00. Really for a mid range tripod the price is just right for a limited budget and you get a set up that will perform in all weather and terrain year after year. While you can go cheaper in my opinion you will be making too many sacrifices and it just won’t be worth it. Here you can get some decent quality gear without taking out a second mortgage.

Build Quality:

Build quality and the materials used are excellent and take a beating…In a nutshell this tripod set up saved my life. Earlier I mentioned that I had two of these tripod setups, The first one I had for about two years before I broke it and i use the story here to illustrate how tough Induro tripods are. I was hiking along a stream bed during the Fall foliage season looking for some compositions. Due to the air temperature a lot of the rocks along the stream had water on them which had become frozen and essentially turned into black ice. Especially on rocks it’s hard to tell just how slick the rocks really are and I ended up loosing my footing. As the area was quite rocky I was most definitely going to hit my head on the rocks at my feet. Luckily I was smart enough to have been carrying my tripod in my hand and not attached to my backpack. I was able to slam the tripod down on the rocks as I fell putting the tripod between myself and a pretty nasty head wound. While I was scrapped up but unhurt I broke an adjustment knob off of the ballhead and one of the legs as well.

Pros:

1. Well built, durable construction.

2. Excellent materials used.

3. Great feature set for the cost.

4. Takes a beating in all weather and environmental conditions.

5. Perfect for beginner and intermediate level photographers

6. Lots of adjustability, All adjustment tools included with the tripod, Comes with ice spikes to replace the rubber feet when needed

Cons:

1. In extremely cold environments caution must be taken when gripping anything on the leg section other than the foam grips

2. With camera attached the ballhead will not sit at a perfect 90 degree angle by itself. Camera tips inward towards the ballhead making a perfectly level vertical composition problematic without an L bracket.

3. The ballhead tends to loosen up from its attachment points when using it to pan such as when shooting panoramas. Not great when there is expensive camera gear sitting on top of the ballhead.

4. A minor con that can apply to most tripods out there: Twist lock legs are not designed for people who have carpel tunnel or other wrist problems. Not a knock on Induro design but just something I wish could be built better.

6. My experience getting repair work done was terrible. Nothing was fixed and now I will be forced to buy another set of tripod legs when I feel a repair would be more warranted here. I was perfectly willing to spend my own money on the repairs due to my own failure to register the legs with Induro. However money was spent and nothing was repaired.

Overall Impression

In the end I would say that I do love the Induro line of products and would purchase them again however I say that with a grain of salt. The “repair” that I received really left a bad taste in my mouth because all I really wanted was 10 bucks worth of new screws and hardware put on my legs. I hope that maybe this was a one time thing and the repairs I had hoped to receive were simply overlooked. I have been a long time Induro tripods user and when I am asked about what I use for a tripod setup I enthusiastically recommend them to people. I am not a full-time professional photographer so when I spend money on something I expect a certain level customer service.

This tripod ballhead and leg setup is really perfect for a beginner or intermediate user because the price point and feature set are really great. Most of my issues with the exception of the repair work are minor and I only point them out because I use this setup just about on a daily basis. I know how everything works and were all of the quirks are. Everything from Induro comes with an excellent warranty as well as a full set of hardware for keeping your tripod in good working order,  A set of metal spiked feet for snow or other uneven surfaces and a case for the tripod. A really well-rounded package for a very reasonable price. From a beginning photographer to hobbyist to semi professional this is a tripod setup that can grow with you and your needs.

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