3-Legged Thing Legends Ray Carbon Fibre tripod system
Photographers who use heavy gear – pro-level camera plus large and heavy lenses – will find Ray meets most (if not all) of their requirements. Ray is particularly well suited to travellers and those who do a lot of location work requiring hiking over uneven terrain.
As well as packing down small enough to fit inside a suitcase or backpack, Ray’s usable range extends from near ground level through to almost 1.4 metres. It also ticks all the usability factors: extend and retract the legs and lock them into place; an easy way to attach the camera; overall stability of the set-up; and portable of the set-up when you need to move it.
Skateboarder, musician and photographer Ray Barbee, provided the inspiration for the Legends range of tripods, with his namesake tripod being launched by British tripod manufacturer, 3-Legged Thing in 2020. Ray is the smallest of the three initial products, all of which have been constructed from eight layers of 100% pure Japanese carbon fibre and aerospace-grade, anodised magnesium alloy. Designed and engineered in Stagsden, England, the Legends tripods combine strength, rigidity and durability.
The contents of the Ray tripod kit include additional items like the AirHed VU ball head plus a protective microfibre bag, the Toolz multi-function carabiner, a carrying strap and a carry bag plus some printed promotional matter. (Source: 3-Legged Thing.)
The first two tripods in the Legends range, Jay and Mike, were released with the AirHed Cine video head. In contrast, Ray comes with a newer, stills-orientated AirHed VU ball head and is similar in design to the lower-priced Corey magnesium alloy tripod we reviewed in August 2018, and which we’ve updated recently – click here for the updated review. Other tripods in the range include Bucky, Jay, Mike, Nicky and Tommy, with maximum carrying capacities ranging from 30 kg to 60 kg.
Like other tripods from 3-Legged Thing, Ray comes in three colours – dark (i.e. black), grey and bronze – and is sold with the ball head attached. However, its AirHed VU ball head is more up-market, with a transparent ‘vision’ panel that gives you a peek into the inner workings and is likely to be a bit more secure. We received the dark version of Ray (shown below) for this review.
The Ray tripod set up for use. (Source: 3-Legged Thing.)
Who’s it For?
Like Corey 2.0, Ray has been designed for stills photography. While its high up-front price may deter many potential purchasers, it’s worth checking the pricing information in our Conclusions section as you’ll see some substantial discounting is available. The main differences between Corey 2.0 and Ray are provided in the table below.
|Carbon fibre & magnesium alloy
|Max. load capacity
|14 kg at 23o, 9 kg at 55o, 5 kg at 80o
|30 kg at 23o, 20 kg at 55o, 10 kg at 80o
|Kit weight (incl. AirHed)
|Max. height with AirHed
|Minimum height without column
|Monopod max. height
|5 section legs / 2 section column
|Max. leg tube diameter
Choosing between Ray and Corey 2.0 depends largely on whether you’re prepared to pay a premium for a carbon fibre tripod. Carbon fibre tripods are generally stronger, lighter, and more resistant to the impacts of weather, corrosion and scratching than aluminium tripods. Magnesium alloy tripods like Corey 2.0 lie somewhere between aluminium and carbon fibre on all these attributes.
Despite its resistance to corrosion, cracks in the tubing can occur if a carbon fibre tripod is dropped or subjected to other kinds of heavy impact shock. It’s worth noting that magnesium alloy tripods would probably be deformed by similar types of impact – and aluminium tripods would likely be destroyed.
Carbon fibre tripods are preferable when you’re working in freezing conditions because their lower thermal conductivity makes them easier to handle. That said, using the Toolz device with gloved hands in freezing conditions would challenge even the most dextrous photographer.
Ray will certainly be preferable if your gear is heavy since it can carry much heavier loads. A pro-level camera and fast super-telephoto lens would present no problems for this tripod, whereas it might for the Corey 2.0 model.
On other parameters, the differences are also in Ray’s favour – although quantitatively they’re much less. Ray’s folded length is only 5 mm less than Corey 2.0’s and the kit weighs only 16 grams less. Effectively, both differences are negligible. Both tripods have the same degree of configurability, including the ability to independently adjust the lengths and angles of the legs, convert any of the legs into a monopod, remove and reverse the centre column and replace the rubber feet with optional Heelz, Stilettoz, Clawz and Vanz conversion footwear.
It’s the design refinements where the differences gain more importance, although the overall designs of both tripods are very similar. These will be covered in the next section of this review.
Build and Ergonomics
Like Corey 2.0, Ray is stylish-looking and very strong and light, thanks in part to the materials from which it is constructed. According to 3-Legged Thing’s website it’s made from eight layers of 100% pure Japanese carbon fibre and aerospace-grade, anodised magnesium alloy. Use of carbon fibre means it won’t feel as cold as tripods with metallic legs.
This illustration shows the bronze version of Ray, as supplied in the carry bag, with the legs tilted back over the attached AirHed VU ball head. (Source: 3-Legged Thing.)
The basic design is similar to Corey 2.0; both tripods have two-section columns and five-section legs. Both come with the legs tilted back over the attached AirHed VU ball head, which is protected by a microfibre bag. Both offer a similar range of adjustments: the centre column can be inverted vertically (to hang below the canopy), but it can’t be angled out to become a horizontal arm. The individual tripod legs can be removed and converted into monopods or used as boom arms on their own, but not as part of the tripod.
The Tri-mount plates for Ray (left) and Corey 2.0 (right) show the structural differences between them. (Source: 3-Legged Thing.)
The Tri-Mount plate on Ray (shown above) is more rounded and had slightly wider loops for attaching items like the Toolz carabiner, which is black for Ray but Blue for Corey 2.0. Ray’s plate has additional holes to reduce its weight; even a few grams can make a difference when weight is a critical purchase criterion.
The leg locks on Ray (left) are larger and easier to operate than those on Corey 2.0 (right). (Source: 3-Legged Thing.)
The leg locks on Ray are larger and have a distinct thumb pad that can be located easily by touch, one of the design features implemented to make them easier to operate with thick gloves, or by people with impaired mobility. Similarly, the rotating leg and column section clamps have O-Pads to provide a grip with better torque, while keeping water out – and they appear to work with a single twist.
The leg and column section clamps on Ray (left) are easier to operate than those on Corey 2.0 (right). (Source: 3-Legged Thing.)
The AirHed Vu ball head is made from aerospace-grade aluminium, which is light and very strong. Its knobs are located in similar positions to those on Corey 2.0 and have similar sizes, although all were black on the tripod we received. If you order one of the ‘coloured’ tripods they will be colour-coordinated. As mentioned above, it sports a transparent ‘vision’ panel that shows you the inner working of the ball head, but appears to serve no other purpose.
The AirHed VU ball head supplied with the Ray tripod (left) is a bit more up-market than the basic AirHed 2.0 unit supplied with Corey 2.0 (right). (Source: 3-Legged Thing.)
The QR-Octa octagonal Arca-Swiss-compatible quick release plate is very similar to the plate on Corey 2.0 (including the spirit level). But its screws are closer to its sides and it doesn’t have a groove all around its sides so you need to be particularly careful how you attach it to the camera.
Base and side views of the quick release plates on Corey 2.0 (left) and Ray (right).
If the screws aren’t aligned as shown in the illustration below you won’t be able to clamp the plate on the ball head.
This illustration shows the correct alignment for Ray’s quick release plate.
It doesn’t take long to remove this tripod from its case and set it up however you want. The locks all hold firmly and the tripod is stable, even on uneven surfaces. Many of the capabilities of Ray are identical – or very similar to – Corey 2.0, as shown in the illustrations below. We suggest you refer to both reviews, whichever model you’re considering.
Four views of the Ray kit showing different ways in which 3-Legged Thing’s tripods can be set up.
3-Legged Thing’s website doesn’t provide specific instructions for Ray but if you follow the video for converting a PUNKS tripod into a monopod you can see it’s quite simple. Like Corey 2.0, you can unscrew one of the legs, remove the centre column with the AirHed VU ball head in place and attach it to the leg to create a monopod. The VU clamp that holds the QR plate can also be detached and fitted directly to the Tri-Mount plate on the top of the legs or on one of the legs that has been detached for use as a monopod.
You can also invert the centre column by first unscrewing the D-Ring at the base of the column. Loosening the collar will allow you to pull the column out and then slip it into the other end of the canopy. Then all you need do is tighten the collar and attach your camera to the upside-down AirHed VU.
Two views of Ray in use with the column and AirHed VU inverted.
Ray offers the same degree of adjustability as Corey 2.0, enabling it to be set up on uneven surfaces. Leg angles and leg and column lengths are equally adjustable on both tripods.
Using Ray with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera and 24-105mm f/4 lens on an uneven surface.
Like Corey 2.0, Ray has detachable rubber Little Bootz which can be replaced with any of the company’s ‘footwear’ accessories, which come in sets of threes. These include Heelz spiked footwear for use on hard surfaces like concrete or gravel or rocky ground; Stilettoz, which are longer spikes for use on muddy or rocky surfaces; Clawz to provide a better grip on ice, snow, rocks and uneven surfaces and Vanz dual ball and spike footwear for converting the tripod into a table top tripod.
The DOCZ foot stabiliser. (Source: 3-Legged Thing.)
The AirHed VU can also be used with the DOCZ foot stabiliser (shown above), which was originally designed to provide added stability for monopods. Your local camera shop will be able to provide details.
Please Login or Register to access the Conclusion.
Material: Carbon fibre and aerospace grade magnesium alloy
Load capacity: 30 kg at 23º, 20 kg at 55º, 10 kg at 80º
Leg sections: 5
Column sections: 2
Max. leg tube diameter: 23 mm
Leg lock type: Rubber-coated twist type with weight-balanced parallel locks
Leg angles: 23º, 55º, 80º
Spiked/Detachable Feet: Yes; detachable rubber Little Bootz fitted ; Heelz, Stilettoz, Clawz and Vanz tripod conversion footwear available
Removable centre column: Yes
Features: Legs can be detached and converted to a monopod, camera boom, microphone boom, lighting arm, selfie stick or other similar function.
Head type: Detachable, AirHed VU magnesium alloy ball head; with QR-Octa quick release plate
Maximum Height: 138 cm
Minimum Height: 20.2 cm
Detachable Leg (Full Monopod Set-up) Max Height without / with AirHed VU: 133 cm / 143 cm
Folded Length: 35.6 cm
Kit Weight with AirHed VU: 1. 62 kilograms
Kit contents: Legends Ray carbon fibre alloy tripod, AirHed VU ball head, QR Octa Arca-Swiss compatible quick-release plate with ¼-inch-20 screw thread, microfibre head bag, Toolz (Multi-Tool, hex key, coin key, keyring, carabiner and bottle opener), Premium protective carry-bag with a carabiner clip and storage pocket with an extendable carry strap
Warranty: 5-years global (details at www.3leggedthing.com)
Distributor: Blonde Robot (Find your nearest dealer)
- Build: 9.0
- Features: 8.9
- Ease of Use: 8.8
- Stability: 8.9
- Versatility: 9.0