3 Legged Thing Levelling Base at a glance:
- 10° adjustment in any direction
- 6cm high x 8cm diameter
- 354g weight
- 20kg rated load
A levelling base, like this one from 3 Legged Thing, is one of those accessories whose usefulness may not be immediately apparent. It’s possible most photographers aren’t even aware that they exist, let alone think they might need one. But for certain applications, they can be invaluable.
So what is this device for? Normally, a levelling base is placed between your tripod’s centre column and head, to provide an easy means of setting your camera straight and level when you’re shooting on uneven ground. It’s much quicker than fiddling around with your tripod’s legs to get the centre column perfectly vertical. Crucially, once the camera is level, you can pan across a scene without the horizon tilting or drifting. This is particularly valuable both for videographers and photographers who like to shoot multi-frame panoramas.
3 Legged Thing Levelling Base – Key features
- Bubble level This protrudes out on a metal arm past your tripod head for maximum visibility
- Grip A ridged ring around the top of the device provides a firm grip for attaching it to your tripod
- Attachments There’s a 3/8in thread in the base and a 1/4in screw on top, with a 3/8in – 1/4in adapter included in the kit
- Accessories 3 Legged Thing includes its familiar Toolz multi-tool in the box, along with a soft pouch for storage and transport
This is a relatively affordable example that’s made to a high standard from aerospace-grade magnesium alloy. It comes in the firm’s attractive metallic slate grey finish, while the controls are copper in colour. Along with the locking lever for the main levelling mechanism, there’s also a large knob for the independently rotating base.
Not all levelling bases have a rotating base, and the main advantage is that allows you to rotate the locking lever to the most convenient position. This is a nice option to have, although not necessarily essential; it’s perhaps most useful when packing the device between reverse-folding tripod legs. The conical design also allows the device to sit comfortably on travel tripods with small-diameter head platforms. The main drawback is that it adds bulk compared to some lighter, lower-profile alternatives.
The levelling mechanism itself is beautifully smooth in operation, and the locking lever allows you to adjust its tension progressively to suit different weights of kit. This means the angle can be set precisely even with a heavy camera and lens attached. Up to 10° adjustment is available in any direction, which should be plenty. If your tripod is tilted any further than that, you should adjust the leg lengths to get it closer to level, anyway.
3 Legged Thing Levelling Base – Our Verdict
I tested the 3 Legged Thing Levelling Base using a range of different sized cameras, and found it worked very well. The triangular top design, which at first sight looks purely cosmetic, acts as a surprisingly effective grip for making precise angular adjustments. With a panning Arca Swiss clamp added on top, it proved to be a quick and effective means of shooting multi-frame panoramas. It’s still a niche item that will probably benefit videographers more than most photographers, but it does the job it’s supposed to do very well indeed.