For days article we are going to be going over our Fotopro S3 review that we decided to publish after realizing that very few people have actually published their own review of the tripod to date. In addition to that, we see a few people reaching out each month as well as the odd post on social media asking about the Fotopro S3 too.
We hope that our article will help anyone who is considering adding the tripod to their camera accessories as it is a decent little tripod in all fairness to it. The price point of the S3 places it in the area between the entry-level tripods and the more intermediate tripods so it has a decent amount of competition.
In our opinion, the absolute king of tripods at this price point is the Zomei Z818 (Click here to check for product prices and availability) and we don’t see the Fotopro S3 posing much of a threat to its dominance in all honesty. If you are not planning on putting the panhandle on the Fotopro S3 to much use and feel a regular ball head will meet your needs, we would recommend you check out the Zomei Z818. Its reputation within the community amongst the competing tripods at this price point is second to none.
That said, the Fotopro S3 is still a pretty solid tripod that provides some decent image stabilization and can hold its own against the majority of other tripods at this price point. With more people picking up the S3 and adding it to their camera accessories, it is slowly building up a decent reputation of its own and growing a solid core customer base of photographers and videographers.
User Interface And Control System
As we mentioned, the Fotopro S3’s price tag places it between the entry-level tripods and the start of the intermediate tripods so there is a chance some people reading this and considering purchasing the Fotopro S3 would be purchasing it as their first-ever tripod. Thankfully, the control and interface system on the S3 are all very noob friendly and allow pretty much anyone to use the S3 right out of the box. If you are a more experienced photographer or videographer and have previously used tripods then everything on the Fotopro S3 will be similar to what you have used previously.
As shown in the image above, the Fotopro S3 comes with a pan head as standard rather than a ball head like most of the competition helping to give it an edge. The pan head performs very well and offers some very smooth panning too that will help you get any panoramic photographs or slow panning video footage with ease. If you were to choose a tripod that came with a regular ball head, this would be a nightmare to do as ball heads are a pain to smoothly pan.
Additionally, the handle of the pan head is hollow and you can store your Allen keys in it for safe storage. This is an excellent little feature that the Fotopro S3 that tripods retailing for three times its price don’t even have as it ensures that you always have your Allen keys with you when out and about capturing photographs or video footage. Allen keys are notorious for “magically disappearing” so we really think that Fotopro is on to something here and fully expect rival brands to rip this off and add it to their own pan heads.
The photograph above shows the flip lock leg lock system that the Fotopro S3 uses to secure its legs in place during use. Now, personally, we prefer the twist lock leg lock system but the split within the community seems to be around 50/50 between using flip locks and twist locks as they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
That said, both provide a solid lock on the leg of the tripod and ensure that your camera rig is safe and secure once mounted on the tripod. On top of this, many entry-level tripods do choose to go with the flip lock leg lock system as it gives a physical flip to actually close and lock in place making it easy for people new to using a tripod to know the lock is active and the tripod is safe to mount their camera.
All in all, we feel that Fotopro has done a solid job of ensuring that their S3 tripod is easy to use and that anyone who is new to using a tripod will be able to pick it up and get it working without issue.
Performance And Functionality
When it comes to performance, the Fotopro S3 is definatley in the top percentage of tripods that offer excellent performance while also ensuring that your camera rig is safe and secure during use. We did a little research and we were unable to find a single report of the tripod giving way on anyway and causing their camera rig to fall to the ground.
We have made the short bullet point list below going over most of the key features of the Fotopro S3 that we would image most of our readers considering purchasing the S3 will want to know:-
- Minimum usable height – 18 inches.
- Maximum usable height – 57.4 inches.
- Folded length – 18.5 inches.
- Maximum load capacity/payload – 6.6 pounds.
- Tripod net weight – 2.5 pounds.
As you can see, the Fotopro S3 has a higher maximum usable height and maximum load capacity than most of the competing tripods in this price range helping to give it another advantage. One thing that we do want to point out to our readers is that the S3 does use a bespoke quick release plate system meaning the arca style quick release plates will not mount to it.
If you are an entry-level photographer or videographer and are still building up your collection of camera accessories, this will probably not be an issue for you. If you are a more intermediate photographer and you have picked up a gimbal then this can cause problems with hot-swapping your camera from the Fotopro S3 directly to your gimbal as the quick release plates will not match.
If you are planning to use a gimbal with your camera rig and are planning on having to quickly unmount your camera rig from your tripod of choice and mount it on your gimbal of choice, the Zomei Z818 (Click here to check for product prices and availability) is probably a better choice as the quick release plate system on it works with the Zhiyun gimbal range as well as a few gimbal brands.
The image above shows the reversible central column functionality on the Fotopro S3 that allows you to quickly and easily fully invert the central column of the tripod while still getting all of the image stabilization that it can offer. If you are involved in any type of macro photography this is an excellent feature to have as it allows you to get your camera rig up close and personal to the subject of your macro photograph while still keeping your camera level.
The ability to invert your tripods central column also has uses in a number of other photography niches too. It allows you to get some unique angles for your photographs or video footage while still using your tripod for image stabilization so this feature could be useful to your even if you are not in the macro photography niche.
Additionally, there are not many competing tripods on the market right now in this price range that offer the reversible center column feature. This helps to score the Fotopro S3 points over many of the other tripods competing against it helping it to get an edge.
Additionally, the base of the central column has a counterweight hook as shown in the image above. This allows you to quickly and easily hang some additional weight on the Fotopro S3 when using it outside in windy conditions to ensure that the wind does not blow your tripod over. The importance of a counterweight hook is often overlooked by entry-level photographers who have not had to use their rigs in windy conditions before but we feel they are an excellent feature to have.
Build Quality And Design
To keep the price tag of the S3 down, Fotopro has used an Aluminum alloy for the majority of the tripods body rather than carbon fiber that hikes the price tag right up. That said, Aluminum alloy is a very common material for entry-level and intermediate tripods to be made of due to its robust properties and very lightweight.
We have no doubt that the Fotopro S3 will be able to take any punishment coming its way during use without taking much damage or having a problem with its performance after a few bumps. As the tripod will likely be used as a field tripod as you use it out and about, it is definatley going to be taking a few bumps and knocks during its working life so it’s nice to know it can hold up against the punishment.
Third Party Reports
That brings us to the end of our review of the Fotopro S3 tripod system and we feel it is a great little tripod that can hold its own against the majority of the competing products on the market today.
That said, the Zomei Z818 (Click here to check for product prices and availability) does offer all the features that the Fotopro S3 offers for a very similar price tag while also having a better build quality. In our opinion, you should definatley be looking to pick up the Z818 over the S3 unless you specifically need the pan head that the S3 comes with as the Z818 outperforms the S3 in every other way.