3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fiber Tripod and QR11 L-Bracket Review

What do dogs do on three legs, and why should we imitate them?

Dogs stand on three legs when they shake hands. Three legs provide a sturdy, balanced platform. Photographers, most of whom are bipedal, stand on two legs when they take pictures. We’d be wise to learn from pooches. Three legs are the way to go.

Find more of this unique artwork on 3 Legged Thing’s website.

That said, the best place to look for support is at 3 Legged Thing, the company that brought us the Corey Magnesium Alloy Travel Tripod which we reviewed last year. Here’s a close look at the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fiber Tripod, a handsome carbon fiber model that weighs less than Corey but supports 33% more and can stand a full seven inches taller.

Billy is constructed of 100% pure carbon fiber joined by stainless steel fittings. The leg tubes are nearly one inch in diameter and locked in place by weight-balanced bubble grips that are at once secure but easy to turn, even with gloves.

AirHed Neo ball head.

The legs fold neatly around the center column and head, thereby reducing the overall pack length to 18-inches for convenient travel and storage. Legs can be adjusted to your choice of three click-stop angles: 23°, 55° and 80°. Billy’s legs are in four sections and extend to a maximum height of 65-inches. Like all 3LT tripods, one of Billy’s legs detaches to create a monopod or extension arm for a boom microphone.

The carbon fiber center column is reversible and removable, which increases versatility. At the top of the column sits 3 Legged Thing’s  patented Tri-Mount plate, complete with six 1/4-inch  and one 3/8-inch threaded holes for multiple devices and three hollow spurs for accessory attachments.

Some of the accessories offered by 3 Legged Thing.

As with all other 3 Legged Thing tripods, the feet of the Punks Billy are interchangeable with rubber, spike, extended spike or claw-like serrated cups which grab asphalt or turf—even carpets—like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Overall build, fit and finish of the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fiber Tripod are reminiscent of a fine Swiss watch. Knobs turn without binding, legs extend smoothly, locks tighten snuggly—in short, it’s a marvelous creation. And it’s as solid as a 100-year-old White Ash tree (the wood of which is used to make baseball bats, hammer handles and church pews).

AirHed Neo Ball Head
Billy currently ships with the AirHed Neo Ball Head. 3LT also offers the AirHed 360 (which offers a detachable panoramic clamp, security sockets and spirit level, plus a locking fluid ball) and AirHed Switch which adds a cam-type quick release lock. All are Arca Swiss compatible and include durable camera attachment plates.

The AirHed Neo Ball Head has knobs that control pan rotation and orbit, and a smaller knob that locks the attachment plate. Operation is fast and silky smooth and, more importantly, it locks and unlocks easily but securely.

The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fiber Tripod is a bargain, priced less than $300. You’ll find it at your favorite camera specialty store for about $279, complete with the AirHed Neo Ball Head.

Add the universal L-bracket detailed below and you have a combination that will keep you stable for many years to come.

Load Capacity: 40 pounds (18 kilograms)
Maximum Extended Height: 65 inches
Minimum Useable Height: 4 inches
Collapsed Length: 18 inches
Carrying Weight: 3 pounds
Number of Leg Sections: 4
Leg Angle Locks at 23º, 55º and 80º
Quick Release (Arca Swiss Compatible)
One leg converts to 67.5-inch monopod
Includes AirHed Neo ball head

QR11 L-Bracket
Let me unpack this for you. The same company that labels one of their tripods 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy Carbon Fiber Tripod offer a universal L-bracket named simply QR11.

Frankly, I expected a much longer name.

But let me assure you that there’s nothing disappointing about the product. Available in two colors and two sizes to accommodate most current cameras (see compatibility list here) the QR11 attaches to the bottom of a DSLR or mirrorless securely and provides Arca Swiss type rails that permit fast horizontal and vertical connection to a tripod head for rapid switch from landscape to portrait orientation.

The QR11 L-Bracket has two strap connectors (very practical) and is supplied with a 3LT Toolz, a clever gadget that facilitates attachment and, if desired, disassembly for flat bracket storage. Priced at $49, the QR11 is precisely milled and beautifully finished in your choice of orange or gray.

QR11 L-Bracket shown with Tether Tools’ magic arm.

I tested a QR11-LC. This model and the QR11-LG fit most modern cameras (although they may require some adjustment). The QR11-FBC and QR11-FBG fit most full-body DLSRs. Again, check 3LT’s website for specific compatibility information. I was able to easily install the QR11-LC on my DSLR du jour, a Sony Alpha A900. Warning: using this L-bracket can become habit forming. It’s oh-so convenient when using a tripod and still comfortable when not.

—Jon Sienkiewicz