We Tried It
JTL ET-4 Tripod

The new JTL ET-4 tripod with JTL TH-3 head is of medium weight and more than sturdy enough for any 35mm or medium format equipment. It should also be adequate for 4x5 large format. The leg extensions have a clamp lock and can be spread past the normal width limit by releasing a lock at the top. A quick-release plate makes it easy to remove the camera.

Heavy and sturdy enough for practically any size camera including large format 4x5, the new JTL ET-4 No. 6014 tripod should satisfy the support needs of most any photographer today. Leg length can be quickly adjusted by first loosening then tightening a clamp lock for each of the two extensions on each leg. The legs have a locking mechanism that limits the spread, but if you are working on uneven terrain sometimes you want one or more legs to extend to a wider stance. This can be done by pressing in on a button at the top of each leg, which then allows the leg to spread a bit farther out. This is a handy capability to have. There is an 8" long elevator column, which permits quick minor height adjustments. This elevator is not geared so you can rotate the head and camera freely throughout 360°.

JTL offers several different tilt-top heads, but for our review we had the JTL TH-3 head. Tilt and swivel are controlled independently by two large, stubby knobs having a plastic coated outer surface that is very easy to grip. A similar knob controls the horizontal turning motion. The camera is held tightly to the tilt head by a large plate quick-release mechanism. To release the plate you must move a clamp wedge lever to the right, then press in on an integrated safety lock button inside the lever to move the clamp all the way to the right which then allows the plate to lift off the head. Once you release the plate it can be attached to the camera's tripod socket using a coin to tighten the standard 1/4-20 screw head. To reattach the plate and camera, simply press in on the safety lock button and allow the clamp to swing back to the left by a spring-loaded motion. You can move the wedge a bit farther to the left if you want even more secure locking of the two units. This is one of the most secure quick-release units I have worked with but it is a bit bulky.

The tripod has an aluminum finish on the tubular legs and elevator, but all of the locking mechanisms and tilt-top are flat black. All visible components seem to be made of durable material and are held together by functional large machine screws and bolts.

I was favorably impressed by the sturdiness of this new tripod. It is adequate in weight for use with just a 35mm camera with a normal lens, but if you use any long telephoto or tele-zoom lens on a 35mm, or any type of larger format equipment, you will greatly appreciate just how steady this tripod is.

Pertinent specifications for the JTL ET-4 No. 6014 tripod are as follows. Weight: 7.7 lbs; load weight: 66 lbs; closed length: 2'4"; minimum height: 1'9"; maximum height: 5'4"; maximum span: 4'; leg sections: three (two telescope); finish black with chrome legs. Note all measurements and weights are without a tilt-top head. The JTL ET-4 tripod complete with the JTL TH-3 head lists for under $290.

This firm offers many different AC powered electronic flash units; accessories for light modification; light stands; overhead rail systems; boom arms; background supports; tripods; flash meters; folding reflectors; carrying cases; and kits containing combinations of lights. Mail-order firms also carry these products.

To obtain more data on the five models of JTL tripods and five tilt-top heads plus a catalog showing their many other studio products, contact JTL Corp., 14747 Artesia Blvd., #3-E, La Mirada, CA 90638; (714) 670-6626; fax: (714) 670-8836; or on the Internet at: www.jtlcorp.com.