As the saying goes, “your spotting scope is only as good as your tripod” or something to that effect. This statement holds a lot of truth but finding the “perfect” tripod is a lot more difficult than finding the perfect scope.
There are an unbelievable amount of tripods on the market, as paging through any birding magazine will show you. The tripod we wanted most was Swarovski’s carbon fiber CT 101 model with accompanying FH 101 head. This gorgeous tripod is incredibly easy to use and packs a lot of versatility in a pretty compact package.
The tripod’s legs are broken up into two movable segments which slide silently and are locked in place with durable latches. The height is perfect for all but the tallest of birders and the legs can spread low for extreme low-angle viewing. No matter what terrain you are birding on, the tripod can be adjusted accordingly.
The FH 101 head attaches seemlessly to the tripod and provides super easy movement with one hand. The head locks two ways independently: one lock stops panning motion and the other lock holds your scope in vertical position. Both locks are located ideally and require little effort to operate.
With the locks open, you are free to move the scope in any direction, perfect for following birds and especially useful for digiscoping. The mounting plate can be ejected in order to attach other plates such as the Swarovski balance rail (sold separately). The balance rail (shown at left) is much appreciated when digiscoping with a large camera such as a digital SLR as the weight is much better distributed. The tripod easily handles the weight of the scope and camera (about 7.1 lbs).
Weighing in at 4.3 lbs and nearly impossible to break, the Swarovski Carbon Fiber Tripod is wonderful for digiscoping and birding in general.