3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0 review: pro quality, competitive price

A highly impressive and versatile travel tripod for the price

3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0 tripod folded away and on a wooden table
(Image: © Future)

TechRadar Verdict

The 3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0 is something of a rare breed, offering pro-spec build quality and functionality at an enthusiast-friendly price. It can comfortably compete against more expensive travel tripods, and it could even function adequately as a main tripod thanks to its generous maximum height.

Pros

  • +

    Competitively priced

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    Great build quality

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    Highly versatile

Cons

  • -

    Legs flex a little at full extension

  • -

    Center column is long (two sections)

  • -

    May be too tall for some people

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Two-minute review

The 3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0 is a stylish and highly versatile travel tripod with more tricks up its sleeve than a room full of magicians – and one of the most impressive features is the competitive price it comes in at considering what it has to offer.

The Punks Brian 2.0 costs $300 / £250 / AU$633. It's part of 3 Legged Thing’s colorful punks range, and to that end it's available with orange, blue or black accents on the tripod head and the twist lock on the center column and legs, bucking the arguably dull visual trend of tripod design that sees most color schemes dominated by black or grey.

This carbon fiber tripod is an impressive transformer when it comes to growth, going from a folded length of 16.5-inches / 42cm to a maximum height of 73.2 inches / 1.86m with the center column extended. This is taller than many full-size tripods, and even more impressively it's achieved with a weight of just 3.70lbs / 1.68kg.

So, unless you need a heavier tripod for specific shooting situations, the Punks Brian could realistically function as your main tripod, despite falling within the travel tripod category.

3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0 carry bag

(Image credit: James Abbott)

All three five-section legs are detachable, and together with the Vanz ‘footwear’, which are 4.4-inch / 11.2cm stainless steel legs with rubber ends that can be removed to reveal spikes (these are available separately), they enable the Punks Brian to be transformed into a tabletop or ultra low-level tripod. Another feature of the removable legs is that they can be used as a monopod with the included AirHed Neo 2.0 ball head attached at the top of the leg, or with the center column attached to the top of the leg for additional height up to 75.1 inches / 191cm.

This level of versatility is welcome in a travel tripod, as when traveling it’s not uncommon for photographers to have to reduce their kit to the bare minimum. So, having a tripod that can be used in three different ways – standard, tabletop and monopod – and which offers a generous maximum height ensures that you can cover all the bases with one lightweight and compact package. As mentioned, you have to purchase the Vanz footwear for tabletop use separately, and they’re not cheap for what they are but, the overall cost of the Punks Brian and Vanz remains lower than many competing travel tripods.

The tripod legs are made of carbon fiber, and while they flex a little more than the legs of more expensive tripods, stability isn’t an issue. In use, I found the leg twist-locks to be quick and comfortable to use thanks to the rubber grip strips that are also found on the two-section center column. Build quality overall is excellent, and the orange accents of the Punks Brian I reviewed are eye-catching.

While its competitive price makes it accessible to enthusiasts and even beginners, the Punks Brian is a travel tripod that could easily cater to the needs of working professionals, thanks to its overall build quality, features and sturdy legs with 30lb / 14kg maximum payload. The latter means you can confidently attach even large telephoto lenses because the included AirHed Neo 2.0 has an even greater maximum payload of 40lbs / 18kg, which is impressive given the compact size of the ball head. There's no real camera and lens combination that exceeds the tripod kit's maximum payload. 

The AirHed Neo 2.0 is a simple ball head that’s colored to match the tripod legs depending on which color option you choose. It may be compact, but it’s made of aircraft-grade magnesium alloy and stainless steel, so it’s as tough as it is eye-catching. 

Operation is smooth and reliable, with one knob for adjusting the ball mechanism and another for the pan mechanism, and while the knobs don’t feature rubber grips, the machined metal grips work perfectly and look pretty smart, too. There’s also an accessory mounting point and a metal loop at the bottom of the center column for attaching the included carabiner tool, from which you can hang a camera bag to improve stability when needed.

3 Legged Thing AirHed Neo 2.0 in front of a brick wall

(Image credit: James Abbott)

The plate used is also the Arca Swiss design, so it’s compatible with 3 Legged Thing and third-party L brackets. There's also a notch within the ball head to allow for portrait-format shooting, so an L bracket isn’t essential for this, although they are much better for portrait-format shooting than a ball head on its own.

Finding a tripod of this quality for such a competitive price is a rarity in the tripod world. The Punks Brian can comfortably compete against tripods that are twice the price and still come out as an incredibly enticing option. So, if you’re looking for a travel tripod that looks good and performs well, with some impressive features on offer, the Punks Brian is certainly an option to consider.

 Should I buy the 3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0 ? 

3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0 folded on a concrete floor

(Image credit: James Abbott)

Buy it if...

You’re on a budget
It’s not often that we're able to recommend a pro-spec travel tripod for photographers who are on a budget, but that's the case with the Punks Brian. The features on offer for the price are outstanding.

You need a tall travel tripod
Travel tripods are typically shorter than full-size models, but the Punks Brian flips this on its head, going taller than many full-size tripods at 73.2 inches / 1.86m with the center column extended.

You need versatility
The Punks Brian can be used as a standard tripod, a tall monopod or a tabletop tripod when combined with the Vanz footwear, which is available separately.

Don't buy it if...

You need a heavy tripod
The Punks Brian is lightweight at just 3.70lbs / 1.68kg, and while that's of course desirable for a travel tripod, if you regularly need a heavier tripod for extra stability in windy conditions you'll want to consider other options.

You only need a short tripod
With a maximum height of 73.2in / 1.86m, the Punks Brian may be more tripod than you need, so if this is the case consider a shorter and possibly even lighter alternative.

You need an articulating center column
The Punks Brian is packed with functionality, but it doesn’t offer an articulating center column, which is a feature some photographers require to get their cameras closer to awkwardly positioned subjects.

How I tested the 3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0

I tested the 3 Legged Thing Punks Brian 2.0 using several different camera and lens combinations, to see how the tripod stood up to standard use in travel-oriented scenarios. Cameras used included a premium compact, an APS-C mirrorless camera, and a full-frame mirrorless model. I carried the tripod around with other photographic kit in my f-stop backpack to evaluate performance over longer landscape shoots.

I have almost 30 years of photographic experience, with 15 years working as a photography journalist, and I’ve been testing and writing about tripods and other accessories for many years. As a professional photographer I regularly use a range of accessories, and bring my working experience to reviews, enabling me to gauge how effective particular accessories are from both a professional and an enthusiast point of view.

First reviewed March 2024

James Abbott

James Abbott is a professional photographer and freelance photography journalist. He contributes articles about photography, cameras and drones to a wide range of magazines and websites where he applies a wealth of experience to testing the latest photographic tech. James is also the author of ‘The Digital Darkroom: The Definitive Guide to Photo Editing’.