A while ago Kingjoy asked if I would like to try their brand new top of the range Carbon Fibre tripod, the SolidRock C85.
While always keen to look at new things I declined as I said I was a Gitzo user and didn't think anything could better that, but Kingjoy said this tripod would surprise me and I really needed to try it to see why, while I was intrigued I still declined as I said I used the levelling base on my Gitzo and really didn't want to be without it as it made life so much easier and I'm a huge fan of doing panoramas.
Kingjoy then made me stand up and take notice, The SolidRock C85 came with a levelling base as standard ! OK, now I was interested.
Kingjoy made a bold claim, the C85 was Gitzo quality without the price tag.
My Gitzo had set me back £769 for the tripod, £199 for the levelling base, and £109 for the bowl it sits in and a further £54 for the spiked feet, so an eye watering total of £1131 and that didn't include a head (Around £200-300 on top), The C85 came in at way under half price at £449 for the tripod or if I wanted to I could purchase it with Kingjoys own T30X ball head which came in at £574, so again, I was intrigued.
I asked a little bit more about Kingjoy as I wasn't really familiar with them to be honest.
Who Are Kingjoy ?
Kingjoy tripods are actually a massive company, they employ over 1000 people and have been going since 2004. They are responsible for building OEM tripods for many of the worlds leading brands and are established in 39 countries.
All the R&D and tooling is done on site at their facility and perhaps the best thing, it's run by photographers who really understand the needs of a photographer so rather unsurprisingly it has won a string of awards for its tripods already.
Kingjoy stand behind their products and offer a five year warranty with them so they obviously had confidence in them, especially as I'm able to go through a carbon fibre Manfrotto in little over a year.
I also found out that the team behind Kase Filters UK were responsible for bringing Kingjoy tripods to the UK and let me tell you, those guys know a thing or two about quality, and I know they offer a great level of service so my confidence in the product increased as I knew more about Kingjoy.
When the Kingjoy SolidRock C85 arrived I was keen to have have a look and the first thing that struck me was how light it was, around 2KG for a tripod of this size thats pretty impressive and was mainly down to the ten layer interwoven carbon fibre its made of giving it incredible strength while retaining lightweight properties.
It felt really well built and the leg action was very smooth, the footprint was a surprise as its quite wide giving it an excellent footing to keep it stable but without sacrificing the height which extended to a whopping 154 cm, now i'm 6' 2" tall and I had to be on tip toes to look through the camera eye piece when at full extension.
The Kingjoy C85 tripod has four leg sections so it packs down to a reasonable size at 57 cm and is quick to set up thanks to its twist locks which can all be undone at once on each leg section.
It's listed as being capable of supporting 25 kg but I'm willing to bet it could hold a lot more as my bag weighs vastly more than that and it hung off the bag hook without any problems.
Whats in the box ?
• C85 SolidRock Tripod
• Leveling Bowl
• Counterweight/Bag Hook
• Rubber Feet
• Spiked Feet
• Allen Key
• Carry Case
• Carry Strap
What Features Does the C85 have ?
The Levelling Base
The first and most important thing for me was the levelling base, this is simply a game changer as it enables you to get the camera perfectly level with one twist, and as you all know, trying to get a tripod perfectly level on the base by adjusting the legs is almost impossible if you're on uneven ground and often results in a whack a mole effect as you chase after each leg and having to settle for "close enough" more often than not.
This speeds up the process and gives you precision control which is exactly whats needed in panorama shots, or indeed any shot as it saves you valuable pixels if you don't need to crop the image.
Bottom line, its just plain handy !
No Centre Column
The next feature which is a firm favourite with not only me, but many other photographers is the lack of a centre column, now this is a funny one as in this case less really is more, allow me to explain.
Having a centre column does give you the benefit of extra height and in turn shorter legs but it comes at a cost, stability.
Not having a centre column will mean your tripod is far more stable as its always supported by three legs rather than a single centre column which will exaggerate vibrations especially in windy conditions and in turn, ruin your picture.
The other advantage is you can get really low to the ground, in fact almost flat without the faffing of inverting the centre column and having to shoot upside-down which always drove me mad and in truth was such a hassle that I rarely did it, costing me shots.
The simple truth is I won't use a tripod with a centre column anymore having used ones without for years, they just give a better result and a more solid foundation for it, the very point of a tripod.
Foam Grip Pad
The next feature which I really liked and was sadly lacking on my Gitzo was the foam pad on the legs that is not only great for good grip, especially in wet weather but its also much nicer to use in cold conditions stopping your hands from freezing on cold carbon or metal legs, a nice touch I was really pleased to see.
The bag hook again is a nice touch but one I don't personally use too often as I don't like the idea of anything swinging from the tripod, but in really bad wind I would consider using it so its handy to have.
Mud feet & Spikes
Such a simple thing but SO good, I chop and change my tripod feet often depending on the terrain I'm shooting on but the spikes have proved invaluable and I'm so pleased they come as standard, something Gitzo really should pay attention to considering they charge an extortionate £54 for !
A really good feature to get even more stability & versatility from you Kingjoy Tripod.
While its a nice touch to have and will keep your tripod in tip top condition, I generally choose never to use one. Instead, preferring to have a tripod on the side of my camera bag but as not every bag comes with this facility I guess its a nice addition.
For me this is another must have on a tripod, I can't stand cantilever locks as they invariably break or corrode, twist locks are the superior option and they do a great job of keeping sand and grit out of the legs and you get that satisfying whoosh of air as you open and close them giving assurance of a quality seal.
A five year warranty is a really welcome feature to have, it certainly gives you peace of mind and shows the manufacture takes its products seriously and to be fair I don't think I've ever had a tripod for five years so there's an incentive !
This was my biggest concern before receiving the tripod, I wasn't sure what to expect but I'm very happy to report the Kingjoy C85 actually really over delivers on this point.
The Carbon fibre is beautiful, its super strong and exceptionally lightweight.
The metal areas of the tripod are built very well and all actions are very smooth, and as daft as it sounds I really liked the colour scheme as well, the red accents from the brand really do look great and it looks & feels like a very premium product.
I can't comment on the longevity of it yet as I haven't had it for more than three months but so far no issues whatsoever and to be fair I really do treat my tripods quite badly by using them in salt water, throwing them in the boot of the car etc but the Kingjoy SolidRock C85 has held up to all the abuse I've given it, plus its seen regular use on my workshops too by clients keen to try a professional tripod.
Who's the Kingjoy C85 Tripod For ?
This is an all weather beast ! It's ideal for landscape photographers who like to shoot in any weather and demand rock solid stability.
Its a tall tripod so its well suited for those up to around 6' 4" tall when at full extension but will equally work well for those who are shorter.
Its nice and lightweight so is good for anyone who has to hike long distance or up hills in order to get the shot.
I would say the C85 is right at the top end of tripod performance and especially suits people wishing to shoot panoramas or simply be fast to react to changing conditions and be able to recompose in a flash with ultra precision and who like to feel confident in their gear.
If you're looking for something slightly smaller or more compact and you dont require the levelling capability of the C85 then there is the superb C83, C82 & C81 models which start at a very reasonable £249 (Including ball head)
How Did the Kingjoy C85 Perform ?
In short its been perfect, the SolidRock C85 is as the name suggests is Rock Solid ! its got all the features of tripods costing way more but it doesn't sacrifice on the quality one bit.
I've enjoyed using it and found myself wondering why I paid over double for a Gitzo when the Kingjoy C85 has done everything my Gitzo does at less than half the price, as standard without the need to buy anything as an extra.
The quality is premium, and it over delivers in all aspects. I've owned tripods from Gitzo, Benro & Mafrotto and the Kingjoy C85 is better than all of them so I can't really fault it and the value for money is simply off the scale.
If there's one thing I would change it would be to have it available with a geared head as well as a ball head, As an avid user of geared heads that would be my choice to put on it and I would like to have at least an option of a matching one from Kingjoy. (Kingjoy if you're reading then I'm not alone in this request ! Please make a geared head !)
I tried this out during the winter months where we received some brutal winds of around 40 mph and some relentless waves of salt water and the C85 held up perfectly and remained firmly planted at all times, I had vibration free shots even when doing long exposures.
I love it, My workshop clients love it and several have invested in one for themselves plus it still looks as good as the day I got it.
Is it REALLY as good as £1100+ Gitzo ?
Put it this way, I wont be buying another Gitzo, Kingjoy is delivering me everything I've asked from it, at under half the price of the Gitzo and with the same quality so why would I pay more ?
I liked it so much I decided to add another one to the kit list for my vlogging camera, I'm not sure which I will have yet but I'm leaning towards the C83 as I don't need the levelling base and the height isn't as important as my stills tripod.
In short the Kingjoy has everything the Gitzo has except the price and that makes it a lot to pay for just to have the brand name on your gear.
Kingjoy might not be as well known as Gitzo yet but its starting to gain a lot of traction and I noticed several very high profile photographers using them and a few YouTubers so I don't think it will be long before people cotton on to the insane value these tripods bring, will I be one of them ? Absolutely.
Exceptional Value for money
Packed with features
Available with & without a ball head
5 Year warranty
No Geared head option at time of writing
Not as well known as other brands yet
Kingjoy UK can be found by clicking HERE