The Reach Plus 1 is a Sachtler-inspired tripod kit from Chinese manufacturer Secced. It also competes against my own Cartoni Focus HD -- even though the Cartoni has much higher payload maximums -- because it demands to be taken seriously and my A-cam is the light weight Sony a6300. How well does it succeed (geddit)? Read on (video at end of post).
The basis for Secced's Reach Plus 1 tripod kit is a well-designed fluid head and a set of sticks which together look and operate very much like -- though not spec'd quite as highly as -- a Sachtler FSB 6T fluid head with ENG 75/2 D HD legs (the counter-balance control on the fluid head is also different). The Reach Plus 1 kit is rounded out with a ground spreader, pan handle, and a nicely padded carry bag.
When it comes to payload and price, however, the Sachtler that the Reach Plus 1 most closely matches up with is the Ace L GS CF Tripod System with Ground Spreader ($1,035 at B&H). This unit is a variant of Sachtler's just-announced and very aggressively-priced Freddie Wong Signature Edition ($783 at B&H).
One way to think of the Reach Plus 1 is as a $200 cheaper homage to the Sachtler head alone (the FSB 6T head sells for $1,215 at B&H) -- with a set of sticks, spreader, panning handle and bag thrown in for free. The FSB 6T kit (head, carbon fiber sticks with 75mm bowl, mid-level spreader, panning handle, and bag) is twice the price at $2,025. My Cartoni Focus HD kit comes in at $1,820.
Another way to think of the Reach Plus 1 is as the kind of competitive threat that has driven Sachtler to introduce the Ace and now the Freddie Wong edition, the former meeting the Reach Plus 1's price, the latter undercutting it by $200 or so while throwing in an illuminated bubble level (the Secced level is unlit).
The Secced fluid head (SC-DV6) carries a load limit of 15.2 lbs compared to the FSB-6T's 17.6 lbs and the Ace's 13.2 lbs. While I don't see a load limit for the Freddie Wong edition, the other two carry load limits of about 44 lbs. All three spec a maximum height of about 64" give or take, but the Secced minimum height is 9" or 10"lower (21.7" vs. 30.3"). Folded length differs by just under an inch (the Sachtler folds shorter at 33.1").
The Secced is well-finished, but while I've never had the FSB 6T or Aces in hand the $5,000 Sachtler Video 18 S2 I had the privilege to review a while back is as solid, precise, smooth and "of a piece" as I've ever seen. If you call the Video 18 a "10," the Secced is a very respectable 7 or 8. I'd even give it a 9, except then I wouldn't be able to write that the Cartoni splits the difference without splitting hairs.
I am surprised, in fact, that I like the Secced head better than my Cartoni Focus HD's head. I think the Cartoni is more solid (and indeed has a much higher load limit at 26 lbs), but the Secced's Sachtler-style controls are more appealing to me and for now my own cameras even rigged are well below the Secced's payload limits, let alone the Cartoni's. The Secced channels Sachtler's "Touch & Go" quick-release equivalent onf the FSB-6T and its much more (compared to the Cartoni) precise, repeatable and manipulable settings and levers. The bag is quite nice. The pan lever on the Secced is nothing to write home about, but it does the job even if it isn't adjustable.
I don't like the sticks quite as much, although they do the job and are nicely finished.
- The Secced uses two locking levers on each set of legs (hence my assertion that this is actually a three stage tripod). Certain Sachtlers and the Cartoni do it better: they have single locking levers that are also easier to manipulate. The Secced is slower and a bit more finicky to set up or take down, though it is interesting that it uses the same two lever approach and style as some higher payload Sachtlers.
- The ground level spreader is a bit more flimsy than the Cartoni mid-level spreader I have, but whether this is by design or a cost-cutting move I can't tell.
- I prefer the rubber straps of the Cartoni to the plastic clips of the Secced for keeping the legs together during transport.
- Althoughthe Secced sticks aren't as rigid as the Cartoni's, this is a function of two items: the different load limits and the location of the spreader. When I detached the ground spreader and instead used Secced's mid-level spreader, it was pretty darned stable.
The feet also take a page from the Sachtler playbook, and work well.
The Cartoni is about payload: not only is the fluid head payload limit significantly higher than the other two, so is the limit on the sticks (the Cartoni tripod has a maximum payload of a whopping 110 lb.). I think the Secced -- like the Sachtler with the FSB 6T -- is fine for an a6300, a Sony Z150 or a lightly rigged FS5. If you're got something like a Sony FS7 or Blackmagic URSA, however (even the URSA Mini) -- or you're going all out with an FS5 to include monitor, cine battery, matte box, follow focus, etc. -- you want the Cartoni or higher spec versions of the Secced.
There Are Lower-Priced Alternatives
If your budget is especially tight, satisfy your curiosity and really explore what trade-offs you're willing to make by looking at something like the Manfrotto MVH502A and 546B Tripod system at $577.99 from B&H or Amazon. I can vouch for the head (I own one), though it's not nearly as precise and repeatably set as the Secced and FSB 6T. Then again, for half the price of the Secced or Ace and one quarter the price of the FSB 6T kit, let's not get piggy.
There are Higher Priced Alternatives to Consider, Too
You might be surprised to learn how quickly you can blow past a 13 - 17 lb payload limit as soon as you move beyond hybrid DSLRs and mirrorless ILCs.
Then again, maybe not, because you've read this far.
That's when it's time to move up to a 100mm bowl. Within this category, each company has a number of offerings (150mm is beyond the scope of this article).
- Secced kits go all the way up to Reach Plus 4 ($3,245 at B&H), a carbon fiber kit with fluid head load maximums up to 70.5 lbs. (depending on center of gravity height) and 198.4 lbs. for the sticks.
- Cartoni kits go up to the C20s ($8,368.25 at B&H), also carbon fiber, with payload maximums of up to 71 lbs.* for the head and up to 176.4 lbs for the sticks.
- Sachtler kits go up to the Video 18 S2 ($8,010 at B&H), carbon fiber again, with payload maximums up t0 44 lbs. for the head and 90 lbs. for the sticks.
But let's limit ourselves up to Canon Cinema EOS, Sony FS7 or Blackmagic URSA Mini class machinery. Give or take 20% around $1,820 (which is the price of my 100mm Cartoni Focus HD with its payload maximums of 26 lbs. and 90 lbs. for head and legs respectively), Secced offers the 100mm bowl Reach Plus 3 ($1,849 at B&H) with payload maximums up to 46 lbs. and 70 lbs. respectively. Sachtler offers up to the 75mm bowl FSB 8T with Speed Lock 75 tripod ($2,493 at B&H) with payload maximums of 22 lbs. and 44.1 lbs respectively (the 100mm bowl Sachtlers exceed the 20% give or take threshhold).
The Bottom Line
As I've written so often, we suffer from an embarrassment of riches.
The Secced is a solid, highly functional, aggressively priced tripod kit just about ideal for intermediate and advanced practitioners operating all the way up to small indie productions.
But with this written, it looks like you get what you pay for -- which in turn depends on your point of view
Setting aside the 100mm bowl units, the other tripods I've listed come within a couple of inches of each other in maximum height, minimum height and folded length; and within a couple of pounds of each other on maximum payloads.
From a functional perspective, it's in the operating details that the 75mm bowl kits diverge.
- Only the Seceed and Sachtler T-suffixed heads have the Touch & Go QR plate (the Ace does not); the Secced and all of the Sachtlers have click-detent, numbered adjustments for tilt and pan drag and tilt counterbalance. I really like the Touch & Go.
- The Speedlock Sachtlers (and the Cartoni) have faster set-up and take-down sticks than the Secced, Manfrotto and Ace Sachtlers. I much prefer the single locking lever approach.
- The Secced's bubble level is unlit. The Sachtler and Cartoni heads are illuminated.
At $999, the Secced is at the low-price end of the units listed here. With prices running up to just under $2,500 for roughly comparable functional limits and operating characteristics among the 75mm bowl which favor the Secced and the T-model Sachtlers, saving $1,500 for other gear is a quite an enticement.
Then again, the Manfrotto and the Freddie Wong can do the business too -- at almost half the price of the Secced.
If you place precise repeatability and value above all else, you should take a close look at the Secced. If you place payload and speed above all else, take a close look at the Cartoni. If you place payload, repeatability AND value above all else, take a look at a higher-end Secced. If you place value above all else, look at Manfrotto and the Freddie Wong. And if you have the budget and place speed, precision and piece of mind borne of market success and pro usage over all else, look at the T-suffixed Sachtlers.
But please: if your kit is close to the limit and/or improperly balanced, maximum payload limits are not good indicators of your margin for error.
*B&H says 61 lbs.
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