Product review: Edelkrone Flextilt II
Sometimes I come across a product that looks like a solution in search of a problem. That was my impression when I first encountered ads for the Edelkrone FlexTilt II. What could possibly be useful enough in a single-direction tilt head to justify a $149.99 price tag? But the more I thought about, I realized I spend a lot of time on location fashioning a custom mount so I can precisely place a camera or a light where it needs to be. Maybe this was something I should try out after all.
Edelkrone’s primary business is making tools for video that smoothly move a camera in a repeatable pattern; the FlexTilt II head makes sense as a complementary component. But it’s also very useful for still photography. What makes it special is the multi-stage tilt movement. Unlike a regular tripod head, it can move a camera or light by up to six inches from the pivoting base in any increment or angle you set.
There are four main components to the head: a base with an internal panning movement, two intermediate sets of risers, and the platform that has a 1/4"-20 thread mounting screw. The components connect to each other with pairs of pivoting joints. The risers and camera platform nest down into the base for easy transport. Once you’ve figured out where you want the camera or light to be, use the larger of the two hex wrenches that come with the head to tighten the joints and lock down the position.
The FlexTilt II can support up to a 5.5-pound load, but you should test it to make sure that a load close to that weight won’t creep downward from a highly cantilevered configuration. With a full-size DSLR like one of the Nikon D800 series or a Canon EOS 5D and a large lens such as a 24-70mm f/2.8, you should have no problem. As with any mounting tool, though, trust but verify.
Made from a heavy-duty aluminum alloy, the CNC-machined components are black anodized to protect and give them a professional look and feel. Folded up, the FlexTilt II measures 3.3x4x1.06 inches with the circular mounting surface on the bottom slightly raised and tapped for a 3/8"-16 thread screw.
The user-adjustable drag on the panning base can be set from free rotation to locked down. To keep horizons level, a bull’s-eye level is recessed into the top of the base. The lower riser has a full 180-degree tilt range, the second riser can rotate in a full circle, and the upper riser-to-platform connection has a near 360-degree range of rotation. The lower riser is wider than the upper, which is wider than the camera platform, so the risers and platform nest inside each other when collapsed. Extend the risers vertically and the camera platform can be up to six and a half inches above the base—a trick that’s surprisingly useful even on tripods with a center column. With the risers and platform extended horizontally a camera can be up to 6.625 inches out from the center of the base.
Using the FlexTilt II risers as a horizontal extension is useful on tripods and a practical way to expand the usable length of a slider. The near circular range of movement even allows you to point the camera down between a tripod’s legs. For video work, turning the camera sideways and angling the FlexTilt II for off-kilter Dutch tilt shots can add tension to a scene.
Beyond using the FlexTilt II as a camera support, I’ve also found it handy for precisely positioning small lights without having to set up a boom or C-Stand arm. For non-tripod use my preferred support for the FlexTilt II is the Platypod Pro Max plate, which works great for irregular surfaces.
This is the second version of the FlexTilt that Edelkrone has made. The difference is the addition of the second set of risers. You may find some low-priced knockoffs on eBay. I’ve tried a couple of these. Based on the prior model, they weren’t as versatile and didn’t support the same maximum load as the new version.
This is not a general-purpose tripod head, but it’s handy and has earned its place in my kit as one of the tools I take with me when I don’t know what I’ll encounter or when I want a unique perspective on the world.
Ellis Vener is a Professional Photographer contributing editor and a commercial photographer.