Tripod Review: 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0
Updated: Oct 28
This review is of the Punks Billy 2.0 carbon fiber travel tripod from renowned British manufacturer 3 Legged Thing. The Billy 2.0 is relatively lightweight at 1.57kg, can reach 1.66m in height, and is one of 4 tripods in the Punks 2.0 travel/general purpose tripod range.
The Punks range of tripods are named after punk or rock artists, so I'm presuming the Billy 2.0 is named after 70s punk rocker Billy Idol, rather than 90s pop star Billie Piper.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 was purchased with my own funds.
The Billy usually retails at US$279.
This review will be updated periodically after long term use.
The specifications for the 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 are as follows:
Weight - 1.57kg.
Max height - 1660mm (measured at 1666mm).
Height (centre column not extended) - 1360mm.
Min height - 118mm.
Packed width - 105mm.
Packed length - 457mm.
Claimed load capacity - 18kg (legs at 23 degrees).
Leg sections - 4 (carbon fiber).
Leg locks - twist locks.
Arca Swiss compatible Ball Head.
Legs and Column
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 is one 3 Legged Thing's Punks range of travel and general purpose tripods. It is the joint second tallest in range after the Brian 2.0. As it uses 8 layers of carbon fiber, it is also the lightest in the range at 1.57kg (tripod and ball head).
The Billy 2.0 has 4 leg sections, and 3 twist locks per leg. Compared to the original Billy, extra weight has been added to the twist locks to provide a lower centre of gravity and more stability. This twist locks have good grip, and have had some engineering upgrades from the original Punks range. Personally, I prefer flip locks as they are faster and you can see if the lock is locked or not. The comparison section explains why I didn't purchase a flip lock tripod.
The legs are of a counter fold design which allows for a short packed length of 457mm. Packed width was 105mm, which is OK, but not as good as some travel tripods that compromise on a less substantial column. The legs are relatively narrow, with the leg top section being 23mm. However, the legs are still impressively stable due to precision engineering. The counter fold design does slightly increase deployment time, and significantly increases pack up time compared to conventional designs. In particular, getting the ball head knobs, and tri-mount plate spurs to align with the legs when packing up is a bit of a faff. I'm sure this issue also occurs on some other counter fold tripods.
The leg angle locks are easy to use and of high quality construction. Angles available are 23, 55, and 80 degrees. Some reviewers have mentioned the legs becoming loose and needing to be tightened (with the supplied tool) but I have not experienced any issues in this regard.
The rubber feet are also removeable, and can be changed over with multiple optional leg options (not included) including spikes and ice grips. All 3 legs can be removed, which allows the Billy 2.0 to be turned into a monopod using one leg, or a mini tripod using the optional Vanz leg accessories.
The Billy 2.0 has a 26mm diameter, circular cross-section, single section, centre column. This can be reversed for low to the ground photos. I find circular columns to be far more stable than minimalist triangular columns on tripods such as the Peak Design Travel Tripod. In my home city of Brisbane, Australia, there are many high riverside railings that can get in the way of short and medium height tripods. Thus, I was only going to consider tripods that could reach at least 1.63m. This rules out the vast majority of travel tripods - see the comparison section. The Billy 2.0 managed slightly more than my requirement at 1.66m. I actually measured ground to top of base plate at 1666mm. I did consider the 1.86m Brian 2.0 tripod which is 100g heavier and slightly more expensive, but settled with the Billy 2.0.
Tested stability was very good due to the low centre of gravity and carbon fiber design. At full height, I could not detect any blurring during long exposures in 40kph winds. I would expect that the Billy 2.0 could handle considerably worse conditions than this. At full height, with a Canon R8 and RF 28mm f/1.8 lens, the tripod only lost balance when tilted beyond 22 degrees, which is far beyond any real world tripod usage situations.
The 3 Legged Thing Billy 2.0 comes with the Airhed Neo 2.0 ball head. This is a traditional ball head design, with a panoramic base, which sites on top of the tri-mount plate. There are 3 controls - pan, ball tension, and clamp lock. These are all metallic in design. The ball head has a rated load capacity of 18kg, though ball head and tripod capacity is affected by multiple factors including weight distribution. As my heaviest camera/lens combination is just 800g, I didn't test the maximum weight to its limits! There is just one spirit level, but as most mirrorless cameras have electronic spirit levels, this isn't an issue. I found this ball head to be very useable with nice smooth movement and tension control.
The ball head includes the Arca Swiss compatible QR Octa quick release plate. This 38x38mm plate has a good grippy surface. Tools (included) are required to attach the plate's 1/4"-20 thread to the camera. The plate also has security screws that decrease the chance of of a partially released plate falling from the clamp. It should be noted that whilst I was able to use a "low profile" Fotopro plate with my 3 Legged Thing Ball head, I was unable to use the 3 Legged Thing plate with the Fotopro ball head as the grip would not fully tighten. I'm assuming the Fotopro clamp is either not strong enough or has deviated from Arca Swiss specifications, so I'm not penalising 3 Legged Thing's Arca Swiss Compatibility. The ball head and tripod attach via a standard 3/8"-16 thread, and thus the ball head can be used on most other tripods. The Billy 2.0 can thus also accept most other ball heads.
3 Legged Thing also offer an excellent range of Arca Swiss compatible L-brackets. Unfortunately, they don't currently have an L-bracket specifically for my Canon R8. The Elle Short is compatible, and I may purchase this in the future if a R8 specific L-bracket is not released.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 has some interesting additional features:
"Toolz" accessory - Multi-Tool, hex key, coin key, keyring, carabiner and bottle opener.
1/4"-20 accessory thread hole for attaching magic arms and clamps. This allows the tripod to additionally support other items such as a phone, microphone, or lighting.
Hook for adding weight under the central column for extra stability (via Toolz accessory).
Very high quality bag, with adjustable shoulder strap and external zipped pocket.
Available in Blue, Black (with Orange trim), and Darkness colour options.
3 Legged Thing products have a 5 year limited warranty. 3 Legged Thing's website has a stack of high quality "how to" videos related to product usage, care, and maintenance, as well as a very decent FAQ section.
My requirements were for a tripod that could reach more than 1.63m in height, lightweight (approx. 1.5kg), with good stability, Arca Swiss compatibility, and reasonably priced (<US$300). This didn't leave too many options! It should be noted that most travel tripods including the Peak Design Travel Tripod, Ulanzi Zero Y/F38, Heipi Travel Tripod, and Benro Cyanbird Hybrid did not meet my height requirements. Alternatives I considered included the:
Sirui Traveler 7C - similar height and weight, much cheaper, but a bit too plasticky for my liking. I have had positive feedback from users of this tripod.
Sirui ST-124 + ST-10X - similar weight, higher (1710mm), more expensive, higher quality than the 7C, but longer packed length (570mm).
Fotopro X-Airfly Max - similar height and price, less weight (1.37kg), longer packed length (500mm), flip locks (which I prefer), and inverted ball head (which I don't prefer). I was generally impressed by the build quality of the X-Aircross 3 Lite I recently reviewed. However, this model had no reviews at the time of purchase, so I decided to not take the risk.
Based on positive feedback from many other photographers who own 3 Legged Thing tripods, as well as a good quality to price ratio, I decided to choose the Punks Billy 2.0 as my new primary tripod.
Other than the Fotopro X-Airfly Max, there is a gap in the market for a tall, lightweight carbon fiber, flip lock travel tripod.
Good build quality.
Relatively lightweight for height.
Very good stability, even with column at full height.
Goes high enough for most situations.
High quality ball head.
Arca Swiss compatible ball head and plate.
Short folded length.
1/4" thread accessory port.
Very high quality bag.
Included "toolz" accessory is useful.
Choice of colour options.
Can be easily converted to a monopod, mini-tripod, or centre column reversed/inverted.
Not the fastest tripod to pack up after use.
The 3 Legged Thing Punks Billy 2.0 is an excellent travel and general purpose tripod for those who need decent height, without compromising weight, quality, or stability.
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