Camera design right now is in a very interesting period, with many manufacturers looking back for inspiration. Fuji, Olympus, Pentax and Nikon are all experimenting with classic, retro designs on many bodies. It’s great that designers are recognizing that the history of photography is full of great, neglected design decisions, but camera accessories rarely show the same inspiration. Tripods especially all look extremely similar, with the classic black aluminum or woven carbon-fibre style. Cokin, a company primarily known for filters, has seen a niche, and they have just launched a tripod with a vintage look that would be right at home with an Olympus Pen-F or Fuji X-T2 on top of it.
The Riviera is a lightweight (1.5-kg) aluminum tripod designed for cameras under 5 kg. This makes it perfect for the current crop of mirrorless cameras, though you can also put a mid-sized DSLR with a standard zoom on top. The retro influences can be found in the faux-leather wrapping each of the legs, a gorgeous wooden knob for the included two-way head, and a great-looking carrying case. The locks for the centre column and leg sections are textured aluminum, which looks great and also offers an easy surface to grab.
My major concern with aluminum tripods is that they can get extremely hot or cold. Living in Calgary, I try to avoid using aluminum tripods in our bitterly cold winters. However, the coverings on the Riviera tripod make it comfortable to hold in extreme climates, and I love how the top section of all three legs is covered. I also appreciated that the centre column is reversible for low-angle shooting. Inverting the column takes very little time, making it much more likely I would take advantage of this feature day to day.
The head has a nice feel to it, and I loved that the locking knob is made of wood. Again, this is much nicer to hold onto than aluminum in the cold, and it looks fantastic. The head is very secure when locked down, and the action of the quick release is very positive. I do wish that Cokin had chosen a more common plate type, like the Arca Swiss style. Proprietary plates can be very difficult to track down, and they’re incredibly easy to lose.
I enjoyed my time with the Cokin Riviera Tripod, and I hope that we see more models in this line in the future. It’s about time that tripod manufacturers realized that aesthetics matter to photographers (it is a visual medium after all!), and a vintage-style camera or an actual classic film body looks fantastic on this tripod. It’s not the sturdiest set of legs for the price, but with cameras getting smaller and lighter, I think Cokin may have a huge success on their hands with this latest venture! Find out more at thecamerastore.com and cokin-filters.com/riviera.