Top critical review
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Horses for courses I guess
on 14 June 2013
How am I supposed to rate this tripod? On the one hand it can be as solid as the proverbial 'jelly in a high wind', while on the other it's astonishingly compact and light, and if that's important to you it's probably as good as you could hope for at the price. I have a 'better' tripod but it's no use at all if it's not with me because it's too heavy to lug around.
All the 5* reviews probably raised my expectations too high, and Slik don't help with their various webpages either saying that it's ideal for an SLR + telephoto zoom or only really suitable for a compact camera - I think the latter is nearer the truth though the pic on the box shows it holding an SLR with a pretty chunky lens. In reality I'm sorry to say this tripod really isn't at all solid when fully extended with an SLR on top; touch the camera and it wobbles for several seconds - I would imagine a [D]SLR's mirror would set it off; I am blessed [?] with a Sony SLT and with that camera, or with your mirror locked up if you have one, indoors [ie. no wind], with a remote control, it's absolutely fine and holds the camera perfectly well - no slippage/drooping/dropping/falling over, though my camera and plastic kit zooms only weigh about 1kg. The whole thing twists and flexes rather a lot too - more than any other tripod I've used. More positively, if you don't use the pencil-thin lower leg section and only raise the centre column half way it's really rather impressive, and if you fold out your LCD screen it won't kill your back using it at this height - I knew there had to be a reason you could do that. Contrary to accepted wisdom it seems better to partly raise the centre column rather than use the last leg section with this tripod.
And it is tiny! I bought it to hang on the side of my backpack while walking and size was really the overriding consideration but though I'd read all the blurb it still came as a surprise just how compact and lightweight this tripod is. I thought it was small when the postman handed the package over - then I found there was a smaller box inside that, and then a smaller bag, and then an even smaller tripod. It's remarkable that it extends to above average eye level. And this is it's great advantage; it's so easy to carry you won't leave it at home or in the car and it's surprisingly good if you don't raise it too high and better than nothing if you do, though I wouldn't trust it in a gale.
The other problem with the compactness is the tiny head, and more particularly the microscopic quick release plate which really does look as though it was designed for a compact camera. I tried swapping it for the head of my other tripod which made everything more solid, and easier to use to boot, but negated the lightness so much I gave up on it. There are many comments elsewhere on the way the camera tilts down a little after you tighten the clamp: As far as I can make out this movement is between the camera and this tiny QRP, caused by the cork flexing, rather than movement in the ball and socket itself. I tried mounting the camera so the the plate's longer side is parallel with the lens axis rather than the sensor/film plane and this did seem to improve matters.
And if at all possible use a remote/'cable' release or the self-timer or you simply won't see much benefit. At about 1/10sec,
photos I took using the camera's shutter release with the tripod at its full height were barely less blurred than hand held shots.
If you accept its limitations it's a great travel/hiking tripod. 5* for compactness, 3.5, maybe 4* for solidity at waist height, but only 1* fully extended. Calling it "PRO" is definitely pushing it, if not absolutely absurd*, but without spending a fortune on a carbon fibre job I doubt you'll find a better tripod to carry all day and not wish you hadn't. The tiny QRP is a simply too tiny for anything but a compact, but try turning it round a quarter turn. Or see if you can find a Sprint 150 - I couldn't - or maybe consider the 3-way head. I don't really like ball heads but it saved £20 and a few ounces. A 3-way head is pretty much essential if you ever want to shoot video and want to 'follow the action', and very much easier to adjust accurately than a small ball head for stills.
After all that waffle, to sum up; if you know you won't be taking it far from home or your car then I'm sure there are heftier tripods that would be better, ie. more stable, for the same money, but despite all the negativity, if size and weight are important to you or you just want something that fits in your suitcase for a holiday then yes I would recommend this tripod, though preferably with different, probably 3-way, head. There's no way this is a five star, all-purpose, 'pro' tripod though, and I don't suppose even Slik really think it is, or they wouldn't feel the need to make heftier ones. It does what it was designed to do well enough for the money, but don't expect too much of it.
* I have since seen a landscape photographer on TV using a genuine "pro" tripod for his DSLR. It was as massive as you'd expect a professional to use, with a ball the size of a grapefruit. I wouldn't want to carry it too far though!