The Slik PRO 700DX tripod
According to Slik’s UK website (www.sliktripod.co.uk) this bit of kit’s construction (the legs mainly) includes their “A.M.T. super titanium alloy” whilst other sources have it that the tripod’s made from titanium and magnesium.
Again according to Slik this alloy “has a 40% greater strength to weight ratio than standard aluminum, meaning the legs are lighter weight yet stronger than the standard metal used in most of today’s tripods”.
I haven’t had either the need or opportunity yet to use it in a real-time situation, but here’s some first impressions…
Without doubt the thing’s a bit of a beast… in the nicest possible way. It arrives fully assembled (all you need do is screw the two handles into their appropriate holes) and my first thought was, “Bloody hell, its huge!”
Indeed it is. The official specs are:
Maximum Operating Height: 76.80″/1,950mm
Minimum Operating Height: 16.25″/413mm
Center Column Extension: 14.0″/380mm
Folded Length: 32.4″/823mm
Number of Leg Sections: 3
Leg Lock Type: Speed Release Lock
Maximum Load: 15.00lbs/6,800g
The legs may well be lightweight, but that simply comfirms immediate impression that the head’s where most of the weight is.
The other immediate impression, having erected it, is one of total confidence. Plonk a camera on this and it simply ain’t going anywhere at all.
Its got a three-way pan head with a quick-release plate; a reversible centre column (meaning you can hang your camera beneath the tripod for low and/or macro shots (and even conceivably use it to hold a copy camera… harking back to my days in the graphics trade); adjustable-angle legs (three positions), and comes complete with its own bag, all included in the price.
Now the price is an interesting thing…
This beast came out as “Best on Test” in a “Budget Tripod” review in February’s issue of PhotoPlus, with a “target price” being quoted as £95.
In the real world however Jessops are currently selling this mouth-watering bit of kit for £159.99 (needless to say, that’s not the price I paid for it).
However, I dunno about anyone else, but in my book it hardly qualifies as a “budget tripod”.
Its not all roses though. This certainly isn’t the sort of thing you’d want to be carrying with you all the time. Not because of the weight however.
One concern I had whilst awaiting delivery (triggered by my complete failure to check the weight before I set about acquiring it and then discovering that it comes in at nearly 7lbs – typical me!) was that the thing would simply be too heavy for any practical use at all (a major concern given that I don’t own a car and therefore walk everywhere local or rely on public transport for longer journeys).
Oddly, however, the weight turned out not to be a problem. Its actually round about the same weight as the kit I normally carry around with me (couple of cameras – carry two cos I’m paranoid about getting dust on the sensor when changing lenses, spare batteries, spare memory cards, lenspen, three or four filters etc) so it sort of balances… tripod on one shoulder, camera bag on t’other.
I’ve been lugging the thing around for the best part of the past coupla days and weight-wise it really hasn’t been an issue.
Where the real problem arises however is in the sheer size of the thing – fully collapsed its about 32.5″ long… that’s huge!
Trucking around with it in a bag on my shoulder I was fully expecting to get stopped by the cops at any moment on suspicion that I was carrying a gun or something!
And if you want to stop to snap a few quick pics you obviously have to put the thing down… and just hope that you don’t get so engrossed in your photo-taking that you wander off without it, forgetting its there.
Another minor grouse I nearly had was with the bag – although this has now proved to be groundless.
Shoving my arm through the loops (which double up as handles for carrying as an ordinary bag) the thing just didn’t seem to hang right, and I caught myself thinking “Well, if they’d just put a little bit more thought into designing a proper strap the thing could hang straight down from the shoulder.”
However, I then discovered that this is indeed what it does (virtually) providing one carries it with the head down.
So no complaints there after all. And the material the bag’s made from (something synthetic, and made in Thailand) appears to be moderately water-resistant. (Haven’t extensively tested this, but I held the thing under a running cold-water tap for a few moments and there was no hint of dampness on the inside afterwards.)
In fact, aside from the size concern, I’ve got no complaints at all so far. Quite the reverse actually. I’m well impressed. Its incredibly well constructed, its solid, it inspires confidence. The sort of kit that one literally anticipates lasting a lifetime. (Apparently the “soft grip” or “leg sleeves” with which it comes equipped will degrade over time, and the manufacturer recommends replacing them when they become “ragged”, but in my case I can’t see that happening for ages, if at all).
Its a doddle to use; all the levers and stuff are easy and smooth in operation, and it even comes with an A4 four-page instruction leaflet with plenty of (for a pleasant change) accurate, informative, and easy-to-understand illustrations. As if one needed it!
However, I’ve already discovered that one needs to properly tighten the mounting screw to the base of the camera or risk having it swivel around at precisely the wrong moment!
And of course its maintenance free. As expected, the manufacturer warns against applying any oil or grease anywhere. All that should be needed to keep it functioning efficiently is the occasional clean with a mild detergent and a soft cloth.
For more snippets of info on this marvellous bit of kit be sure to check out the photoset I’ve uploaded to Flickr.
Just had an afterthought… its so big that with a bit of imagination and a large groundsheet thrown over it the thing could almost double up as a shelter in a sudden downpour !