After getting my new camera bag, I sold my old one (thanks Andrew !) and got this tripod with the proceeds. Looking at the PDF on the UK distributors site (trust me: you don’t want to bother with the manufacturers site) they indicate that it’s not suitable for SLRs when using long lenses, but the collapsed size is just too good to ignore so I took a mild gamble at bought it anyway: mild in that my current tripod is around 20 years old and is so unstable it’s only marginally better than hand holding (plus it’s now got enough chipped or broken bits that trying to use it quickly results in needing to stop and add plasters to the cuts…)
The Slik Sprint series covers three types, but the stats for the Mini are:
- Folded length: 360mm
- Maximum operating height: 1100mm
- Maximum centre column extension: 210mm
- Maximum load weight: 2000g
- Tripod weight: 740g
This is small enough that when put into one of the Adventure 9 side pockets it only comes about 80% of the way up the bag: when wearing the backpack it’s still within my profile and so shouldn’t wreak havoc when walking around shops, for example. The legs do feel rather flimsy when being extended, but stiffen nicely when locked and they each have a 3 position top lock with infinitely variable angles between the stops, which is beautifully flexible. The ball head that comes with the tripod can be removed, and reveals a standard screw mount underneath so replacing the supplied head isn’t a problem (but oddly, not something Slik advertise).
Putting my 350D and Tamron 28-75mm lens on the tripod at full extension the head showed no signs of dropping after being left alone for five minutes. With the centre column fully extended there is a fair amount of spring noticeable when gently flexing the ‘pod, and I’m not sure if it’ll require mirror lockup to be used to get very long exposures to stay sharp. This isn’t a tripod for those who are happy to debate the pros and cons of leg shape and carbon fibre vs. aluminium – it is small enough to take along with my normal gear when my old tripod would have been left at home, and so I’m 100% sure that it will enable me to get images that I’d have missed, so by that metric it’s a winner.
It’s possible to unscrew the bottom section of the centre column to get the whole thing amazingly close to the ground (142mm according to the back of the box), and thanks to the leg positioning it is possible to get the ball head pointing directly down at the ground, and close enough that extension tubes could be used too.
The tripod comes with a nylon bag with handles and drawstring top, together with a generic instruction leaflet for the whole Sprint range which is clear an concise, but oddly the box has a combination of language agnostic pictograms (understandable), and English of the variety normally associated with Babelfish. Why ? I have no idea, but they’re classic phrases that could simply have been added for the humour value:
“The high-class feeling gray metallic paint is adopted.”
“The special round pipe containing magnesium in intensity and lightweight.”
“The small and compact ball head can be used with snap feeling is equipped.”
So is it any good ? If you have a compact with manual override such as the Canon Powershot G3, then the answer is an unreserved yes: it will certainly add a new dimension to your photography, especially allowing easy use of the inbuilt ND filter. If you have a lightweight DSLR such as a Canon 350D or Nikon D40 then (depending upon your choice of lenses) it could be a very useful (and small) addition to your bag of equipment. Heavier DSLR bodies will start to eat into the 2Kg weight allowance, and whilst a more capable head could be swapped out for the pre-installed one, I’d be wary that the flexing of the body would become an issue.
I bought mine for £35 + P&P from Bristol Cameras and think that for the money it’s the best budget tripod I’ve owned.