Tripod Tag

If there was ever a product category that calls forth innovative design, it's the table-top tripod. It would be crass to name competitor's products in a post about a Manfrotto design, but if you go back over the years in this column you'll see at least five other charming little things - one of which has a design history stretching back over 50 years. And a price tag that looks like a government contract...

This week you sell yourself a tripod. I'll help out here in the column, but you have to do the ( three ) leg work yourself. First thing you'll need to do is find your camera and see how big it is. if it's a moderately-sized DLR or mirror-less camera, read on today. This is your day. Your camera is not all that heavy, though it can gain some grammes when you put a long lens or zoom on it. You'll likely be thinking of astral photography, as well as landscape shoots. You want a tripod that is easy enough to carry out into the boondocks but still has enough stiffness to stay steady in a wind. If the operating field is muddy or wet, you'll want something that can c0pe with this. Waterproof tripods are not new to the market, and now that newer materails are avaiable for their construction, they can be within the reach of most people. There are still oddities like the ones that are built with their legs upside down, but these are rare. Sirui. Strange name, but...

How many of us get a tool kit with our new digital cameras these days? In the old film days it was common for the box containing the SLR or rangefinder camera to have a complete tool pouch including a stilson wrench, set of spanners, lens brace, film jack, and a bottle of optical antiseptic. In the case of some Kodak cameras you got a 8-round clip of .30-06 ball ammunition and a toothbrush.I think we are being done - nowadays you're lucky to get a battery charger and a squidgy little lens cloth with some. Even the instruction manuals are on a CD...

Sirui? Are you serious? Sure we are.The larger of the Sirui tripods that appeared in the Little Studio turns out to be a compact design - the company recognizes that people are travelling more these days and need to travel lighter. We also know that they may be travelling with the DSLR rather than the mirror-less systems - hence the need to hold heavier loads.The Sirui T 2204X and the Sirui K30 X are partners - albeit partners that you have to purchase separately and mate together. They are designed for supporting the larger system cameras while still retaining lightness and compact size themselves. These are components for people who are going to stand at the airline counter and look over the excess-baggage price list with nervousness.The tripod starts out as a carbon fibre design with screw-lock legs. The yoke is a lightweight forged casting - more weight saved. It folds back 180º into itself for space saving. it packs into a nylon case with the K-30 X head still attached.You might just get away with it in the cabin...

There's a dramatic statement that will bring a cheer to the lips of the wholesalers - praise indeed for this Manfrotto Befree tripod. They are going to have to be careful when they say the name - it is the MVKBFR-LVE - but it is well worth the attention of the video shooter.Most of the tripods that have been reviewed in this column are intended for still camera use - from big studio jobs to tiny travel models. They may feature three-way or ball heads but they rarely pan and tilt in a way that would help a video maker. This Manfrotto product is different.Oh, it has many of the standard Manfrotto features - it folds back upon the centre column to save carrying space and it has four-tube extension legs with lever locks. The leg angles are dictated by swivel levers at the top that allow several angles of splay. There is a hook on the centre column to allow you to put a weight on it to further steady the assembly. So far, so normal.The part that departs is...