For some time now I've been putting travel tripods to the test, trying to find the best combination of stability, size, weight, and value. I'm mostly focusing on tripods that will fit comfortably in a carry-on bag but are still sturdy enough to be useful for long exposures or timelapse capture on the road with a DSLR. In general, I prefer a carbon fiber version if it's available; although they usually cost a bit more than their aluminum versions, they're also usually lighter and more rigid.
For this installment of these travel tripod tests I'm focusing on the Sirui T-2205X carbon fiber travel tripod.
Sirui doesn't yet have the kind of brand-name recognition that other older brands have, but I've been impressed with the products of theirs that I've used. And I've reviewed one of their monopods before.
Sirui is the brand-name used by a Chinese manufacturer that specializes mostly in tripods and other supports. And they have a surprisingly expansive range of supports on offer across their ranges of photo and video tripods, monopods, heads, and jibs. Their supports come with an impressive 6-year warranty (their bags come with a 2-year warranty).
The Sirui T-2205X is a lightweight, compact, carbon fiber tripod. It's the largest in Sirui's Traveler series of travel tripods (although they do have one that's slightly larger in their Traveler XL series). It's rated for a load capacity of up to 26.5 lbs (12kg) and a maximum height of about 57 inches (145cm).
It's sold as legs-only without a tripod head, but it can be paired with any standard tripod head that's of a sensible size and weight for the legs. The Sirui G-20X is a natural choice, but there's no particular reason you have to put a Sirui head on it because it uses the standard 3/8"-16 screw thread (and is even reversible to a 1/4"-20 option for flexibility).
They also make an aluminum version, but it's harder to find. It's slightly heavier 3.3 lbs / 1.5 kgs for the aluminum version compared with 2.6lbs / 1.2kg for the carbon version but otherwise has the same specs. Aluminum versions are usually less expensive, but in this case it's hard to find so that doesn't hold up.
The legs are in 5 sections. As with many of the newer travel tripods, they fold back on themselves to create a compact package. It fits easily inside a carry-on bag and many camera backpacks.
The angle of the legs is controlled with a spring-loaded locking mechanism. Personally, I much prefer the spring-loaded ones to the full manual versions because it's easier to do with one hand (like when you're holding a camera with the other, for example). It also greatly reduces the risk of the lock staying out and disengaged and risking having the legs splay when you apply weight.
The twist locks have rubberized grips. They lock and unlock in a half-turn, so it's easy to do quickly with one hand--including doing all four locks at once. And in a nice touch, the lock is not a perfectly linear rotation. What I mean is that the actual locking point doesn't require you rotate the grip until you can't possible rotate it any further. The lock actually grips about a 1/8 rotation before that point, which is presumably designed in part to prevent over-tightening causing damage. You feel a slight resistance at the point where the lock actually becomes engaged or disengaged.
Two of the legs have padded foam grips higher up the leg that make it easier to handle with cold or wet hands.
The feet have rubber ends. They don't come off, but twisting them extends steel spikes. One down side of that approach is that it leaves recesses for mud and dirt to get stuck in. But the upside, of course, is that you can work with spikes without the hassle of replacing the feet.
The default central column has a hanging hook on the bottom so that you can add weight for stabilization. The column is also removable. It comes with a short column that can further help cut down on weight if you never plan to use the central column extended (something I try to avoid when possible to maximize stability).
What's in the Box
In addition to the tripod itself, there's a padded soft case that's quite well-made and strong, a short central column that you can swap out for the standard longer one, and hex tools for tightening the connection where the legs meet the shoulders.
Folded Length: Legs reversed: 14.6" (37.0 cm)
Weight: 2.6 lb (1.2 kg)
Load Capacity: 26.5 lb (12 kg)
Maximum Height: 56.9" (144.5 cm)
Maximum Height w/o Column Extended: 49.0" (124.5 cm)
Minimum Height: 5.3" (13.5 cm)
Made Of: 8x carbon with forged aluminum hub
Made In: China
I'm impressed. And that makes for another Sirui product I'm impressed with.
It fits easily in a carry-on bag or camera backpack, is light enough to carry around all day, stable enough to hold a DSLR with a small or medium lens, and affordable.
And while Sirui is aiming for the affordable end of the market it also doesn't feel cheap. Sirui seems more focused on no-fuss, solid quality than gimmicks, and it shows. It doesn't convert to a monopod, doesn't come in funky colors, and doesn't use hipster names. But it does hold a camera still when shooting and it packs away small, all in a light, highly mobile package.
In use I've found it stable and reliable. I can easily loosen and tighten the leg extension locks with one hand, and they locked reliably in place with no appreciable give. And I also like the spring-loaded ratchet that locks the angle in place.
Even disregarding the price, it's a very good option. But when you factor in the affordable price point at around $300 (that is without a head, mind you), it's an especially attractive package.
The Sirui T-2205X is available at B&H Photo.
|Gitzo Traveler Kit (Series 2)||Gitzo GT1542T||MeFOTO Globetrotter||Manfrotto BeFree||Induro Grand Turismo CGT114||Sirui T-2205X||Benro GoTravel 2||Benro C1682TV1 Travel Angel II||3 Legged Thing Leo||3 Legged Thing Brian||3 Legged Thing Rick||3 Legged Thing Roger||Oben CT-3581||Sirui T-1024XL||Varavon Baby T3||Kirk Mini||MeFOTO Globetrotter Air|
|Model No.||GK2580TQD||GT1542T||C2350Q2T||MKBFRC4-BH||CGT114||T-2205X||GC269TB2||C1682TV1||3LLEOKIT||E3BRIAN||3PKRICK||E3ROGERBL||CT-3581||SUT1204XL||BABY T3||TT-1||GTAIRBLK|
|Made of||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Alloy||Carbon fiber||Carbon fiber||Aluminum||Aluminum/Stainless Steel||Aluminum Alloy|
|Leg Sections||4||4||5||4||4||5||5||4 (also version with 5)||5||5||5||5||5||4||3||1||5|
|Folded length||16.9 in|
|14.6 in |
|Max height||60.6 in|
|Max load||15.4 lb|
|< 66 lb|
< 30 kg
|< 66 lb|
< 29.9 kg
|< 44 lb|
< 20 kg
|< 66 lb|
< 29.9 kg
|Available w/Head?||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (not removable)||No||Yes (not removable)|