Sirui T-024X Carbon Fiber Tripod / C-10S Ball Head
It’s sometimes amusing to hear the camera division salespersons of large household electronic appliance stores pitch why one should buy cameras from them – even when they’re routinely sold at standard retail prices. They’d say their camera packages include all manner of bundled and useful accessories: including cleaning kits, memory cards, filters and tripods. I reckon there would be a good number of persons who’d be thrilled with those freebies, but for persons who’ve spent any amount of time in photography, those things are not really very useful or come with caveats: cleaning kits have to be used with great care when used on lenses or filters with coating layers, the memory cards are those slow and cheap low capacity ones that just cannot keep up with modern cameras when used in burst mode, the cheap filters will stack on distortion that you might as well just shoot through a glass window, and the tripods are unable to reliably support anything heavier than a compact camera.
Tripods are meant to be life-long investments, or so anyone who forks out enough money to buy a Gitzo would say, if only to persuade oneself that it’s a good investment (Gitzo tripods are expensive). I’ve been using a Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 carbon fiber tripod + 488RC2 ballhead for almost 10 years now. The package was purchased from TK Foto for SGD560, and combined weight is a shade under 2kg. The tripod was used in the early years with my old heavy Nikon DSLR setups on a number of occasions including shooting fireworks festivals, flowers @ Singapore Botanic Gardens, and those long exposure shots of the Uluwatu Sunset @ Bali. Things were quite different 10 years ago though: specifically, our kids had not come along, which meant that the wife was typically the Tripod Girl. The Manfrotto set up only came out when when we take our annual Chinese New Year family photos, or when one of us needs an updated Passport photo (yep – we DIY those at home, and with pretty good results too!).
The Manfrotto 190CXPro3 tripod has served us well. That is, until a routine check a fortnight ago revealed that the interlocking pin on the Rapid Connect Adapter had worn off from wear and tear, which made it necessary to apply a good amount of force to secure the quick release plate. Not securing it properly makes it possible for a camera mounted on the quick release plate to kiss concrete. I could spend about SGD60 to replace the Rapid Connect Adapter altogether and the tripod otherwise works fine too, but I figured it’s about time to hunt for a replacement – and if I can find one light enough, for me to also bring along for our forthcoming trip to Western Australia.
One thing has clearly changed in the last ten years: you can’t snort anymore at some of the Chinese tripod manufacturers. Granted; their designs might be copies from the established manufacturers, but they’ve really upped their game by producing equivalents that are at a fraction of the cost and with the same quality engineering. One such manufacturer is Sirui, and despite the not usually very sterling reputation of Chinese-manufactured goods, Sirui’s line of tripods have been receiving quite a bit of praise from both enthusiasts and professionals.
The sole distributor for Sirui tripods in Singapore is TK Foto – where I purchased the Manfrotto 190CXPro3 from – and the shop has also relocated from Funan Center to Plaza Singapura. So, after taking a look at their line of traveller tripods, comparing specifications, a May Day holiday trip over, I picked up the Sirui T-024X Carbon Fiber Tripod / C-10S Ball Head @ SGD229. The aluminum and heavier version of the same costs about SGD100 less, but I figured my shoulders and back will thank me for choosing the lighter carbon fiber version instead.
And the funny thing is that this Sirui T-024X is sold at USD199/SGD289 @ Amazon i.e. this is one of those super rare occasions when camera equipment is cheaper here than internationally. Still, the real test will come in June when this thing gets brought onboard airplanes and is used for long exposure shots. So, more to come on that soon!