I made a mistake when I purchased my first tripod. I had just started taking landscape photographs and understood enough to know I needed to start shooting with a tripod, but at the time I didn’t realize how important a tripod was to get great landscape photographs. I went to the store and purchased a cheap (non Sirui) lower quality tripod without doing any research and I regretted the purchase within three months. So, when it was time to make my second tripod purchase I was much more analytical. First, I made a long list of all the options I was looking for in a spreadsheet. Here is a copy of the travel tripod comparison spreadsheet I created.
At this point I was already more experienced at landscape photography so I better understood the key features I needed in a tripod. There are included as columns in the spreadsheet. This list may be different for other photographers but I am sure most landscape photographers would include these when looking for a good tripod. Here is my list:
- Stability - I used load capacity to compare this.
- Maximum Height - Although I rarely extend the top middle cylinder, it is nice to have for those occasions when you need it to get the shot.
- Min Height - For me this is more important than max height. I often need to get the camera close to the ground to capture an interesting foreground or reflection.
- Weight - I am often hiking to my photography destination so I want the lightest possible.
- Folded Length - Since I am often travelling and hiking with my tripod, I want it to be compact as possible. This is why I preferred the five section version.
- Price - Of course I want all of the above for as cheap as possible. That being said, I learned my lesson from choosing a cheap tripod that broke one week before I arrived in Angkor Wat so I wasn’t going to just look a price.
After narrowing down my options using the numbers in the travel tripod comparison spreadsheet. I went to the store to try out the top choices. After a good hour of trying the different tripods I walked out with a Sirui T-2005X Tripod with K-10x Tripod Head. At the time I thought I was taking a chance because this was a new model and there weren’t many reviews on the Internet yet, but I liked the feel and sturdiness so I took that chance.
Well, it has been a year since I started using it and the T-2005X has stood the test of time. I like it as much today as that first day in the store! It has helped me capture thousands of amazing low light landscape photos. Here are some examples of why I need these features.
As you can see from this photo, I don’t mind getting a bit wet to get the photo. The tripod legs have seen their fair share of rivers, streams and even salt water. I normally rinse out the legs after they have been in salt water but that is the only maintenance or cleaning I have done and they legs still move in and out as smoothly as when brand new.
To get this shot I needed the camera to be close to the ground and completely stable on the loose rock to capture the blurred water. What you don’t see in the photo are the half dozen photographers behind me standing behind their tripods. I have my camera set less than one foot off the ground which lets me capture a much more interesting composition. This is the power of the removable center column and 180 degree leg joints!
What you don’t see in this photos is that right below the frame are treetops trying to peek into the bottom of my photo. This is one of the rare instances when I needed to raise the top middle cylinder to the max height to get the shot. If I had chosen a tripod 10 cm shorter getting the shot would have been a lot harder. For a full list of other types of photos I have taken with my tripod checkout the photos tagged with Sirui tripod section on my blog.
For the past year, almost every time I shoot landscapes my Surui tripod is with me. The only exception is when I am hiking a long distance and can’t carry the extra weight. I definitely miss the tripod in the circumstances and will probably end up buying a smaller lighter tripod or a monopod next year, it will be one of the Sirui models. If you are planning on purchasing a tripod I definitly would recommend checking out my travel tripod comparison spreadsheet I put together and choose the one that is right for you, but I have been happy with my choice.