Dibs Photography

The Slik Tripod

Those of you  that have either been on one of my workshops or been out photographing with me will know there are normally 3 or 4 different tripods in the boot of my car. I regularly lend them out to other photographers  to try out,  as well as support participants on my workshops to use them. 

The common theme of all the  tripods I own  is they are are all solidly made and are able to cope when out in the British elements shooting landscapes, which is often in inclement weather conditions. In July this year (2019) I was asked if I would consider having a play around with the new line up of Carbon Fibre Tripods from Slik.

This new range of Tripods is called the Pro-CF range and if I am completely honest,  I was a little sceptical at first.  I had this idea in my head that it will fall apart when it was treated in my fairly robust and rough manner. So, the question was, would it stand up to this man handling? 

 (for note: The time I used the tripod and ball head was Late July till August 2019. All the images were taken using the Fujifilm X-T2 and 10-24mm and 16-55mm lens’s)

In the Loan Agreement form that was signed, as let’s face it, they don’t know me from Adam, it states…..

‘It is your responsibility to take good care of the equipment on loan and treat it as you would a piece of your own equipment’

Well, in the time i had it, I did just that.  I used it in the sea, had huge waves crashing right upon it, it was in a river, wedged between rocks and in thick mud, transported in my car boot and generally treated as this type of equipment should be treated… for work!

 It arrived on a Monday, during that lovely heatwave, the week when the new hottest UK day of the year was recorded.  It was a good opportunity to head up  to the Norfolk coast to shoot some  images for the portfolio. I took the tripod out of the box and was pleasantly surprised with the case it came with, it was strong, had a nice handle on it - a padded shoulder strap and a chunky loop. You can fit the spare column and spiked feet it came with in the case a -long with the actual tripod.  The tripod had a rugged feel to it, but yet, was  a slightly more compact size than my other tripods.  Initially I did worry it may come up a little short for me, but these were unfounded as upon fully extending the legs on the Slik Pro CF-834 tripod and placing the SlikBall Head PBH-635AS I was happy that the overall height matched my eye height, at 5ft 8 this is perfect, as have always said it is good to have a tripod that matches your eye height as that is where you are looking for you compositions.

I drove up to Blakeney in North Norfolk and as I  loaded up my bag  my thoughts were how much more compact the setup I was now about to use was in comparison to   the other tripod I had been using just 2 days before.  The tripod bag was balanced when full of the equipment.  I  set  the tripod up… I  started to set the legs down and was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to undo the twist locks, set up the tripod in its place and locked off the legs. I gave it the compulsory push and wiggle from on top of the ball head with the palm of my hand, to make sure it was not going anywhere, and voila!  It was that easy to set up. I was rather happy. I then proceeded to shoot away into the evening sun, not even thinking about the new legs I had.

Here are a few images from that session.

Next up, after that shoot,  was a trip down to my local haunt, Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast. An area of sandy beaches, that has cliffs  crumbling into the sea at an alarming rate. So quick in fact,  that many homes have fallen into the sea already.  I recall feeling pleased that the tripod was compact and easy to transport, yet did not compromise on quality, robustness or strength of product. It was perfect for the shoot I had in mind for here. I started off with a few compositions, i had hoped for a sunset, but as the grey skies carried on I decided to get into the sea, so it was a boots off  job and I had the tripod in the water, that was by now halfway up my legs. The tripod was well and truly doing what i expected  and needed from it. It was  anchored in place and  enabled  me to shoot up to 15-second exposures with no movement at all, even as  the waves crashed upon the legs of this carbon ‘thing of loveliness’!.

For my next shoot I  head onto the Norfolk Broads, this was a rather windy shoot, with the wind speed on the weather app recording that it was 23mph blowing right along the river. Regardless, I had these few shots in mind and I intended to get them. We all know that 23mph and long exposures are not best friends,  you must  pay attention to what you are doing.  Again the tripod was put in place, filters setup and I sheltered the setup from the wind like any other shoot I have done and shot for 40 seconds getting the shot I was after, although the clouds were not the most ideal, I was still happy with the results.

Then from here I ended up further along the Norfolk broads, with 1 leg of the tripod in the river and the rest of the tripod positioned to nestle in amongst the reeds on the bank, using the spiked feet.  I was shooting  lovely reflections in the water. This is where the ball head  really came into its own, it was nice and simple to use and really helped in  framing of the vegetation in the shot. 

1/10th sec expoure

later in the month i went out again, this time to visit an old skeleton mill, the tripod had to be set up in the bushes to get the composition I wanted and again the ease with setting it up and locking the legs while getting munched on by mosquitos meant I could get into position very quickly and get the shot I needed. You can see one of my Vlogs from here

Then the last stop with the tripod was quite challenging, it was to Cobbold’s point in Felixstowe. I was  running a professional photography workshop.  I got to the site a couple of hours early so I could grab some shots, however, I did not expect the howling wind though, it was 30mph, the tail end of the 60 mph we had the day before. I was keen to see how the tripod would perform in this type of weather, which we all know is not that uncommon for the UK. I set it up and did the usual 15 second exposures, then 1 min and then went for some 2 min shots, i was a little short on time, but even with the weather and the added pressure of limited time the shots are as sharp as you like, even with the wind battering the tripod. It is more than  fair to say this bit of kit gets the  award for ‘I can stand up to the rubbish UK weather’ 

So at the end of the 3 weeks I had the tripod. I asked myself a few questions:

If my current tripod broke right now and I was looking for a replacement in the £300 range, would I buy this one?

Yes, I would, I believe it is up to the job that I need from it as a landscape photographer shooting long exposures on the UK coast.

it is good value for money carbon fibre tripod. If you can afford to invest in something a little extra - you won’t go wrong with this. What makes this better value for money than competitors, it is more compact and can certainly pack a punch, it’s stable, no less  so than some of it’s more expensive competition

Is it well designed?

Yes, it is, it has the standard hook for hanging your camera bag or anchoring down the tripod. It has  easy to splay legs. Very low ground clearance. It’s lightweight and   easy to strip down and clean and the legs are easy to unlock and extend. It is attractive to look at and the bag is exceptional and a good extra.

Is it durable?

In the time I have been using it, I have dropped it once, it has been bashed against fences, rocks  and trees, used to bash down stinging nettles, rattled around in my SUV’s boot. It took a trip  into the sea,  was brushed down and also lent to a workshop attendees and it is still going strong.  It is durable, robust and very good value for money.

Would I recommend it to others?

I already have to one  of my workshop attendees.