During the course of 2015, I have been seeing and hearing more and more people going on about the tripod systems made by a new Chinese brand called SIRUI. While this brand has been around for close to a decade, it was only recently introduced to South Africa by SunshineCo. and thus most South Africans aren’t familiar with it. I was very excited when the brand manager for SIRUI South Africa, Willem Foster, recently asked if I wanted test out some new equipment for them. I happily obliged, as I love trying out new gear and I was intrigued to see what SIRUI was all about.
I was given a tripod and a gimbal head, namely the SIRUI PH-20 Carbon Fibre gimbal tripod head and the SIRUI W-2204 Carbon Fibre waterproof tripod. I had a trip planned to the bush to shoot some wildlife when Willem had asked me, and I thought it was a perfect time to try out this new gear.
My initial impression of the gear when I received delivery was fantastic. The build quality seemed excellent and the way the product was packaged and presented was top notch. To put it into short words – my first impression lasted! I am very impressed with the gimbal and tripod I tested out! If I had the money, I would be buying this exact tripod and gimbal right now. Not only is the build quality fantastic, the vast array of features the tripod and gimbal boast blew me away.
Lets break this review down into two sections, and I will talk about the gimbal and tripod separately. The first part of this review covers the SIRUI PH-20 Gimbal head. Click here to go to that article.
SIRUI W-2204 Waterproof Carbon Fiber Tripod
Finding a good tripod for a good price is a nightmare. The market offers a wide range of products in all the different price-tiers and there are no-doubt way too many brands available. This is because countless manufacturers are trying to capitalise on the exponential boom in photography by rushing poorly designed products to the market. Unless you’ve personally tested several of the brands, it’s really hard to know which is actually a well-designed product at a fair price. When you go to the top-end of the market, everyone knows that Gitzo is the best, but if you dip into the mid-tier brands it becomes very murky very quickly. There’s a good reason why Hougaard chose to add SIRUI to Landscapegear’s highly curated selection of brands. It stands head and shoulders above the other mid-tier brands on construction quality, design, price and value for money. My experience with this tripod once again proved that this model is no exception to SIRUI’s great standards.
This tripod was an absolute pleasure to use and it has many useful features that I love. I used the tripod in both wildlife and landscape photography scenarios and it excelled in both. The biggest question about this tripod is obviously what that waterproof name association involves. Saying that a tripod is waterproof can mean many things and it’s one of those titles that manufacturers can easily exploit for false advertising.
When the joints are locked/tightened, no water can enter the joints or legs. This is an extremely useful feature as any tripod’s biggest enemy is water entering the joints. If it is clean tap water then there’s no problem, but if it’s sea water or muddy lake/river water, you’re in trouble. The joints of a tripod are very precise mechanical devices and when submerged in water, the liquid finds it’s way into all those small interconnecting parts. When it eventually evaporates, it leaves behind any salt/sand/dirt that the water contained and over time this ruins the tripod by accumulating in the joints. This tripod prevents that from happening as the water can not enter the joints. If you’re a regular seascape shooter, this is an invaluable feature to have.
That is however not the only thing that makes this such a great tripod. Let's take a look at what else it has to offer.
The tripod is presented with a well padded carry-bag, which includes small compartments for all the accessories, tools and tripod plates. I like it when a manufacturer supplies their products with protective bags, as these are made to fit and you don’t then need to spend extra on gear protection.
The following items are included with this product:
- Custom Padded Case
- Split Centre Column
- Shoulder Strap
- Spring-Loaded Hook
- Metal Spikes
- Monopod Kit (wrist strap + extra 1/2 ~ 3/8 tripod screw + extra platform)
SIRUI follows a simplistic design philosophy using durable, high quality materials. Their tripods feature a combination of excellent aspects that make it a dream to use. The first great aspect is twist-joints; they are simple in design, easy to operate and easy to maintain. This tripod features leg-angle adjusters that allow the legs to be flipped up to 180 degrees for shooting from a low angle. Usually a tripod’s center-column ends up in the way in such situations, which is why the center column consists of a two pieces – Simply remove the long section and the tripod has a minimum height of just 15.5cm. Included with the tripod are two sets of feet – normal rubber ones for everyday terrain and a set of stainless steel spikes for ice. South Africans obviously don’t shoot on the ice too often, but if you have to it is an expensive accessory to acquire – SIRUI once again providing excellent value for your money. At the bottom end of the center-column you’ll find a stainless steel hook, which can be used to hang something heavy from for added stability in the wind, or for hanging an accessory like a filter pouch from. One of this tripod’s coolest features is that one of the legs can be removed to use as a monopod. Simply loosen the screw joint at the top of the leg, attach the extra platform and wrist strap and you have waterproof carbon fiber monopod. This adds another R2 000.00 worth of value to this product.
Below are the specs and features of the tripod and further down you’ll find a variety of photos showing all the features and configurations.
SIRUI W-2204 Tripod Features
- Carbon Fibre design to ensure lightweight tripod with added strength, increased load capacity and vibration reduction characteristics.
- Waterproof leg design helps protect the inside of the tripod from water damage.
- Three leg angle settings for awkward setup positioning.
- Legs can fold up to 180° for compact packing, and also for awkward setup while shooting.
- Bubble level on the tripod to indicate horizontal alignment.
- One of the legs detach into a waterproof monopod, which can be incorporated with the centre column for extra height.
- Monopod wrist strap which can be attached to the monopod.
- Ergonomic self-returning leg angle locking mechanisms.
- Centre column can be shortened for shooting close to the ground.
- Hook at the bottom of the centre column to allow for added weight to be added for increased stability or to hang filters/accessories from.
- Interchangeable feet – slip resistant rubber feet and stainless steel spiked feet for ice.
- Variable size tripod screws
- Material: Carbon Fibre
- Leg Sections: 4
- Max Leg Diameter: 29mm
- Min Leg Diameter: 18mm
- Max Height Column down: 147cm
- Max Height Column Ext: 180cm
- Min Height: 15.5cm
- Retracted Height: 56cm
- Folded Height: 52cm
- Monopod Max Height: 1.77m
- Monopod Min Height: 47cm
- Weight: 1.7kg
- Load: 18kg
Now that I have gone through all the features, let me talk about what I think of the tripod, and how I found working with it.
Using the W-2204
I am absolutely in love with this tripod. The amount of features and everything it can do simply fits in perfectly with my photographic style. I can use it to mount big lenses on when shooting wildlife, it allows me to shoot landscapes in running water without worrying about damaging the tripod, it allows for extreme low angle work close to the ground and it is lightweight enough to carry when hiking up the Drakensberg on a landscape shoot, but still strong enough to handle a heavy setup. The locking rings on the legs are easy to turn, and I had no problem turning them or adjusting the leg-angle lock with gloves on. The custom padded case was a welcome feature when transporting the tripod. Driving on bumpy roads in the back of a Land Cruiser can take it’s toll on gear, and knowing the tripod was well packed left me to only worry about taking photo’s.
I currently own a tripod without a centre column, and I found it very useful on this tripod and used it quite a lot. The tripod was very stable in strong winds and the carbon fibre helped alleviate vibrations further. The added shoulder strap was a nice feature to make carrying the tripod a lot easier. I personally would remove the longer centre column, and opt for the shorter one purely because I do shoot quite a lot very close to the ground for a nice low angle, and I prefer to keep my setups as simple as possible. The shorter centre column also decreased the weight on the tripod.
I’m not the tallest of guys, but I did set the tripod up to be quite tall, and the stability was very good.
The exceptional conclusion I have from testing out this gear – SIRUI should be a brand standing at the very top of the heap with the likes of Gitzo, and it should be a brand everyone should consider when purchasing tripods and support for their photographic gear.
Thanks again to Willem at SunshineCo. for the chance to test out the equipment!