I never really thought of myself as a tripod user. I spent most of my time originally hiking around and taking pictures and a tripod seemed to be extra weight I did not need. Eventually, though, I got the lightest one I could find to carry around. I wasn’t sold on the idea, so I didn’t drop for carbon fiber, and got something inexpensive. I didn’t want the typical cheap aluminum tripod with a pad head that most people start out with. I finally settled on a Slik Sprint Mini GM.
I was shooting digital at the time, and was interested in getting some night sky photos. I purchased this Slik Sprint Mini tripod to help get them. Honestly, though, it was a wash. I was living back east at the time, and the light pollution was horrible. In addition, early digital wasn’t the best way to capture the night sky.. The sensor would heat up on a long exposure, and the resulting image was crap, full of noise and hot pixels. The tripod made a few hikes in to the Appalachian mountains with me and then got put away. Once the return to film was made, I rediscovered this and have put it to better use.
As I mentioned, light weight was the critical factor in buying this. Well, as light a weight as I could get at a reasonable price. Slik, like most manufacturers, touted their carbon fiber tripods as the low weight solution. Carbon fiber tripods do offer less weight than this one, but at a substantially higher price. I didn’t want to drop that much cash, so I went ahead and got the steel model. The ball head was a plus, and allowed me to add quick releases if I wanted to. The newer version of this tripod is aluminum instead of steel, and is much lighter than this one. However, it’s weight capacity has been basically halved. Everything comes with a price. The foam grips they added are nice, though. The new one also contains a quick release plate.
I’m going to need to get a better, higher capacity tripod in the future. I’m starting to shoot large format, and while this can hold my current 4×5 barely, if I move any higher, it will lack stability. I really have no desire to have a less stable tripod and see my camera go crashing to the ground.
I still want to get those night sky photos. Moving west has given me far better access to dark sky out in the wilderness. My film SLRs lack the problem of a hot sensor. To be honest, most digital cameras no longer have that problem either, but I’m not going to go back and buy one just to try it out. I’m sure a nice medium format image will give me a good result.
I’m thinking of getting a higher capacity tripod like the Pro Series Slik makes. Or I may go ahead and take the jump in to the Manfrotto for the large format experience. I’ll keep this one for medium format and my SLRs.