Travel Tripod Review: Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head

 Sunrise in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Image made using the Sirui T-025x Tripod with C-10 ball-head.

Sunrise in Thingvellir National Park, Iceland. Image made using the Sirui T-025x Tripod with C-10 ball-head.

Until fairly recently, the options for reliable and affordable lightweight travel-tripods were slim, especially if you needed one to support a full-frame DSLR and lens. The Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head is a breath of fresh air. It supports the weight I need in a very lightweight, sturdy, and compact package. It is also the perfect travel tripod for mirrorless shooters.

 Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod, C-10 Ball Head, Hex Key, Manuals, and Carrying Case (which doubles as a small backpack).

Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod, C-10 Ball Head, Hex Key, Manuals, and Carrying Case (which doubles as a small backpack).

For years I had to put up with sub-par stainless steel or aluminum tripods made by discount brands when weight and size were an issue. This was because the few companies that offered “travel tripods” charged as much for them as for full-sized ones – upwards of $700. My main tripod is a relatively large Gitzo Mountaineer Series 2. I’ve used multiple heads on it over the years and have settled with a Manfrotto Pan-Head/Ball-Head that works fine. This set up supports a lot more weight than I have to put on it and has thrived through several drops over years of outdoor photography. The only issue is its size. Its minimum length is 24.5 inches (30 inches with the head attached). It’s perfect for wildlife and landscape situations, and not that much of a burden on long hikes, but, when it comes to international travel on budget airlines that often have strict size/weight restrictions, the Gitzo wont fit in any of my over-head approved bags. I do not like to check luggage, especially camera equipment, unless absolutely necessary.

I came across Sirui tripods at a small camera shop in Reykjavik in 2015. Never heard of the brand before, but they seemed sturdy and looked a lot like my Gitzo. I was using a small Benro Stainless Steel tripod (my first tripod purchased at the B&H NYC store years before) at the time that only supported 8 lbs (if that). I never liked it that much, but it was $80. The steel was cold, it didn’t absorb vibrations like carbon fiber does, and felt a bit flimsy. Before my next trip to Iceland in 2016, I decided it was time to get a more serious travel tripod and purchased the Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head combo for $219. I haven’t looked back since!

Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head Tech Specs:

Head Type Ball Head
Quick Release Arca-style
Material Carbon Fiber
Head Attachment Fitting 1/4'-20
Leg Sections 5
Leg Tube Diameters Maximum: 0.87" / 2.20cm, Minimum: 0.4" / 1.0cm
Leg Lock Type Twist
Independent Leg Spread Yes
Spiked/Retractable Feet No
Center Column Type Removable
Center Column Sections 2
Bubble Level No
Load Capacity 13.2lbs / 5.98kg
Folded Length 11.8" / 29.97cm
Height Maximum: 54.5" / 138.43cm, Maximum (w/o Column Extended): 48.6" / 123.44cm, Minimum: 10.2" / 25.90cm, Retracted: 18.9" / 48cm
Weight 1.54lbs / 0.7kg

First Impressions:

When my new Sirui arrived, I was taken aback by how small it actually was. It weights only 1.5 lbs, which is perfect for travel and folded to under a foot. The last of the five leg sections wasn’t much thicker than a pencil! I thought, “How could this possibly support 13 lbs?” After popping my D600 and 18-35G lens on it (a very light set up already), I had no more reservations. It was solid. The ball-head operated smoothly and locked tightly in whatever direction I tilted it in- up or down. Then, I decided to test it with my D600 and 70-200 f2.8 VR (a much heavier combo) and was surprised at how well this little tripod held it. When fully extended with the two-section center-column, the 70-200 combo was a bit top heavy and the ball-head awkward to use. I would never shoot like that with this particular tripod. But for landscapes, if the center column is removed, the set up is much sturdier. I’m not a fan of center columns and it was important to me that my new travel tripod would allow me to remove it. I’ve never used the center column on my Gitzo. Even though the Sirui is much shorter, only extending to my chest level, without the center column, I still prefer not using it. Besides, the best compositions are rarely at eye-level anyway.

 Sirui T-025X

Sirui T-025X

 Sirui C-10 Ball Head

Sirui C-10 Ball Head

Pros:

 -       Compact and very light, perfect for travel and long hikes when weight matters
-       Supports up to 13.2 lbs, easily supports a DSLR and lens no larger than a 70-200mm f2.8
-       Carbon fiber construction with twist-locking leg sections
-       Well-made
-       Ball-head is fluid and smooth in operation, locks into place securely
-       6 year manufacturer warranty
-       Removable Center Column
-       Ability to lower camera to near ground level
-       Arca-style release plate
-       Foam grips on legs
-       Nifty carabiner included for attaching extra weight underneath for more support
-       Costs less than any other decent carbon fiber travel tripod on the market as of this writing

Cons:

 -       Relatively short without center column
-       It would be nice to have 4 leg sections instead of 5 for slightly thicker sections (though that would make it longer)
-       No built-in bubble level
-       Head is sometimes difficult to install after center column is removed
-       Little rubber feet cannot be replaced and are not removable

 The small ball-head plate is attached to camera using a hex key (two included) or by using a coin.

The small ball-head plate is attached to camera using a hex key (two included) or by using a coin.

 w/ Nikon F100 attached

w/ Nikon F100 attached

About Sirui:

 Sirui (pronounced “sue-ray”) is a Chinese company that has been around for about a decade. I typically try to avoid Chinese-made photography products due to their reputation for shoddy workmanship of mass-produced and poorly engineered knock-offs. Japan is usually where the good stuff is made. Sirui is trying to change that preconception by producing well-made products with Japanese-quality engineering and backing their products with generous warranties. Sirui tripods come with 6 year warranty, not some measly 30-day to 1 year limited warranty like most companies. You can really get a sense of their attention to detail when using one of their tripods. Sirui doesn’t only make small travel tripods either, they have a full-range of options in various sizes.

 Fully extended without center column (from above - fully extended without center column comes up to my chest and I am 5' 11" tall).

Fully extended without center column (from above - fully extended without center column comes up to my chest and I am 5' 11" tall).

Conclusions:

 If you’ve read my gear post, you’ll remember that I raved about this little tripod after using it in Iceland last October. It allowed me to get into narrow places that my large Gitzo tripod would have never fit into and got out of my way quickly when it wasn’t needed. It also allowed me to carry only one camera backpack on the plane and not have to separate from any my gear. The Sirui fit perfectly and discreetly into the water-bottle pouch on the side of my Lowepro Photo Sport Pro 30L AW. As a travel photographer, especially one focused on the great outdoors, it is essential that I travel light. The Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head combo helps me do that. For even more technical details and features on this tripod, visit Sirui's official website.

 Me using the Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head in Iceland (a little over half-way extended without center column).

Me using the Sirui T-025x Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball Head in Iceland (a little over half-way extended without center column).

I recommend purchasing this item from B&H PhotoAmazon, or Ebay


If you enjoyed this article and would like to receive news, updates, and exclusive content reserved only for email subscribers, please sign up by clicking here. Thank you. - Jon


* I am not affiliated with Sirui and this is not sponsored content.