That brings us to the Sirui T-025X carbon fiber tripod. I can’t say enough good things about this little wonder. Does it have its limitations? Well, let’s see…
The Sirui T-025X: An Overview
The Sirui (pronounced Soo-ray) T-025X is an 8-layer carbon fiber support. The more layers, the stronger the tripod. Most carbon fiber tripods feature 6- or 8-layer construction.
This is a folding pod. That means that the legs fold back on themselves to shorten the overall length, making it easier to stow in luggage, should the need arise. It also means that the ball-and-socket head (ballhead)—in this case, the C-10X that’s included—is compact enough to fit this profile.
Interestingly, when I travel with the T-025X attached to a photo backpack, I find I need to either extend the leg sections or lower the legs to a normal position so that the pod has enough length to properly fit the tripod bracing on a backpack.
The T-025X features variable leg angles, by way of spring-loaded leg release mechanisms. This is what allows you to fold the legs back on themselves for storage. To use, you press on the mechanism while pushing the leg inward a drop to release, and while continuing to hold down the release mechanism, pull the leg outward. If you release the mechanism at some point along the way, the leg will lock in one of the detented positions. Aside from collapsing the tripod by this means, you’d use this to set the tripod on uneven ground (with one or two legs raised higher) or spread the legs out to further stabilize the pod.
The Sirui T-025X: A Closer Look
Hand warmers cover the topmost section on two of the legs. While your hands won’t freeze to the legs, the legs still get cold in winter. Plus this keeps oils from your hands off the legs and further protects them from bumps and bruises when the tripod is fully collapsed. Some tripods use hand warmers on only one leg; others feature them on all three. It’s a cost and design issue.
Once you unfold the legs, the first thing you’ll notice is that the 8” center column is already extended. Actually, it’s not—it’s simply there. Twist the knurled knob at the top to truly extend it further, although I don’t really recommend doing that in order to ensure stability.
This center column can be unscrewed, and the tripod head can then be screwed onto the spider (the area where the legs come together). This will give you even greater stability, but an uncomfortably shorter tripod, unless you’re seated. I find, when standing, I have to stoop or scooch down to use this tripod even with the center column in place (but not extended), but it’s a price I’m willing to pay in exchange for its compactness and light weight.
You can also use the T-025X as a tabletop tripod by returning all legs to their shortest length and splaying out the legs. Remove the center column, detach the ballhead, then reattach the head directly onto the leg assembly, so the camera is closer to ground level.
It’s All in the Legs…
The legs feature twist locks. A half turn twist to the left and the leg section is unlocked. You can actually unlock all the leg sections at once, if your hand is large enough to cover the four twist locks (and likewise lock them in place, once the legs are returned to their original positions).
The leg sections extend smoothly in one motion. Don’t jerk them out, though. Be sure to lock (twist to the right) each leg section firmly, but don’t overtighten. Once all legs are locked in place, stand the tripod on firm ground and press downward on each leg to ensure each section is secured.
...And the Head
The head is an integral part of any tripod. One wouldn’t think much of the tiny C-10X ballhead that comes with this tripod by looking at it, or hefting it. Like the leg assembly, the head is a pleasant surprise. Provided you don’t overburden it with a physically long, heavy lens, this head will do the job nicely. The load capacity doesn’t take into consideration torque forces that act to induce vibration.
The head features an Arca-style quick release (QR). The QR plate is small but does the trick. There is a security pin on the head to prevent inadvertent sliding off of the camera when mounted, but don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security. First make sure the plate is properly seated and secure by locking it in place with the knurled knob. Release the knob to remove the camera.
The main knob serves double duty, controlling drag (friction) and locking/releasing the movement for up/down, side-to-side, and angular placement—achieving this movement very smoothly. Panoramic movement via a separate knob is also silky smooth. For utmost stability, ensure that the lens protrudes over a forward-facing leg.
To further stabilize the tripod in windy conditions, you can hang a weight down from the center. Instead of a hook, Sirui chose to use a closed metal ring and carabiner (included) from which to hang a weight—a small bag or water bottle, for instance. The added weight, combined with the camera rig and head, should not exceed the total allowable load stipulated for the tripod.
When using the Sirui T-025X, I kept to such combinations as the Nikon D610 and Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 lens and the D300 with Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 (the latter attached to the head via the tripod mount on the lens) so as not to overburden the head. The T-025X with C-10X ballhead had no trouble delivering sharp results from 2-second exposures of Buckingham Fountain taken with my Nikon D610 and Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 lens at 48mm. Further tests back home showed the tripod could support a Nikon D300 with Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 lens at 135mm (202mm, 35mm equivalent) for up to 20 seconds (not tested beyond this point). A 10-sec. self-timer was used for the test shots at home; self-timer settings were variable for the fountain, shooting a sequence of exposures to capture the light show at different points.
How Does It Add Up?
Quite brilliantly, as our friends across the pond are wont to say. As I pointed out, there was one hitch when attaching to my backpack, but once that was resolved, I was on my way to Chicago’s Michigan Avenue, Cloud Gate (“The Bean”), and Buckingham Fountain.
Despite the tripod’s light weight, I can’t say I didn’t feel the added weight on my back. After all, anything that extends outside the boundaries of the backpack itself will exert some outward force, but it was minimal, not interfering with my comfort in the least.
The T-025X is a breeze to set up and break down (collapse and fold up). This tripod does best on solid ground, since it lacks spikes. Spikes prevent a tripod from sliding around on dirt and gravel, as well as uneven mounds, hilly areas, and embankments.
Most important perhaps, it’s really a no-brainer to use. You don’t need to have any experience with a tripod to use it successfully the first time out. Nothing could be simpler, or more effective in this weight class.
However, you are paying a premium for carbon fiber. If you’re willing to pay the price, then you’ll have a tripod at your beck and call wherever you go. Stick it in a suitcase en route to your destination and slap it to the back (or side) of your photo backpack when heading out to shoot. It might not be the ultimate backpacker’s tripod (for want of spikes), but it will capture the grandeur of any landscape or waterfall. What’s more, the quick operation and small footprint (when set up) lends this tripod nicely to any tour group setting, where you may be granted only a few minutes to take pictures, and in any tourist mecca, where you’ll often find yourself among throngs of people or crowded into small spaces.
Compact and lightweight; easy and fast setup/breakdown.
Short height for many of us means you have to bend down to view through the camera’s viewfinder when standing; head lacks spirit levels.
Best Use: landscape photography; also works as tabletop tripod.
Worst Use: wildlife photography with long, heavy lenses.
Where can I get more info?
111 Asia Place
Carlstadt, NJ 07072
Phone: 201 939-7722
Fax: 201 939-7782
How much is it?
B&H & Adorama: $239.95 (incl. ballhead)
Does It Reach pixelPERFEXION? (100 pixels is best):
Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10X Ballhead: 95 pixels—a pleasure to use; literally doesn’t let you down.
Technical Specifications/Sirui T-025X Tripod:
Composition: Carbon fiber
No. leg sections: 5
Variable-angle legs: Yes (3 positions via spring-loaded detents + folded back)
Max. leg diameter: 22mm
Min. leg diameter: 10mm
Min. height: 4.1”/10.5 cm
Max. height: 48.6”/121.3 cm
Max. height w/ctr. col. ext.: 54.5”/139.1 cm
Folded height: 12.2”/31.0 cm
Weight: 1.7 lb/0.8 kg
Max. load: 13.2 lb/6 kg
Technical Specifications/Sirui C-10X head (included):
Type: Ball & socket head (ballhead)
Height: 3.3”/8.5 cm
Weight: 0.5 lb/0.22 kg
Max. load*: 28.7 lb/13 kg
QR plate included: Yes (TY-C10)
*Base the max. load on the value given for the tripod, namely 13.2 lb, which is what the legs will support.