Velbon Ultrek UT-43D II £110, $200
Positively tiny when folded down for travelling, the Velbon is certainly a take-anywhere tripod
Weighing barely more than a kilogram, the Velbon is not only one of the lightest tripods in the group, but also has the outright smallest stowage size, at 29cm. That’s 5cm shorter than the Giottos Vitruvian. Meanwhile, it also beats the Giottos for maximum operating height, at 156cm compared with a relatively lowly 136cm. This is mainly because the Velbon features no fewer than six sections in each leg.
One drawback of having so many leg sections is that it’s a chore releasing and fastening endless clip or twist locks. To avoid this, Velbon has fitted a system whereby progressive twisting of the foot releases or locks successive sections. The more substantial upper sections release first, and there’s even a second, separate, twist lock for the topmost extending section.
The extending centre column can’t be removed or inverted but the minimum operating height is fairly low at 34cm. The threeposition lockable leg angles are well implemented and the ball head has two spirit levels. In most respects, it’s a supremely travel-friendly tripod. The only weakness is that, with so many leg sections and a diameter of just 9mm for the bottom section, it feels a bit wobbly at medium to high operating heights.