Sirui N-3204X + K-30X ball head £475, $605
Works really well as a carbon fibre tripod, and converts into a monopod for one-legged use Sold as separate legs and head, the Sirui ‘NX’, or Universal X, series shares much of the design philosophy of the Easy Traveller kit also on test. It’s compact, thanks to legs that swing upwards and encompass the head when folded. The folded height is greater, at 51cm compared with 43cm, but the maximum operating height is more impressive, at 187cm. The maximum load rating is beefed up, at 18kg and 30kg for the carbon fibre legs and ball head respectively, while the carrying weight only rises from 2kg to 2.4kg. Leg section locks are changed from clip to twist.
One of the legs can be unscrewed to form the basis of a separate monopod. The centre column comprises two pieces and, when split, the longer section can be used with the head to form the monopod, while the shorter one can be used for ultra-low-level shooting (at just 13cm high) without the need to invert the camera.
Rigidity is slightly better than with the smaller Sirui tripod on test, and nearly as impressive as in the Manfrotto 055 carbon fibre model. The K-30X ball head is beautifully engineered. The head’s main locking screw doubles as an adjustable friction damper and the pan-only release is a useful addition.