Velbon Ultrek UT-53D £150/$200
A novel twist on tr ipod design
This Velbon is only a couple of centimetres longer than the tiny MeFOTO when folded down, yet reaches a respectable maximum height of 158cm. This is thanks to it having no less than six leg sections. As with the MeFOTO, there are no external clip or twist clamps; instead, there’s the same internal mechanism that releases and locks each section with progressive twisting of the foot. In the Velbon, there’s also a separate twist-action lock for the uppermost section of each leg.
Uniquely in this group, it has a horizontally rotating clamp where the centre column meets the legs. By raising and twisting the clamp, the legs are locked in their operating position, or freed to be hinged upward for folding away. It’s simple and effective.
Like the Manfrotto, the Velbon uses a proprietary, rather than Arca-Swiss type, quick-release plate. It has three spirit levels built in, but no panning lock or adjustable friction damper. It also has the lowest load rating of any head in the group, at 3kg.
Although the leg extension mechanisms work in the same way as those of the MeFOTO tripod, the locks are rather more secure than those found in the Velbon. However, overall stability is good rather than great, and is no match for the heavier tripods. In addition, the centre column can’t be removed and inverted for very low-level shooting, which may or may not be an issue, depending on what you like to shoot.
Construction material: Aluminium Weight: 1.4kg Alternative material: None Max/folded height: 158cm, 30cm Max load (legs, head): 5kg, 3kg Head mount platform dia: 36mm Head attachment screw: 1/4 inch Ball head: Velbon QHD-53D Quick-release plate: Velbon QB-62 Head adjustments: Lock
Features Build/handling Performance Value for money
It’s certainly travel-friendly, but it’s a little basic, and has a meagre max load rating.