Vel­bon Ul­trek UT-53D £150/$200

A novel twist on tr ipod de­sign

NPhoto - - Gear Zone -

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.

Per­for­mance

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.

Specs

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

Ver­dict

Fea­tures Build/han­dling Per­for­mance Value for money

Over­all

It’s cer­tainly travel-friendly, but it’s a lit­tle ba­sic, and has a mea­gre max load rat­ing.

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