Richard Sibley tests a flexible tripod kit that’s great value
Kenro Karoo Ultimate Travel tripod kit at a glance:
- Four-section carbon-fibre
- Maximum height: 187cm
- Minimum height: 20.5cm
- Folded length: 48cm
- Weight: 1.93kg
- Padded bag included
- Price: Around £90
- Website: www.kenro.co.uk
The Karoo Ultimate Travel tripod kit, which is Kenro’s latest carbon-fibre tripod, makes some bold claims before you have even taken it out of its bag. It’s not the smallest or lightest travel tripod you can buy – it’s more in line with the Manfrotto 190 line than the Gitzo Traveler range – but it does have a few features that make it extremely versatile in a number of situations.
First, the Karoo has the ability to reverse the centre column. When this is combined with a low leg angle, the tripod has a working height of just 20.5cm, with a DSLR then supported, upside down, a few centimetres off of the ground for very low shots.
Like many other tripods, one of the legs can be removed and used as a monopod, but the standout feature is the ability to rotate the centre column from vertical to horizontal. The rotation is made possible thanks to an ingenious ball socket in the supporting head. Switching orientation is easy to do and takes around two seconds. While not especially useful for switching the camera orientation from portrait to landscape, it is useful for shooting straight down on the ground without the tripod legs being in shot. It’s also useful for getting macro images at awkward angles, or simply helping to balance the camera and tripod when shooting on less-than-ideal terrain.
Kenro Karoo Ultimate Travel tripod kit – key features
Short centre column
A short centre column is also supplied for low-angle shooting.
Twist leg locks
These take a few twists to lock, but I found them to be strong and secure.
There are three different angles for each leg.
Placing your camera bag on this hook will add additional weight.
Kenro Karoo Ultimate Travel tripod kit – our verdict
Without the swivel centre column, the Karoo is a well-made tripod with all the standard features you expect to see on an affordable tripod. With the swivel head, it offers that little bit more for photographers and becomes a good all-round tripod that is particularly suited to travel photography. It may lack some of the finesse of its direct competitor, the Manfrotto 190, but it is much cheaper, so it’s a good alternative for those on a budget.
Included with the Karoo Ultimate is the Kenro KENBC2 ball head. Angle markings around the base of the head allow it to be used for panning rotations, while the quick-release clamp is very solid, yet the plate can be removed easily. There is also a friction-adjustment knob. While the friction adjustment works, it doesn’t have the fluidity of more expensive heads, so it can be awkward to use as you increase the tension. However, when everything is locked in position, the head is very secure and has no problem holding an enthusiast DSLR and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.