Andy Westlake tests a tripod with a bright idea

Slik Lite AL-420M

Slik Lite AL-420M at a glance:

  • Max height 124cm
  • Folded length 35.8cm
  • Max load 2kg
  • Weight 922g
  • Price £132
  • Website www.intro2020.co.uk

Probably the biggest advance in photo gear over the past few years has been the dramatic improvement in image quality of small cameras – both fixed-lens compacts and mirrorless models. The great thing about this is that you can downsize all of your kit, and use a small lightweight tripod such as this Slik Lite AL-420M. It’s a four-section aluminium model with three-angle legs, a split centre column for low-angle work, and the small but strong SBH-100DQA ball head. Oh, and it has a slim LED flashlight inside the centre column.

Ignoring that for now, though, how good is it as a tripod? Well, it reverse folds to a pretty compact size but extends to a reasonable working height, at least if you’re using a camera with a tilting screen. It’s quick to set up and fold down, with lever leg locks and a clever leg angle mechanism. The ball head has a single lever for pan and tilt, and locks down firmly, although with a slight downwards fall that’s clearly noticeable when using a 200mm-equivalent zoom. Meanwhile the lever-operated quick release uses a small, low-profile plate that’s ideal for compact and mirrorless cameras. On the whole, as long as you don’t overload it, it does a decent job considering its sub-1kg weight.

Slik Lite AL-420M – key features

Rubber grips

Each leg is wrapped in a textured grip for more comfortable carrying

Split centre column

The lower section can be unscrewed to enable ground-level shooting

Built-in flashlight

A small LED torch screws into the end of the column

Carry case

Slik Lite carry case

The neatly designed nylon case can be carried using its short shoulder strap, or clipped to a bag using its karabiner

Slik Lite AL-420M – our verdict

If you’re looking for a travel tripod to use with a small camera – an enthusiast compact, a lightweight mirrorless CSC, or perhaps an entry-level DSLR – then the Slik Lite AL-420M is worth a look. It feels pretty well-made and strikes the right balance between portability and usability. The flashlight seems a bit gimmicky, but doesn’t do any harm and could be handy for shooting in low light – which is exactly when you’ll be getting the tripod out.

SCORE: 4 out of 5

The Slik Lite range

Slik Lite range

If this concept appeals but the size is wrong, Slik makes several other tripods in the Lite range. In aluminium there’s the shorter AL-420S and taller AL-420, while the CF-522 and CF-422 are carbon-fibre variants in five and four sections respectively. The latter is the tallest model in the range.