Andy Westlake tests a versatile, full-sized, carbon-fibre tripod with waterproof legs
Sirui W-1204 tripod at a glance:
- Max height 166.5cm
- Folded length 49cm
- Weight 1.45kg
- Maximum load 15kg
- Website www.sirui.eu/en
Chinese manufacturer Sirui makes some exceptionally nice tripods and supports at very competitive prices, and this W-1204 carbon-fibre tripod is a case in point. It’s a full-sized, four-section, carbon-fibre model with waterproof twist leg locks, which include rubber O-ring seals, allowing the legs to be submerged without water leaking inside and corroding the metalwork. But this comes at a price you’d normally associate with much less fully featured products.
In fact, along with its waterproofing, the W-1204 has very impressive specifications. The legs reverse fold around the head for a more compact packed length, and can be set to 22°, 51° or 82° for ground-level shooting. The sprung angle locks click into place automatically when the tripod is unfolded, and can be repositioned using large blue levers that are easy to operate, even when wearing gloves. All three twist locks on each leg can be undone in a single motion for rapid set-up, and the bottom leg sections have graduated scales, making it easy to extend them all to the same length.
For low-level work Sirui has designed an incredibly elegant split centre-column system; simply unscrewing the sprung, retractable weight hook allows the lower section of the column to be detached completely. This makes the tripod far easier to use than most of its competitors, which rely either on fiddly ground-level kits or separate short columns. In another nice touch, a second weight hook is included that screws into the short section of the centre column.
One of the legs can be removed and turned into a monopod, either with or without the lower section of the centre column. The monopod can exend to 162cm, which should be plenty long enough for all but the tallest photographers. There’s even a wrist strap included that fits underneath the head platform.
Sirui W-1204 tripod – Key features
The chunky rubber feet can be interchanged easily with the supplied metal ground spikes.
A small bubble level on the ‘spider’ helps to set your camera level.
Foam grips on two of the legs – including the detachable monopod one – make the tripod comfortable to carry.
Reversible mounting screw
This can be used to attach heads with either 1/4in or 3/8in threads.
Sirui W-1204 tripod – Our verdict
The Sirui W-1204 is not only extremely well designed and easy to use, but it’s also superbly built. Both the legs and centre column use ten-layer carbon construction, which does an excellent job of keeping the tripod rigid and dampening vibrations – a key advantage of carbon-fibre tripods over their aluminium counterparts. Everything can also be taken apart easily for cleaning if necessary.
I tested the W-1204 with Sirui’s K-10X ball head, and it was more than capable of supporting a high-end DSLR with a long telephoto zoom lens. For serious enthusiast photographers, and especially landscape shooters, it’s one of the best tripods money can buy, and great value too.
The W-series range
Sirui makes four models in its W-series waterproof tripod range. The W-1004 is the same size as the W-1204 but constructed of aluminium alloy, which means it weighs more, at 1.8kg, but costs considerably less (£240). Larger W-2004 and W-2204 models are also available with a 1.78m maximum height, costing £260 and £520 in aluminium and carbon fibre respectively.