Andy Westlake tests a tripod with a bright idea
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
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
A small LED torch screws into the end of the column
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
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.