Sirui T-025x Travel Tripod Review

Tripod Legs

The industry standards for consumer tripods' legs are broken down into a clean dichotomy - aluminum and carbon fiber. Yes there are other specialized and niche materials (balsa wood comes to mind), but these two are the most prolific and the ones 99% of your tripod searches will encounter. The former is heavier and not as strong by weight, however is a far more cost-effective material to construct with, thus requiring a lower entry fee for those interested in stabilizing their shots without separating from a lot of coin.

Carbon fiber, conversely, can support far heavier loads in a pound-for-pound comparison. And because carbon fiber is a synthetic polymer, it does not have the heat conduction properties of metal which make it naturally resistant to temperature changes. What this means in practice is that if, for example, you are shooting a timelapse of the Aurora Borealis at the Arctic Circle from just after sunset to sunrise, your tripod won't shift around from thermal expansion/compression characteristic of metals. Not to mention you won't feel like you are inducing frostbite to yourself as you pick it up as grabbing frozen metal has the tendency to do. Additionally, carbon fiber is renowned for having far greater vibration control (this is why we buy tripods in the first place, isn't it?) and overall durability compared to aluminum, so it shouldn't be a surprise that because of all the benefits carbon fiber provides over its metallic counterpart, two otherwise identical tripods will command two very different prices because of this material difference alone.

In the case of the T-025x, the tripod legs are made by Sirui, who claims to be one of the few tripod manufacturers to produce their own tubes for their carbon fiber legs. Specifically, they create what they call "8x Carbon Fiber," a layered construction that they purport offers further increased durability and strength without increasing its mass. Here is a cross-section depicting these eight layers from Sirui's brochures:

In practice, while we haven't accidentally or purposely cracked any of the legs and tried and count the layers, their construction has proven far stronger and more durable than we had originally thought. Not once, at any time, did the tripod legs give any indication of buckling, cracking, creaking, etc. under a considerable load up to and including a Pentax K-5 IIs, Battery Grip, and DA* 60-250 (mounted via the tripod foot on the lens) while a camera bag hug by the weight hook. In all a load of approximately 25 lbs (11.4 kg), this exceeds the rated maximum load of 13.2 lbs (6 kg). We confidently assume that for the vast majority of users who will own this tripod, it would be for travel and landscape purposes rather than telephoto, and thus a far lighter camera/lens setup. Regardless, there should be no reservations about whether or not the legs will simply carry their payload. We don't have any.

Additionally, two of the three legs come equipped with a comfortable and nicely padded foam grip to cover the uppermost (thus the thickest) leg section. Emblazoned with an etched out SIRUI, these grips also help to mitigate the aforementioned 'self-induced frostbite' since the rubber foam will stay warmer than the legs themselves. The only issue is when it rains - the foam seems to soak in and retain water a bit more than we'd prefer, but it seems a worthy compromise versus not having any foam padded legs as well as not drying slower than other tripods' grips we've tried. Also, should you not prefer to grab it by the foam, one of the legs is slick and does not offer the covering.

Lastly for those who appreciate quality craftsmanship and good ol' aesthetics, you will be more than pleased by the look and feel of the carbon fiber produced and implemented by Sirui. Frankly we just love it.

Leg Positions

The legs of the Sirui T-025x have three distinct positions to accommodate the vast majority of height, stability, and off-balance situations and shooting conditions you may find yourself in. As the tripod legs are unfolded from their 180° stowed-away positions, the legs automatically lock into position with a very sharp, distinctive 'click'. This is because a spring-loaded latch runs over a set of teeth/grooves that align with those of the other two legs' locking mechanisms.

The latch has a contoured lip to the bottom of it that is very easy to press (used to either open the legs to a wider position or fold them altogether). This is also including in wet conditions and with gloves on despite any visible grooves to aid with traction. We did not experience any issues with our fingers slipping off the latch and found that the best way to operate them is to grab the individual leg with your entire hand and then use your thumb to press down on the latch, holding down on the latch as you rotate the leg toward the ballhead. The springs are quite strong for their size and as a result, not once have the legs come unlocked from a position we did not set them at.

Mechanically, when there are holes or grooves to catch a moving piece (in this case a spring-loaded latch), and especially when multiple iterations of the same system are implemented concurrently, there is a tendency for misalignment and movement. In light of the very fundamental need for a tripod, this translates into a lack of stability and increased vibration, and thus a degradation of your image quality (and a waste of your hard earned). In order to assess the proclivity for any such quality control tendencies, we applied a simple stress test - apply a generous amount of pressure to assess the locks' ability to withstand it. Even when putting down an excessively large amount of force by grabbing the center column above the legs' point of intersection and pressing down, there was no movement whatsoever in any of the legs at any of the locking positions. Nor did the legs feel off-balance due to a misalignment. With the legs fully extended there was a very slight bending at the locking joints (again this is with an overly exaggerated amount of force applied). As the legs were opened to a wider degree, the bending at the joints was emphasized due to the laws of physics - as the legs become further from a state of parallelity to the direction the force is applied (the narrowest and thus tallest locking position) and closer to a state of being perpendicular between themselves and said force, their ability to support themselves is diminished. For those who prefer a practical application of this, pick up a substantial weight of any kind (a dumbbell, large rock, full camera bag, spouse, etc.). Hold it straight above your head (i.e. parallel to the force's direction - gravity). Now hold it straight out in front of you. Which one was 'heavier'? Coming back to the tripod, we would like to emphasize yet again that this "bending" at the joints was under an excessive amount of pressure that everyday use will not replicate, including with the above camera/grip/tele zoom/camera bag load applied. We were extremely impressed with the strength of the tripod legs and the locking mechanism for the leg positions.

Below is a depiction of the different angles and positions possible with the T-025x. Don't feel that you are limited here though - you can get far more creative with a plethora of different combinations, especially once you incorporate the height/angle differences possible with extending only one or two legs. This is just to show the difference positions possible of the locking mechanism from the highest to the lowest setting.

Folding Your T-025x Tripod

The Sirui T-025x incorporates a folding technique that has gained a significant amount of traction among tripod brands and is no longer the tripod revolution it was not too long ago. In addition to the aforementioned three distinct locking positions, the T-025x (and it's earlier variant, the T-025) has a fourth 'unlocked' position. Clearly shown in the image below, the legs fold upon themselves in a hemishperical manner for maximum compactness.

Removing the ballhead, as seen in the above illustration, is an option and will help with overall portability because the legs are allowed to close a bit tighter. Not a significant amount, but there is a difference and one that we will explore in further detail and its different possibilities in the Traveling and Portability chapter of this review (Page 8).

Leg Locks

Just like the aluminum and carbon fiber construction of tripods, there are two predominant ways to lock and unlock the different sections and stages of tripod/monopod legs. The first is the "flip" type which involves a latch that must be pulled up and away from the legs' shafts to open. To close (or tighten and thus lock), the latch must be pushed to where it rests flush on the tube that houses the telescoping inner tubes thinner diameters.

In the case of the Sirui T-025x (and the T-025), the leg locks incorporate the "twist" type that we found to be perfectly suited to sustain any weight loaded upon them. Not once was there an issue of "sinking" or "creeping" caused by a weak grip at the leg locks/joints, including the aforementioned stress test.

Additionally, a very handy and enjoyable feature is the rapid deployment of the tripod. Frankly it's one of our favorite features of the tripod: the locks and their ability to be locked and unlocked in a matter of mere seconds, allowing for a very rapid deployment. Gripping all four locks simultaneously in one hand requires a quarter-turn to fully unlock all of them in unison, and a slight 'throw' easily extends the leg to its fullest extension. After practicing it a few times, we were able to get the T-025x from its folded state to standing with all three legs fully extended in under 10 seconds. Couple that with an Arca Swiss plate, and you have the ability to go from "The sunset is almost gone!" to adjusting camera settings in 15 seconds (assuming you had both the Arca Swiss plated-camera and the tripod out).

Lastly, when you need to hurry up and get away, the legs have to be unlocked individually (just like the have to be locked individually once the legs are extended), but once they are collapsed down--which requires a very weak push from the feet of the tripod--they can then be locked together in one motion in the same manner as the above's unlocking.

Tripod Feet

The very tips of the feet the T-025x is equipped with are fixed. They do not come off (trust us - we tried!) and so there is no possibility for adding a flat floot or spikes or any other type of modification. While this is a disappointment, we were pleased to find out that there weren't any instances of slipping on smooth surfaces such as tile or hardwood floors. Still, we would have preferred the opportunity to modify the feet should special shooting conditions warranted it. PentaxForums @PentaxForums News | Reviews | Forum

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