Review of the SLIK PRO 700DX Professional Tripod with Panhead
Good all around tripod - well built, sturdy, if a bit awkward
Having used the SLIK PRO for a bit over 2 years now, I can say that I am pretty darn happy with its performance. This tripod is stable and easy to use but storage can be a bit awkward.
I got this tripod in November of 2010. I have used it many times since then for various projects that require either stability or repeat-ability. The tripod is serving its purpose quite well and at this price point I would probably buy it again.
Though not made of the latest composite carbon fiber materials and though it lacks some of the more sexy whistles and bells than some tripods sport nowadays, I found the SLIK PRO to be a valuable asset for my photography. The tripod, with its all metal construction, can get a bit heavy at times but in some ways this may be seen as a positive because this adds just a slight bit of extra stability and stability is THE reason to use a tripod.
I have used this product when doing long exposure shots. I've found that when I have everything locked down tight, I can use either a manual shutter release cable, or a self timer for very long exposures, some of which might last in excess of a minute or two in order to capture the shots that I want. For example, I've used this tripod on 3 separate Christmas seasons to capture special Christmas light displays in our community. The most dramatic shots of Christmas lights, of course, are taken when there is little or no ambient light present - that is to say, in the middle of the night. I've used this tripod to get those shots for the newspaper and I've been very pleased with the results.
Another item where tripods are a critical piece of equipment, is in situations where you wish to have repeatable results. In my case, this came in the form of a food photography job where it was important to try to shoot each plate at the same angle. Hand holding the camera would have given too many degrees of variation for what I had hoped to achieve. Despite being moved numerous times, in between each shot, the SLIK PRO kept a fairly heavy camera and lens package in the same position, which gave me the repeatability that I had sought. Additionally, I was, of course, able to use longer exposures for these product shots because I was using the tripod.
The legs deploy quite easily with a snap clamp system and they retract smoothly as well.
In the past, I've had tripods where the legs slip on occasion. I am pleased to report, I've not had this happen, despite the fact that the tripod has been in very hot, very cold and even somewhat wet conditions. Additionally, though I try not to raise the center shaft because tripods are more stable at their apex, I have, on occasion, used this tripod at full height and I've been pleased with the stability and the resulting photographs.
One of the nice little features of this tripod is the bubble level system. There are two bubble levels - one for pan, one for tilt - which make the initial set up of the tripod much quicker. These are particularly useful when shooting on uneven surfaces.
As to my opinion on this tripod's shortcomings, they are few. The most notable flaw has to do with storage. The way that the head is designed, there is no easy way to put this tripod completely in the nylon storage bag it comes with, without removing at least one of the pan and tilt arms. I don't care for this because, as a photojournalist, I don't want to have to reassemble my equipment. I need it ready to go as soon as I arrive on scene. This means, that when stored, the tripod doesn't fully fit in the bag and leaves at least part of the head exposed.
All in all, the SLIK PRO is a very good tripod system for what I use it for. With the exception of the storage challenges outlined above, there is little not to like about this tripod. Though I don't use it frequently, it has never failed me on those occasions where I absolutely did need it and I'm confident that it will be used for many more photographs in the future.
Click to view the SLIK PRO 700DX Professional Tripod with Panhead on Amazon.com.