Travel tripods: Comparing 5 aluminum kits
|The same group, in the same order, looking just a bit weary from all the field testing.|
Comparisons and conclusions
The differences between these tripods are varied, but they can easily be divided into two groups. If small size and lower weight are priorities, then the Cullmann 622T and Manfrotto BeFree are the two to look at, but if greater height and load-bearing ability are paramount, then the remaining Benro, Dolica and Sirui kits are roughly equal contenders.
Cullman 622T vs. Manfrotto BeFree
This pair of comparable tripods are distinct in their slim profiles, minimal height, and interesting leg angle locks. When comparing their specs, the BeFree has a slight (3" or 8cm) advantage in extended height, while the Cullmann packs up marginally smaller, but they are equally light. As noted in the reviews, the 622T lacks the bag almost everyone else thought to include, while the BeFree lacks a weight hook that this class of tripod really needs. However, their greatest differences lie in the usability of their controls, as seen below.
|Cullmann's big, grippy, and automatic leg angle locks.||Manfrotto's fiddly and cumbersome leg angle locks.|
|The 622T ball head has two knobs and an arca-compatible plate.||The BeFree's ball head has only one knob and the RC2 proprietary plate.|
When it comes to smaller, aluminum legs for packing up and shooting with lighter cameras, we recommend the Cullmann 622T. Naturally, a preference for lever leg locks or Manfrotto's RC2 quick release can push the BeFree to the forefront, but there are still functional issues with the BeFree that the 622T overcomes easily.
Benro Travel Angel II vs. Dolica LX600 vs. Sirui T-2005x
In the three-way battle for the 'biggest little tripod' in our aluminum group review, all of the kits can reach 60" (152cm) in height, yet fold down to 16" (41cm) or less. However, the Benro and Dolica legs are 25mm in diameter at the top, and support up to 17.5 lbs and 20 lbs (8 and 9.1kg) respectively, while the Sirui has 28mm top leg tubes and can take 26.4 lbs (12kg). Still, the T-2005 has no detachable monopod function, while the Travel Angel and LX600 can convert to a single leg without tools.
|Benro's thick magnesium-alloy components and aluminum legs combine to make a heavy setup.||Triple 'transfunctional' means tripod, monopod, and hiking staff (aka: monopod with a compass).|
|Dolica's low price comes with off-kilter knobs, shifting angle locks, and some rough (CNC machined) edges.||The LX600 checks the usual boxes with automatic leg angle locks and a detachable monopod leg.|
|Sirui puts everything together in a tight package, with big dimensions. Choose your own head, though.||No monopod leg, and the twist locks don't always work effortlessly, but the T-2005 still makes a solid platform.|
When any of these tripods are extended to the full height as advertised, their stability takes a hit, with only the oversized tubes of the Sirui minimizing this effect. With the column down, the vibration testing points to the slightly haphazard Dolica as the tripod to beat, while the Benro actually feels the most solid (and heavy).
When all is said and done, the build quality, minimized weight, and functional details of the Sirui T-2005x win out over the Dolica LX600 and Benro Travel Angel II in their aluminum legged versions, but not by much in either case.