Slik Pro 500DX Tripod

Started Jul 6, 2010 | Discussions thread
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SirSeth
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Slik Pro 500DX Tripod
Jul 6, 2010

"You get what you pay for." I've heard that said so many times about tripods. Also, I've heard a million times that I should just pay $1000 now for the right Gitzo + $$$ head rather than spending the same amount over the next 10 years on cheap crud that will never make me happy. That's idealistic advice that stinks in reality. It assumes I have $1000 to spend right now on a tripod. Second, it assumes that I have as much money now as I'll have in 10 years. I hope that isn't the case! Finally, it assumes that you have to have the best to be happy. I'm testing that last one out.

I received my 500DX this week and have used it on a Macro shoot and will be taking it to the Tetons and Yellowstone this week. Here are my initial impressions of what can be had for $99.

1. Beware! It has a 1/4" screw. My two heads have 3/8" holes, so I needed to track down a bushing. Luckly I had one one, but there was nothing on the seller's web site that indicated that a bushing didn't come with the tripod. (On B&H it looks like it does come with bushing, so that might be mis-leading, but at Adorama it definitely does not come with a bushing.

2. So it's not the lightest tripod out there at just over 5lbs. (5.4lbs). Your carbon fiber tripods are 4x to 5x the price and 2 lbs lighter. Can't say my tripod heads are the lightest though either, so my total system might be 6.6lbs which means better exercise for me. That said, the tripod is extremely rugged and sturdy for it's price. The legs are titanium magnesium aluminium alloy, which really feels quality and are very stable for my macro photography. All three legs are padded, which may have added a half a pound. I like the padded legs though, so since I knew it wouldn't be the lightest thing, the extra ounces of padding is fine.

3. I like the leg levers rather than twist locks. Just preference. They are very smooth and quick and I can see if they are tight or not. They feel quality, but are plastic. Time will tell if that's good plastic.

4. I'm 6'1" tall. In use, the tripod fully extended means I have to stand on my tiptoes to get to the camera. With the center column all the way down, the viewfinder is at neck level, which is tolerable. The center column can be shortened (it's a 2 piece) for macro stuff. Fully collapsed, the tripod fits in my suitcase and duffel nicely, but not my carry-on luggage.

5. The legs can be set at 3 positions. Mechanically very nice solution.

My conclusion so far: for $99 this is a piece of practical art. It's only down side is that it's a couple pounds more than carbon fiber. But the price is low for how well it gets the job done. There is a 700DX which is larger and also $99. There is a good youtube review of that one, and more written reviews than on the 500DX.

So it's a no-nonsense seriously constructed nicely designed largish tripod that makes up for the weight by being very solid for much less money. (All in one breath). Basically, it looks like I will survive the decade without spending that extra $850. So what if I end up spending the extra cash eventually. In 10 years I'll have the money to splash out on the newest support technology if I feel like lightening my load. At this time, I'm very happy with my purchase.

Cheers,
Seth

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