Which Sirui tripods are for me and my wife?

Started Apr 1, 2014 | Discussions thread
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illumnae New Member • Posts: 19
Which Sirui tripods are for me and my wife?

Hi all, my wife and I have only just recently picked up photography and are now looking to each invest in a tripod + head set. Having done some preliminary research on brands that are common in my part of the world (Singapore), we have decided that we want a Sirui branded tripod since this brand seems to have great quality at an affordable price. There is a great range of Sirui items here as the local distributor is really good.

I have asked around on local photography forums, a nature photography club we joined as well as at the distributor's retail premises and have received quite some conflicting information. Hence, I thought to ask the knowledgeable folks here about their opinion on which Sirui tripods + heads (not necessarily Sirui) would be best for our circumstances, which I will describe below.

From the outset, let me assure you that we fully understand that a tripod is an investment in the hobby, and that it's better to get a good one at the start than to try and cut costs and buy a lousy one, only to regret later. However, that being said, we also do not wish to over-buy. We know that it's good to buy one that may far exceed my needs so that it's "upgrade proof". However, we do intend to describe below my planned upgrades for the foreseeable future, and what we want are tripods that will fit those needs, and not a recommendation to simply buy the best and most expensive available that will exceed our needs, but will ensure that we will never need to buy another tripod for the rest of our lives. That's not our intention at the moment.

My Situation

I shoot with the Canon system, and currently own a Canon 600D (Rebel T3i) that I have been learning with. The subjects I primarily shoot are:

  • Perched birds (chances for birds in flight are a bonus, but very very rare where I am)
  • Wading birds
  • Small wildlife (squirrels, lizards etc.)
  • Macro subjects (insects and other creepy crawlies)

In the interests of full disclosure, in the event my wife and I go on holiday, there will likely be instances where I will likely want to shoot some scenery and perhaps large wildlife as well. However, these are not my primary shooting subjects. Generally speaking, my wife and I like to spend weekend mornings strolling around local parks or wooded areas and snapping shots of the local wildlife.

After a few months of such strolls, I find that I use 2 of my lenses just about 100% of the time, namely - 1. my telephoto zoom lens (currently the Tamron 150-600 VC) and 2. my macro lens (currently the Canon 100mm Macro Non-IS).

I have only just recently invested in the Tamron 150-600 VC and frankly, I do not see myself purchasing any heavier super telephoto lens. The Tamron reached the edge of my budget, and I am not willing to spend large amounts of money to buy any large primes on a hobby that doesn't generate any income for me.

For macro, in the mid-future, I will probably want to upgrade to a 150mm or 180mm macro lens, either a Sigma or the Canon L lens.

My next investment aside from the tripod + head will likely be the camera body, as I am looking for better ergonomics (bigger body + 2 control dials instead of 1) and definitely better autofocus and hopefully better noise performance as well. I'm looking at either a 70D or a 5DIII for that upgrade (that will probably be a subject for another thread when the time comes).

Hence, the maximum weight of my setup (including potential upgrades) will not exceed 3kg (6.6lbs). I would like to mention here that I have 2 slipped discs in my lower back, so weight is a concern for me as well. I am 5'9" (173cm) tall.

Considering all of the above factors, I have been recommended the following tripods (all carbon fibre models):

  • Sirui R3203 (3 sections, 32mm max leg diameter, 25mm min leg diameter, 150cm fully extended, systematic design with no centre column, 2kg weight, rated for 17kg max)
  • Sirui M3204X (4 sections, 32mm max leg diameter, 22mm min leg diameter, 177cm fully extended, 148cm without centre column, 1.7kg weight, rated for 18kg max)
  • Sirui R2204 (4 sections, 28mm max leg diameter, 19mm min leg diameter, 161cm fully extended, 135cm without centre column, 1.3kg weight, rated for 15kg max)

The retail shop assured me repeatedly that the R2204 was more than sufficient for my needs, but I was recommended the R3203 on the other end of the spectrum by a local forum as it was mentioned that the R2204 would not be stable enough despite the weight rating being sufficient. One of the local forum birders mentioned that he started off with a M3204X, but ended up upgrading to the R3203 himself as he found the M3204X not stable enough.

In relation to the tripod head, I have been recommended/considered the following:

  • Jobu JR3 Deluxe
  • Sirui PH-20
  • Wimberley Head
  • Sirui K20X
  • Sirui K30X if K20X is insufficient
  • Adding on a Jobu BWG-M1 to one of the ballheads if a Gimbal is really required

Which of the above heads would be sufficient for my needs to take wildlife (rarely BIF) + macro photos, and hopefully good enough to take on holiday for wildlife + occasional landscape shots as well?

My Wife's Situation

My wife's situation is similar to mine, except that she shoots using the Micro Four Thirds system instead, using an Olympus EM-10 with an Olympus 75-300 II for telephoto, and an Olympus 60mm Macro for macro.  If possible, her setup should be even lighter than mine even though she doesn't have slipped discs, as she isn't able to lift as heavy stuff as I am.  She has a slightly deeper interest in Macro and occasional landscape shots that I do.

She has not done as in-depth research as I have above, and thus does not have a shortlisted list of items to choose from.  If possible, her setup would be tripod + head both from the Sirui line up, with a Jobu MWG-M1 added on to a Sirui ballhead if a Gimbal is really required.

 illumnae's gear list:illumnae's gear list
Canon EOS 70D Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD
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