A tripod is one of the oldest, and most essential, photographic tools. And to the untrained eye, it may look as though little has changed over the years in regards to tripod design. Tripod manufacturer Slik, however, has just introduced a series of compact and lightweight models in the new Slik Lite line that, although they don’t look strikingly different from other tripods, do come with some clever improvements over older models.
The Slik Lite line is made up of three aluminum and two carbon fiber tripods, covering a range in maximum heights from 40 inches to 70 inches. Each model is unique; no carbon version shares the same dimensions and style with an aluminum version. They do all share many features, however, including something unique to the line — a detachable LED flashlight hidden at the base of the center column. A seemingly simple concept, this feature could be very welcome to night sky photographers and anyone else commonly working in the dark.
That center column is also invertible for low-angle shooting, and its two stages can be separated to convert it into a short column. This is good news for macro photographers, who will be able to place the tripod directly above their subjects.
Moving out from the center column, each tripod also has legs that flip a full 180 degrees to make for a more compact size when collapsed. This allows the highest-end model, the CF-422, to close from its maximum height of 70 inches down to 18.6 inches. That model also weighs only 2.4 pounds, thanks to the use of carbon fiber.
As some photographers seem to adamantly prefer one style of leg lock over another, it is also worth mentioning that product photos seem to reveal that the aluminum versions all feature quick-release lever locks, while the carbon versions use twist locks.
Overall, the Slik Lite line makes for some compelling options. While the advances may be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, each tripod comes with a solid feature set, clever design, and, perhaps most importantly, an affordable price. The entry level aluminum model is just $100, reaches a maximum height of 40 inches, and weighs only 1.7 pounds. Even the flagship carbon model is just $330.
All models are available now. For more information, head to the Slik website.