Friday, May 6, 2011

REVIEW: Slik 700dx–A durable tripod for < $100!

Slik Pro 700DX
Slik 700DX – a great tripod for beginners
Shown with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head

Good tripods are usually pretty expensive, and cheap tripods are frequently crap that are about as stable as putting your camera on your friends back while you shoot. This is why when I did my research on tripods I was surprised to hear of so many people singing the praises of the SLIK Pro 700 DX tripod legs. The ratings on B&H were out of this world and my contacts at B&H assured me that it was a pretty decent product that wasn’t too heavy thanks to its use of aluminum. This makes it much lighter than most tripods at this price point, but it’s not featherweight like the carbon fiber tripods I’ll review later.

Slik Pro 700DX Minimum Height
Slik 700DX in collapsed minimum height configuration
shown with the extension portion of the center column removed

I’ll admit I was skeptical as I’ve never been impressed with cheap tripods, and this one comes in at just under $100 (as of the time of this writing from B&H). However, when I got it I quickly understood why so many people loved it. It feels solid and is very stable, yet it’s only 5.88 pounds (2.67kg) which isn’t too bad considering its size.

Ron Martinsen Slik 700 DX Extended
I’m 6’1” and this tripod extends almost
to the top of my head

I was able to extend this tripod to 70” (178cm), yet get it down to a low 10.8” (27.7cm). The leg clips worked well and the head was made of metal to avoid cracking as my plastic Bogen Manfrotto 3021 tripod had done. The clips will certainly be a vulnerability point while traveling, so I wouldn’t advise checking this tripod unless it is very secure in something that can avoid stress on the legs. 

Slik Pro 700DX Head Mount
Head Mount is aluminum rather than the cheap plastic
found on my Bogen Manfrotto 3021 that broke while traveling

The clips shown below for locking and unlocking the legs into various positions work well and are easy to open and close. Mouse in and out of the image below to see how it works:

Mouse over to see the lock closed, mouse out to see the lock open
Leg Lock Open (mouse out) and Closed (mouse over)

As well as this tripod worked for me, it is still a cheap tripod. The paint began to chip away within minutes of its arrival and the foam on the legs won’t last for years. With that said, it’s still a great value for those who are just getting started in the expensive world of DSLR photography!

Slik Pro 700DX Damage
This tripod looks great new, but it won’t stay that way for long
Paint began chipping off within the first minutes of use

Conclusion

To be clear, I’m not saying this is the only tripod you’ll ever need and that this is “just as good” as the expensive ones. What I’m saying is that if you are tight on cash and need a reasonably price tripod solution, then this is what I recommend. If you can afford better, your money is better spent getting the good stuff first, but if you can’t then this is a great alternative.

I like this tripod – it works well for the price and it is very stable. It lacks a hook on the bottom of the center column mount for added stability and it won’t look like new for very long, but it will save you some money so you can invest in something that is more important – a great ball head like the Really Right Stuff BH-55.

To be clear, for DSLR purposes I do NOT recommend the Slik heads shown on their web site. At this time I recommend the Really Right Stuff BH-55 for general purpose use, but I’m sure plenty others found here (with 4.5 star or greater ratings from at least 10 people) will work well also. I also think this tripod would support a gimbal head very well.

You can learn more about this tripod on Slik’s website, as well as B&H. You can also check out my  tripod recommendations article as well.

Support this blog by buying your Slik 700DX using this link.

Disclaimer

B&H was kind enough to loan me this tripod for this review. I was not given one to keep and I have never been contacted by Slik. I requested this tripod from B&H based on my research and I may get a commission if you buy one using the links provided. I appreciate your support by returning here and using my links if you choose to by one.

I have no relationship with Really Right Stuff and will not get a commission if you purchase their heads, yet I still recommend them.

If you enjoyed this article, please support future articles like this by making a donation or saving money by using my discount coupon codes. Either way, your support is greatly appreciated!

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The tripod is a very good compromise between stability, weight, and cost.

But BEWARE! The plastic / nylon leg bushings are VERY fragile. Take care when extending the legs, or you will break the flimsy assembly! When this happens, the leg segment pulls out, and lots of little piece of broken plastic fall all over the ground.

I have two 700DX leg sets. The first was purchased many years ago and has survived all manner of use and occasional abuse. The second set is only a few years old, and its legs have disintegrated twice despite me being very careful with the unit after the first failure. Clearly, Slik found a cheaper vendor somewhere along the way... Spare parts are available, but the price and shipping fees are revolting considering the size and weight of the tiny pieces. I have to say, I'd not buy a SLIK again.

FWIW, I'm not the only one breaking these legs. There are several similar stories on the interwebs.

Also BEWARE B&H reviews. The company deletes any negative product feedback! (Doesn't it seem a little odd that everything has 4 or 5 stars?)

Ron Martinsen said...

Thanks for the feedback!

With respect to your B&H reviews, I've seen one and two star reviews. It's rare, but I've seen them, so I don't think they are deleting reviews. What I think is more likely is that people get the request to review a purchased product shortly after it arrives, and typically people are pretty happy with a product at that point. If down the road they have a problem, like you here, they don't take the time to go add the negative feedback so people don't see the bad stories.

In this particular case I see a 1 star "rubbish, save your money" review for this product. Perhaps you've entered your feedback expecting it to be instantly posted, but that doesn't happen due to spammers. Just like this point, I get thousands of spam comments a month by bots so I have to go through them by hand and accept only legitimate human posts. This is why even your own comment took a while to show up.

With all that said, there's a saying that you get what you pay for. While I think this tripod is not bad, there's a lot of non obvious benefits you get from products that charge a lot more. They aren't charging several hundred dollars more to be greedy - they are charging more because they are using better components that cost more. In fact, it's often that cheapest products are the ones with the highest markups!

Ron