Review of Slik Pro 400DX Tripod

When I was just starting out, a colleague of mine told me that a good tripod is essential for serious photography. I was pretty skeptical at first. I simply couldn't imagine that there would be much difference between these three-legged beasts. After all, their function is to simply hold the camera steady. The key word here is of course "steady" - some tripods do a better job of holding a camera steady than others, especially under rugged outdoor conditions. Of course, they need to be portable too. It doesn't make sense having a steady tripod that weighs a ton. It'd be spending more time at home than out on photo shoots. The key word this time is "portable" - some tripods are lighter but just as steady as their heavier counterparts. So, steadiness and portability are the two main aspects that distinguish tripods.

When looking for a Tripod, Manfrotto is probably one of the first names to come to mind. Most people I know who invested in one have no regrets. I have never owned one myself but have played around with a few before. Manfrotto does indeed make very good tripods that excel in both steadiness and portability. I was seriously considering getting either the Manfrotto 190XPROB or Manfrotto 055XPROB. The only thing that held me back from investing in one was its price.

I totally agree that a good tripod is a worthwhile, long-term investment. However, having a background in Sales and Product Management made me wonder how much of the retail price actually goes to its production. In the case of Manfrotto, I expect that their cost of sales (advertising, branding, commissions, etc.) and margins are pretty high. So, I decided to look into some lesser known, but reputable brands. I started looking at Slik.

Slik is in fact a renowned brand for tripods. There aren't as many retailers carrying their products as compared to Manfrotto though. However, since I do much of my shopping on Amazon (and they do carry Slik products), it wasn't a problem for me at all. I googled for some reviews (which were actually quite scarce) and finally decided that the Slik Pro 400DX was the one for me. I bought it through Amazon and as usual, it arrived within a couple of days. At that time, the Slik Pro 400DX was about half the price of the Manfrotto 190XPROB. I felt that the difference would be better spent on some other camera gear such as lenses.

Anyway, here are some photos of and thoughts about my Slik Pro 400DX tripod.

The Slik Pro 400DX has a maximum height of 1.55 m with its neck extended to the maximum. Without extending its neck, it has a maximum height of 1.28 m. As you can see from the photos above, its legs have three sections.

Its legs can be further spread apart to get it lower - this is shown in the photos above. There is a locking mechanism in place to ensure that the tripod holds steady when this is done. The Slik Pro 400DX has a minimum height of 33 cm.

However, if 33 cm isn't low enough, you can pull out the center piece through the top and push it in from the bottom. This will allow you to lower your camera even further. Using this approach, you are able to lower your camera all the way to the floor.

When folded, the Slik Pro 400DX has a length of 65 cm, making a 75 cm tripod bag ideal for it. I bought my Kalahari tripod bad from eBay for just under 30 EUR.

The Slik Pro 400DX is able to support a maximum load of 4.5 kg, which is quite a lot. This is definitely sufficient for my use. My Nikon D60 (mode replaced by Nikon D3000) fits very comfortably on it. I'm pretty sure that I won't have any problem using this tripod with a 70-200 or 70-300 lens either. The Slik Pro 400DX weighs about 2.5 kg. It is reasonable to take this tripod with you when traveling and I have done this several times. I have never actually taken it hiking (I'm not much of a hiker) but I believe that it would be reasonable for that too.

If I had one complaint about the Slik Pro 400DX, it'd be the fact that it doesn't have spikes - it only has rubber feet. However, the Manfrotto 190XPROB (and I believe the Manfrotto 055XPROB as well) doesn't have spikes either. So, going for a Manfrotto wouldn't have helped in that regard. Another thing missing is a water level but I don't think that this is a big deal. You can either purchase a water level that fits onto your camera's flash shoe separately or simply adjust the alignment of your photos in post-processing. I use both approaches.

Overall, I am pleased with my Slik Pro 400DX tripod. It's sturdy and portable, which are the key requirements of a good tripod, and at about half the price of a Manfrotto, it's definitely affordable too. In short, it's excellent value for money and I'd gladly recommend it. If you have any further questions, do send me an email or drop a comment.