Despite packing down to a tiny 30cm in length, the Velbon UT-53D extends to 156cm – the tallest in this test. This impressive working height puts it on par with some full-size tripods that are much less portable. With the exception of the Slik Mini II, it also offers the lowest working height of 36cm, though its centre column is fixed.
With a unique sliding angle lock that offers three positions, its six-section legs pull out from themselves with a single twist of the foot section, and then a single twist again locks them in place. Using this mechanism the tripod offers excellent stability, but we found it actually took more time to erect and collapse as locking the legs often required an additional check and twist. Because this action also involves firmly twisting the rubber foot, your hand comes into contact with any grime picked up. This isn’t too pleasant when shooting on wet, muddy terrain, and a glove is recommended!
With the QHD-53D head the tripod supports a respectable 4kg, enough to securely hold most camera setups. The ball head has a single friction lock for adjustment and takes a large quick-release plate that requires no tools to fit. There’s no safety catch for reassurance, but it does have three spirit levels to ensure straight horizons in any imaginable framing task. Weighing 1374g, the Velbon UT-53D comes in a light drawstring bag that fits easily into most backpacks. Overall this is an excellent tripod for the money.
1 x Velbon UT-53D Tripod with QHD-53 Ball & Socket head