Velbon Sherpa 600R £140
21st Sep 2011 | 19:10
For a basic but durable tripod at a cut-down price, the 600R has a lot to offer
Overview and features
Not everybody wants fancy tripod frills such as a pivoting centre column for easy macro and ultra-wide-angle shooting. With its pared down feature set, the modest and retro-styled Velbon Sherpa 600R is a complete tripod and head kit based on sturdy aluminium legs.
More importantly, it's only about half the price of most feature-frenzied competitors, available for about £85 if you shop around to beat its £140 RRP.
The somewhat basic feature set of the Velbon Sherpa 600R is remarkably similar to the Slik Pro 500DX Complete tripod kit, also distributed in the UK by Intro 2020.
One notable difference is that the Velbon is 0.6kg lighter, weighing in at a travel-friendly 2kg. Despite this, its maximum load rating is only 0.5kg less, at 4kg, offering substantial support even for heavy DSLR and camera lens combinations.
At 63cm when folded, the Velbon is refreshingly small for carrying around yet, despite having three rather than four leg sections, it still attains a maximum height of 166cm with the centre column fully extended.
The legs appear to be a bit on the thin side but they nevertheless have fairly typical diameters of 26mm, 23mm and 20mm. The main reason they don't look chunkier is that the upper sections have no comfort padding.
The relatively light weight of the tripod means they're still comfortable to carry around most of the time, but holding onto cold metal is no fun in winter time.
There are three alternative leg angles on offer and the centre column can be split as well as inverted for low-level shooting. By splitting the tripod's column, you can shoot down to a height of 26cm, or right down to ground level if you invert the column and shoot with the camera upside down.
The three-way head is a slight twist on conventional design, having only one locking arm for both pan and tilt adjustments.
Build, performance and verdict
Considering its street price of just £80, the Velbon Sherpa 600R's build quality is pretty good. Everything operates smoothly and efficiently, from the clip locks on the legs to the centre column and head. However, a few corners are cut in the pursuit of value.
There are no grub screws for fixing the head securely to the platform on top of the centre column and, in our tests, it proved quite easy for the head to work loose. Similarly, there are no screws for re-tensioning the clip-locks for each of the leg sections, if necessary. Even so, the locks should give years of trouble-free service.
The Velbon Sherpa 600R is a relatively lightweight tripod. Indeed, it's only 0.2kg heavier than the similarly sized Jessops Major Carbon Fibre tripod. Despite this, it's remarkably stable and resistant to flexing, even at its maximum operating height with the legs fully extended, and is certainly a lot more rigid than the Jessops tripod.
The locking mechanism for adjusting the three-position multi-angle legs is quite unique, featuring sliding clamps at the top of each leg. They look a bit cumbersome but work well in use.
Up on top, the three-way head has a regular twist lock for swivel but a single locking arm for both pan and tilt. It actually works very well and saves time in positioning the camera, compared with more conventional three-way heads that rely on two locking arms.
There's also the bonus that you don't need to remove one of the two arms before you can pack the tripod away in the supplied bag.
The downside is that for very fine adjustments in positioning your camera, the dual-action lock lacks a little precision. It also makes pan-only movements more difficult to achieve, for example when taking a series of shots to stitch into a panorama. Even so, if the centre column isn't raised, you can simply loosen its locking screw and pan using this instead.
The Velbon Sherpa 600R is quite a bare-bones affair, lacking the advanced features included in some of the latest and greatest tripods. However, it's remarkably sturdy and stable for a combined tripod and head that tip the scales at a mere 2kg.
The modest feature set is reflected in a relatively cheap selling price but there's plenty of stability on offer, and that's the most important thing in any tripod.
Maximum height is a little lacking at just 166cm and, without grub screws in the centre column platform, the tripod head can work loose.
Collapsing to a folded height of 63cm, the Velbon Sherpa 600R is a good travel companion and well worth the asking price.