When it comes to tripods, there are a few brands that everyone knows: Gitzo, Manfrotto, Vanguard, Slik, some like Gitzo are on the high end, some like Slik on the low end. Over the last couple of years, there have been some newer brands like Benro, Mefoto and 3 legged thing entering the market.
Whilst Gitzo is widely considered the best tripod manufacturer on the market, there is a fair chunk of the market who don’t want to spend that kind of money on a tripod, and to be honest, some of the other brands offer 80% of the quality at about 30-40% of the price. I currently have a Benro which is pretty heavy duty and meets all of my requirements from a tripod perspective.
I first heard about Sirui when I was searching for a lighter tripod for travel and the Sirui T-025X/T-024X came up. I had a look at their tripods, but eventually decided to pull the pin due to a change in my requirements, rather than an issue with brand.
When I sold my Nikon gear, I sold my monopod as the lightweight of the Fujifilm gear meant I didn’t need to worry about a monopod. Clearly at the time when I made that decision I hadn’t planned on acquiring the longer and heavy XF100-400. In all honesty the XF100-400 isn’t really that heavy, but holding it for half an hour to an hour starts to take its toll and where I’m taking photos in 25-35 knot cross winds and it’s hard to keep some level of stability with the lens being blown sideways.
With my first test run using the big lens completed, I decided it was time to invest in a monopod again and the Sirui brand came to mind due to the light weight. I had a look around at a couple of brands and there was nothing close to the weight of the Sirui and the model I decided on was the P-326 which seemed to be the best balance of light weight and still being a suitable height.
The Sirui P-326 and everything it comes with
The Sirui P-326 retails for AUD$159 in Australia or US$100 if you are US based. Pricing is a little on the high side, but reasonable given the quality and the light weight. They are available from Camera Lane in the Melbourne CBD a Mainline Photographics in Sydney if you are Australia based.
The Arca-Swiss clamp isn’t standard with the Sirui P-326
Packaging and construction
The Sirui P-326 Monopod comes in a small box. Included in the contents are a wrist strap, carabiner and a compass. Not 100% sure why a compass is included, I would assume anyone who is hiking to remote locations would have one, but I can’t complain about Sirui including it. The wrist strap rotates around the monopod on a collar which can be a little noisy and I may consider removing it in future if it doesn’t get used.
With a weight of 0.45kg’s or 450 grams, this is somewhere between the weight of a can of cool drink and a half litre bottle of water, which is a little mind boggling for a tripod that extends to 155cm. It may seem strange, but 155cm is about the right height for me at 183cm. With the monopod fully extended, the camera is just above my eye level so in reality I won’t be using it fully extended. In many cases I would using it sitting down.
With the exception of the cheaply made and largely pointless compass, the quality of the Sirui P-326 is exceptional
The construction on this monopod is very good and you would have to look closely to pick of any hints of cost cutting or the use of low quality parts. The quality of the carbon fibre construction seems top notch. I think it would have been good for them to include a small bag but it’s not a show stopper.
There isn’t much you can say about a monopod from a features and functionality perspective.
Is it carbon fibre and lightweight? Check
Does it go high enough? Check
Is it stable enough for the lens I want to use with it? Check
Does it have a ball head or plate? No
The P-326 monopod uses the twist lock as opposed to the flip lock leg design. I prefer the twist lock, but there are many others who prefer flip so it’s really a personal preference thing as opposed to good/bad design. Sirui seem to offer both designs. The twist locks have a good feel to them, locking firmly as required. For those who haven’t used them, when the monopod is fully compacted, untwist all at the same time but gripping them all and rotating. This will allow you to expand the monopod quickly.
The one thing I really do like is the spikes that come out of the legs. With most tripods you have to replace the rubber feet and screw in metal spikes for some locations. With Sirui, they have incorporated a twist mechanism that exposes the spike as you turn the foot. It’s a really simple and effective idea that gives it one up on Gitzo.
The foot with the spike retracted
The little carabiner isn’t going to hold a camera, but this really isn’t the purpose. It’s a clip to attach it to a bag and keep it in place and it meets these requirements. The compass, well, yeah, I am not going to go there.
The last one is one of those items that may impact some people. I prefer having Arca-Swiss plates on my gear so having a tripod screw isn’t much help to me and I ordered some cheap Arca-Swiss clamp on eBay. Sirui do offer versions with a ball head, but having a ball head that would never be used seemed like a waste, and the Arca-Swiss clamps are available cheaply.
Twist the foot to expose the spike. Probably not long enough but adequate for most situations
I’m a big believer in buy once and buy right. In the past, buying once meant spending a small fortune on a Gitzo tripod, or a metal Manfrotto if you couldn’t afford the high price that came with carbon fibre.
Over the last 5 years, we have seen a large number of very good tripods and monopods join the market and Sirui joins these ranks with a set of monopods and tripods that should keep any user happy. They aren’t perfect, and they aren’t Gitzo quality, but they aren’t far off the quality and they also don’t come with Gitzo’s price tag. At 30-40% of Gitzo price tag, it’s really hard to ignore these offerings unless you are really planning to abuse your gear.
Sirui has found a niche for itself in the ultra-light realm and it’s an area they have done extremely well. I have no hesitation in recommending this monopod to any fuji user. It really is well worth the money and it’s light weight makes it easy to carry with mirrorless gear.
Another view of the Arca-Swiss clamp I added