I recently bought a Sirui T1004x Tripod and a G20 ballhead after hunting high and low for something around the $200ish range that could hold up my setup decently and was lightweight. (http://siruicanada.com)
So here's a pic of the setup:
-Sirui T1004x Tripod collapsed backwards with a G20 ballhead
-Padded Sirui tripod bag with padded strap (included)
-A Thinktank Retrospective 20 in the back for size comparison.
- Total cost $110 for legs & $99 for ballhead in CAD dollars
- Tripod - Max height: 1.4m, Min height: 13.5cm, Max supported weight: 22lbs
- Ballhead - Max supported weight: 44lbs
- Total system weight: 3.31lbs, Minimum system length: 17".
T1004x Tripod comes with:
- Grooved long center column, with spring-loaded weight hook
- Grooved short center column. Can be used on its own or used as an extension of the long center column.
- Reversible ballhead mounting screw.
- Padded bag, strap, allen keys and 6 year warranty.
Short center column: (Note the non-removable screw at the bottom, used to extend the long center column. Downside is that the short center column can slide out the top since there's nothing stopping it. A visit to the local hardware store should be able to fix this by attaching a nut to that silver screw. Unfortunately, there's also no way of attaching the weight hook to the short column either. )
Long center column with short center column attached on top as height extension:
The tripod legs can be opened further for low to the ground shots. Alternatively you can reverse the long center column:
There are also two additional screws that keep the ballhead base plate and the ballhead firmly in place.
For all of the hex screws that you see above, the tripod comes with a full set of allen keys. The padded tripod bag has a slot inside to tuck away these tools and the warranty card.
The tripod has silicon twist locks to release the legs similar to Gitzo. The business end on this T1004x model has rubber feet only. Other Sirui models with thicker legs will have a retractable rubber feet that reveals a spike foot.
Overall this tripod is pretty sturdy and for its weight, it can hold up a lot. It is lighter than comparable Manfrottos and the available weight hook compensates for this fact. There's very little flex and seems to absorb vibration well. Here's a shot of a D200 w/ SB800 & 18-200 and my Retro 20. (Yes, I normally shoot with a Canon, but how am I going to shoot with it if it's on the tripod? Please don't revoke my membership!)
Next up is the G20 ballhead.