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The Giottos YTL9253 is an entry level tripod in the new Silk Road series that has a uniquely designed Y-Tube centre column offering a 30% reduction in size when folded up to carry around or store away.
We take a look at it with the MH 7001-652 ball & socket head.
The main thing that separates this model for the competition is the Y-Tube centre column. Centre columns are usually round whereas this one has an inverted tri shape so each of the legs can close tighter to the body, making it 30% more compact when closed.
The column can be reversed if you want to go lower to the ground.
The YTL 9253 has the usual quick-release leg locks with three leg extensions from 25mm to 20mm tubing. The bottom section is marked with a scale that looks like a water depth scale, but is in fact designed to make it easier to pull out each leg to the same extent. The feet are rubber and can be removed to reveal threaded holes where optional spikes can be screwed in.
Each leg has a foam grip at the top for comfortable handling and they can be set to three different angle / spread positions. And there's a spirit level on the neck.
The top platform has a reversable thread so 1/4 or 3/8 heads can be attached.
- Y-Tube design
- Graduated lower leg markings
- Three leg angles
- Spirit level
- Bag hook
- Quick release leg locks
- Five year guarantee
The centre column is friction controlled and locked with a small rotating knob. It's made of soft plastic and easy to grip to tighten. The leg angle locks are released with the thumb and have three positions. It's easy when closing to trap your fingers behind the leg, and the new Y shaped tube makes sure that's a painful process. They're stiff on the review model, but, like all moving parts on this tripod, it's easy to adjust tightness to preference using one of the two supplied hex wrenches.
The leg releases are large plastic levers that work well. The tubing legs slide out freely so it's easy to adjust leg height from an upright position. I'm not convinced there's any need for the printed height scale on the bottom tube. It's easy enough to see when the tripod is extended more or less equally.
The sponge grips on the legs are really comfortable, and the fact the tripod is more compact due to the Y-tube means it's easy to grip the whole thing rather than just one leg. They are great in cold weather as touching metal can be painful if you don't have gloves on.
To gain a few extra centimetres of maximum height it looks like the tripod has been given a slightly less acute initial leg angle which means it's taller but has a smaller foot print. When compared to my old Manfrotto Neotec it's four centimetres higher but the narrow angle legs have 15cm or so less foot spread on the ground. This is great in confined spaces, but does make the tripod less stable in open spaces, especially with a strong wind where it's more likely to topple over. You can use one of the other two angles or the bag hook to add ballast.
It's sturdy to use even when fully extended and coped well with the SLR and 500mm mirror lens used for vibration test. For normal photography, the flexibility of leg angle and reversing column allowed us to take photos in a wide range of situations. The lack of a splitting column reduces easy access for low angle photography and no horizontal arm is restricting for macro specialists, but as an all rounder it performed well.
The spirit level is placed so badly on the tripod that it's pointless, you can't look over the top to level when the column isn't extended. A feature no doubt added to score points, but totally obscured if you attach a head. If a spirit level is important make sure the tripod head you attach has one built in.
Here the tripod is fully extended and then the extra height gained by extending the centre column.
Value For Money
This is a very competitive sector of the tripod market and £100 buys you quite a lot from several manufacturers, including the compact Velbon Ultra Rexi L, Vanguard Nivelo 245BK and Manfrotto 190XDB. And raising the ticket price to the £120 mark introduces you to highly feature packed models including the Giottos MTL9351B with horizontal centre column.
Spirit level position and lack of easy low shooting options aside, the YTL9253 is a strong well built model, with some useful features, such as compact storage, three angle adjustments and comfortable tube grips. It has a good working height even without using the centre column and is light to carry. The leg releases are really smooth to use and it proved to be sturdy, especially when used at the wider leg splayed setting as the standard angle is a bit too narrow. Overall our four star all-round rating makes this a recommended product for all kinds of photographer.
|Four stars all-round make this a recommended product for all kinds of photographer.|
Giottos YTL9253 tripod Pros
Comfortable leg tubing grips
Five year warranty
Giottos YTL9253 tripod Cons
Narrower standard angle leg splay
Centre column doesn't split
Pointless spirit level
Low angle shooting limitations
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Maximum Weight Capacity||5kg|
|Number of Leg Sections||3|
|Box Contents||tripod, instruction sheet, Allen keys|