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Amazon brand the Velbon Ultrek UT 43D as the yogapod and it's easy to see why. This model has such a flexible design that it can do a Salute to the Sun with ease! Peter Bargh takes hold and prepares to be spiritually enlightened. Mantras away...
The tripod features the same Trunnion shaft system legs as the recently reviewed Velbon Ultra Rexi L but with six sections to allow an even greater maximum extended height of 156.5cm.
It comes with a QHD-53D ball & socket head with quick release platform, and a soft bag with shoulder strap.
But then opening the box reveals a dinky carrying case with tripod snuggled inside. How compact? You may suddenly want to run to the hills for some tripod photography.
Then I opened it out and saw the wonderful flexible 180° legs. This is cool. But then where's the release for the centre column? How does that retract? I soon found out it doesn't and that, in my mind, is a bit of a flaw. Having a centre column extended is not the best for stability. One hole in the middle of the legs and a locking nut is surely all it would take.
Then I extended the legs and they kept on coming. Jackpot... tiny, but huge.
I like ball & socket heads as they make it easy to get the camera quickly into any position and this one is no exception. I also like the large quick-release plate that can be inserted in any direction. Having used Manfrotto for years where you always have to remember to attach it to the camera the right way round (lens to the front) this is a treat. Also, unlike the recently reviewed Manfrotto MK3-P02, you don't need a coin to attach the plate to a camera as this one has a built in tightener.
Another interesting feature, that took me a while to work out, is the leg angle selector. It's spring loaded to offer three angles for the legs and once you know what you're doing (I should have looked at the instructions!). It's quick and easy to adjust for rock solid positions.
|The quick release plate has a built in
|The Velbon UT 43D's leg angle selector
Velbon Ultra Rexi L (£100, 36cm-153cm), the Gitzo GT1550T Series 1 Traveller (£481, 36cm-146cm), the Manfrotto MKC3-P02 (£49, 43cm-165cm), (Vanguard Nivelo 204SL (£49, 30cm-101cm), and at the budget end of the scale, the Hama Profil Duo III (£25, 53cm-150cm).
|The versatile yoga legs make it easy to shoot from a lower angle than the spec indicates.|
Not only that, when fully extended, which as I learned from the similar Rexi L is a super fast operation, this tripod is high enough for a five foot ten bloke not to have to stoop when looking through the camera viewfinder, so that will give me a few more years of pain free back/neck problems.
It's surprisingly stable considering the bottom leg section is less than 10mm thick.
So overall a great model for the walker / traveller, but if compactness is less important I'd suggest you look at the Ultra Rexi L which is less expensive and has a more robust structure.
|The Velbon Ultrek UT 43D allows me to shoot low lying subjects such as flowers and fungi and the maximum height, although not the sturdiest, allows me to shoot without stooping.|
Velbon Ultrek UT 43D Tripod: Pros
Quick to extend
Versatile 180deg leg movement
Velbon Ultrek UT 43D Tripod: Cons
Legs can be fiddly to extend
Centre column does not retract
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Number of Legs sections||6|
|Case supplied||Yes with carry strap|