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Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review

We test the Velbon Ultra REXi L - a full size professional quality tripod with an ultra compact design.

| Velbon Velbon Ultra REXi L tripod in Tripods, Monopods and Other Supports

Features & handling

Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Velbon Rexi L Tripod

Ask anyone what their ideal tripod is and the answer is usually: "one that packs up small to carry, extends to good working height, doesn't weigh much and is versatile".  Well on first impressions the Velbon Ultra REXi L meets at least three of these needs and we're about to find out how versatile it is too.


Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Velbon Ultra REXi L closedVelbon Ultra REXi L: Features and handling

The main feature of the Ultra REXi L is its size and weight. With a robust 30mm thick mangnesium alloy tube this competes with many larger tripods, but this model is far more compact in its closed state.

Comparing the tripod with my well used Manfrotto Neotec 458B you can see below that it's almost half the size when closed.

This is down to the Ultra REXi L's innovative leg extension system, comprising five sections and just two knurled locking rings. You twist and pull to extend and close the leg sections. From a design point of view having two instead of the usual five twist locks means the tripod can shave off about 5cm from the closed height, while five leg sections, instead of four, helps reduce the size by another 20cm or so. You end up with a closed height of just 36cm compared with the Manfrotto's 64cm. 

This tripod has a friction adjusting centre column which can be split and used at a short length when the legs are splayed out at maximum angle.

Each leg can be splayed individually at one of three angles and the feet have rubber points to help grip on smoother surfaces.

The centre column has a reversible thread to accept either common 1/4in heads or the more pro spec 3/8in heads. For the test we attached the QHD-61Q ball & socket which adds a quick-release camera plate and spirit levels.

This is a tripod you don't feel necessary to leave behind. Its small enough to strap onto a rucksack or camera bag without impeding comfort and the supplied carry case is an added bonus.
Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: The Velbon Ultra REXi L compared with Manfrotto 458B
You can see how small the Velbon Ultra REXi L is compared to the Manfrotto 458B when closed. Yet when extended they're the same height.

Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Velbon Ultra REXi L leg angle Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Velbon Ultra REXi L unscrewing the column
The Velbon Ultra REXi L has three leg angles, adjusted with a sliding lock.
The centre column of the Velbon Ultra REXi L can be unscrewed and split.
Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Velbon Ultra REXi L extending the legs Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Velbon Ultra REXi L adjusting the column height
The Velbon Ultra REXi L has one simple twist action to extend the five section legs.
A lift up release unlocks the Velbon Ultra REXi L's friction centre column.



Velbon Ultra REXi L: Performance

This type of leg extension with twist lock method has been notoriously temperamental on tripods of the past. Most tripods have either levers or ring leg locks with friction extension. This one locks by rotating the leg section, and there are just two controls where normally there would be five. The problem is that each leg section locks independently and sometimes if you don't  twist right you'll find one action locks before it should, so it becomes troublesome to find which is locked and which isn't.

At first I thought this was going to be the same on the Ultra REXi L, but after a few goes and the initial factory stiffness had worn off the legs were opening and closing with ease. It means you can go from collapsed to extended in seconds, which is perfect for when you're out walking in a group and want to stop and take a photo.

A tripod has to support your camera firmly and let you adjust it into the best position. For bluebell photography I like to get down to ground level and this tripod allows that with easy. A latch slides to the right at the top of each leg section and there are three positions. Fully right is maximum one and in this position with the centre column split you can get really low. This was ideal for bluebells.
Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Low shooting is one of the Ultra REXi L's key  features
Low shooting is one of the Ultra REXi L's key features. If you want to go really low you need to unscrew the bottom part of the centre column and remove it. It's easier to leave it off if you don't need the extra height. The tripod provided a superb rigid platform at this angle.

Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Ultra REXi L used with  legs at different angles
Each leg can be individually adjusted for uneven surfaces or more versatile angles. Here I couldnt get close enough to the sap in normal use, so rested one of the legs (fully splayed) on the stump.

Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review: Ultra REXi L at full height
I balanced the cones on the tree to get an interesting background and then extended the tripod to full height so it was square on. It's still surprisingly solid at full extent

The rubber feet grip well and stop the tripod sliding around and the thick leg tubes really make the tripod rigid and a solid support, even at full height. Despite the five leg extensions there's no compromise on rigidity. If anything it's actually a little sturdier than the Neotec at twice its price.


Velbon Ultra REXi L: Verdict

It's a challenge coming up with new features on tripods, but Velbon have played a trump card, producing a tripod that not only gives a good solid working height, similar to tripods at twice the price, but also delivered that essential photographers wish list requirement - small, light and tall. You couldn't wish for more. Well that's not quite true - a macro arm would be nice, but I can live without that for the benefit of conveninece. All in all the Ultra REXi L is a highly desirable tripod that, thanks to its design, you're likely to take out and use rather than leave at home.


Velbon Ultra REXi L Tripod Review:
The Velbon Ultra REXi L is a real genius of the tripod world, blending four essential ingredients compact and light with  large and sturdy.

Velbon Ultra REXi L: Pros

Super compact
Quick to extend
Low level shooting
Case supplied

Velbon Ultra REXi L: Cons

Legs can be fiddly to extend
Center column slow to split apart

FEATURES Vanguard Nivelo 204SL rating
HANDLING Vanguard Nivelo 204SL rating
PERFORMANCE Vanguard Nivelo 204SL rating
VALUE FOR MONEY Vanguard Nivelo 204SL rating
OVERALL Vanguard Nivelo 204SL rating


Velbon Ultra REXi L: Specifications

Price £115
Weight 1.3Kg
Min Height 9.5cm
Max Height 153cm
Folded Height 36cm
Maximum Load 4Kg
Tube Diameter 30mm
Locking Mechanism Friction
Number of Legs sections 4
Construction Magnesium alloy

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Tynnwrlluniau Avatar
Tynnwrlluniau 14 112 40 Wales
10 May 2011 6:19PM
I've just bought one of these for my summer holiday. I would endorse everything said in this review and was very surprised at how sturdy the tripod is fully extended. I have a Feisol Tournament CF tripod and the Velbon feels just as sturdy in use. Releasing the legs in one swift action proved no problem although, initially I had difficulty retracting one but this was down to me and I soon got the hang of it. A great product and worth shopping around as prices vary considerably. I wish they'd added a hook to the centre column but other than that it's just what I needed in a travel tripod that still delivers the performance I expect in spite of its diminutive presence.
Pete Avatar
Pete 22 18.8k 97 England
10 May 2011 10:07PM
Glad you agree Alun, it truly is a solid and light model.
sarakoth Avatar
14 Jun 2011 8:42AM
Just wondering your thoughts/impression of the legs on this tripod. My concern is that the lower section is actually telescopic (I believe).. so while quick to setup and light, I would have concerns over time that the telescopic sections could become loose and slowly collapse over the duration of say time lapse photogrpahy, etc. I presume unlike "traditional" locking system, there woudl be no way to tighten them up over time?
Greyheron Avatar
Greyheron 21 282 7 England
17 Jun 2011 6:49PM
I would also agree with your review of this product Pete - my Rexi L arrived today and it certainly seems well worth the money. Only played with it in the garden so far but I can see it will get lots of use and be a lot lighter than my Gitzo for many applications - not to mention those trips abroad - I hate being without a good tripod.

Chris, the legs lock securely with a twist action - you don't need to turn the legs much to achieve a good secure lock. I don't see that there will be any problem with the legs ''slowly collapsing''.


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