Last week I posted about my search for a new tripod and ball head. In the post I said that I decided to go with the Feisol tripod and that I would be researching ball heads to go with it. Well, in that research, I came across another option that I wasn't aware of. As I was looking for a ball head to go with the tripod I came across a new brand that I wasn't aware of, Sirui. They are a Chinese manufacturer that has developed a good reputation in Asia, and just recently entered the US market. Their ball heads have received very favorable reviews across Asia and Europe. The German photography site Traumflieger (Google can translate it to english) reviewed several of the Sirui ball heads and gave them high marks. As I researched the ball heads it appeared that their tripods were worth considering and seem to have a strong following as well. While Feisol is certainly a strong brand and has a solid reputation, based on the research I did, I decided to go with Sirui. This was primarily due to the positive information I found online but also because of the relative lack of information I found online. That was intriguing to me since it seems that Sirui is a well-made product but because it is so new to the US market, few people in the United States have purchased one for their own use. Most of the reviews I found were from users in Erope or Asia, where Sirui has been for a while. Being a bit of a "calculated risk taker" I decided that Sirui was for real and deserved a try.
Cost-wise Sirui is at the higher end of what I would call the "mid-price" tripod market. They are higher than the typical Benro or other off/store branded tripods but lower priced than the Gitzo's of the world. Compared to Feisol, the Sirui carbon fiber models are very close in price and offer some of the same features (larger diameter legs, forged metal instead of cast, etc) that Feisol uses to distinguish themselves from other brands. The things that persuaded me to go with Sirui over Feisol was the longer (six year) warranty that is supported by an established US distributer, Argraph Corp, which is in New Jersey and has been in business since 1953. Also, the Sirui tripods come with a short center column, carrying case and shoulder strap. The model we ordered also has the capability of converting into a monopod by removing one of the legs. While I don't expect to use that feature very much, I imagine I will find it useful from time to time so it's nice to have as an option. Sirui tripods and ball heads are available on eBay from several Asian sellers but I ended up ordering from Adorama Camera here in the US in order to make sure I received the 6 year warranty that is available, as well as the excellent customer service that Adorama is known for.
I decided to go "all-in" with Sirui and get tripods and ball heads for both Pam and I. For me, I ordered their N-2204 carbon fiber tripod along with the K-20x Ball Head. I also purchased an aluminum legged tripod, the N-1004 4 section Aluminum Tripod with a K-10x ball head for Pam, who will be using a tripod much less than I will. If she really enjoys photography we can always upgrade to a carbon fiber tripod at a later date.
I should receive the tripods/heads from Adorama this week and I will post a review of them once I've had some time to use them.