Giottos Silk Road YTL9383 3D Column, £125
One of the recently launched Silk Road tripods, the aluminium YTL9383 features Giottos' new Y-profile centre column. The thinking behind this is that the legs are able to sit much closer together at the shoulder of the tripod, making it a more slim-line package. Giottos claims it saves 30% in the overall diameter although, naturally, there's no space-saving at the bottom end, where the feet meet together.
Other new features include calibrated length markings along the bottom leg sections, and a redesigned multi-angle lock which is very quick and easy to operate. This enables three lockable angles and you can also swing the legs upwards to a nearly vertical position. The maximum height with the centre column fully extended is a towering 183cm but, with three-section legs, the tripod only folds down to a fairly lengthy 68cm, without a head attached.
Giottos claims that its new QEL (Quick Easy Lever) locking system delivers speed and ease, while offering maximum rigidity when locked. However, leg extension lacks smoothness and the locks themselves feel quite fragile compared with older Giottos tripods. There's also a little more flexing in the legs when fully extended. On the plus side, the pivoting centre column works really well, with a similar spline-based locking mechanism to that of the Benro tripods.