You can usually expect to pay upwards of £300 for a decent quality carbon fibre tripod and head. This makes the full-sized Hama Omega Carbon II look something of a bargain, because it's widely available for around £180 and comes complete with ball and socket head, plus a good quality padded carrying case.

One of the main attractions of carbon fibre camera tripods, compared with their aluminium cousins, is that they save weight, while still offering good stability. Let's see if the Hama delivers on its potential.

The Hama Omega Carbon II tripod and head kit has a combined maximum load rating of 4kg. That's easily sufficient for a bulky DSLR and long telephoto zoom lens but, even so, the load limit is only half that of some competing (and slightly cheaper) aluminium tripod and head combinations, such as the Benro A297EX and BH2-M ball head, or the Giottos MTL9361B and MH1311652 ball head.

The folded height for carrying the tripod around is 69cm, and the maximum height in use is 174cm, with the centre column fully extended. That's not particularly impressive considering that the Hama Omega Carbon II has four-section legs, whereas most tripods of this size have only three sections.

As well as having an extra set of clip locks that you need to operate to extend the tripod to its maximum height, it also means that the bottom leg sections are quite thin and spindly. From top to bottom, the diameters of the sections measure 28mm, 24mm, 20mm and 16mm.

As with most modern tripods, you can adjust the legs to any of three different angles from the centre column. This enables shooting down to a height of 48cm, and you can also unscrew the safety ring from the bottom of the centre column, so you can invert it and shoot from lower levels with the camera upside-down. However, unlike some competing tripods, the Hama Omega Carbon II lacks a pivot facility for the centre column.

Other features include both a compass and bubble level on the tripod shoulder, and a weight hook at the bottom of the centre column. The ball and socket head provided in the kit has a full complement of locking screw, adjustable friction damper and separate panning control. The last of these has a handy scale calibrated in 9-degree increments.