The W-1204 is a good mid-sized camera support, and although not the lightest carbon fibre tripod, it’s certainly sturdy.
Four section twist lock legs with incorporated waterproof seals, three-angle leg selectors and height adjustment of between 15 and 165cm make-up the main feature highlights.
The price is high at around $299/£429, and for that, you’d expect the quality to be just so. However, the rubber grips on the twist locks feel a little overly soft and although they provide good purchase, only time will tell how durable they are.
That said, the W-1204 is a sturdy workhorse of a tripod, and with a decent range of features including the waterproofing. It all comes together to make a very versatile support and a good choice for the British climate.
Introducing the Sirui W-1204 Tripod
Selecting a decent tripod is hard, especially considering the massive volume of them on offer. And despite the range, there are few (if any) that fulfil every requirement.
The Sirui W-1204 is sold as a good all-rounder and to me, that means it has to be as versatile as possible, relatively lightweight, sturdy and able to withstand a little abuse; being thrown in the back of a car, chucked over fences and left for hours out in the rain.
With that in mind, I’m pleased to see the tripod is labelled with Sirui’s WPS badge indicating that it has the company’s Waterproof Sealing System. This was introduced a couple of years ago and it uses technology and materials that were developed for the automotive industry, using rubber locking components that stop water, dust and other particles from getting into the leg-locking mechanism.
If you think that waterproofing is a feature too far in a tripod, I can testify that over the years I have gone through countless models due to corrosion.
At 1.45kg, the W-1204 is mid-range weight-wise for its size and style of support, but it can comfortably hold a 15kg load, which is pretty hefty for a tripod of this size.
Packed down for carrying in the supplied bag, the tripod measures a decent 49cm. Unpacked, you can adjust between a minimum height of the 15cm and maximum height of 165cm.
The four section legs are made of 8-layer carbon fibre and are secured by those sealed WPS twist locks. One of the legs features a comfortable grip for carrying.
The leg angles can be adjusted with a ratchet system that allows three positions; 22º, 51º and 82º.
At the base of each leg is a small rubber foot. These can be unscrewed and replaced with other feet such as spikes as required.
The centre column can be reversed, and there’s the option of either a 1/4-inch or 3/8-inch screw for either attaching a tripod head or a camera directly.
On the base of the column is a hook for attaching a bag to add weight to the tripod if you need to.
On the crown, there’s a small bubble level to help you get things straight. Although most tripod heads these days have one built-in, I always like to see one on the legs as this helps to ensure a stable set-up.
Providing a sturdy base.
The tripod arrives with a pretty good-quality bag that has a decent shoulder strap.
Setting the tripod down and releasing the legs reveals that, in addition to keeping water out of the legs, the WPS system provides a smooth adjustment action and there’s no stickiness as you adjust the leg length.
The twist locks do a great job and a half turn, or slightly less, is enough to lock and unlock each leg.
The only issue I have with the legs is that the rubber used for the grip is a little overly soft. While this means that it provides excellent purchase, even in the pouring rain, I fear for the longevity of the material.
Pressing down on one of the spring loaded levers at the top of the legs allows the leg angle to be adjusted with the three positions I mentioned earlier available.
Once positioned the height is pretty decent and you can increase further by extending the centre column.
This centre column can be dropped out and inverted. There’s a locking nut at the base and a bag hook which all needs to be unscrewed before the column is withdrawn. This action is pretty smooth, but care needs to be taken when the column is reconstructed otherwise it can get caught.
Another trick that this tripod has is the detachable leg which can then double as a monopod. It’s a nice touch and the mechanism works well with the separator again being protected by the WPS twist lock.
As you might expect in the UK, I got caught in the rain when I was testing the W-1204 and as you’d expect after a shower, it was fine.
A dunk in a river and exposure to the best that a river basin has to offer, followed by a quick river-wash revealed that those WPS seals did their job. Crucially, they prevented the usual surprise gush of water some hours later from a hidden cavity.
The Sirui W-1204 definitely qualifies as an extremely versatile tripod, but with so many excellent models out there, a tripod really has to be something special if it’s going to stand out.
Overall, I like the versatility of the tripod, the low-level shooting, the inverted centre column and the action of the twist locks. The carbon fibre leg construction, the waterproofing and the anodizing of the metal components are also attractive.
For the price, however, I want this tripod to be flawless, and it’s not. It is very solid, but I’m not sold on the design of the centre column or the grip material for those twist locks. To be fair, the grips held-up to my best efforts to dislodge and damage them, but I wonder about their longevity.
I’d also like to see an accessories port as seen on the latest Manfrotto tripods to make it a little more versatile for the modern photographer.
In summary, the W-1204 is a very competent, attractive and good-quality tripod, but for its price, it seems a little behind the competition.