Stuart Forster reviews a Rollei C5-i tripod and finds it’s the best lightweight tripod for travel that he’s used.
As a regular traveller and a photographer who often uses a tripod while on the road. I’m always keen to use reliable, lightweight equipment that packs down well in my luggage. The Rollei C5-i tripod meets those criteria. The compact tripod proved easy to use and returns good results with my Canon DSLRs, including the Canon 5D Mk IV.
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Rollei is a long-established German company. It was founded in 1920. As someone who appreciates the history of photography, it’s a brand that makes me think of the Rolleiflex medium format camera, one of the classics of the genre.
The Rollei brand is now associated with a range of high-spec tripods, produced for the company by Fotopro.
Browse the Rollei stativ range, that’s the German term for tripod, over on the German company’s website.
A tripod and a monopod
The C5-i tripod is described as a 4-in-1 product, meaning it converts into a monopod, mini-tripod and handle. To be honest, I couldn’t work out what was meant by the latter. However, I did like the fact that one of the tripod’s legs unscrews and fits together with the centre column to produce a monopod with a length of 123.5cm and an adjustable head.
My initial late night attempt to convert the kit took ten minutes of confusion and head scratching, even with the help of the instruction manual. Yet once I’d cracked how to unscrew one leg from the tripod and release the central column I was impressed by the rapidity with which I could convert the kit between a monopod and a tripod. Not needing to carry both on a trip represents a significant weight saving in my luggage.
It now takes just a matter of seconds to get the tripod ready for use. It’s ideal a a tripod for DSLR use
A compact tripod
The tripod packs down to a length of 43cm, which makes it relatively easy to carry, and the legs consist of four aluminium sections. The height of legs can be adjusted using quick release screws. The legs have three angle settings, enabling the tripod to be operated between heights of 11cm and 157cm.
The maximum load of this piece of kit is given at 8kg. I tested it at night using DSLR with a Canon 100-400mm L series lens without discernable movement in long exposures.
A DSLR camera tripod
The ball head proved easy to operate, grips solidly with both vertical and horizontal loads, and has an in-built spirit level.
The one minor frustration I had with this kit was my inability to attach the leather hand strap to the central column when it’s in the monopod configuration. The instructions on how to do so are clear but actually making it happen would have meant using a wrench or similar tool.
Fortunately, that didn’t irk too significantly as the tripod comes with foam grips, one of which is detachable. It also has a smart black carrying case with an adjustable shoulder strap.
Ultimately, this lightweight tripod proved easy to use and was reliable. As a bonus, thanks to flashes of metallic colouring, it also looks smart. For travellers looking to save on weight this could well prove a piece of photography kit worth getting hold of and using.
It’s proved a good tripod. So far, it’s the best travel tripod that I’ve found in terms of price and performance.
The Rollei C5-i tripod weighs 1.7kg.
Since this review of the Rollei C5-i was published, the model has been replaced by the Rollei Compact Traveller Number 1 tripod (£), which is available in aluminium (£):
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A version of this post was originally published on 2 May 2014.