Rollei tripod for travel photography

Stuart Forster reviews a Rollei C5-i tripod and finds it’s the best lightweight tripod for travel photography.

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 as a tripod for DSLR use

Northern lights in the night sky above Lake Egenolf in northern Manitoba, Canada
The northern lights in northern Manitoba, Canada, photographed while using a Rollei C5-i tripod.

A tripod for travel photography

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 the 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 a DSLR with a Canon 100-400mm L series lens without discernable movement in long exposures.

Historic imagery features in The World Machine, projected onto the facade of Durham Cathedral during the Lumiere Durham festival of light
Durham Cathedral photographed during the Lumiere Durham festival of light while using the Rollei lightweight tripod.

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.

Further information

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:

The Rollei Compact Traveller Number 1 tripod is also available in a lighter carbon version:

The Rollei C5I tripod is available for purchase via the Amazon website:

An orange version of the Rollei C5I tripod is also available via Amazon:

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A version of this post was first published on Go Eat Do on 2 May 2014.

Rollei C5-i tripod for travel photography standing on its three legs.
Rollei C5-i tripod for travel photography standing on its three legs

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