Sirui PH-20 Gimbal & W-2204 Tripod Review

SIRUI is not a brand I was very familiar with, until introduced by Willem Foster from SunshineCo. in South Africa. He asked if I would test out some new equipment for them. I obliged, as I love trying out new gear and I was intrigued to see what SIRUI was all about.

I was given a tripod and a gimbal head, namely the SIRUI PH-20 Carbon Fibre gimbal tripod head and the SIRUI W-2204 Carbon Fibre waterproof tripod. I had a trip planned to the bush to shoot some wildlife when Willem had asked me, and I thought it was a perfect time to try out this new gear.

Nikon 400 f/2.8 VR & D810 mounted onto the PH-20 Gimbal.

Nikon 400 f/2.8 VR & D810 mounted onto the PH-20 Gimbal.

My initial impression of the gear when I received delivery was fantastic. The build quality seemed excellent and the way the product was packaged and presented was top notch. To put it into short words – my first impression lasted! I am very impressed with the gimbal and tripod I tested out! If I had the money, I would be buying this exact tripod and gimbal right now. Not only is the build quality fantastic, the vast array of features the tripod and gimbal boast blew me away.
Lets break this review down into two sections, and I will talk about the gimbal and tripod separately.

SIRUI PH-20 GIMBAL

Gimbal information and pouch.

Gimbal information and pouch.

Padded interior with Gimbal components.

Padded interior with Gimbal components.

The SIRUI PH-20 Gimbal head is packaged beautifully in a nice zippered case, with padded interior and separate compartments for all the components. The set includes a lens plate (Arca Swiss style) and also an extra bracket to turn the gimbal into a vertical configuration. I love the ability to switch between a full gimbal and the vertical bracket configuration as it allows for many different mounting combinations.

Full Gimbal configuration, vertical bracket configuration and the rubber tilt-locking knob.

Full Gimbal configuration, vertical bracket configuration and the rubber tilt-locking knob.

The included Arca-Swiss style lens plate, with ability to tighten by hand and not by tool if needed.

The included Arca-Swiss style lens plate, with ability to tighten by hand and not by tool if needed.

SIRUI PH-20 Gimbal Features

  • Carbon Fibre / Aluminium design
  • Load capacity – 20KG
  • 1.3KG in weight
  • Arca-Swiss compatibility
  • Quick release plate included
  • Gimbal tilts from +150 to -60 Degrees
  • Horizontal 360 Degrees panning

SIRUI PH-20 Thoughts – Overall performance was outstanding on the PH-20 Gimbal head. I shot many images using it, and it provided an excellent platform to transform my heavy Nikon 400 f/2.8 & D810 combo into a weightless and easy to manoeuvre setup that allowed me to capture birds in flight, animals in action and every other situation that presented itself to me.  The panning and tilting was a breeze with the PH-20, it felt very smooth and when I needed to lock my lens in place the tension knobs tightened up the combo and it felt very solid. I enjoyed the light-weight feel on the Gimbal thanks to the Carbon Fibre design, which makes it easier to carry around, not adding much weight to an already heavy camera bag. At only 1.3KG in total, the Gimbal is highly recommended for any wildlife photographer, but also makes a wonderful landscape tripod head in the vertical configuration.

Before I used a gimbal head, I had always tried the standard ball head or three-way head, but did not succeed in successfully mounting a large lens to this combination. The centre of gravity is too much for a smaller ball head or three-way head to handle. The gimbal is designed in a perfect way to handle very heavy camera setups, and I would recommend ONLY a gimbal if you are using these heavy setups.

As I said before, I highly recommend the PH-20 Gimbal tripod head and if I could afford to buy one at this stage, my order would be in already.

Yours truly in action with the lens mounted onto the PH-20 Gimbal. (Photo by Jon Bryant)

Yours truly in action with the lens mounted onto the PH-20 Gimbal. (Photo by Jon Bryant)

Degree markings on bottom of Gimbal, and rubber swivel locking knob.

Degree markings on bottom of Gimbal, and rubber swivel locking knob.

SIRUI W-2204 WATERPROOF CARBON FIBRE TRIPOD

The second part of this review covers the immaculate SIRUI W-2204 Waterproof tripod. There are many features I loved about this tripod, and it was a breeze to set up and use. Apart from the wildlife photographic trip I used the tripod on, I do a lot of landscape work and I managed to use the tripod in a landscape scenario and was very impressed with it there too. The tripod is waterproof, which mean it can be submerged in water without any water entering the leg columns. The tripod needs to be locked in place for this to work, as the locking mechanisms seal the leg joints.

The tripod is packaged beautifully, in a well padded bag and well presented.

The tripod is packaged beautifully, in a well padded bag and well presented.

The tripod is presented with a wonderful bag, which protects the tripod during transport, and includes a few small compartments for some smaller accessories. I like it when a manufacturer supplies their products with wonderfully padded bags, as these are made to fit and you don’t then need to spend extra on gear protection.

Let’s dive into all the features of the SIRUI W-2204 tripod. I will list all the features here, and later in the review provide some images to help illustrate a few of these features.

SIRUI W-2204 Tripod Features

  • Carbon Fibre design to ensure lightweight tripod with added strength, increased load capacity and vibration reduction characteristics.
  • Waterproof leg design helps protect the inside of the tripod from water damage.
  • Three leg angle settings for awkward setup positioning.
  • Legs can fold up to 180° for compact packing, and also for awkward setup while shooting.
  • Bubble level on the tripod to indicate horizontal alignment.
  • One of the legs detach into a waterproof monopod, of which can be incorporated with the centre column for extra height.
  • Monopod wrist strap which can be attached to the monopod.
  • Automatic and ergonomic leg angle locking mechanisms.
  • Centre column adjustable to long and short configuration.
  • Hook at the bottom of the centre column to allow for added weight to be added for increased stability.
  • Interchangeable feet – slip resistant rubber feet and stainless steel spiked feet.
  • Variable size tripod screws

Material: Carbon Fibre
Sections: 4
Max Diameter: 29mm
Min Diameter: 18mm
Max Height: 1470mm
Max Height Ext: 1800mm
Min Height: 155mm
Retracted Height: 560mm
Folded Height: 520mm
Monopad Max Height: 1770mm
Monopod Min Height: 470mm
Weight: 1.7kg
Load: 18kg

When buying the Sirui W-2204 Tripod the following items are included – split-centre column, custom padded case, shoulder strap, tools, spring loaded hook, metal spikes and a monopod kit (wrist strap, extra 1/2 ~ 3/8 tripod screw, extra platform).

Adjustable centre column with hook.

Adjustable centre column with hook.

Ideas on possible leg angles.

Ideas on possible leg angles.

Short centre column and bubble level.

Short centre column and bubble level.

Low to the ground setup possibility with short centre column.

Low to the ground setup possibility with short centre column.

Tripod with detachable monopod.

Tripod with detachable monopod.

Variable size tripod screws.

Variable size tripod screws.

Interchangeable feet – rubber or spike.

Interchangeable feet – rubber or spike.

Leg Angle Lock

Leg Angle Lock

Now that I have gone through all the features, let me talk about what I think of the tripod, and how I found working with it.

SIRUI W-2204 Thoughts – I am absolutely in love with this tripod. The amount of features and everything it can do simply fits in perfectly with my photographic style. I can use it to mount big lenses on when shooting wildlife, it allows me to shoot landscapes in running water without worrying about damaging the tripod, it allows for extreme low angle work close to the ground and it is lightweight enough to carry when hiking up the Drakensberg on a landscape shoot, but still strong enough to handle a heavy setup. The locking rings on the legs are easy to turn, and I had no problem turning them or adjusting the leg-angle lock with gloves on. The custom padded case was a welcome feature when transporting the tripod. Driving on bumpy roads in the back of a Land Cruiser can take it’s toll on gear, and knowing the tripod was well packed left me to only worry about taking photo’s.

I currently own a tripod without a centre column, and I found it very useful on this tripod and used it quite a lot. The tripod was very stable in strong winds and the carbon fibre helped alleviate vibrations further. The added shoulder strap was a nice feature to make carrying the tripod a lot easier. I personally would remove the longer centre column, and opt for the shorter one purely because I do shoot quite a lot very close to the ground for a nice low angle, and I prefer to keep my setups as simple as possible. The shorter centre column also decreased the weight on the tripod.

I’m not the tallest of guys, but I did set the tripod up to be quite tall, and the stability was very good.

Tripod at standing height. (Photos by Jon Bryant)

Tripod at standing height. (Photos by Jon Bryant)

The exceptional conclusion I have from testing out this gear – SIRUI should be a brand standing at the very top of the heap with the likes of Gitzo, and it should be a brand everyone should consider when purchasing tripods and support for their photographic gear. Thanks again to Willem at SunshineCo. for the chance to test out the equipment!