Sirui M3204x Tripod Review - A Value For Money Proposition


Sirui M3204x overlooking the Spitzkoppe mountain in Namibia during a landscape photography workshop

Usually we get given the truism that you get what you pay for. We buy cars made in Germany because we know that ‘German precision engineering’ goes into them and expect that the price will be indicative of this. We buy Chinese cars because they are cheap, and expect things to not be quite the standard of the German counterparts. In the world of photography the same ‘truism’ tends to be bandied about when we look at the marque manufacturers compared to the ‘Chinese knockoffs’. A perfect case in point would be the perpetual race that companies like Pocket Wizard play against their Chinese competitors which ‘borrow’ the technology and reproduce it at a far lower price, but often with a lower quality to match. We buy these products because we know they are cheap, but easily replaced and at a fraction of the price of the American or German rivals.

In some instances the same can be said of tripods. Sirui are a Hong Kong based tripod manufacturer. Do we lump them into the same ‘truism’ as many other Chinese goods? That was what I essentially had to decide when a Sirui M3204x tripod with G20Kx ballhead arrived at my studio (from the Sunshine Company in Cape Town) just prior to departing on the 2014 Composing The Dunes Workshop in Namibia. For the next month and a half the tripod would become my primary tripod. On returning from Namibia it then accompanied me on several commercial shoots and another workshop in the Drakensberg. So it had to withstand compious amount of desert sand and cold mountain water. It also had to able to keep up with me as I rushed around factories and sugar cane fields doing my usual day-job ‘thing’ without getting in the way and slowing down the shoot.

In The Bag

Sirui_bag I have to actually mention the bag first. For a start it’s small. The M3204x is a one of the new ‘travel design’ tripods which means that the centre column folds back between the legs, making the tripod more compact in its packed form. The tripod is also a 4 section tripod which again makes it smaller. It’s eventual 148cm in height is belied by the small and very light bag that arrived via the courier company.

And what a bag! I was immediately struck by the quality of the actual bag. I may be rhapsodising somewhat, but he bag that the tripod came with is one of the best quality tripod bags I have ever seen. It is amply padded, well stitched and has heavy duty zippers to boot. My very first thought was, “If this is the bag, what on earth is the tripod like?” There was more though. Inside the bag was the neatly folded tripod and head, but also a very nicely padded tripod strap that could be used on either the bag, or the tripod, and a small heavy-duty plastic zip bag with several allan keys, an extra reversible thread bolt for the connection between head and tripod, an additional base plate for the monopod and a loop for the monopod (see the last image on the page). The attention to detail was impressive to say the least.

Okay, so after gushing about the presentation, on to the meat of the dish: the tripod.


The Sirui M3204x with G20Kx ballhead with the full ground level kit attached.


The Sirui M3204x tripod legs are made from 8X carbon fibre. This means that there are eight separate layers of thin interwoven carbon fibre that make up the tubes. Traditionally, tripods have been made using 6X carbon Fibre. The theory is that the 8-layer weave means for a lighter, stiffer tripod. This is a good thing. The outer weave leaves quite an attractive pattern that runs at a steep diagonal linear pattern around the leg. The legs are 4 section legs with a top diameter of 32mm. Again, the thicker the top diameter, the sturdier the tripod, so a 32mm diameter top tube is similar to that from competitor brands like Gitzo. A thick top diamter is also necessary in order to get the 20mm diameter out of the last leg section.

The existing literature on Sirui tripods explains that the metal components of their tripods are made from forged metal, rather than cast metal. The company argues that forged metal makes a more compact, heavier duty material that gives a better strength to weight ratio. Certainly, from my use of the tripod over the last two months, the metal components show very little wear. They also seem to have a perceived hardness to them which I really liked. The metal is also anodised with a balck satin finish to increase wear resistance.

The twist locks on the legs have a very nice rubber covering making it comfortable to grip and twist the locks. The locks are also positioned so that a moderately large hand can unlock all three locks in one movement, which I often did. This makes it possible to set up the tripod extremely quickly.



One thing that truly stands out is how fully featured this tripod is. Sirui have made every effort to make sure that the tripod is one of the most customisable on the market. For a start the ground level kit is one of the best I have seen. The centre column consists of two parts; a short column piece at the top and a longer extension below. The two pieces connect together via a threaded insert that is attached to the hook at the bottom of the centre column. If you want to move to a ground level setup, simply unscrew the hook and detach the centre-column extension. If you want a more permanent ground level setup, replace the bottom hook with thread with the included shorter end hook and thread section. It really is an elegant system that doesn’t leave exposed threads on any surfaces and maintains stability in either setup.

Then there’s the included monopod. One of the legs unscrews from the top of the tripod, leaving an exposed thread onto which a hand loop strap and smaller plate are attached. The result is a very light 148cm length monopod. I usually use a heavy duty Manfrotto pro monopod. Lugging it and a tripod around on assignment is a chore. Having the ability to switch between a monopod and a tripod without the additional weight of two items is fantastic. Of course the downside is you can’t have a tripod and a monopod at the same time, but you can’t have evSirui_spikeserything I suppose.

Spikes on tripod feet are a contentious issue with me. I keep losing the rubber stops on my Gitzo Explorer, so really like it when manufacturers create tripod feet that have both spike and rubber foot in one unit that does not easily unscrew and get lost. Again, the Sirui has one of the nicest looking and working spike/rubber foot systems I have used. Unlike FLM’s bayonet rubber foot which continuously unlocks itself, the Sirui requires a several twists to the rubber foot to slowly expose a steel spike. The spike itself is not the grippiest or sharpest that I have ever come across, but this is perhaps not a bad thing as it could well stop you from scratching a client’s par quay flooring.

The legs all have a three-angle spring-loaded angle lock. This works very effectively and locks securely. If I have any complaint about it, it is that the locks can get a little sticky, but not so much so that they get in the way. Having the spring-loaded action is something that you either like or don’t like. Personally I think I prefer the spring-loaded angle locks as it stops the legs from folding up accidentally when you are doing tripod angles that are more akin to a yoga position than a traditional tripod setup.

Wrapped around the top tube on two legs are closed cell foam tubes to make the tripod more comfortable to carry, as well as protect it from bumps. I found these really good when working in the water in particular. The covering is also another tell-tale sign that Sirui are punching above their weight with this tripod. Everything about it exudes a quality that you would be forgiven for not anticipating considering the price (more on that in a moment).


Sirui_in_the_Drakensberg Working in the Drakensberg with the Sirui M3204x, G20Kx ballhead and a trigger trap to create a 2 minute exposure.

This is an easy tripod to use! Setup is fast as is putting it all away away again. Although the leg angle locks would stick occasionally, they rarely slowed down setup. When everything was locked down I felt confident that the camera would be stable during the longest of exposures. I even used the centre column on several occasions, despite my standard misgivings about centre columns in general (basically the centre column is the least stable point of a any tripod - use with caution essentially).

Getting the spikes out of the rubber feet is a little bit of a hassle, but one I prefer having knowing that a) I am not going to lose the rubber foot and b) the spike is never accidentally exposed. Aside from the slowness of getting the spike out, all the other moving parts swing fluidly, but with a satisfying firmness. If there is any looseness in the system due to extended wear, there are sufficient adjustment screws and bolts that the tripod can be rapidly and easily adjusted in the field. As to this, the bag that came with the tripod came with not one, but two allan keys of each necessary size (four in total)

The fly in The Ointment

problemI am hard on my equipment. Period. I trust my gear to be able to withstand the abuse that I hurl at it on a near daily basis. For the most part, the Sirui delivers admirably (further putting to bed the misconception that Chinese products are inferior). I even used the tripod in a client shoot which required me to strap the tripod horizontally to the base of the cargo palette and at full extension have the tripod handle the weight of a pro-DSLR and lens (weaker tripods could potentially fracture or break doingthis).

I did have one small issue though. I suspect the unit that I was sent had a manufacturer’s defect in one of the sliding mechanisms on one leg. Occasionally the leg would jam up and when finally unlocked, the entire section would slide out of the upper tube along with the two small plastic guide pieces. Although it is fairly easy to reassemble and insert the tube, it is frustrating when the light is changing fast and you have to fiddle with reassembling your tripod. Possibly this is a negative mark against the Sirui, but…and this is a big but, Sirui provide a 6 year manufacturer’s warranty! 6 years! On that single fact alone it may be worth buying a Sirui. Talking to the folks at Sunshineco. they confirmed that the warranty is real. If the leg lock issue is a defective part, it would be repaired under warranty. From what I saw and experienced with the tripod, the lock issue that I had is not the norm.


Every part of the Sirui exudes a sense of quality. Whether the same sense of durability is there is less obvious. Here I have to compare the Sirui with FLM (which I own) and Gitzo as they are some of the direct competitors to Sirui. I actually preferred using the Sirui to my FLM in a number of instances. I have been hard on FLM in the past for the lack of rubber coatings on the leg locks for instance. The Sirui was indeed easier to grip and tighten. But, on one lock when it got wet in the Drakensberg, the coating slipped on the lock itself, making it tricky to actually lock the leg.

Putting my FLM side by side with the Sirui I couldn’t tell which was more stable. They are basically interchangeable. However there is a certain sense that the FLM is bombproof while the Sirui is possibly slightly less so. That said, the FLM shows more wear on the metal components than the Sirui does. So it’s a tough call basically as to which is more durable. My gut impression is that the FLM is akin to an industrial truck (not so pretty and sometimes a little rough to work with but dependable and bombproof) while the Sirui is more along the lines of an SUV (jack of all trades, without some of the hardness of a truck). I need to pick my words carefully here as I really liked the Sirui and would be comfortable owning one.


Setting up and taking down the tripod are an absolute breeze. Getting into position in time for the light was easy

Then there is the price. There are cheaper carbon fibre tripods out there certainly, but Sirui are in the same league as Gitzo, Feisol and FLM in my opinion, and those are a lot more expensive than the Sirui. I would choose Sirui over many Manfrottos in a heart-beat (although that might have more to do with the fact that I prefer twist locks to flip locks on tripod legs). At the price, the Sirui M3204x is the best value for money tripod I have come across to date. It’s hard not to recommend it. Then there is the incredible 6-year manufacturer’s warranty. That’s simply amazing. To put that kind of warranty on a tripod means that the manufacturers have serious faith in their product. You don’t get that warranty with a motor car even.

To make the Sirui an even more attractive proposition, Sunshineco. are offering a 10% discount on all Sirui products if you mention 'Limephoto' when ordering anything (while stocks last and subject to availability). At the end of the day, despite the glitch I experienced with the leg lock, I would actually recommend the Sirui to potential buyers. The commitment promised by the 6 year warranty and chatting with the folks at Sunshineco. leaves me confident that if something goes wrong, Sirui will fix it. That's more to be said than a lot of other manufacturers would offer. So, ultimately at the price - R6 200 including VAT - I don't think you can do better.


Sirui M3204x Specs





Carbon Fibre and Forged Metal

Leg Sections


Tripod Weight


Maximum Carrying weight 


Maximum tube diameter


Minimum tube diameter


Maximum extension without centre column


maximum extension with centre column


Packed length with centre column exposed


Packed length with centre column inverted