November 10, 2021

Slik PRO CF-833 Tripod Review

After six months of use, how does the Slik PRO CF-833 tripod stand up?

I am going to make a somewhat controversial statement about product reviews. I generally don’t like them! There are two reasons. First, they are often associated with product launches, so the reviewer is only given a couple of days of use before writing their prose. Second, some reviewers are influencers and paid to promote a product. So why am I reviewing the Slik PRO CF-833 tripod legs this week? It isn’t a new tripod, not even to me. I made the switch from Manfrotto to Slik in March 2021, frustrated with the number of times legs would seize, even with a good cleaning routine after each shoot. The critical statement is “I” made the switch. I paid my own money to buy the tripod – it wasn’t given to me, as is the case with most of my gear. So you know that reading this review results from using the Slik brand for a good period without financial influence. So, let’s get down to what I think.

The specifications

The Slik PRO CF-88 tripod is made of carbon fibre. That means that it is going to be lighter than a similar-sized tripod made of aluminium. It still weighs in at 1.55kg without a tripod head attached, so it sits at the ‘top end’ of travel tripod weights. However, it beats many other tripods with the capability to extend to 1.71m while folding to just 60cm. Despite the lightweight profile, the tripod is sturdy – the advertised handling capacity is 7kg. I’ve certainly had no issues with the Slik PRO CF-833 suffering from being blown over in gusty conditions.

What do I love?

When I buy something photography related, it is because I want it to solve a problem. The issue with the last tripod was that the legs were constantly seizing. After six months of hard use of the Slik PRO CF-833, I haven’t had any issues with the sections seizing or not locking. I have been on beaches, in the rain and the cold, and the twist-lock system works brilliantly. Inside the tripod legs is an anti-rotational system that stops the legs from rotating into each other. Whatever the magic inside is, it works!

The next plus for this tripod is a super-simple but super-effective way to set the legs at different angles. Other tripod manufacturers that I have used in the past have an overly engineered solution that involves pressing buttons while pulling the legs to different angles. In the cold, it was difficult, and the complexity of the parts easily failed. By contrast, the Slik PRO CF-833 has a much easier system to use. At the top of each leg is a small block that is pulled to one of three positions. Each one stops the legs at different angles, making it much easier and faster to change the angle of the legs in the field. The lowest of the three positions takes the tripod down to just 23cm.

While talking about low-level shooting, Slik has also proven that simple often works best to create a system to simply invert the centre column. It means that you can almost shoot right down at floor level by suspending your camera upside-down. Make sure that you have a secure locking system on the tripod head. If you do, then shooting up and under mushrooms in the forest becomes an easy job.

Finally, I love another simple solution to shooting at lower levels. Many tripod manufacturers offer ways to change the legs to shoot at a very low angle. The problem they generally fail with is the centre column gets in the way. Slik has thought about this, and the solution is simplicity in itself – just screw off most of the centre column, and those legs can be spread almost flat.

So is the Slik PRO CF-833 perfect?

I am yet to find the perfect anything, whether it is camera bodies, lenses, flashes or, in this case, tripods. Slik has done a fantastic job making such a simple tool for photographers to work for them in the field. However, I have one minor bugbear that I would love to see a solution to. I sometimes shoot food photography, and quite often, clients want a top-down picture of the dishes. Inverting the centre column and then angling the camera on the tripod head kind of works, but it’s not a perfect system. I would love to be able to insert the centre column at 90 degrees to the legs. Give me that, and I think we may have ourselves the perfect tripod!

The money stuff

I think you can see that I believe the Slik PRO CF-833 is a good performing tripod. If I were scoring it, then it would be a solid 9 out of 10 performer. I would recommend it to any photographer. It’s relatively light and sturdy. I have a rule of tripods: there are three things you want in a set of legs. Less weight, more stability and less cost – the problem is you can only ever have two of the three. Based on this law, you would expect to be paying big bucks. The legs are distributed in the UK by Holdan Ltd, who quote the RRP at £266 + VAT (£312). Look carefully, and you can probably get it on a famous shopping site for closer to £250 including VAT. Compared to similar products, I would say this is about standard. Given that the build quality seems much better than the competitors I have used in the past, it should be as economically good as it is functional in the long term.

I hope you have enjoyed a product review that is a little more objective, rather than influencer led or rushed to meet a product launch. Suppose anyone is reading this from Slik or indeed any other camera good supplier. In that case, I am not saying that I wouldn’t want to try out new products, just that I’d like to be able to really put it through its paces before expressing a long-term opinion.

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About the author

As well as running Edinburgh Photography Workshop, Rich Dyson is a professional photographer. His photographs are regularly used in newspapers such as The Times, Guardian and Daily Telegraph. He also had two solo exhibitions as well as being featured in a members sponsored exhibition in the Scottish Parliament. You can see and buy his photography at richdysonphotography.com

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