Sirui T-005 5-section aluminum tripod with C-10 ball head
I have searched high and low for an ultra portable tripod that won't break the bank and finally found one in the Sirui T-005. I had never heard of the brand until I stumbled on one in the local camera shop. This tripod fits all the criteria I had been looking for, über compact, lightweight, intuitive and stable enough for a DSLR with lens.
The details: 5 sections yielding 54.6" in height, folds down to 11.8", Arca-style quick release clamp, weighs 2.2 lbs and sports a load capacity of 8.4 lbs! Construction is very solid, main ingredient is magnesium. Also has three leg positions, 23º, 52º and 80º that can be set independently for use on uneven surfaces. My camera is a Canon 5D MK2 with the Canon 24-70mm 2.8L lens attached. With the battery and card, the camera weighs 3.8 lbs. Before finding the Sirui, I picked up what I thought was the smallest travel tripod available, a Manfrotto MKC3-H01. I was so disappointed, it was returned same day. Fully extended with my rig on top, the Manfrotto legs started splaying out. Granted the load capacity is 3.3 lbs, I was still surprised how badly the legs handled just a few tenths of a pound extra.
The Sirui is very stable. No splaying, no signs of weakness. The legs are twist style which are not my favorite and quite the opposite of the Manfrotto clamp but the locks are very secure (so far) though do not appear to be weather sealed. This could be an issue if you will be traveling to debris rich environments like beaches.
This thing is very intuitive, no space wasted. The footprint is so small that I can pack it sideways in my backpack. It also comes with a well constructed carrying case. Another nice feature is a hook built into the bottom of the riser to hang a weight or camera bag onto to further stabilize.
Despite the fact it's made in China, the build quality and engineering is excellent. Strongly recommend.