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Velbon Delta
Reviews Views Date of last review
3 25797 Sun December 21, 2008
Recommended By Average Price Average Rating
100% of reviewers None indicated 7.3



Description: Velbon Delta Tripod with PH-157Q head

Virtually identical to Velbon Sherpa 600n
Keywords: Tripod Velbon Delta Sherpa

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Rabbit Fan

Registered: March 2005
Location: North Essex
Posts: 562
Review Date: Sat July 9, 2005 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Value for money, excellent for well balanced loads
Cons: The head \"droops\" a bit after locking up the axes if the load is not well balanced

This tripod is sold through the “In Focus” chain of shops as the Delta IV tripod system. The normal price for this is £109.00 but if bought together with a scope, either new or used, it is available for £39.00. From the information given on the In-Focus web site it seemed that this tripod was very similar to the Velbon Sherpa 600n and this is indeed the case. The Sherpa model has legs that can splay out extra wide, thus allowing the head to be lowered much closer to the ground, otherwise the tripods seem identical. For a detailed specification (height, weight etc.) of the Delta model a quick search of the appropriate Velbon website page will give the information for the Sherpa 600n model which is close enough for comparison.

Having seen an assortment of reviews for the Sherpa models, the common criticisms appear to be:
· the lack of an anti-rotation pin on the quick release platform and
· the fiddly operation of the quick release plate itself.

Velbon appear to have acted on the first point as the head I was supplied with was fitted with a QR plate with a screw-in pin. This prevents the scope from rotating around the standard ¼” Whitworth mounting thread. The pin can be unscrewed and removed should it not be needed, as would be the case when using a still camera. I believe this is known as the “compact” QR plate, it is perfectly big enough for the kind of equipment that a typical birder is likely to be using and actually larger than the platform on the Manfrotto 128RC head. New “compact” plates can be bought for about £10 for those users who already have a Velbon PH-157Q head but do not have the anti-rotation pin on their current model.

The second criticism of “fiddly QR plate” is not really an issue to my mind. Whilst looking for a tripod I tried several models in shops, including others fitted with the same head supplied with the Delta/Sherpa. When I first tried the Velbon QR plate my thought was “I can see why the reviews moan about this”, so I tried a Manfrotto fitted with the 128RC head as that seems to the standard birder’s tripod head. I found this equally fiddly, something that never gets commented about in reviews. A couple of minutes practice with both heads and I got the hang of them both. To my mind, they are equally easy to use once you’ve got the hang of them. All I can say is that if the reviewers are used to the Manfrotto head then they will be used to taking that plate on and off, thus will not regard it as fiddly. If they then use something with a different action it will appear to be awkward to use.

The motion of the head is smooth and, if a fine touch is developed with the locking handle, the elevation axis can be locked whilst still retaining a nice smooth movement in the rotation axis. The legs can be extended easily with the quick-release snap clips, though the lower third section of leg is fairly thin and not the most rigid. The same can be said of the Manfrotto 190 in my opinion, though to a slightly lesser extent. Perhaps I’m just expecting too much having been used to legs with bracing struts in the past. The lack of bracing struts may not aid the overall stability, but they do allow independent movement of each leg angle. This can be very useful when using the tripod in the restrictive space of a cramped hide. I have used this ‘pod in corners I would never have been able to use my old braced tripod. The legs drop easily without needing to be pulled by hand and likewise tuck away easily when required.

The central column is a simple friction clamped affair and can be used in conjunction with a hide clamp available for £39. The central column friction clamp works well and the lack of end-stop on the column base is no problem as there is little risk of accidentally pulling it out completely. The central column clamp screw is fairly small but adequate for the job and allows a range of fine friction adjustment. All the castings are well made, rigid and finished to a high standard (see photo).

In use, the tripod is easy to get on with. It can be carried by hand with a scope attached by extending the central column a few inches. This allows a suitable horizontal balance point to be found and provides a comfortable hand-hold. Whilst it may be sacrilege to suggest using the tripod in this configuration, with the central column extended slightly, I find that using it this way and not extending the lower third leg section gives better rigidity than the conventional wisdom of using fully dropped legs and no centre extension. (See the additional note at the bottom of this review). Using the tripod this way also allows easy stabilisation when used on sloping or uneven ground as the third leg section can be dropped quickly to even things up.

I am 5ft 10 (1.72m) and find that with all three leg sections fully dropped the height is just right to use an angled scope when the object being viewed is above in the trees, though it is slightly too high for viewing ground level objects. Similar sized users of straight scopes will find they may need to slightly raise the centre column for tree-top viewing but will find this is not need for viewing lower subjects.

The overall stability of the unit is perfectly adequate for most birding situations. I tried tapping the end of my scope and analysing the “bounce” when fitted to both the Velbon Sherpa 600n and the Manfrotto 190/128RC combo. I could not detect any difference in degree of bounce between either model when tested with my fairly old and relatively heavy TS-601 with 30x eyepiece. Anything greater than 30x would probably give an unacceptable degree of vibration. If you are using a longer, heavier scope, or digiscoping with a camera firmly attached, then I would imagine the vibrating beam effect would give too much movement in all but windless or sheltered hide conditions. This would be particularly true when used together with a higher magnification eyepiece,

The single action “twist to lock” lever for the pan and tilt does have a tendency to slightly move the position of the scope as it is locked up tightly with a final “nip”. This is in common with any other single lever pan and tilt mechanisms that I’ve tried. This should not be an issue for those using lower power or wide angle eyepieces as the movement is small and the subject remains pretty much where desired unless you are using high power/narrow FoV eyepieces which provide limited coverage.

So, when should you buy the “In-Focus” Velbon Delta tripod?
If you meet all of these conditions:
· You (or a friend who doesn’t want a tripod but is willing to “donate” the offer) have bought a new or used scope from In-Focus.
· You use a scope of 66mm objective or less and don’t normally use >35x magnification
· You do most of your birding in less than extreme weather conditions
· You digiscope for fun because you enjoy it
Under these circumstances at £39, the Velbon Delta represents truly excellent value for money and will meet the needs of most users most of the time. To get significantly better quality will cost around 4 times the price and is overkill for your needs.

When should you buy the Velbon Sherpa 600n?
If you meet all of the above conditions but:
· Neither you, nor a friend, is buying a scope from In-Focus.
The Sherpa 600n offers greater functionality than the Delta model because it has the ability to splay its legs beyond the normal angles. This model can be found for about £30 less than the normal, non-offer, price of the Delta model.

When should you buy something of higher spec?
If you meet any of the conditions described below:
· You use a scope of 77mm or greater
· You use 40x or greater magnification on a regular basis
· You do your birding in unsheltered windy locations
· You are a serious digiscoper who demands magazine quality pin-sharp pictures
If this describes your usage and you are willing and able to spend well over £150 then you should get something more rigid.

Having tried the Manfrotto 190/128RC combo it is undoubtedly a smoother head movement and has fewer tendencies to move as the axes are locked. The overall rigidity is better than the Velbon models, though I would not say massively better. It is a higher quality tripod but I wouldn’t say it is worth nearly 4 times the offer price of the Velbon Delta or double the price of the Sherpa 600n unless you have money burning holes in your pocket.

Hope this helps others.


Additional note:

I’ve been using this tripod for several months now and for general “eyeball” scope usage and hand-held digiscoping, I stand by my original comments. At the time I wrote the original review, I was digiscoping “hand-held”, not using an adaptor. Digiscoping in this way means the scope, and subsequently the tripod, does not see the weight of the camera. Without the load of a camera on the end of the scope, using the centre column in a raised position with a scope of low/medium magnification is not a problem.

I am now using this tripod for digiscoping with an adaptor. Now that the tripod is loaded with the weight of a camera and adaptor on the end of the “unsupported beam” that is the telescope, I find that using the tripod with the centre column raised anything more than about 75mm is an absolute no-no. Ideally, the column should not be raised more than 50mm when used with a rigidly attached camera and adaptor. Even the slightest breeze can induce serious vibration if the column is raised. I’m sure this is true with all but the most expensive tripods.
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Registered Member

Registered: March 2003
Posts: 2959
Review Date: Sat April 22, 2006 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Nicely made, decent value, light
Cons: Not that sturdy

I bought one of the In-Focus variants of this tripod. It\'s very well made, durable, and decent value. I have used it with a 77mm scope, but really I would recommend something more sturdy. In calm weather it\'s okay, but in the wind it tends to shake a bit, even at low magnifications. In my opinion this tripod is fine for a ~60mm scope, but nothing bigger. Recommended? Yes, but check out the current offers at shops such as Warehouse Express!
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Registered User

Registered: November 2008
Location: ledbury, herefordshire
Posts: 6
Review Date: Sun December 21, 2008 Would you recommend the product? Yes | Price you paid?: None indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Has lasted a good few years when others have fallen to bits
Cons: For me (with breathing problems) a bit on the heavy side when scope attached

Have now gone over to the carbon fibre Velbon equivalent, which is noticeably lighter, and has foam covered top parts to legs, hence more comfy when on shoulder. Downside is price.
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