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Viking swallow tripod and fluid head review. (1 Viewer)

William Lewis

Wishing birdwatching paid the bills.
United Kingdom
I don't tend to use a tripod regularly as they don't fit in my regular birding bag with my scope so don't get used often. For the odd occasion though when i'm staying somewhere with a large view I find them very useful to set up outside a tent or in the garden where mobility is not an issue.

I was looking for something to pair with my Swarovski CTC 30/75 for these occasions. My needs were that the tripod be relatively heavy weight as the CTC is a straight scope and being 6ft tall I would need to use it with the centre column extended so the added weight would add stability. Also from experience I knew it needed to have a half decent fluid head as this is almost essential for following birds on the wing. As I will use it relatively rarely is also needed to be cheap!

I looked at a few different options, all well over £200 and some considerably more before settling in the Viking swallow. It comes supplied with a fluid head and weighs in around 3kg with the head.

From the bottom up. The feet are rubber with twist out spikes for boggy ground and seem well made. The legs are in 3 reasonably wide sections and come with flip locks which seem quite secure. The top of the legs have sliding locks which enable you to set them from there maximum height, i.e almost vertical to other positions where the legs splay out so widely that even my 5 year old can use the scope.

At the top of the legs the centre column has a twist lock which again seems well made and secure. Stability is perfectly acceptable with the centre column extended. There is spring loaded bag hook at the bottom of the centre column for putting additional weight into the tripod for stability if needed. This section of the tripod seems especially well made with nice machining and a quality finish.

The fluid head itself is pretty good, it's well damped vertically with adjustable damping in that axis, less smooth in the horizontal axis as it is essentially just friction damped, any adjustment of damping horizontally just shoves a screw in so it's more of a lock off feature than applying any useable damping function. It does have a ball type spirit level built in for levelling the tripod which is useful. The lock off and damping controls are build into the fluid head itself rather then the end of the rod that you use to adjust the angle of the scope as I've used in some tripods in the past. The rod that is used to pan the scope is nice, you can attach it to either side of the head, it's angle adjustable with a nice feeling rubber grip.

The plate for the scope to bolt to is very good with plenty of adjustment, it's also quite long - good for balancing the scope correctly. It slides into the fluid head and is secured by a wingnut type screw that pushes a machined metal section against the plate as well as an additional button that you need to press to fully release the tripod plate. It also has an additional pin to stop the scope slewing horizontally.

In use I've found it to be very adequate for my limited needs! It's stable, easily adjustable and not too affected by the wind. Admittedly I'm using it with a relatively light scope, how it would handle a big behmoth of a scope I'm not sure but I doubt it would be troubled - whether someone would team a large expensive scope with a £179 tripod is debatable but I wouldn't think twice about using it with the opticron lightweight range, an mm 60 for example.

For the price is give it a 9/10 - only marks deducted for the plastic plate release mechanism and not quite buttery smooth horizontal panning function.

The last 2 photos are of the same view, you can just about see the boat the turnstones are on in the first picture, scopes are great.



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