October 5, 2015

Sunwayfoto T1A20 Aluminium Ground Level Tripod Preview

Sunwayfoto T1A20 Alu Ground Level Tripod at the beach
Alongside their two new Carbon Fiber models, the T1C40T Traveller and the T2C40C Classic previewed recently; Sunwayfoto has released also a heavy duty, all Aluminium,  Ground Level tripod.
The T1A20, is a quite compact, two section design with rectangular cross-section aluminium tubes boasting a maximum load of 25 kg at a competitive price.

Although many tripods can go ground level nowadays, wild life and macro photographers require utmost rigidity and stability at low level shooting.
So Sunwayfoto decided to join this specialized tripod market segment with a solution close to Berlebach® Mini and RRS® TP-243.

The Tripod
Manufacturer Specification:
Model:T1A20
Materials:Aluminium Alloy
Number of Leg Sections:2
Leg Tube Cross Section:34 * 20 mm / 18 * 18 mm
Maximum Height:46 cm
One Section Height:29 cm
Minimum Height:5 cm
Folded Length:32 cm
Mounting screw thread:3/8"-16 UNC
Weight:1.4 Kgr
Leg Angles:30°, 60°, 90°
Level:Ground
Load Capacity:25 Kgr

In accord with standard Sunwayfoto procedures, T1A20 parts are CNC machined out of single blocks of Aircraft grade Aluminium and then satin anodized for improved abrasion and corrosion resistance.

Sunwayfoto T1A20 fully extended
Fully extended the tripod stands 46 cm tall. Each leg can be separately adjusted in height via a constricting system with a screw knob common to wooden tripods and/or video tripods. The leg angle is also independently adjustable in three steps.
The lower sections of the legs are equipped with both a Stainless Steel spike and a Rubber Pad on either end. A thumb screw allows for easy release of the lower section, in order to be reversed and used on different surfaces.

Features and Innovations

Single Block Top Leg Hub (Spider) and Mounting Platform
Since Sunwayfoto is mainly involved with high precision CNC machining they abide to the same manufacturing principle for all their tripods making them unique. Their leg hub (spider) of all the tripods a single piece of solid metal.
Further, on T1A20 the top mounting plate is integrated with the leg hub, making actually a rigid mounting platform on top of the leg hub.
As mentioned previously besides the top hub the T1A20 parts are also made out of a single blocks of Aircraft grade T6 Aluminium improving rigidity and then are type III hard coat anodized, offering high abrasion and corrosion resistance.

Sunwayfoto T1A20 top leg hub

Hollowed Out design
Furthermore, the leg hub is hollowed out at the bottom in order to minimize weight as much as possible.

Sunwayfoto T1A20 top leg hub bottom view

Secure Top Mounting Platform
The large, 68 mm in diameter and thick, all-metal, top mounting plate of the tripod is equipped with a removable 3/8"-16 Titanium Alloy stud (A) and a security hex socket screw (B) closer to the perimeter, intended to immobilize any head attached on the flat surface.

Sunwayfoto T1A20 top mounting platform

CNC Machined Leg Angle Locks
One of the advertised features of all new Sunwayfoto tripods are the CNC machined Leg Angle Locks. Which refers to both the angle Steps on the leg-hub (spider) and the leg angle lock Latches.
This technique, due to the latches and the steps being at right angle, ensures a larger contact area between them, further enhancing the leg stability.
In comparison, other brands use lathe to form the steps in order to minimize machining time, aiming at lower production cost, resulting in a rounded shape of the steps with minimal contact area with the lock latches.

Sunwayfoto T1A20 leg angle lock latches
The leg angle Latches on the T1A20 by the way, are spring loaded instead of the usual manual push-pull on the other Sunwayfoto tripods. These latches require only a push at their lower section in order to disengage and allow for leg lift to a wider angle.

Other Features

Three Leg Angle Stops
The T1A20 utilizes a strengthened spring loaded leg angle lock latch system in order to withstand heavy loads on the top platform.

 Sunwayfoto T1A20 leg angle positions
A closer look reveals the full contact between the angle steps and the latch in all positions.
Sunwayfoto T1A20 leg spread at all angle positions
The above illustration shows T1A20 legs in all three possible angles of 30°, 60° and completely flat 90° where it can go down to 5 cm (without ball head).

Protective Bag and tools included
The T1A20 is accompanied by a soft fabric draw-string dust bag, a Sunwayfoto cleaning cloth and appropriate Allen hex keys.

Sunwayfoto T1A20 with accessories and tools



Using the Tripod
Some illustrations of the T1A20 below with various possible camera lens combinations. Its large diameter top platform, allows for the largest Sunwayfoto XB-52DDH ball head to be mounted successfully. Nevertheless, the tripod's high payload matches the high strength of the head capable of carrying securely, your heavy and expensive top gear.

Sunwayfoto T1A20 w/ XB-52DDH and Nikon D810 w/ 70-200 VR II
Sunwayfoto T1A20 matched with the XB-52DDH ball head, carrying the top Nikon D810 DSLR with the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200 mm  f2.8 VR II telephoto. Legs standing at an upright position on the Rubber feet.
Sunwayfoto T1A20 w/ XB-52DDH and Canon EOS-1 D IV w/ EF 600 f4
Sunwayfoto T1A20 once again matched with the XB-52 ball head under a different high end load. Using the Sunwayfoto long lens support rail and camera arm it holds the Canon EOS-1 D Mk IV equipped with the EF 600 mm  f4 IS USM long telephoto.
Here the legs are shown spread at a wider angle on the stainless steel spikes. 
Sunwayfoto T1A20 Alu Ground Level Tripod at the beach II
Another pose of Sunwayfoto T1A20 Alu Ground Level Tripod at the beach, with legs fully splayed out, equipped with XB-52DDH ball head carrying a Nikon DSLR.

The T1A20 web page at the Sunwayfoto website matches the thoroughness of its other family members. It is extensive, where besides trivial characteristics there is a full illustration of product features and full description of functions. Sunwayfoto's Marketing team prepared an on-line manual rather than a simple product page. The "translated" English could benefit of some improvement , but it is comprehensible.
For more information you may visit the T1A20 Ground Level Tripod page at Sunwayfoto's website.

I hope to have an in depth review ready sometime soon. with a thorough evaluation of its pros and cons as derived from use in the filed.

I hope you found the information useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos by courtesy of Sunwayfoto ©2015

Price & Availability:
Recommended Retail price for the T1A20 Ground Level Tripod is US$ 199.00 and is available from Amazon.com and/or from eBay

If you are interested in the product please consider using above link(s) to make your purchase and help support this site.

Referenced Articles:
Sunwayfoto Enters Tripod Market with T1A10 Tabletop Tripod

Relevant Articles:
Sunwayfoto T1C40T Carbon Fiber Traveller Tripod Preview
Sunwayfoto T2C40C Carbon Fiber Classic Tripod Preview

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