It seems obvious when you think about it: if you mould the centre column of a tripod so that the legs curve into it, rather than making it round, meaning that the legs clash, you save a heap of space. So why has no one done it until now with Giotto's' Silk Road YTL series of tripods?
Giotto's is replacing its MTL range of tripods with the YTL series, all of which feature a Y-shaped centre column that saves 30% space on MTL versions when the tripod is collapsed. It doesn't, however, compromise on load-bearing capacity or stability.
The Silk Road series will comprise 12 models and a range of features. These include 5kg, 8kg, and 10kg capacities; options for two-way centre columns or three-way centre columns meant for very low-level shooting; three-section or four-section legs; a bubble spirit level on two-way centre column models; and a swappable thread making Silk Road models compatible with any Giotto's head or standard thread heads from other manufacturers.
I'm also quite taken by the idea of Quick Easy Leg Lock, or QEL, (I can't think why!) as well graduated leg markings to allow for speedy adjustments to your set up.
Silk Road tripods will be available in aluminium or carbon fibre, starting at around £100 for aluminium models and £220 for carbon fibre versions. They'll be online and in-store from mid-January.
If you're wondering about the name, Silk Road, it's after the trading routes that snaked across Asia and the Middle East, into Europe and North Africa. It wasn't just silk, spices, and goods that were exchanged, but knowledge and ideas, too.