For Your Next Adventure: ProMaster SP528K Tripod Review

The ProMaster SP528K Tripod kit is exactly what most serious photographers need.

Fact: the staff of The Phoblographer is always on the lookout for new tripods. We use them a lot when we’re testing gear. And because of how much abuse we put them through, we tend to break them. None are created equal. In our discoveries for the perfect tripod, we were introduced to the ProMaster SP528K. At under $300, this tripod can get really tall – taller than I am. But the best part about it is the ball head. It’s capable of doing things that much more expensive heads do. It’s not perfect, but at the price point, I’m not sure anything can beat it–and it has us liking a lot of what the ProMaster lineup can do.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Solid build quality
  • The tripod head is positively wonderful
  • It can get very tall
  • Super sturdy in most instances

Cons

  • A bit large when fully collapsed
  • I wish it had more bubble levels

Gear Used

We tested the ProMaster SP528K with Leica, Fujifilm and Sony cameras.

Tech Specs

Specs are taken from their website listing:

KIT SPECIFICATIONS

– Maximum Working Height: 80 5/8″ / 204.8 cm
– Maximum Working Height with column down: 67 1/8″ / 170.5 cm
– Minimum Working Height: 7 1/4″ / 18.4 cm (legs flat on ground)
– Minimum Working Height:11 1/4″ / 28.6 cm (legs in lowest locked position)
– Folded Length: 23 3/4″ / 60.3 cm
– Maximum Load: 24 lbs 4 oz / 11 kg
– Weight: 5 lbs 11 5/8 oz / 2.6 kg

BALL HEAD SPECIFICATIONS
– Height 4 1/8″ / 10.5 cm
– Weight: 1 lb 4 1/4 oz / .57 kg
– Uses Quick Release Plate #8104

TRIPOD LEG SPECIFICATION
– Maximum Working Height: 76 1/2″ / 194.3 cm
– Maximum Height with column down: 63″ / 160 cm
– Minimum Working Height: 3 1/8″ / 8 cm (legs flat on ground)
– Minimum Working Height: 7″ / 17.8 cm (legs in lowest locked position)
– Folded Length 19 5/8″ / 49.8 cm
– Weight: 4 lbs 7 3/8 oz / 2.03 kg

For storage, protection, and transport use the following tripod case:

ProMaster TC-24 (product 5001) – when the tripod is fully folded in it’s transverse leg position

Ergonomics

When it’s at the tallest position, the ProMaster SP528K is really large. I’m five feet and six inches, and it’s taller than me. But as you can probably guess, it’s not the most stable at this height. That’s not to say it’s awful at all. It’s not super stable because of what it is: a surprisingly lightweight aluminum tripod.

Let’s start at the bottom. The ProMaster SP528K has rubber feet. If you unscrew these a bit, they expose the metal spoke you see there. I’m explicitly calling it a spoke.

The ProMaster SP528K uses clips to collapse and lock the tripod legs. The center column has a little hook for weight. Though in practice, I’ve never found the weights to be all that great.

These clips function super well. And best of all, they’re built very well. This tripod has been in sand and dirt both. But they haven’t affected the legs at all.

Each leg has a few sections. In real-life use, it’s not as quick or simple as grabbing a bunch, twisting, and letting the leg elongate. You have to be slower and more methodical, and I’m alright with that. Be sure to remember to elongate each section evenly.

The ProMaster SP528K comes with a beautiful ball head. This head has several controls. One knob controls the ball head plate, another to adjust rotation of the plate, another for controlling the rotation of the ball head, another for controlling the sensitivity of the rotation, and yet another for controlling the rotation of the entire unit. There’s a ton of control, and that’s why I adore this ball head.

Build Quality

This is not a carbon fiber tripod, so don’t expect it to be super lightweight. It’s instead made of aluminum, and I like that. Plastics are suitable for camera gear in some ways, but I think it’s about time that we really start returning to metal. One of the reasons for this has to do with environmental concerns. But also because photography goes into two different categories: professional and hobbyist. The tripod caters to a common demographic amongst each: the passionate photographer. And those photographers deserve the best build quality that they can get. Of course, they’ll get it from the ProMaster SP528K.

Not only for image stabilization, the modern tripod is handy as a composition tool these days. And the ProMaster SP528K allows a photographer to do a whole lot with the precise and careful movements that you can make with the tripod ball head and the adjustments one can make to the legs. The ProMaster SP528K is overall a tripod that oozes with high-quality durability. We’ve thrown it into car trunks, onto rocks, etc. It keeps working. Mind you, it’s a bit heavy and large overall. This level of build quality that’s a bit smaller would probably be ideal for a travel tripod. But overall, the ProMaster SP528K is one of the best tripods I’ve used when it comes to build quality. I’ve always personally loved Vanguard and Cokin tripods. But Vanguard tripods usually have one quirk that breaks–and breaks really badly.

Ease of Use

Out of the box, the ProMaster SP528K is really easy to use and set up. Perhaps the most complicated part is the tripod head. That’s because it has a lot of different functionalities. You can do things like dial in how much sensitivity the ball head has. It also can let you tilt, pivot, etc. I expect this level of control from higher-end products, but the entire package together is cheaper than most camera lenses. One nice touch is the tripod legs. They aren’t rounded for a twist–which has its advantages all its own. It lets you be much more careful about how you’re setting up the tripod to take a shot. I think that both cityscape and landscape photographers will really like the ProMaster SP528K because of just how much it lets a photographer do in an affordable package. It lacks the sexiness of more modern tripods, but it more than does the job.

Something to note: this tripod has two different types of feet. In the standard configuration, it’s got rubber shoes, so to speak. If you unscrew those, then they reveal a kind of metal spoke. Yes, a spoke, not a spike. To each their own, and you can use one vs. the other depending on what you think will work better.

A word of warning, be careful of the surfaces that you put it on. While the ProMaster SP528K has a bit of weight to it, it’s sometimes not enough to really weigh it down and keep a camera steady for a super long exposure. Or, if you’re going to do that, don’t extend its height up all that much. The center column has an area for a weight, but I’ve always felt that this is more of a detriment than actually useful.

Conclusions

The ProMaster SP528K does what many tripods do at a more affordable price point. The legs themselves feel pretty standard. But the real value here is in the tripod head. You’ve got a significant degree of control and lots of possible fine-tuning that can be done. Best of all, it makes the image taking process easier.

The ProMaster SP528K receives four out of five stars. Want one? They’re less than $300.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.