Experiences on midsize CF tripods, particularly Chinese ones?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by oskar_ojala, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. I'm in the situation that I have a largish Manfrotto aluminum tripod that has served me well and I plan to eventually replace it with a 3-series Gitzo, but haven't decided when. However, I have a need for a more lightweight tripod to take with me when bicycling or when tripod usage might be only occasional. I previously used a very compact Slik, but my equipment grew slightly in size, so I felt it wasn't steady enough anymore, so I sold it.
    So essentially I'm looking for something the same size as a 2-series Gitzo, but not Gitzo since it's quite expensive and this would be my secondary tripod. I'm thinking carbon fiber due to its good properties. Weight needs to be less than 1.5 kg (around 3 lb.), folded size definitely less than 60 cm (24"), preferably more like 50 cm (20"). Obviously stability needs to be great, durability, reliability and ease of setup similarly great (e.g. leg locks may not twist, leg angle adjustment should be stiff enough so that the leg doesn't need to lock in order to stay put). I've been looking a bit at the Feisol CT-3442 and Benro C-258M8, can anyone offer opinions on those? These are reasonably low price and seem to offer reasonably good quality.
    Anything else I should consider? I haven't actively used that many different tripods, so I'm not so sure about the real life differences between different brands and models.
     
  2. the Feisol is great! You will not find a bad review of them. I have the 3342 (Markins M10, RRS clamp) and have no regrets at all.
     
  3. i also have a feisol 3342, which i believe is the 3 section version of the 3442. it's about as light as you can get with a full-size tripod, and i like it a lot. i've had mine for about a year and had no problems. these guys should be willing to send you one and let you try it out with the option to return it...that's what they did for me, but i liked the tripod and kept it.
    i do kind of wish mine had non-rotating legs like a gitzo, but i've not found it to be a problem...and my feisol is about half the price of a comparable gitzo.
     
  4. This might not be the right size, but might help with the general "knock off" tripod questions:
    http://www.photo.net/equipment/tripods/carbon-fiber/flashpoint-1128
     
  5. Nice, if apologetic, plug for a PN advertiser. I just don't see value in the Chinese knock-offs, especially since many people don't show their tripods much love relative to other gear. Five year warranties notwithstanding, if it breaks under normal use, would you really want another one? A better deal might be a clean used Manfrotto, especially their first series of CF products like the Carbon One. I have the 440 and love it.
     
  6. Another Manfrotto 440 fan here. It's my light and/or travel tripod. It will fit in a carry-on if you remove the head. It's light, it's very fast to use and with a camera bag hanging off of it, it's very stable.
     
  7. My vote is for the Benro .....
     
  8. I'm happy with a larger set of Benro legs. I have no experience with Benro heads.
     
  9. My Benro C-158M8 and a Manfrotto 488RC2 head holds my 40D and 70-200 2.8 IS adequately. Not rock-solid, but adequate. I would have gone bigger, but like you, I was concerned about weight. It does the job, I really like the construction, and it was the only way I could afford carbon fibre.
     
  10. P.S. The 158M8 and 488RC2 head fold down to 23-1/2".
     
  11. Nice, if apologetic, plug for a PN advertiser. I just don't see value in the Chinese knock-offs, especially since many people don't show their tripods much love relative to other gear. Five year warranties notwithstanding, if it breaks under normal use, would you really want another one? A better deal might be a clean used Manfrotto, especially their first series of CF products like the Carbon One. I have the 440 and love it.​
    While you are obviously welcome to disagree with my opinions about the tripod, I think I deserve better than "Nice, if apologetic, plug for a PN advertiser" Gary. My track record is more than solid regarding "honesty" in reviews. Advertiser has little to do with it as most every review I have written has been from a company that has advertised with us one time or another in the past few years.
     
  12. Thanks for the answers so far, please respond if you have additional info to share, I will keep watching this thread. I have the head already covered and I'm more familiar with those, so it's not a problem. I believe that both Feisol and Benro are trying to build their own brands, so I regard them as one step above the knock-offs (despite the obvious resemblance to Gitzo).
    I'm particularly interested if someone has used tripods of these brands for more than 2 years and has used more than one of these brands. Handling something in the store is no substitute for real world experience. The ability to use a 70-200 is good, I would be using gear lighter than that, but there always needs to be a bit room to spare.
    Feisol gets some pretty positive comments, but not a lot of people seem to use it and I have never seen one in real life. There is no shop in my country that sells it. So I'm pretty much relying on comparisons by others if I choose it.
    Benro is becoming increasingly popular and I have actually handled one in a store. My impression was that it was about 90% of Gitzo quality, but again, store impressions are not the same as field usage. Also, there's a number of people who have had quality issues with Benro, I don't know if these have been sorted out. On the positive side, I could have one for a pretty good price if I can buy it in China.
    Manfrotto could be interesting, but the market for used tripods is quite small here and at least my Manfrotto has some design aspects (center column and leg angle lock design) that could be better. And I probably could check out the thing before buying, putting me in a somewhat worse position than with the Feisol. Of course if the Manfrotto is really good for its price, then I could consider looking for it.
     
  13. sbp

    sbp

    FWIW, I used to use Manfrotto, but tried Benro at the suggestion of my local (Italian) camera shop. Their products are similar in form, fit, and function to Manfrotto and Gitzo, but at 1/3 the price. For a trip across China, I bought (in Shanghai) the Benro TRCB269 Travel Angel and BH-1 ballhead (using my Acra Swiss plates). It is sturdy, light, and the legs fold up over the center column, making a short package. I used this combo with a 1Ds3 body and 70-200/2.8L or 400DO/4 with no problems. Three weeks bashing around JiuZhaiGuo, Chengdu and Chongqing didn't have any effect on the rig. The Travel Angel series comes in a variety of sizes, from tiny to pretty robust. You can find Benro at any good camera shop in China.
    http://www.benro.com/products/catalog_search.asp?ID=194&v3=4
     
  14. I have been using Gitzo's for more than 20 years and currently have four of them, including one CF. I bought a size 2 carbon fibre Benro in China some three years ago and have been happy with it. I doubt it will last as long as a Gitzo, but so far there has been no problems at all. I would not get one as my only tripod. But, like in your case, as a second or third pair of legs it would be a very reasonable choice for the money. I have put the blad on it, but not my 6x7 Pentax. With digital, 70-200 or even 300 is not a problem (though I supppose not a 2.8 300).
     

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