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09-04-2011, 07:30 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by EricBrown Quote
I have been very happy with my Giottos. Comes in a kit with ballhead mount, quick release plate, shoulder strap and carrying case. Very sturdy and won't break the bank!

Giottos MT9251 with MH1000 Ball Head/MH652 MT9251+MH1000-652 B&H
Seems good for the price but the thing I don't like is the proprietary plate. It's of course OK if don't intend to use L-plates, sliding rails, etc or more than one camera. And honestly it doesn't seem much better than the 62" Dolica that is sold for 40$. Actually if someone really wants a cheap tripod that's the one I'd suggest. It's so cheap that if it doesn't work, you can still use it as a flash stand.

09-04-2011, 09:06 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by ManuH Quote
Yes the Sirui is not cheap but quality rarely comes that cheap. I don't necessarily want to sell you on the Sirui, I'm not sure it's as available in the US than in Canada anyway. Feisol is another good quality brand to look for as an alternative for the Gitzos (the king).

But maybe I can help you on what to look for for a tripod. The specifications that I think are more or less important:

1) the tripod max support weight. For me the Giottos and Manfrotto don't look good at all at max 3 and max 5 kg respectively. That's very low and that tells me poor build and stability. The Horus Bennu look much better in that regard.

2) the max height *without* column extended. For me the Sirui at 55"/139cm is the absolute minimum that is comfortable. Never take in account the weight with column extended. Extending the column compromise the stability too much. Actually, a tripod without center column is even better (like the Feisol). Depending on your height (I'm 5'10) you don't want a tripod that you have to bend to use. I would exclude right away again the Giottos and Manfrotto and HB 7439. At around 46" they're much too small to be comfortable, requiring you to use the center column. Again the Horus Bennu 3540 seems better.

3) the legs max and min diameter. The more the better, the less the worse for stability. The 3540 is even better than the Sirui in this regard.

4) the number of sections. The less the better for stability, the more the better for folding height. Don't go above 4 if possible. 4 for traveling, 3 for max stability.

At 284$ the Horus Bennu seems the best choice among your list. But you don't have the head. Count at least 120$ for a good one and you're close to the Sirui's price.

For the ball head, honestly avoid the joysticks and the like. While they look fast to use, you can do all that with a good ball head that will be smaller, lighter and support more load and even easier to use actually. I'm inviting you to read about the Markins M10 and why the Nikonians switched to that ball head. Sirui and Photo Clams among other do make cheaper good copies of it. I used to have the Manfrotto 322RC2, a good joystick but you tell right away by the load capacity (5kg) that it's not as good. And I bet most joysticks are like that: poor weight/load ratio. The Vanguard Gh-100 is 750gr and supports up to 6Kg (ratio 8:1). The Sirui K20x is 400gr and supports 25Kg (ratio 62:1). And it's not just the weight most joysticks take a lot of space, I always hated my 322RC2 for that.

And about the price, there is this classic from Thom Hogan to read if you haven't yet.
Honestly when I started this thread I had a feeling that I was going to consider pushing my price point up to around $400 minimum, but was wanting to see if there were any solid solutions for a little less. But my reasoning would be the same here for most any other thing I purchase..."if I am going to spend X amount of dollars for a particular item then its worth it to put in a little more if I can be reasonably sure that I will be happy and satisfied with the result" So I had my eye on the horus 3540 for a little while but just wanted to see what types of solutions have worked for others and see if there expectations were similar to mine. I like the Sirui too after seeing the review and it seems if I end up with a horus and some brand of head indeed the prices would be more or less the same. Oh, and yes there is an e-tailer named lensca that sells sirui products in the US as well as a hong kong based seller on ebay that has your setup for ~$440.

That being said what would you consider a decent head to be (make/model) that would keep the price to around that of the Sirui combo?

Oh and the panosaurus looks kinda cool, but I may see what I can get away with by using a decent head first.
09-05-2011, 05:35 AM   #18
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QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
Honestly when I started this thread I had a feeling that I was going to consider pushing my price point up to around $400 minimum,
I had to replace my broken tripod a few weeks ago. Like you I was looking for a cheap-but-good solution. My broken Dynatran was fantastic for the price (72$ for the CF legs!!) and I just couldn't find a similar replacement. Then one thing bugged me about the Dynatran: too big and especially with the 322rc2 it was relatively cumbersome to bring for travel etc. And the build quality was not that great actually. My reasoning was that if I was going to spend more than 80$ I could as well get the best quality I can. If money is no objection you get the Gitzo, that's the top brand, but is damned expensive. My research pointed me to the Feisol CT-3442. Great reviews, great features: I especially like the way you can customize the central column. I was pretty much set on this tripod when I saw a local ad for a Sirui. I made some research and found that it's a real brand (I mean with a real distributor etc, not like cheap chinese brands) and with actually very good reviews. I had nothing to lose: I could see the tripod in person before buying it. Buying a tripod online is always a surprise: my Dynatran AT-102 was much taller than I imagined. This Sirui much smaller than I imagined. A bit small to be honest at 55", I have to slightly bend if I don't extend the column. The revelation is that once folded it's very small and very light. Now I take my tripod everywhere instead of bringing it because I have no choice.

QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
That being said what would you consider a decent head to be (make/model) that would keep the price to around that of the Sirui combo?
The Markins is, like the Gitzo for the legs, the benchmark. And like the Gitzo it's quite expensive. Sirui make cheap copies: the K series. Avoid the cheaper G series. The K20x I have is a pleasure. I also heard very good things about Photo Clams, I probably would have buy one of these if the Sirui was not included with my tripod. There are maybe other makes but pay attention at the number of knobs, and the friction control. Try at least something that look like a Markins. The weight/load ratio is also a good indication of quality.

QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
Oh and the panosaurus looks kinda cool, but I may see what I can get away with by using a decent head first.
Yes and no. The Panosaurus is so cheap.... even cheaper than getting the necessary L-plate with a regular head. Another route is the eBay kit sold by Link Delight. I'm very tempted to buy one at this price it's just unbelievable and probably more flexible than the Panosaurus. Any other route and you will need to spend hundredths of dollar. For simple panoramas (let's say 3 shots wide) the regular ballhead will be more than OK.
09-05-2011, 08:17 AM   #19
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Well considering how much is invested in my camera gear already ~$400 more is not too big a deal especially if I don't have to think about this aspect for many years. Don't get me wrong money is an object to some degree or else I would happily drop my dime on a Gitzo etc...But in the end like with many other things if you want good quality you got to pay for it. Couple of questions on your Sirui set up.

Are the leg locks dust/sand resistant/proof, or does this even make a big enough difference to consider this? I can expect to be using the tripod occasionally in the very fine sand we have here on the beaches in Florida.

Does the head have to be removed in order to remove the center column for reversing etc..?

I do like that it folds up to only ~18 inches and it appears that the metal portion where the legs attach has been anodized rather than painted, can you tell?

09-05-2011, 09:02 AM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
Well considering how much is invested in my camera gear already ~$400 more is not too big a deal especially if I don't have to think about this aspect for many years. Don't get me wrong money is an object to some degree or else I would happily drop my dime on a Gitzo etc...But in the end like with many other things if you want good quality you got to pay for it.
The thing to consider with Gitzo is that like Canon & Nikon for DSLR, they're the top brand and such they have good 3rd party support and parts available in case you need a tripod repair. My Dynatran broke and I couldn't find anywhere where to get a replacement part. Gitzo is also kind of a status brand if you ever cared about such things I don't know how Sirui fares if you need repair parts but their warranty is quite good if you buy from authorized sellers (I didn't): 6 years.

QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
Are the leg locks dust/sand resistant/proof, or does this even make a big enough difference to consider this? I can expect to be using the tripod occasionally in the very fine sand we have here on the beaches in Florida.
Sorry I have no idea about that.

QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
Does the head have to be removed in order to remove the center column for reversing etc..?
No I just tested that, just unscrew the bottom hook and slide the column from the bottom. Rescrew the hook (if you want, not needed). The center column uses the same mechanism as locking legs (rubberized twist collars).

QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
I do like that it folds up to only ~18 inches and it appears that the metal portion where the legs attach has been anodized rather than painted, can you tell?
Well it seems so to me but I'm not going to scratch it to find out Also Sirui takes great pride in saying that the aluminum is forged and not casted like others. Actually that's what broke on my Dynatran: the aluminum attached to the legs, I forced a screw and it just broke. Experts at my work (machine shop for aeronautic parts) are telling me that forging is much better (and more expensive) for resistance.

I find this youtube quick demo. It's interesting to see that my version differs slightly: I have 2 legs protected by foam instead of one and they're not removable by zipper.
09-05-2011, 04:40 PM   #21
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QuoteOriginally posted by ManuH Quote
Also Sirui takes great pride in saying that the aluminum is forged and not casted like others. Actually that's what broke on my Dynatran: the aluminum attached to the legs, I forced a screw and it just broke. Experts at my work (machine shop for aeronautic parts) are telling me that forging is much better (and more expensive) for resistance.
Yep, that's why great swords have always been forged (super expensive by the way due to hand forging process). Anyways the more I look at this system (thanks for vid) the more I like it and recognize its value. Having a carbon fiber monopod w/ballhead + extra carbon fiber short column included add quite a bit of value actually and those are items I would definitely use. I've looked all over the companies website and I've yet to find out about whether or not the leg locks are sand/dust proof. But I think that if I take this to the sand I could always cover the bottom portion of legs with plastic bags or something.

Also I found out that indeed the aluminum leg mount piece is anodized which is another plus. So all in all this actually looks like quite a value. I'm not a impulsive buyer so I will definitely put some thought into this but it sure looks good at this point. The only thing is where to. get it from. If through Lensca then they do not offer the combo kit and the tripod itself (no head) is $385 but according to the website the 6 year canadian warranty is in effect. If via the Hong Kong route then only $420 for the whole kit but it doesn't seem the warranty would apply, but as you said you are not under warranty and don't seemed to take issue with that so must be good quality.

So I'll think it over a bit, look at a few other things then see what I will do.
09-05-2011, 05:40 PM   #22
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QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
But I think that if I take this to the sand I could always cover the bottom portion of legs with plastic bags or something.
The Sirui have retractable spikes for added stability in this kind of environment but nothing is said about specific resistance from these elements. I found some interesting info here.

QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
The only thing is where to. get it from. If through Lensca then they do not offer the combo kit and the tripod itself (no head) is $385 but according to the website the 6 year canadian warranty is in effect. If via the Hong Kong route then only $420 for the whole kit but it doesn't seem the warranty would apply, but as you said you are not under warranty and don't seemed to take issue with that so must be good quality.
I wanted to see it in person before buying and the shop was an asian grey importer it seems. I needed a tripod fast and honestly I don't like to try something then buy elsewhere. But of course I'd prefer 6 years over the 6 months I got.

Sirui published a German test made by Foto where they won against Gitzo, Manfrotto, etc. by quite a large margin actually. Quite impressive. It was not the N-2204 but the M-3204. This is a bigger tripod than the 2204. I see they scored high on "feeling of quality" and stability. Only Manfrotto did slightly better for stability but it's a 3.1Kg tripod vs 1.7 for the Sirui. Overall the Gitzo was a distant second. Of course Sirui wouldn't link to a test where they would not score well.

Any way you chose, let us know. There are so many "alternative" tripod brands that I'm always curious to find something good and cheap (like the Dynatran was a few years ago when they were auctioned by Amvona).
09-13-2012, 05:11 PM   #23
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Sorry to resurrect an old thread but the quest for a good cheap tripod is never ending.

For a good traveler tripod, on eBay HorusBennu seems to have some very good offers at around 200$. One my friend just bought the HorusBennu A8. It has almost the exact same features as the Sirui N-2204 I bought : monopod convertible, short center column, spikes, reverse folding. For the price I'd say there is nothing wrong with it but it looks like clearly a notch below the Sirui in quality feel. They clearly cut corners here and there to reach their target price. I did a lot of search on eBay to find something cheaper than the Sirui or cheaper than the HorusBennu but nothing really came up. On a budget the HorusBennu is a good buy.

09-14-2012, 06:49 AM   #24
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Everybody has a different opinion on the ideal tripod, but I quote like my Manfrotto 055PROB.

Pros:
1) Very stable, even with long lenses
2) Well built
3) Unique horizontal column capability (I love this feature.)
4) Flexible leg positioning
5) Tall enough for any practical application
6) Price (around $200 for the legs)

Cons:
1) Kinda heavy (It's aluminum)
2) No retractable spikes on feet (I don't use these anyway)

So... just my 2 cents.... :-)
09-14-2012, 07:19 AM   #25
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You might want to take a look at Feisol: NEW FEISOL Traveler Tripod CT-3441S Rapid

I have this one NEW FEISOL Tournament Tripod CT-3442 Rapid
And I take it with me when travelling overseas without any issue.

As for ballhead, I've RRS BH-30-LR and their L bracket and I can't fault it. But there are others out there you might want to look into.
09-17-2012, 05:13 PM   #26
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I've been using this Ravelli for a few months now. Carbon fiber so fairly light weight, 3-way head, folds down small enough to fit in an overhead storage bag, rated for 17lbs (i haven't put that much on, but it works fine for my K-x and a 500mm lens)

Ravelli Professional 65-inch Carbon Fiber 3 Axis Ball Head Camera Video Photo Tripod with Quick Release Plate and Carry Bag

If you want something a bit sturdier (w/ 3 sections instead of 4) and a pistol grip and don't need the portable size:
Ravelli APGL4 New Professional 70" Tripod with Adjustable Pistol Grip Head and Heavy Duty Carry Bag
09-18-2012, 09:55 PM   #27
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QuoteOriginally posted by gda13 Quote
I've looked all over the companies website and I've yet to find out about whether or not the leg locks are sand/dust proof. But I think that if I take this to the sand I could always cover the bottom portion of legs with plastic bags or something.
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-camera-field-accessories/159601-di...es-tripod.html
09-19-2012, 07:41 AM   #28
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mgvh: The Ravelli tripods are a great tripod for the money. I had the APGL4 (gave it to my wife when I got a Manfrotto 055PROB) and the main difference between the Ravelli and the Manfrotto is the Manfrotto has the horizontal center column feature, and costs a lot more. Otherwise, they're extremely similar in size, function, weight, and stability. The craftsmanship is better on the Manfrotto, but it doesn't make much difference in real-world use. Here's a review I posted on the Ravelli APGL4.

Cheers,
Bobbo :-)
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