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07-13-2012, 12:07 PM   #1
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Sturdiest carbon-fiber tripod? (And lightest, most compact?)

I was in a camera store a few months back checking out carbon-fiber tripods. The salesman set two up and showed me how one was somewhat flimsy with the legs extended, whereas the other was pretty much as sturdy as my trusty old steel "boat anchor" tripod.

My question is what 4-5 section CF tripods are the sturdiest? I also want something quite compact with low weight. I realize such a combo is expensive, but things like this are investments that last a lifetime, so I'm open to all suggestions.

07-13-2012, 12:45 PM   #2
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Very sturdy, light, but not the cheapest:

NEW FEISOL Traveler Tripod CT-3441S Rapid
07-13-2012, 12:47 PM   #3
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Often the higher the load rating the sturdier it is.
07-13-2012, 12:54 PM   #4
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Dozens of threads on this, with dozens of opinions. Everybody has a favorite. You have the old line manufacturers like Gitzo & Manfrotto and others plus a number of made in China ones for much less money that seem to have good quality. Each line has a range of quality so you have to look at each model not just pick a brand, they all have good ones and junk ones as well.

I did my research and picked the Manfrotto 055CXPRO3. CX means carbon fiber, PRO means the center column comes out and rotates 90 degrees and '3' means it has three extensions. I think this is more middle of the road as weight limits go, certainly you can get heavier duty ones but it handles all of my lenses up to Sigma 50-500. A gimbal head would be better than my Acra-Tech for that lens but for everything else I am happy.

Beyond just weight capacity look at the controls, knobs etc. Do they work for you? I prefer snap locks not twist locks but that is my preference. Is there a hook to hang a bag or weight? One down side of CF is that it is not heavy (I know that is the advantage too) but sometimes hanging your bag on it will help reduce vibration, especially in wind.

You have a tough decision with an almost overwhelming set of options.

07-13-2012, 02:42 PM   #5
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Another vote for Feisol. I have one (slightly different model from the one posted above) and it's well worth the price.
07-13-2012, 03:22 PM   #6
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I was going to point out the Feisol one also... I just purchased the slightly different model CT-3441T because it is a bit taller but still folds up to a quite compact size. I've used it a few times and it is solid and well build. I like it.
07-13-2012, 03:30 PM   #7
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This is what im running-

http://www.sirui-photo.com/EN/frm_ProductInfo_En.aspx?ProductID=99

Sirui T-025 5-Section Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10 Ball BSRT025

Its easily the lightest/most compact to height ratio,

54.6" Maximum Height
Folds Down to Just 11.8"
8x Carbon Fiber Legs
Arca-Style Quick-Release Clamp
Separate Knobs for Pan & Tilt
12.8 lb Load Capacity
Weighs Just 1.8 lb

Last edited by TOUGEFC; 07-13-2012 at 03:36 PM.
07-13-2012, 04:02 PM   #8
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I am with Feisol, when it comes to the most sturdy tripod, as my 3471 is quite en par with the much heavier Gitzo Studex. The nice thing about Feisol is, that you can build the tripod you want with the different accessories (short or long center column, no column at all, spikes or rubber feet etc.). But having the sturdiest and a lightweight tripod at the same time is not going to work. Therefor the light weight role in my collection is fullfilled by the Velbon Sherpa Pro 540, which is light and small and still comparatively sturdy - but in no way like the big Feisol or Gitzo.

Ben

07-13-2012, 04:15 PM   #9
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Gitzo 5 section, yes you pay a bit more but the quality is there and it is something you only want to get once or twice in a lifetime. Nice article by Tom Hogan here about the trials and tribulations about buying tripods.
07-13-2012, 10:48 PM   #10
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Original Poster
I'm wondering if that Feisol CT-3441S would fold up if it has the Manfrotto 468MGRC2 ballhead on it? Anybody have such a combination? Seems as though it's only designed to fold up properly with the Feisol CB-30 ballhead, but I hope I'm mistaken.
07-17-2012, 04:54 PM   #11
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I just carried the Photo Clam PT024 with a Sirui k-20x head around Belize for 10 days and really liked it. Climbed all over Mayan temples and through jungle without it getting burdensome at all. Plus the price was right. It's more oriented towards lightweight and compact than sturdy though, if that's your #1 priority. My priority was mobility for hiking etc.
07-19-2012, 08:10 AM   #12
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Sturdy generally != light or compact.

You have to make a tradeoff. The Gitzo 3 series is generally the tradeoff point that people recommend (and any competitors).
The RRS tripods are better if money is really no object...
07-20-2012, 02:33 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoxatnep Quote
I'm wondering if that Feisol CT-3441S would fold up if it has the Manfrotto 468MGRC2 ballhead on it? Anybody have such a combination? Seems as though it's only designed to fold up properly with the Feisol CB-30 ballhead, but I hope I'm mistaken.
Reallybigcameras.com is a good place to ask questions about the Feisol tripods.

I don't know a lot about the Manfrotto head, but when I was shopping around, it seemed the biggest issue was the location of the knobs on the ballhead. I ended up getting a ballhead with a 38 mm diameter ball and a 54 mm diameter (at the base). The 3441T folds up nicely around it... I think the 3441S is essentially the same tripod with longer legs, so I would think they'd fold up easily.

However, the guy at Reallybigcameras is good for asking specific questions and his service speed is fairly quick. He seems like a one man operation, so if he is traveling he isn't super quick.

His prices were comparable to Feisol directly, but he isn't hung up on selling you more than you need either.
07-22-2012, 11:30 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by enoxatnep Quote
I'm wondering if that Feisol CT-3441S would fold up if it has the Manfrotto 468MGRC2 ballhead on it? Anybody have such a combination? Seems as though it's only designed to fold up properly with the Feisol CB-30 ballhead, but I hope I'm mistaken.
The CB-30 ballhead has a base dia of 50mm looking at the specs. Interestingly B&H also sell the CT-3441S in a kit with the larger CB-40 ballhead which is 60mm at the base. I'm also wondering if it will fold up properly.

Wonder how the CT-3441S or the (longer leg) CT-3441T would go with an Acratech GP-s which is supposed to smaller at the base.

CT3441S has a 2 section centre column so extends 2" taller than the CT3441T with a single section centre column.
But without the column extended the CT3441T is 6" taller then the CT3441S

NEW FEISOL Traveler Tripod CT-3441S Rapid
New FEISOL Traveler Tripod CT-3441T Rapid

I'm thinking the CT3441T is going to be more sturdy at a decent height.
07-24-2012, 11:19 AM   #15
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That is the point of the 3441T... You want as much height out of the legs as possible and to limit use of the center column. There are photos out there that show that with a 60 mm base (I think I saw it on some Canon forums), the 3441T legs folded up enough to allow the tripod to fit in the bag it shipped with. It didn't fold up perfectly, but adequately. The head I have with a 54 mm base (panning part) folds up fairly well; I just have to make sure the knobs and plate are adjusted so as not to interfere with the legs. That is more of an issue than the base is and probably will be for any head. The CT3441S may not fold up quite as compactly around a larger head only because its legs are a bit shorter, but I would still expect it to work ok in the 55 mm range.

The tough thing in all this is that it is hard to find examples or physical samples to test out. That is what led me to the Canon forums. The Nikon and Canon forums are great for all these accessories since a good tripod isn't camera specific... Thank goodness. Quite a few people have tested and reviewed the Feisol tripods with photos and discussion about what has worked in terms of legs and head combinations. I get the feeling (having never tried the other name brands) that the Feisol tripods are of a similar quality as Benro with features that try to compete with Gitzo. In my own experience in setting up the legs and shopping for the Feisol, they make it sound like the setup is as simple and stable as the Gitzo ones tend to be in their 2000 and 3000 series. However, my experience with the Feisol leads me to believe that it isn't quite up to the reputation of the Gitzo. The stability is there but the setup is just a little off. Unfortunately, I can't say that with authority... and for the price, I won't complain that the Feisol is not as perfect as the reviews for the $700+ Gitzos tend to be.
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