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11-05-2008, 12:13 AM   #1
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RRS BH-55 & Feisol CT-3342

I ordered the Feisol CT-3342 Friday night from ReallyBigCameras on Ebay. They are in Beaverton, Oregon and I live in North Idaho, so we aren't that far apart, really. But it surprized me no end when I missed the postal lady Monday evening who tried to deliver the tripod. Unbelievable service. I went down to the Post Office today and got the package. I didn't expect it till Wednesday.
I've tested the tripod a bit, nothing serious (I've been watching the elections) and I'll say this, for a cheap expensive tripod (cheap compared to a Gitzo, expensive for me) I'm very impressed, this whole setup is lightyears ahead of what I was shooting before. I like using a tripod and I'm going to really like using this one. I was worried the BH-55 would be to heavy for the pod but first impressions are it will work out ok. I will order the ground spikes and maybe the leveling base (if there is one for this model, I'm not sure yet). I'm 5'10" tall and the viewfinder of my K10D sits right at my eyelevel mounted on the BH-55. If I aim the camera downwards I start to have to stand on my toes so I have no plans getting the center column at this time. The legs have "texture" kinda feel to them, they aren't like a smooth "glossy" feel. The pod comes with a bag and my only complaint is that it isn't long enough to hold the head attached to the pod.
The RRS BH-55 is a thing of beauty, I love the lever release and the plates will not dissapoint. It's a bit heavier than most of the other big guys but that's ok because it lightens your wallet to compensate. The build quality is exceptional, the panning base must be seen and felt to be appreciated and it is smooth, very smooth. Most everything I've read says the Markins has a larger smoother "sweet spot". Having never used the Markins, I think if this is true then the Markins must be exceptional in it's own right. When locked down the RRS is solid as a rock, a big rock. There is no creep. I've read some have noticed small movement during lockdown, mine doesn't.
Now I have to get out and take some photos!

11-05-2008, 04:56 AM   #2
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Reverse Leg Fold?

QuoteOriginally posted by Eaglerapids Quote
Feisol CT-3342 ... comes with a bag and my only complaint is that it isn't long enough to hold the head attached to the pod.!
From Feisol's product description, it looks like the 3342's legs reverse-fold in a way that places the ball-head upside down in a protected position between the legs for storage. As such, the folded length of the leg unit does not increase. In this reverse-fold configuration, it looks like one can store the set-up in the bag provided.

Is my interpretation of the photo correct?

And... thank you for the quick follow-up on your journey toward tripod/ball head success.

Is it possible to post a general reply with some photo's of your set-up?
11-05-2008, 06:30 AM   #3
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Congratulations buddy, toldja you would've been happy with either the RRS and Markins I've heard a lot of good feedback on Feisol, that's a good choice!
11-05-2008, 07:50 AM   #4
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Michaelina2, you are correct in that the legs reverse fold but the feature is designed for Feisol's ballheads. The BH-55 is to squat and wide for the legs to reverse fold enough to go into the bag.
Sure, I will get some photos up, if not tonight, tomorrow.
Thank you soccerjoe5 you were a great help:-). You know, if it hadn't been for that $50 swing I'd have a Markins.

11-05-2008, 08:27 AM   #5
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Congratulations. You won't be disappointed with your choices.

Instead of a ballhead or tripod level I use a bubble level that simply slides onto the flash hotshoe. With a ballhead, just because my tripod is level doesn't mean my camera will be level. At the risk of stating the obvious, if I still need to use an external flash I can just remove the hotshoe bubble level.

Plus a hotshoe level is much cheaper than a ballhead/tripod level.
11-05-2008, 11:22 AM   #6
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I'm with tranq...hotshoe multiangle level works great. I bought a Gitzo leveling base for my pod and ballhead combo and after carrying it around for 4 years without using one single time, I realized that with a ballhead and level, the leveling base is irrelevant for my uses (don't do pano stitching). Rather than lament your desires for a leveling base, spring the $10 for a hotshoe level and see if that covers it for you. Bet it does (unless you are doing stitched panos).
11-05-2008, 11:56 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eaglerapids Quote
...the legs reverse fold but the feature is designed for Feisol's ball-heads. The BH-55 is too squat and wide for the legs to reverse fold enough to go into the bag...
It seems like an idea that's too neat to be true. I guess there's always something.

As to the flash holder level... It seems neat too, but how does one know if the level of the flash shoe is correct for the lens you are using? I bet you can eye-ball things and be close enough to produce a successful image, or pano image.

Cheers...
11-06-2008, 06:00 AM   #8
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Man, I hate it when you have a big reply going and lose it:-(.
I grabbed some pics of the setup through the mirror in the bathroom with a yellow poster as a BG, 6 sec exposures, all horizontally flipped, stinky lighting but I wanted to get some pics up.








Oh yeah, the lever clamp has a bubble level built in, I'll work with what I've got and see if I think I need any other leveling system like the hotshoe solutions, I have looked at them. The base seems cool but I wonder if I would use it that much, thanks for the insight Ron.

I just previewed the post and the pictures look like crap. I'm a cabinet maker and dust follows me like the plague as you can really see in the last pic on the body of the ballhead and on the lens itself in the first pic.....my god..
I'll post these anyway because I said I would and I'm to lazy and don't have enough time right now to fix it all.

11-06-2008, 06:13 AM   #9
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Thanks for posting these. I've never seen the RRS ballhead. Appears to be a very nice one. May I ask where you bought it and how much you paid?
11-06-2008, 06:23 AM   #10
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Oh Matt, I kinda want to not ever think about how much I paid for this:-).
You can only get RRS from their own site, they don't sell through any retail stores that I'm aware of.
Really Right Stuff ... Your Camera Support Experts
BH-55 w/lever clamp=$455
L-bracket for the K10D=$140
L97-L plate for my DA* 300/4=$55
11-06-2008, 07:58 AM   #11
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Yikes...

...that set-up has balls.

Very good... Thank you for sharing.

Now, I better understand how the tripod's legs reverse fold works.

Also, I like what appears to be a matte or non-reflective finish on the tripod's metal (CF) parts. Is that finish consistent for through-out (legs, twist grips, etc.)? Does the surface coating seem to be hard anodized and somewhat scratch resistant?

Cheers...
11-06-2008, 07:36 PM   #12
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Yes, the finish is consistent. I wouldn't call it hard anodized, not sure if that's possible with carbon fiber but I would call it somewhat scratch resistant.

I flashed this from above, camera right. I would call it a matte finish and non-reflective. It is not "smooth", you can feel the texture. I think it will be fine for not scaring away critters. The leg locks are smooth and tighten nicely and the rubber grips feel fine.
Without going back and reading all the descriptions again I thought I had read that the legs were so airtight that you would have to "push" the air when extending or collapsing the legs, if that makes sense, but I don't get that type of behavior with this pod. When I loosen a lock the leg will drop smoothly according to how loose I loosen the lock (you can begin to see why I'm not a copywriter).
Frankly, I'm glad it works this way. Seems like it would be a pain if you wanted to extend a leg just a tiny bit and have to reach down and "pull" it longer.
11-06-2008, 07:55 PM   #13
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A pic of the pod "reverse" folded.

11-07-2008, 05:09 AM   #14
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Your set-up is very impressive. No excuses, now... eh?

Thanks for the great post. It's really helped me sort out some things. Now... all I need to do is get Santa to agree...

Looking forward to seeing some great "dead solid perfect" pics!

Cheers...

Last edited by Michaelina2; 11-07-2008 at 05:15 AM. Reason: typo
11-08-2008, 12:53 AM   #15
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Shows what I know about carbon fiber finishes, check this out!
Review: The EKI Head
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