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11-14-2008, 08:00 PM   #1
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Feisol CT-3371 Tripod

Today I took delivery of my new tripod and CB-70H ball head.

The legs seem robust enough, and are certainly solid. This isn't a really light tripod, but compared to a Manfrotto 055 it is a featherweight. The leg locks run very smoothly, but like all twistlock tripods, I find the legs have to be extended and retracted backwards from what I like.
I prefer to extend the bottom extension first, then the top. With twistlocks, I have found that if I try this, the bottom lock turns the leg above it rather than unlocking.
The Feisol is no exception.
The tripod is very nicely engineered. Someone mentioned that Feisol started out building bicycle parts, and expanded from there. This shows in the quality and workmanship. These people know what they are doing with their carbon fiber tube materials.
The head is another story alltogether.
I have never been a fan of ballheads, and the CB-70H so far has done nothing to change my mind.
The pan locking knob puts a lot of friction onto the pan, but doesn't actually lock it. I am sure it will be sufficient though.
There is a lock that is supposed to keep the ball from rotating off level. It seems to be a wonky friction knob, but does nothing of any use.
There is also a ball release knob and a friction preset knob. The theory is good, in that you can preset the minimum allowable friction the head will operate at, and then use one knob to lock and unlock the head.
In practice, the head seems to move somewhat notchily unless there is very little to no friction.
The ball size is huge, nearly 3 inches, so I was hoping it would move more smoothly. I am tempted to put a small amount of silicon lube onto the ball and see what that does.
The head is also quite heavy, adding almost 50% to the weight of the tripod.
I brought in an extension column as well, but it looks like it will be pretty unnecessary, as the tripod height plus head height puts the camera very close to my eye level (I'm a bit over 6"1" tall).
In the head's favour, I use a Slick (I think) pistol grip tripod head at the studio if I happen to forget my own tripod, and that head absolutely s#cks. I owned a Manfrotto ballhead years ago which was a poorly engineered and even more poorly built piece of junk, so in this regard, the Feisol doesn't look so bad.

I haven't used the thing in a shooting situation yet, so I don't know if my concerns about the head will bear out, but I should have an answer in a couple of days, as I have a shoot scheduled for Sunday.

11-14-2008, 08:49 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
The leg locks run very smoothly, but like all twistlock tripods, I find the legs have to be extended and retracted backwards from what I like.
I prefer to extend the bottom extension first, then the top. With twistlocks, I have found that if I try this, the bottom lock turns the leg above it rather than unlocking.
The Feisol is no exception.
Congrats on the new tripod.
What you describe doesn't happen with the Gitzo G-Lock tripods. On my Gitzo, it just takes a few seconds to unlock, extend the legs and lock them. There is no twisting of the legs.
11-14-2008, 10:32 PM   #3
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Congrats Wheatfield.
Well we knew going in the leg locks weren't going to match the Gitzo's but for the price difference I can sure live with mine. Other than that the pod seems very solid.
I'd be careful before I put any kind of lube on the ball, probably not a good idea. I would search to see if anyone else had tried it first, you might end up with a ball that can't be locked tight.
I think the tension preset is far and away the most difficult feat to pull off on a ballhead and only having used my BH-55 along with previously using a Brunton (Manfrotto) pistol grip thingy, I have to wonder. Like the pistol grip you mention, the one I have is truly terrible for small adjustments.
I read of some complaints about the RRS BH-55's "sweet spot". I'm not complaing about mine but I have to wonder about the Markins. I wish I knew somebody within reasonable distance of me that has one to compare. I can easily set up the BH-55 with my K10D and 300/4 to where it doesn't flop at any angle, it'll stay put. But, for example, I had the Pentax A-2X-S converter on the 300mm this morning to take a moon shot. This brings the moon pretty big into the viewfinder and it moves fast. With the rig set in it's sweet spot and having taken a pic and then having to readjust, there is a bit of "tension" to overcome to move the camera. And I can overshoot. It would be awesome if, set in it's sweet spot, you could move the camera with, let's say a fingertip, but I have a feeling even the Markins isn't capable of this feat. This, I believe, falls into the realm of the gimbal heads. If I'm wrong please correct me.
I asked Marcus at RRS when I ordered my ballhead about my research on the RRS, about some complaints of it's propensity to "stick and slide". He reassured me and also mentioned it takes time for the BH to "break in". So with use yours may get smoother.
11-15-2008, 09:14 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Eaglerapids Quote
Congrats Wheatfield.
Well we knew going in the leg locks weren't going to match the Gitzo's but for the price difference I can sure live with mine. Other than that the pod seems very solid.
I'd be careful before I put any kind of lube on the ball, probably not a good idea. I would search to see if anyone else had tried it first, you might end up with a ball that can't be locked tight.
I think the tension preset is far and away the most difficult feat to pull off on a ballhead and only having used my BH-55 along with previously using a Brunton (Manfrotto) pistol grip thingy, I have to wonder. Like the pistol grip you mention, the one I have is truly terrible for small adjustments.
I read of some complaints about the RRS BH-55's "sweet spot". I'm not complaing about mine but I have to wonder about the Markins. I wish I knew somebody within reasonable distance of me that has one to compare. I can easily set up the BH-55 with my K10D and 300/4 to where it doesn't flop at any angle, it'll stay put. But, for example, I had the Pentax A-2X-S converter on the 300mm this morning to take a moon shot. This brings the moon pretty big into the viewfinder and it moves fast. With the rig set in it's sweet spot and having taken a pic and then having to readjust, there is a bit of "tension" to overcome to move the camera. And I can overshoot. It would be awesome if, set in it's sweet spot, you could move the camera with, let's say a fingertip, but I have a feeling even the Markins isn't capable of this feat. This, I believe, falls into the realm of the gimbal heads. If I'm wrong please correct me.
I asked Marcus at RRS when I ordered my ballhead about my research on the RRS, about some complaints of it's propensity to "stick and slide". He reassured me and also mentioned it takes time for the BH to "break in". So with use yours may get smoother.
I remember my old Manfrotto ballhead would weld itself to the socket after a couple of days. I cured that with a glob of white grease, but you are right, the thing wouldn't lock down tight after that.
The leg lock thing seems to have been an initial use problem, I suspect that when the tripod was assembled the locks were just done up tighter than needed. At the tightness I give the twists, I can unlock the legs in the order I like.
I was also able to make a very slight adjustment to the leg pivots (with the supplied Allen wrench) to allow the legs to pivot easier.
The tripod was just assembled too tightly for my liking, I guess.
I'll work with the head as is for a while and see how it does. It isn't a bad head, I think that it may just be the nature of ballheads to be a bit grabby, as every one I have used (except my very expensive and well worn in Leitz head) has been this way. I am used to using high quality pan/tilt heads, so I am probably just very hard to please.
I took the center column back off the thing. With the column in place, the head height is well over my head. I have a 20 foot ceiling in my living room, so I didn't judge it really close, but I suspect the camera would be close to 8 feet up with everything fully extended.
It's not often I need a tripod that tall, so I'll just keep the center column for those rare occasions when I need the reach. It's no hard to change.
I think the Feisol with column will reach almost as high as my Manfrotto 029 in a package that seems to weigh about 1/3 as much.

11-17-2008, 07:26 AM   #5
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More on the tripod/head.
The 3371 is too big!!! If I had a 14/20 screw hole on my truck, I am certain I could mount it to the tripod!!
I was hoping for a Manfrotto 055 replacement. Comparing weights, I don't think the Feisol and head are any lighter than my old 055, but in reality, the tripod is more comparable to my 029 for load capacity and working height.
Anyway, in the studio yesterday, it was an absolute joy to use. The weight and size is actually nice in that sort of situation. The head turned out to be pretty darned good once I got a camera onto it and started using it.
It's going to take me a while to figure out which knob does what in use though. I managed to knock the friction adjust out of whack a couple of times just through unfamiliarity with the knobs.
Anyway, if you need a big tripod that will support most anything, this is a rig to consider. I would have no worries with putting my 6x7 on it, and I would also have no concerns with mounting my Wimberley to the legs and using it under my 600/5.6.
OTOH, if what you want is a lightweight tripod for hiking with, this may not be the best unit. It is way taller than necessary, and a lot heavier than I'd want to carry for long because of the size.
I suspect the 3342 legs and a smaller head would be the way to go for something sized like a K20 and shorter lenses, perhaps up to 300mm or so.
I may end up retiring my Zone VI tripod from use as a 600mm lens support and picking up a smaller Feisol for general use.

The only real nit I have with the tripod after using it is that I wish they had put set screws on the mounting plate like manfrotto does for locking the head in place.
11-17-2008, 09:45 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
The head is another story alltogether.
I have never been a fan of ballheads, and the CB-70H so far has done nothing to change my mind.
The pan locking knob puts a lot of friction onto the pan, but doesn't actually lock it. I am sure it will be sufficient though.
There is a lock that is supposed to keep the ball from rotating off level. It seems to be a wonky friction knob, but does nothing of any use.
There is also a ball release knob and a friction preset knob. The theory is good, in that you can preset the minimum allowable friction the head will operate at, and then use one knob to lock and unlock the head.
In practice, the head seems to move somewhat notchily unless there is very little to no friction.
The ball size is huge, nearly 3 inches, so I was hoping it would move more smoothly. I am tempted to put a small amount of silicon lube onto the ball and see what that does.
Don't use silicon grease (not yet, at least). When I got a similar ball head, I encountered the same problems (not really locking, sticky action etc.). I disassembled the head and found loads, of what we call here "China Honey", a generous amount of a sticky machine grease. This stuff might be okay to grease the axle of a Chinese Hinterland truck, but certainly it shouldn't be used in a ball head. After I cleaned that mess out and applied only a small amount of a much finer grease, everything worked much better. The head now locks firmly and the action is smooth.

Ben
11-21-2008, 01:59 PM   #7
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Feisol 3371 kudos

Guys-

Last week I received my Feisol 3371 from Really Big Cameras. They put together a package deal with the stainless steel foot spikes and posted it to Ebay with a "buy it now" price that allowed me to claim an Ebay rebate. I don't remember the actual pricing but I believe that the net cost was less than $300, including shipping.

I assembled the new pod with my KA* 600 f5.6. Instead of a ball head, I "negotiated" a used Wimberley MkII and mounting plate for $525, including shipping, from the manufacturer. They took an extra day to "check out" the Wimberley and, when I received it, I could barely tell it from new.

After adjusting according to Wimberley's instructions, the big lens will hang in any position without creep. The whole rig feels as solid as can be and I had to adjust the legs down a little to allign with my 5'10" height.

I can't wait to get out and try this out on our local birds and other fauna.

Sig
11-21-2008, 04:51 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sigmoid Quote
Guys-

Last week I received my Feisol 3371 from Really Big Cameras. They put together a package deal with the stainless steel foot spikes and posted it to Ebay with a "buy it now" price that allowed me to claim an Ebay rebate. I don't remember the actual pricing but I believe that the net cost was less than $300, including shipping.

I assembled the new pod with my KA* 600 f5.6. Instead of a ball head, I "negotiated" a used Wimberley MkII and mounting plate for $525, including shipping, from the manufacturer. They took an extra day to "check out" the Wimberley and, when I received it, I could barely tell it from new.

After adjusting according to Wimberley's instructions, the big lens will hang in any position without creep. The whole rig feels as solid as can be and I had to adjust the legs down a little to allign with my 5'10" height.

I can't wait to get out and try this out on our local birds and other fauna.

Sig
Do you find the A600/6.6 tripod socket to be a bit far back? I ended up putting a fairly long mounting plate onto my 600 to try to bring it into balance.
I am considering mounting my Wimberley onto the 3371, as it weighs significantly less than the Zone VI tripod I am using now for the big glass and picking up a Tournament for the smaller stuff.
The CB-70H head looks like it is going to be good, but is ridiculously oversized for a camera the size of the K20.
I'll probably put my old Leitz head onto the smaller tripod.

11-24-2008, 10:27 AM   #9
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Tripod socket position

Wheatfield:

Yes, the socket position on the 600mm lens is right on the edge of workable. This is even more noticeable when I mount a monopod directly to the lens foot...the rig wants to tip forward very strongly. Once outdoor sports start up again in the spring I may try some additional hardware to get a better balance.

With the plate that Wimberley supplied, the foot of the lens hangs off the plate about 1/4 inch when the fore-and-aft balance is correct. I'm considering adding a second 1/4-20 hole to the bottom of the foot, perhaps with a Keensert or similar threaded insert for durability.

Both my schedule and the weather seem to be conspiring against my trying to use the new setup but I hope to get some images over the upcoming holiday weekend.

Sig
11-24-2008, 08:47 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Sigmoid Quote
Wheatfield:

Yes, the socket position on the 600mm lens is right on the edge of workable. This is even more noticeable when I mount a monopod directly to the lens foot...the rig wants to tip forward very strongly. Once outdoor sports start up again in the spring I may try some additional hardware to get a better balance.

With the plate that Wimberley supplied, the foot of the lens hangs off the plate about 1/4 inch when the fore-and-aft balance is correct. I'm considering adding a second 1/4-20 hole to the bottom of the foot, perhaps with a Keensert or similar threaded insert for durability.

Both my schedule and the weather seem to be conspiring against my trying to use the new setup but I hope to get some images over the upcoming holiday weekend.

Sig
I'm using the longest plate that Wimberley supplies, which actually reaches under the larger diameter front of the barrel. I made a cradle from door insulating foam for the front and attached the other end to the tripod socket. It supports the lens very nicely, and allows perfect balance on the gimbal.
11-26-2008, 01:55 PM   #11
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Mount plates and your Rottweiler

Interesting. I'm also using the longest Wimberley plate, I believe it's called a P-50. Even though the 600 hangs off the back of the plate a little, I hadn't thought about buffering the space between the plate and lens objective end as you have...it might reduce vibration. With a 600, and especially with a TC on a 600, every little bit helps.

BTW, I love your avatar photo.

My wife and I kept Rottweilers from the early '60s through the turn of the century, when we moved on to Airedales. Both are terrific dog breeds. Unfortunately, most of my schutzhund and other Rottweiler images are on film and the my scanner tends to make them look fuzzy. I may post a couple just to see if anyone else here at the forum is interested.

Sig

Last edited by Sigmoid; 11-26-2008 at 01:59 PM. Reason: More material added
12-06-2008, 10:16 AM   #12
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My Feisol experience

I didn't want to start a new thread on the Feisol but wanted to add my thoughts on a newly purchased CT-3471. I bought this tripod based on the reviews here and at DPR and also some stuff scattered throughout the web (Nikonians, Blogs, etc.). I can say that I am very happy I did.

For a long time I have been using a Manfrotto 3221. I have had little issue with this tripod, except for the fact that occasionally I needed just a bit more height and that required raising the center column. The only other issue was that in cold weather the tripod was a bit more difficult to carry as the aluminum legs are a great conductor of cold.

First I would like to say that I bought the tripod from ReallyBigCameras in Portland, OR through one of their eBay auctions using Live Cashback. I would have bought it from the Feisol distributor but sincve they are located in NC I would have to add sales tax and they sell direct so no cashback. The buying experience was typical eBay, no issues whatsoever. The shipping was quick, just three days coast to coast.

The Feisol CT-3471 is a four section tripod that folds up to a height of about 57cm (22.5"). That is shorter than the three section Manfrotto by about 9cm (3.5"). As far as the weight is concerned the Manfrotto tips the scales at 2623g (92.7 oz) and the Feisol, although bigger weighed in at 2300g (81.3 oz). The weight is deceiving as it feels much lighter than the 323g (11.4 oz) indicate. Still it is not a travel tripod.

Moving to a twist lock tripod leg takes a bit of getting used to, but even with just a little bit of use I am as fast as the lever locks of the Manfrotto. I am sure with a little bit of practice it will be even faster. The build quality seems to be first rate as all parts seem to move smoothly and there are no rough spots on the outside or with any of the moving parts. The Feisol is supplied with two 5mm allen wrenches to adjust the tension on the leg pivots and a 4mm allen to remove the top plate. There is also a warranty card. The tripod bag is a nice addition. I did not have one with my Manfrotto. I like the fact that I can keep the tripod protected and through a few (very few) tripod specific accessories in the outside zipper pocket.

Until I get a new ball head I am using my old Manfrotto 3262QR. Not the best head around but it is passable. I have mounted my Samsung GX-1S and Pentax K20D w/battery grip and all manner of glass and it has been rock steady. The heaviest piece of glass I have currently are the Pentax-A 70-210mm f/4 Zoom @ 702g (24.8 oz) and the Sigma 600mm f/8 Mirror @ 726g (25.7 oz). So not really a lot of weight to test with. Anyway it was quite stable and I did not seem to experience any camera shake even tripping the shutter without the self timer.

Just like Wheatfield I find the lack of set screws on the base plate to be a minor nit. The Manfrotto allows the head to be 'locked' in place by using the set screws. With that set up I never have to worry about the head loosening. The Feisol without the set screws does not inspire the same level of confidence. Also as Wheatfield mentions this is a big tripod, although lighter than what I am used to lugging around I think the next tripod purchase will be something along the lines of the CT-3441S. Plenty tall and significantly lighter.

Overall I am happy with this purchase and I do believe I would consider the Feisol again if I need another tripod.
12-06-2008, 02:09 PM   #13
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I'm considering one of their smaller tripods now, as the 3371 is just too big for most of my purposes.
I'll probably end up with one of the Tournament tripods next year and use the big tripod with my Wimberly head and the long glass.
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