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Product: CT-3301 Carbon Fibre, 3 Section Tripod
Price:£ 187 (Rapid Version) direct from FeisolUK.
Overall Rating: 10 /10
Overall Summary: Brilliant.
Hi all, I tried posting this in the "Reviews" forum but I had insufficient privilages. Hope it's not a trouble posting it here?
I love writing reviews of stuff so apologies it's so long. Hopefully it's comprehensive enough without drivel!
Ok, so I used to have a Slik Pro 340DX Tripod with Giottos MH1302 head & MH631 Large Plate. I sold it on fleabay after it sat for over 2 years whilst I was on Photographic hiatus. As is the way, as soon as I sold it I decided I wanted to get back in to photography. The Slik was carried most places with me and it was a good tripod. However it was short, and the legs were thin. In order to get any height I had to extend the centre column up - this caused a lot of flex. I did love the foam covered legs and build quality was excellent.
So when researching for my new tripod I looked for a few key things:
- Standard height without column had to be big. I'm 6ft tall and I don't want any slouching in the field. I also liked the idea of not having a big protruding column upon which my camera was perched. Plus, without the centre column extended I'd have more stability.
- A maximum of 3 sections. Again for rigidity and stability. I do a lot of munro walking and didn't fancy a 4 section tripod that I needed to extend each time I stopped. 2 locks per leg, bish bash bosh.
- No gimmicks. The less features, the less potential breakage. 3 legs and a platform would be lovely.
- Carbon Fibre if my budget stretched.
- Quality of construction and finish
- Warranty of more than 1 year.
- Future proof.
- Within £200 for legs only, head if possible.
Right, off to google we go with a nice, geeky spreadsheet at the ready.... I have spent the past week trawling every review I could cram in to my eyes trying to get myself up to speed with what was on the market, what was good, what wasn't so good etc. I came back with a shortlist that included the FotoPro MGC-684 (£179.99), the smaller FotoPro MGC-584 (159.95) both carbon fibre and both 4 section. The FotoPro C5i (£119.95) but again 4 section and aluminium in construction.
The Giottos MTL8261B (£189.00) which looked great and was 3 sections was one of the serious contenders. Good height, if a WEE bit short, but it won a few round-robins and despite being officially discontinued, was still available. However, it had clippy legs and the centre column needed to be extended to get to full height.
The 2nd of the serious contenders was the Giottos YTL9213 (£129) and was the sure thing until I decided the weight was just too much of a compromise. Once the head on top and camera on top of that...it'd be teetering around the 5/6kg mark. But thick legs, SUPERB height and very slim when folded - all good for the avid munro walker. I would have loved to get the carbon version, the YTL8213 but its £319.
Then I stumbled upon Feisol. Who? Feisol seemed to be a relatively unknown compared to Giottos, Gitso, Slik et al. However their "Standard Tripod" range looked brilliant, carbon fibre legs, within budget price. 3 Legs and a platform! The tournament and elite looked even nicer! But price went vastly upwards with those ones...
So what did the Feisol have that the others didn't? Well looking at the list of wanted key features, for a start it's carbon fibre, and light at that - tipping the scales at a claimed 1.18kg on the website (although the box states 1.4kg. However the box is wrong. Tell you later). That's really really light! The Giottos YTL8213 carbon fibre is 1.6kg!
It's also just 3 legs and a platform, which is absolutely perfect, especially given the fully extended height of 1345mm. Again the website stats are a bit wonky and the box even more so. Anyway, with my chosen ball head on top, this would sit my gripped D7000 at a perfect height to not be slouching! The lack of bulky plastic or metal castings made it even more inciting. I hate big cumbersome things.
The legs are 3 section, twisty (G-Clamp?) legs with a foam covering to all 3 legs. I opted for the "Rapid" version at a £20 premium over the non-Rapid version. What this gives me is the ability to unlock both legs simultaneously and slide the legs out to extended position and lock them off. Same in reverse, both locks loosened, slide shut, both clamps tightened. Most of this can be done with one hand at the same time. The non-rapid version had to be sequential, 1 at a time; unlock, slide, clamp. I chose to not have this additional wait whilst I extended my tripod, whether it's worth £20 is up to you.
In terms of future proofing, the centre column aficionados need not worry, as the middle section of the platform removes with the loosening of 3 grub screws around the circumference. This allows the drop in of a centre column at a price of £38.49 delivered!! Not a lot of money for a carbon fibre column that would offer a big of height extension!! I can't see me opting to get this...maybe if I am going to do macro or find that I am not getting the height I desire in special scenarios (if I have to splay the legs out to get stability). At least it's not a £100 optional accessory, which really makes me happy and a decision to get it wouldn't be a nail-biter. Why can't everyone follow this approach? I mean 40 notes for that is not crazy is it?
Finally the warranty for a Feisol is 3 years, servicing direct from FeisolUK (Not sent internationally for repair) and apparently a very keen customer satisfaction approach. All sitting very much in the positive box for me. Add to that the price and blimey charley where's my credit card?