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Postby -default » Mon Jun 11, 2007 7:44 am

I've been looking for a lighter replacement for my trusty Bogen/Manfrotto, which is about 7 pounds including head.  It's rock solid, a little too heavy to carry most of the time, but more importantly it has to be disassembled to fit in my suitcase.  There are so many choices it's ridiculous.

First, a couple of interesting links:

The rosetta stone: a table of tripods and features:

A review of the Velbon Carmagne 640, and a table comparing specs of similar tripods

Here are some tripods I've evaluated, the number of stars indicate how much I liked the tripod, regardless of price. I examined some of these at the store, and relied on combing user discussions for the rest.  Right now, my favorite pick is the Slik Pro 614 CF, a reasonably light tripod that costs 300 US dollars legs only.

I'm mainly looking at four section carbon fiber tripods, max weight 3 lbs w/o head, max length 24 inches, preferably 18 inches.  In checking them out I've stumbled across some interesting aluminum ones.

I did look at the lighter weight Gitzo tripods - 1500 series, and some of the bogen tripods - beautifully built, but I was surprised at how relatively flexible they were - nothing like my good old Bogen.  After reading so many rave reviews of Gitzos, frankly I expected something rock solid, and seeing this kind of flexibilty soured me on the price tag, and made me consider other, less expensive tripods.

ULTRALUXISF Velbon Ultra LUXiSF Compact Tripod - unique, aluminum, and inexpensive at under 100 dollars.  The main advantage of this tripod is that it folds incredibly small.

Bogen / Manfrotto 725B Digi Black Tripod with Ball head - this also comes in a three axis head version.  I was attracted by the low price (100 dollars), but rejected it when I realized it rings for several seconds like a bell when you tap it.  The head is not removable, which is a bit limitation, and I did not like the look of the plastic tab that locks the center column.  Still, it's so small and light, and reasonably sturdy even compared to the lighter Gitzos.

(number of stars indicates my personal rating, and "S" indicates this is a tripod I actually saw in the store, rather than relying on Internet chatter)  Gitzo's with four stars are docked a star for costing 600 dollars, otherwise I ignore price in making my ratings.

** (heavy)Velbon El Carmagne 640 Review - a great tripod, but turned out to be much heavier than listed on the wohlberg site listed above

S** folded length too big, 3lb, Induro CX-113 Carbonflex 8X Tripod - again, a good tripod, reasonably solid, good workmanship, and I was entranced by the ability to angle the center column out for macro work.  This tripod not only has a level, but a compass too!  The killer for me was that it was a little on the heavy side, and the folded length was too long

** Gitzo G1058 Mountaineer Weekend 6X Carbon Fiber - beautiful, expensive, and not very solid at all.

*** FEISOL CT-3441 - this is a tripod I would seriously consider.  Its main problem is that it is a little too heavy, and a little too big, compared with the 3401 which is one of my favorites..

S*** FM Reviews - G1128 Mk2 Mountaineer Sport - a gorgeous Gitzo, somewhat sturdier than the 1058, but it bends like a toy, IMHO.

S*** Gitzo G1258 Mountaineer Reporter 6X Carbon Fiber - beautiful, and somewhat sturdier and heavier than the 1128 - it still twists easily, and the particular tripod I looked at had one section of a leg that wobbled.

*** Gitzo GT-0931 Weekend Basalt Tripod Legs - somewhat less sturdy than the 1258, and still not cheap.

S*** SLIK compact pro - a tiny aluminum tripod, more of a tabletop tripod really.  It vibrates for quite a while if you tap it, and has a fixed head, and it folds to an incredibly small size.

S**** SLIK Sprint Pro (<$100) I really liked this one - it's like the Bogen / Manfrotto 725B Digi, but the center column is secured better, and I liked the overall feel.

**** Slik Pro 614 DX Carbon Fiber Tripod Kit - larger and heavier than my favorite, the 614 CF, but not bad at all.

**** Gitzo GT2540L Mountaineer Long Reporter - I could easily live with this tripod, but the price is very high as with all Gitzos, and the folded length is too long.
S*** Gitzo GT-1540 Mountaineer 6X Carbon Fiber - another gorgeous, expensive tripod.
**** Gitzo GT-1540T Traveler 6X Carbon Fiberr - no problems here, other than the price.

***** FEISOL 3401 - great price at 175 US dollars legs only, and great online reviews.  A little heavy at 2.9 lbs, and folds to 19 inches.  It's impossible to get them other than ordering them cold from Taiwan, and I'd really like to see one before purchasing.  This could still very well be my next tripod.

***** SLIK Pro 614 CF - my current favorite, though I've never seen one.  The legs are 300 US dollars legs only, but the reviews from users are stunning, and the weight and length are right where I need them - 18 inches and 1.9 lbs.
Mike Russell  -

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Postby mikemeister_admin » Sat Jul 21, 2007 10:20 am

I use an old gitzo because it is very light (it was part of the french army material, this way we can find some at low prices in public auctions, it was used to support binoculars), and I have a manfrotto too which I hardly use because of the heavy weight (I bought it at first sight and it seems that it's nearly a studio equipement) but as I bought the gitzo without any head, it was simple to just buy the adaptor to ajust the head of the manfrotto to the gitzo.These stuff are very expensive but the fact that you can enhance them and that it's still followed up by the manufactured is a mark of trust. And sure it's rock solid - a buy for a life.

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Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:53 am

Postby -default » Wed Jul 25, 2007 10:55 pm

I would have loved a Gitzo - the new ones I looked at were beautiful, but too expensive, and people seem to love them, since there are virtually no used carbon fiber Gitzo's on eBay.

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Postby mdavis » Fri Aug 10, 2007 11:07 am

I bit the bullet (takes some faith to send money for something sight-unseen) and bought a Feisol CT-3401 after a friend bought one and liked it.  I use a small Manfrotto ballhead on it to hold my 20D and some big lenses (Canon 100-400L f/4).  It is now over a year old and seems to be as well made as any of the super high-priced name brands.  Legs are twist-set.  No design flaws that I've found.  I have been very pleased with it and would certainly buy another one.

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Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2015 1:53 am

Postby -default » Sat Aug 11, 2007 8:12 am

The Feisol was a real contender, and had I been able to see before buying, it might well have been my first choice.  I wonder why these are so hard to get a look at in stores.

BTW - I finally got a good price on eBay and bought a SLIK Carbon Fiber Pro 804 CF.  This tripod is a predecessor to the 614, but just a bit lighter and shorter.

The tripod - with Bogen mini ball head -  weighs in at just over three pounds, instead of the eight or so of the old one.  I can carry it around almost without noticing it.

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