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| p.1 #1 · My Feisol CT-3442 Tournamet + CB-40D review |
This is my personal review of the Feisol 3442 Tournament tripod and Feisol CB-40D ball head.
A little background first:
A couple years back I switched from my Canon DSLR kit to a Leica M kit and then just stayed in the mirrorless world for some time. While getting rid of my heavy Canon gear I also decided to sell my trusty Gitzo tripod (a traveler 1541T) since I could get by with a much cheaper alternative for my lightweight Leica (and I kind of needed the cash).
My tripod has, since then, been a small Manfrotto that I picked up used for about 45Ä; light, small and plenty sturdy for a mirrorless system, a faithful companion that I took on many trips.
Lately though, I decided to go for a full frame DSLR once more, and I bought a Nikon D600, along with one of the few lenses I would ever use, the 16-35mm VR.
The Manfrottoís little ball head struggled to hold up the lens and the thin tripod legs would just wobble all over the place.
Time for a new tripod.
Being on a budget, I decided to give Feisol a go since Iíve heard good things about their products and, at least on paper, their kits looked like an unbeatable deal.
Given that the longest lens that I will ever use will be an 85mm, and that I like traveling light (I also love hiking), I went with the Feisol CT-3442 four section Tournament tripod, and along with I bought a CB-40D ball head.
I had to wait nearly two weeks for the package to arrive, but it was just due to it being out of stock, Feisol customer service proved to be exceptional, promptly replying to all my mails and giving me all the info my impatient self needed.
Once I finally got the package (after only 3 days of shipping) I cut it open revealing itís content: A sturdy looking tripod bag, the tripod itself inside the bag and the ball head supplied with itís quick release plate.
Short on the bag: itís a Feisol branded padded bag. With a strap. I wont use it much.
Inside the bag pocket I found a set a allen keys for tripod disassembly and a hook that once screwed into the bottom of the base, allows you to hang your bag or a sandbag for extra stability.
The size and weight of the tripod really surprised me, despite it being a higher size class than my old Gitzo, itís really light and small while folded.
Extending the tripod was very intuitive (itís a tripod for Christís sake) and quick, the knobs and legs were a bit stiff in the beginning but loosened up over a couple hours of use.
The fully extended height is rated to 138cm, and it sounded really low to me before actually getting it (Iím 192cm), but I didnít really care since I always use the tripod close to the ground and ordered it anyway. In reality with the ball head in place and the camera on it, I just need to very slightly lean down to be able to fully look into the viewfinder. The Gitzo felt much smaller even considering the center column, which I didnít get for the Feisol.
My initial impressions were pretty much confirmed, the tripod is stiff and well built while still very light and plenty tall for my needs.
The main spider and the plate where you screw on you ball head are made from black aluminium, the plate is held onto the spider with 3 small screws that you can tighten with a provided allen key.
These 3 screws came pretty loose out of the box and I was stuck with a lose head on my third outing, be sure to keep the allen keys with you.
The legs are carbon fiber (duh) and feel very light, almost too light (very hollow) but sturdy. The biggest leg sections are coated with really nice and soft foam pads.
Each leg can be locked in 3 positions (from standard to a mid height to almost touching the ground) with a little spring loaded switch, itís very very easy to use and feels reasonably sturdy.
You can also reverse the legs on the tripod (inside out) for easier storage, doing this is also very quick and easy.
The knobs that realease the sections are large and rubbery, they unfortunately seem to have a plastic thread that may be a little weak to something like fine sand.
The knobs lack some sort of G-Lock function (like on modern Gitzos) and you have to really tighten them to have a positive lock.
After an afternoon at the beach putting the tripod through hell (salt water and sand are pretty much the worst thing you can put a tripod up against), I decided to take it apart and clean it. The disassembly part it easy but tricky, you have to fully unscrew the leg knobs and then the leg section itself is free to come out.
The tricky part is the amount of plastic washers that need to go into a precise order to allow the legs to fully lock. Just make sure you put stuff together again the way you found it and you are golden.
While reassembling the legs I added some water and dust repellent grease to the threads and now they are just smooth as butter.
The Feisol CB-40D ball head also worked out to be very good, the build quality is great, it feels well made but also light.
The knobs are smooth and nicely dampened but their surface is hard plastic with deep groves, it might get harsh on you fingers after a while. I DONíT like the tension knob, itís tiny and really annoying to operate, it also doesnít change the tension in a linear way. When I got the head the tension knob was soo tight that the ball head would only barely move, I had to carefully loosen the knob with pliers (it was very tight and, as I mentioned, itís very small) to get the head to move freely.
Since then, I just left the tension knob alone at about half way and it seems to work fine.
The ball head is also very smooth and once locked, really sturdy.
One thing that sort of annoyed me is the fact that (like for the legs) you have to get the knob fairly tight to have a true lock (compared to my friendís RRS BH55 where you barely have to tighten the knob to completely lock the ball).
The top release platform is Arca Swiss compatible and comes with a reasonable camera plate.
Overall, I am pleased with my purchase, from my brief experience I can say Feisol delivers on all the aspects that count (good size and weight, good build quality and ease of use).
You wonít miss any shots or functionality by choosing Feisol over a more expensive Gitzo or RRS, what you will miss is the care and attention to details put into the products.
If you are looking for a solid tripod kit that will not break the bank you really canít go wrong, considering that my tripod kit is about 1/3 the price of a Gitzo/RSS system I could not recommend it more.
A couple images of the tripod taken on my afternoon at the beach: