Hello fellow POTN'ers,
I'm not sure if reviews exist for these or not, but if so here's another opinion anyways.
I recently purchased a new carbon fiber tripod and ballhead after many months, and months of research online and trying some out in stores. I came
to the decision of purchasing a Feisol 3442 carbon fiber tripod, and I went with a Photo Clam PC-40NS ballhead. I also bought a used Kirk L-plate for
my XTi off eBay.
The tripod and ballhead were bought through Really Big Cameras in the good ol' US of A: http://www.reallybigcameras.com/
How I came to deciding this was the right combo was a combination of a few factors. I hike a lot, so I needed an extremely light weight combo that I
wouldn't notice on my backpack. I'm also not short being 6'4", so the height was a major factor as well. Most tripods out there that are tall
enough for me are too heavy to consider taking hiking. Manfrotto is a perfect example. Sure they're nice, but not hiking tripods, even their carbon
fiber models are heavy in comparison.
Anyways, I've been VERY happy with my purchase and have had a chance to get out and use it a few times now. I'll break this into sections for now to
make it easier to talk about one thing.
The tripod: Feisol CT-3442 Carbon Fiber legs with the CT-3442CC centre column kit.
It's very light, being under 3 lbs with the centre column kit.
Strong holding 22 lbs max load, and handling telephoto focal lengths quite well even in windy conditions. I recently was shooting the sunset on a
windy night at the beach and got sharp shots at 105mm focal length. This was with no extra weight to stabilize the tripod, but the legs were not
extended at all, and it was quite low to the ground.
Extending the legs is fairly quick, and 9 times out of 10 they will unlock just fine. Every now and then you wont be able to twist the lock free
because the leg is rotating, so when that happens you need to tighten the previous lock above it to stop this. Honestly, this doesn't bother me at
all. I know some people whine and complain because certain tripods don't have Gitzo's "famous and wonderful" G-lock system, but it's really a
non-issue. I tried out a Gitzo in the store and I couldn't for the life of me see why it would be worth so much more. The Feisol is equal in
quality, strength, and ease of use, so nothing justified the whopping extra cost to me.
Now, as for the length - both folded and fully extended - it meets my requirements just fine. As I said previous, I'm tall, but fully extended this
tripod will go higher than I can even see through the camera. With the legs fully extended and the centre column down all the way, I can almost see
through the camera without bending over. To me, this is just fine.
Tripod fully extended - column down ||||||||||||||| Tripod fully extended - column up
Extending the centre colum is a breeze really. There's one big screw, with two fat tabs, that you turn and you can then slide the tube anywhere you
want. Just tighten the screw down again and it'll stay in place. It's VERY secure and quite solid when it's locked. I tried to slide the tube
with the screw tightened and I couldn't - not without breaking something.
Having the legs extended all the way out, but angling them out so you can get low to the ground does not work however. It's very flimsy and bouncy.
I could push down with my pinky finger and make it bounce. Here's a pic to show the set-up I am talking about.
If you want to get low to the ground you have a few options. You can retract the legs and extend the centre column up a bit, like this:
You can unscrew the plate at the end of the centre column and slide the tube out, reverse it and feed it through from underneath. This takes a bit
of time however, so I prefer to just reverse the legs by folding them backwards - basically turning the whole tripod upside down like this.
Now mind you, if you do this the picture will be upside down too, and you'll have to get down low to see through the viewfinder which is not
comfortable. I really wish I had Live View for stuff like this!
Being able to fold the legs back in a reverse position is handy for packing it up too. If you want to stuff it in a suitcase it's quite small if you
do this. Also, this will allow it to fit in the supplied carrying case EVEN with the ballhead attached.
And finally, the tripod with the legs in the normal position, fully closed, fits perfectly on my camera bag - Lowepro Dryzone Rover.