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Thread started 10 Sep 2010 (Friday) 09:40
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Review: Feisol 3441T/Markins Q3t Mark II/ Markins Lever QR

 
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Sep 10, 2010 09:40 |  #1

Let me first say that the Gitzo 1541t/Markins Q3t/RRS lever QR which I have used is a fantastic setup. It's super light, very compact (it fits into a carry-on Pelican case,) and the RRS QR is solid and magic with an L bracket. Everything is time-proven. But my height makes it a pain to work with when the center column is not extended. My bad back made me look for a taller alternative. If you don't want to extend the center column, you have to kneel to use it.

For the record, this review was done during the return period on all the parts.

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This first shot is of the overall Feisol collapsed and inverted length compared to the Gitzo 1514t with attached Markins Q3t and RRS 60mm lever QR. The inverted collapsed length for the Feisol is 19", about 2.5" longer than the Gitzo (the rule is aligned correctly on the left, it's the angle the makes it appear longer.) The Feisol won't fit into my Pelican carryon, as does the 1541t with ballhead attached. But because I had to check the tripod at one European airport ("it's a blunt instrument,") I'll be packing it in my checked luggage from now on anyway.

Note the diameter of the closed tripod is larger for the Feisol than the Gitzo, a feature of both a wider leg attachment disk, and wider diameter legs. I'm not sure where this would be an issue, just that the overall size of the Feisol setup is larger than that of the 1541t.

The weight of the two tripods is about the same ( 2.27 lbs Feisol, 2.10 lbs Gitzo.) Opening and closing the legs of the Feisol, the hex screws are set pretty tightly, but evenly for the three legs. They can be adjusted, but I like them this way for now. The tripod comes with two hex wrenches to adjust them.

The online manual suggests placing one wrench on each side of a leg bolt, and rotating in opposite directions. Kerry at ReallyBigCameras says that they will loosen a bit with use. If you want them looser, he suggests removing the bolt, coating the screw with blue Loktite, then insert and retighten to the tension you like.

Compared to the Gitzo, the center column moves just a bit less smoothly on the Feisol, but that's really not an issue. The hand knurl to tighten and loosen the column rotates extremely smoothly, just as with the Gitzo.

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The exciting thing about these sticks is the added height of 12", without the center column extended. This is measured to the top of the center column plate for each (right under the ballhead on the Gitzo.) Perhaps even more interesting is that the fourth section of the Feisol legs is about the same diameter (19mm) as the second section of the Gitzo (20mm)!

One of the things that I didn't like about the 1541t was that, on the smooth wood floor here, I could put pressure on the top of the RRS QR, and see a splay and slipping slightly of the leg rubber feet. With the Feisol, doing the same thing doesn't budge it a bit...rock solid. Mind you, all this at just about the same weight as the 1541t, even with the larger diameter legs...how do they do that?

The anti-rotation hand knurl joints open very smoothly and evenly and close the same way, nicer I found than the pop-open feeling of the Gitzo joints. Also, the Feisol rubber knurls are about twice the size of those on the Gitzo and very easy to grip. The sections extend and close with the same smooth "whisk" of the Gitzo. Rotating the knurls all three at a time to extend the legs is very easy, smooth and fast, smoother than the pop-pop-pop of the 1541t knurls. Adjusting leg height when the tripod is open and has weight on it is smooth and easy.

There are the foam sleeves on the Feisol legs, easier on the shoulder to carry with the camera attached, and more comfortable in the cold. Not a big deal, but nice to have. It comes with a center column hook which screws on and off; the Gitzo's hook is built-in to the bottom of the center column and spring-loaded. That's an advantage; on a windy day, you don't have to fumble in your bag to find and screw on the hook, and then take it off again when you're done.

The Feisol is rated at 22 lbs, the Gitzo at 17.6 lbs. If your camera/lens/ballhead weigh 5 lbs, you're just there (3x overall weight) with the Gitzo, room to spare with the Feisol.

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The carry bag is very nicely padded ballistic nylon, has a tough, beefy strap and padded shoulder pad with a non-slip back, and a side pocket. It is not just a throw-in, but a real professional bag. It's about a $70-80 value, I would say (compared to a similar Gitzo bag on B&H,) and included. That drops the price of the tripod itself, with anti-rotation legs, from $414 to about $340. The Gitzo comes with a woven paper dust cover bag.

So far, so good. This is a very cool tripod, and better for my 6'1" frame. But because the QR must fit between the inverted legs of the 3441T rather than above the rubber feet of the 1541t, I wondered at first how tight I'd be able to close them.

The 60mm RRS mounted on the Q3t does not allow tight closure of the Feisol legs to the pano base...I tried. But the jaw length of the Markins lever QR is only 48 mm compared to the 60 mm of the RRS (there is a 50mm jaw-length RRS lever QR, but it is not compatible with the Q3t head, according to RRS,) and so there was hope. I got my answer when I affixed the head to the tripod.

Setup was quite simple. There is no set screw, so I secured the ballhead to the center column disk with two counter-rotating strap wrenches (Sears) rather than Loctite. With my 1541t and the Q3t which were attached by that method, I never had any loosening in the field. And completely and easily reversible. If I ever forgot and tried to rotate the camera/lens in the middle of composing a shot, the brake on the Markins would give, but the ballhead would never loosen from the tripod.

The jaw action was a bit tight on my RRS L bracket, as the Markins lever QR is set to the narrower Markins plates; it loosened with only about one half turn of the adjustment screw to the right width and tension for my RRS plates. There is really not that much difference between the OEM jaw width of the Markiins compared to the width needed for the RRS plates. The lever is smaller on the Markins than that on the RRS, but felt no less steady on opening and closing.

The spirit level is useless; if you level the head, then attach the camera, the level is covered. If you must move the camera at all after that, you're better off using a hotshoe spirit level (external link), which I find matches that of the QR level exactly. And for 2 bucks.

The Markins QR has no mid-point of jaw relaxation without release as there is with the RRS; this is a drawback for the Markins. I would like to think that I always have the neck strap on when the camera's on the tripod or my hand on the grip, so that even opening the lever all the way would not lead to the camera falling off...but in a rush to get a shot, I don't know. The lever being 180 degrees reversible? So far, I'm not impressed, I don't know that I'll need that, we'll see. I think this is going to be an individual like or dislike.

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The true test was next, to see if the smaller 48mm jaw length fit between the inverted closed legs. As you can see above and below, there was no problem at all. All three legs sit tight against the pano base of the Markins, with the ballhead snugly protected within. To me, that's an improvement over the Gitzo which leaves the RRS plate exposed above the inverted legs' rubber feet.

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Now the overall height. I placed the tripod with my 100-400L lens and 5D2 against a standard size door to give you an idea of the height. The rule shows the eyepiece to be at 5' 5" (167 cm,) which is just about at my eye level without bending at all! Fantastics for us tall folks compared to the 1541t.

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I also did a non-scientific stability test. I raised the center column about 6" with the 100-400L/5D2 on the Gitzo and then on the Feisol at the same center column height. I then gave a solid fingertip tap to the center of the raised column in both cases with my eye at the eyepiece. The time for the image to stabilize on the Gitzo was one second; on the Feisol, I would guess 0.1-0.3 seconds.

I would suggest that, because of the increased stability over the 1541t in this simplified test, that those interested in that Gitzo because of its shorter height should compare it to the standard height Feisol 3441S, as the specs are about the same as the 1541t. There is also a considerable price difference.

I think the greater stability is due to the beefy larger diameter legs and center column of the Feisol. I don't think I'll ever have to extend the center column on the Feisol because of its overall height without the column raised, but I did have to do that with the 1541t on my last trip. That was the impetus for getting the Feisol in the first place.

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The last shot is just to give some perspective on the setup closer in. Note the large projection of the RRS collar plate, a bit of overkill, it seems. I just have to comment on the smoothness of the Markins ball. Even with the heavy camera and lens in the picture, I found a sweetspot that allowed very easy movement and recomposition, without droop at extremes of tilting up or down.

This is an excellent tripod and ballhead combination for those over 6' in height. I really can't find a negative that's concerning. The only question is how long the tripod will hold up. Time will tell. Meanwhile, this is a keeper setup. (August 12, 2014)...still going strong.

Available now at B&H (external link).

See my posts on Page 12 of this thread for leg cleaning and lubrication directions. (Added September 10, 2011)

Thanks for taking the time to read this rather detailed and lengthy review.

Jay
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e02937
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Sep 10, 2010 10:07 |  #2

Really great review, thanks so much for posting and for posting the pictures. This is exactly the setup I am going to go with. I am over 6' and this sounds like it will be very comfortable.

The only thing I'm not sure on is the loctite, I have another pair of legs but I may just end up selling them as it seems this can handle the workload. The other thing, it it looks big compared to the gitzo but I guess that's the price you pay for the added height. I had wanted to take this carry-on, lash it to the bottom of a backpack, I wonder how reasonable that is.


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Sep 10, 2010 10:25 |  #3

merlin2375 wrote in post #10884515 (external link)
Really great review, thanks so much for posting and for posting the pictures. This is exactly the setup I am going to go with. I am over 6' and this sounds like it will be very comfortable.

The only thing I'm not sure on is the loctite, I have another pair of legs but I may just end up selling them as it seems this can handle the workload. The other thing, it it looks big compared to the gitzo but I guess that's the price you pay for the added height. I had wanted to take this carry-on, lash it to the bottom of a backpack, I wonder how reasonable that is.

Thank, merlin. Listen, you can always use blue loctite. It will hold the head to the tripod very solidly, but is very easy to separate with a strong quick twist. But I've found that the strap wrench tightening will resist even accidentally attempting to rotate the camera when the pano lock is on. If anything, the pano lock slips before the ballhead loosens.

The 3441T is just a couple inches longer and maybe an inch wider when collapsed. I cover it with a Cordura nylon bag. It sits securely on the back of my Rotation medium-sized backpack and sticks up above it by one inch, just enough for the upper strap to grap it.

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Sep 10, 2010 10:38 |  #4

AWESOME!!! Adding to the sticky now!!! Thanks for contributing!!!


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Sep 10, 2010 11:14 |  #5

Great review - thanks for posting! Yesterday I ordered a 3441T for myself and a 3441S for my wife. I can't wait to get them.


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Sep 10, 2010 12:04 |  #6

Interesting to see how much thicker the last leg section is on the Feisol compared to the Gitzo. Based on that alone I'd get the Feisol. Nice review and thanks for posting.


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Sep 10, 2010 12:21 |  #7

I LOVE my 3441T sticks, however I have the earlier version with rotating legs. I seldom find this to be an issue though. It is the perfect height for me at 6'3" and I can see comfortably in my camera with it.

I have the Photo-Clam ballheads (2 different ones) on my 3441T sticks I have the PC-40n so its a 40mm ball, I find it supports anything I throw at it easily.

Great writeup on a great setup!


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Sep 10, 2010 22:26 |  #8

A very comprehensive review, especially comparing it to the Gitzo. Thanks.

I really didn't want a center column so went with the 3442 which is a bit more beefier than the 3441T without being any heavier (tiny amount more). The 3441T was not out at the time I bought the 3442. I would still buy the 3442, though. I am 6' tall.

I also don't have the ALR, not available at the time, and would not bother paying the premium for that feature.

I have a Markins M10 + RRS Lever clamp on top.

If anything it feels more solid now then when I bought it :-)

I'm very satisfied with the Feisol.


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Sep 11, 2010 01:25 |  #9

Nice review man. Got my first Feisol a few months back. LOVE it.


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Sep 16, 2010 17:36 |  #10

With about a week of opening and closing the legs from inverted to straight, the bolt action at the attachment of the legs to the tripod disk loosened to that of the Gitzo, as predicted. Very easy to set up and break down now.

Also, the lever on the QR becomes smoother as well.


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Sep 16, 2010 18:16 |  #11

Thanks for the update.


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Sep 16, 2010 18:22 |  #12

nice review. definitely convinced me to get one over a travel angel!




  
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Sep 22, 2010 19:49 |  #13

And for those of you always concerned about a pack or a shoulder bag not looking like a camera bag, there's this effort at concealment. It started out as protection from the weather.

I bought some inexpensive Cordura nylon on the web (external link), and had my wife sew it into a bag that would fit the 3441T. The drawstring is a heavy duty shoe lace, and the plastic keeper is one from any site on the web. 23.5" x 8.5" length and width below.

When I strapped the tripod with its waterproof bag to the back of my Rotation 360, it really disappeared. At least it doesn't shout out, "this is a camera pack, please rip me off."

It's a good way to carry the tripod when I'm using the pack; otherwise, I'll use the above heavy shoulder bag.

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Sep 22, 2010 19:52 |  #14

Nice! Looks good. If only I could sew :)


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Sep 22, 2010 20:01 |  #15

Jay, tell your wife she is very talented - beautiful work! - Stu


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Review: Feisol 3441T/Markins Q3t Mark II/ Markins Lever QR
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