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Author Topic: BENRO or FEISOL tripods and heads  (Read 24520 times)

heinrichvoelkel

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BENRO or FEISOL tripods and heads
« on: October 08, 2007, 05:14:07 am »

Hello everybody,

I'm looking for some recommendations and experiences on Feisol and Benro carbon fibre tripods.

I want to purchase one or maybe two different ones, but would rather carry a slightly heavier one around, if it will serve my needs.

I'm using mainly a Mamiya 7, sometimes a Pentax 67 and a SpeedGraphic with an Aero Ektar ( heavy combo). For the future I would like to downsize my gear a little by going digital. Fot the moment a Pro Dslr and later a Medium format back.

For heads: I own a NPC Prohead, besides some other ones I never use, but would rather go for something more sturdy. Does anybody own a Benro KS or KV head? Are you happy with it? What about the Feisol ones?

Anybody using the mentioned tripod brands and what are your experiences. Did you buy directly from the maker? How did it work out for you....?! (I'm located in Europe)

Regards and thanks in advance,

Heinrich
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Thomas Krüger

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BENRO or FEISOL tripods and heads
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2007, 08:45:40 am »

Try to get your hands on a Markins Q3. Small and lightweight, works fine. Perhaps you can test it with your SpeedGraphic mounted.

https://www.photoproshop.com/product_info.p...472/language/de
http://www.markinsamerica.com/MA5/Q3.php#Details
« Last Edit: October 08, 2007, 08:47:32 am by ThomasK »
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fade2black

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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2007, 09:27:34 am »

I am using a Feisol 3342 and Markins Q3 and I love it.  I just upgraded from the Feisol traveler 3441 because I wanted a taller tripod.  I really like Feisol and highly recommend them.  Their customer service is top notch and shipping is fast considering it comes from Taiwan.  And you really can't beat the price for full carbon.  
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heinrichvoelkel

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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2007, 10:41:07 am »

Thanks guys for the suggestion with the Markins head. I will have a look at it...
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DarkPenguin

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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2007, 07:40:45 pm »

Feisol's customer service has been great.  Love their product.
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pierisb

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« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2007, 11:35:50 pm »

This ended up being more verbose than I expected. Sorry for that in advance; I got carried away on my first post to LL. If you're in a hurry I think the Feisol tripod might be ok for you, but the Benro heads might not be strong enough for your large cameras.

I have the Feisol CT-3301 and Benro KS-1. I bought both direct, with no problems. The Feisol arrived with a broken leg angle lock lever, and they sent a 3-pack with replacement instructions immediately. Unlike some, I find the twist-locks easy to use and better than clamps. There is no good way to lock a head in place (just the one 3/8" screw at the top). I don't know if this is good or bad: sometimes the head comes loose, but of course it's just as easily tightened, and easy to remove for packing. The leg lengths/angles are easily adjusted but stay put.

The legs are not as stiff as I expected, coming from aluminum. Sometimes they remind me of PVC pipe, which is not really known as a photographic material. If a leg is fully extended it bends quite easily. I haven't gone to the local photo store and tried to bend their Gitzo's, maybe I'll do that this weekend if they're not looking. Usually if I have the tripod I have some other heavy stuff with me, and once I've suspended a bag full of lenses from the tripod it feels very, very solid. So there's that. The outer carbon layer on the legs is bidirectional weave, which surprised me, since I'm pretty sure the consensus is that bidirectional is more aesthetic than functional.

FYI do not buy the Feisol Arca-Swiss style QR plates. They are really thick, the rubber pad is squishy, and they don't fit in my Benro KS-1 QR holder. In contrast, the ones sold on Ebay by Qiqiwo are great. I like the Benro ones as well.

Now the KS-1 Benro head. I didn't have much option because I wanted a ball head, with Arca Swiss style QR, and I didn't want to spend a fortune on something that I would be getting wet, dropping on the ground, etc. The ball in my KS-1 is not asymmetric. I am not sure if it's supposed to be.. but of course this means if you have a heavy lens you'll get creep at steep angles. It definitely creeps a lot when using a 70-200/4, so now I use a tripod collar. If you have a heavy camera (Canon 1-series for example) and you want to precisely frame a picture with a longer lens, the creep might really bother you. It doesn't bother me too much because I have a small camera with only 95% viewfinder coverage, so I don't see what I'm getting anyways.

The KS-1 has a lot of knobs on it and I still get confused, but I'm getting better. All these knobs can get in the way when you drop into the slot for a vertical shot, but this is a shortcoming of many ballheads. Which is why L brackets look like a nice idea.

I mentioned this head comes loose on my Feisol. Usually the only time the head comes loose is when I am using the pan feature. The pan only supports one rotation, and I think it's less than 360 degrees. So when you are panning the head counterclockwise, you'll run up against the stop (which is a very unpleasant gritty feeling) and you'll start unscrewing the head. Classy. You can see why I rarely use the pan feature anymore.

All this may sound pretty bad, so you should know that I am somewhat of a perfectionist but also a notorious cheapskate, so I end up buying cheap things and then complaining about how they don't equal their expensive counterparts. If the Feisol cost as much as a Gitzo there is no way I would be happy with it. Likewise with the Benro ballhead, compared to an RRS head. The silver lining is that I can bash my gear against a rock or place it in checked luggage and not worry about it, and not make more insurance claims than necessary.

I read a review once of ballheads (possibly on this site) where the author said you should just buy the most expensive one you can find, because you will end up buying cheaper ones and upgrading to the best one sooner or later anyways. I think if you have $10k in cameras then $1k in support is not unreasonable.
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heinrichvoelkel

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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2007, 08:16:41 am »

Dear pierisb,

thanks for the comprehensive article on your experiences...and yes please, bend the gitzo legs on the weekend at your dealers place. I'm really intersted in your findings...

Regards Heinrich
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nma

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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2007, 09:28:16 am »

Quote
Dear pierisb,

thanks for the comprehensive article on your experiences...and yes please, bend the gitzo legs on the weekend at your dealers place. I'm really intersted in your findings...

Regards Heinrich
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145694\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I have used the Feisol 3401 for more than 2 years. I have set it up in all kinds of conditions: snow, rivers, mud, etc. Stable.  No problem.  The 4 leg sections allow this tripod, with ball head attached, to fit into a standard checked-luggage suitcase, a feature that was important for me when traveling by air.  In addition to the 3401, I purchased an Acratech "ultimate" ballhead and QR plates for each of my bodies.  These plates are what makes everything work.  The camera body is held by a clamp that is tightned with a knob. The plate is rigidly attached to the camera body so it cannot twist.  It is quick to attach and release. Do not leave home without one.

I purchased direct from Feisol snd received a photo of the shipping label shortly after purchase. I received the legs and case in 3 days. Few US companies can match that.  I have seen no complaints about their service.
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pierisb

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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2007, 04:09:01 pm »

Quote
Dear pierisb,

thanks for the comprehensive article on your experiences...and yes please, bend the gitzo legs on the weekend at your dealers place. I'm really interested in your findings...

Regards Heinrich
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145694\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I looked closer today at my Feisol CT-3301 and most of the movement comes not from bending of the legs but from play in the two leg joints. When the legs are fully extended, even a firm twist on the leg locks is not enough to prevent some lateral movement at the joint. How much? I measured:

I laid the tripod on a table and extended the legs. With the legs fully extended horizontally, the locks firmly tightened, and the top section held firmly in place on the tabletop, I pressed upwards on the foot to push the joints all in the same direction. It stayed put. Then I hung an 8 oz weight off of the foot of one of the legs. The foot dropped noticeably. Then I removed the 8oz weight. The foot had moved 1/2" and stayed there.

This 1/2" of play was mitigated by backing off about 1" from full leg extension, but play was still evident. Note that this deflection is due to wiggle in the joints, it is not bending of the carbon leg sections. I would have to hang more weight on the legs to see bending.

All of the leg joints exhibit similar play, so I do not think this is a defective unit. But perhaps different models have better joints. There are some other happy Feisol users here, perhaps someone else would care to try the same test? I too got excellent support from Feisol and fast shipping, but there is customer support, and there is camera support, and I'm not sure what you call a camera support with 1/2" of wiggle in the legs.
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heinrichvoelkel

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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2007, 04:57:53 pm »

but there is customer support, and there is camera support, and I'm not sure what you call a camera support with 1/2" of wiggle in the legs.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145757\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
[/quote]

Sh.t, you spoiled my weekend. If you don't fully extend the legs, will the flex be less???



Regrds
Heinrich
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DarkPenguin

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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2007, 05:10:18 pm »

I have no idea what you're seeing.  My feisol has been rock solid.
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heinrichvoelkel

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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2007, 05:40:39 pm »

Quote
I have no idea what you're seeing.  My feisol has been rock solid.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145771\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Which model do you use????
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DarkPenguin

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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2007, 06:10:50 pm »

CT 3401

With the acratech leveling base and kirk bh-3 ball head.
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heinrichvoelkel

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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2007, 06:28:40 pm »

Quote
CT 3401

With the acratech leveling base and kirk bh-3 ball head.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=145780\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


And what do you put on top of it? I mean which cameras and lenses?

Regards and thnaks in advance....

Heinrich
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DarkPenguin

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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2007, 11:17:18 pm »

The heaviest thing I've ever put on it was a 20D with 300mm f2.8.
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Hokuto

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« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2008, 11:40:43 am »

Quote
I looked closer today at my Feisol CT-3301 and most of the movement comes not from bending of the legs but from play in the two leg joints.

A bit late, but Feisol has come out with its improved CT-3301 triopd, which was unavailable off their website for several months since late 2007. I got one just last week and did a "First Impressions" review. According to Feisol, the 3301 has been improved in the following ways:

"1. High strength carbon fiber leg.
2. The main tripod frame is more solid than the previous frame.
3. Metal twist locks replace the old plastic twist locks.
4. Outdoor spikes is now an optional accessory."
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Bart Heirweg

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« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2008, 03:32:14 am »

I have been using a Feisol CT-3471 and their CB-50D ballhead for a few months now. The haviest load I put on it is a Canon eos 40D and a 400mm 5.6. I am pretty satisfied with it. It is stable, well build and not that heavy.
Don't forget that this is not a Gitzo tripod. The thing that annoys me the most is that the legs don't keep the same tension, every once and a while I have to thighten the screws again to prevent the legs from beeing too lose. Another thing is their ballhead, it doesn't move very smoothly when loosened a bit. For wildlife photography this is really annoying.

I don't know where you live, but be carefull when you buy a tripod in Taiwan. I had some difficulties at the border here in Belgium. Apparently the bill that Feisol added wasn't enough for them to know what was in the package. I had to send detailed information and pay another 150€ for import taxes and VAT.
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