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Thread: Feisol CT-3472LV Review

  1. #1

    Default Feisol CT-3472LV Review

    After my review of the every well-regarded Haida filters brought in by Photosphere, I've contacted them once again to bring out the new Feisol products that they've recently brought in for a test drive. Photosphere was kind enough to loan me the very large, very stable Feisol CT-3472LV carbon fibre tripod and a Feisol CB-40D ballhead for 'abuse' (review). As usual, since my main interest lies in landscape photography, I'll be comparing the Feisol tripod with my usual gear set-up for landscapes/cityscapes.

    Disclaimer: I'm spoiled sorry with RRS' products, but I'll try not to let my bias affect this review. That said, the Feisol tripod performs admirably even when stacked up against a top-of-the-line, made-in-the-USA tripod.

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    The Feisol CT-3472LV is a massive carbon fibre tripod that extends up to 1.52m without a centre column, which is good enough for most use. The review set that Photosphere provided did not come with a centre column, but it was a non-issue as I prefer my tripods to be without centre columns. Since I shoot on large-format from time to time, I prefer my support set-up to be as stable as possible. A centre column decreases the overall stability of a tripod (especially in windy conditions) and increases vibration within the support structure, and I could do without that. Even my Really Right Stuff TVC-33 toppled in very windy conditions (it was without a centre column and on level ground), so anything that could potentially reduce tripod shake would be welcome.

    This tripod was meant to include a levelling base installed into the tripod apex (hence the 'LV' in the model number), but mine did not come with one. Although a levelling base would be nice, it adds significant weight to the tripod (1.78kg without levelling base vs 2.25kg with one). As my Really Right Stuff tripod already weighs a hefty 2kg without a head, the lighter Feisol tripod was welcome, albeit at a cost of potential increased instability in windy conditions. A hook was also provided to weigh the tripod down.

    Update: Photosphere has loaned me the full tripod set, inclusive of the levelling centre column. Here are some photos for comparison:

    Feisol tripod with levelling centre column attached:
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    With centre column extended:
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    With levelling feature engaged:
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    Levelling feature could also be used without extending the centre column:
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    The levelling centre column adds significant weight to the entire tripod set-up, but in return, you get around 15-degrees of levelling capability, increasing the tripod's versatility especially in levelling on uneven ground or just to simply add more height to it. Although well-made, the levelling column is not finished smoothly, and the anodised aluminium grinds against the half-bowl during levelling. Also, the centre column's wing-locks get in the way of levelling, hitting the tripod apex at extreme angles.

    • Max Height: 152cm / 182cm with centre column
    • Min Height: 9cm without centre column
    • Folded Length: 55cm
    • Leg Diameter: 37mm
    • No. of Sections: 4
    • Weight: 1.78kg / 2.25kg with levelling column
    • Load Capacity: 12kg
    • Material: Carbon Fibre
    Last edited by Scintillation; 2nd April 2014 at 11:32 PM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Feisol CT-3472LV Review

    Compared to a Really Right Stuff TVC-33
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    Basically, tripods of these sizes are usually used by wildlife enthusiasts with massive telephoto lenses and rigs, but I'm kinda crazy, heh heh. To be honest, both the Feisol and my RRS tripod is overkill for my needs (even the large-format camera that I use doesn't require such a massive set-up). Nonetheless, the Taiwan-made Feisol tripod stacks up very well against its US-made counterpart. Note that both tripods are styled in the same way as the very established Gitzo Systematic lineup, where the user can remove the tripod apex platform to attach various accessories like levelling bases and video heads.

    Both the Feisol and the RRS is made of carbon fibre for increased rigidity and vibration dampening properties and decreased overall weight. Mounting my usual rig on both tripods, I could see no difference between both of them in terms of stability and vibration dampening. Clearly, the large diameters of both the RRS and the Feisol played a part here. Despite the Feisol being a 4-section tripod and the RRS being a 3-section one, there was negligible difference between both of them. Yet, the Feisol packs down to a much smaller and more compact size as compared to the RRS. It is also cool to note that you can reverse the legs of the Feisol such that it packs down like a traveller tripod, further reducing its length (and protecting your ballhead).

    Carbon fibre pattern on the Feisol is a crosshatch one whilst the one on the RRS is a diamond-shaped one. Both designs serve to mitigate vibration well, and the difference between them is purely cosmetic. Personally, I prefer the RRS' design (it was what won me over in the first place, haha), as the pattern is very unique and the tripod actually gleams in the sun (but that's me).

    Leg Knobs
    Both tripods use anti-rotation, quick-set-up leg knobs for fast tripod deployment. Although both tripods use leg knobs that only require a small twist (1/4 turn) to release a leg, their locking mechanism is different for each tripod. The RRS uses a simple, Gitzo-style mechanism wherein the leg knob catches onto two plastic sleeves that tightens onto the leg, making it easy for user-servicing and cleaning, especially after exposure to saltwater environment. The Feisol, on the other hand, uses a complicated 4-ring and sleeve system to lock the legs down. These rings must be assembled in a specific order, not doing so will result in the leg not being able to tighten. As such, it can be cumbersome to assemble after cleaning.

    Feisol leg locks vs RSS leg locks (Feisol top, RRS bottom):
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    The Feisol tripod is also not as finished smoothly as its RRS counterpart, especially in the interior of the tubes. Rubbing my fingers in the hollow of the carbon tubes, I picked up quite a bit of carbon fibre dust. Better not breathe that in! Of course, nothing a bit of washing-down wouldn't solve, but it would be appreciated if they had washed the insides a bit more thoroughly before leaving the factory.

    Tripod Apex
    Both tripods come with removable apex platforms in which one can remove to attach accessories directly into the tripod. Three set-screws secure the platforms of both tripods to their apexes. The RRS has theoretically greater security as it comes with an additional spring-loaded retaining ring that further tightens the platform onto the apex of the tripod, while the Feisol just relies of the three set-screws to dig into the apex for security. However, during my review, I did not experience any slip-ups or loosening from the Feisol tripod.

    Removable platform:
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    Platform in place:
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    Last edited by Scintillation; 2nd April 2014 at 11:36 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Feisol CT-3472LV Review

    The removable centre column allows the tripod to achieve a low height for low-angle shots or macro photography, in addition to increasing the overall stability of your set-up, but at the expense of extra height and levelling capability. Without the centre column in the way, the camera can be positioned near ground-level:

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    Another interesting feature of this tripod is that it follows the style of traveller-sized tripod, where one is able to fold the tripod over the ball head and centre column to allow the tripod to be packed down in a compact package while providing protection for the ball head against accidental knocks and scratches.

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    Without centre column, the tripod extends to a respectable 152cm, giving it a good working height. Here is a comparison of the Feisol and the RRS tripod fully extended, without centre column (Feisol on the left, RRS on the right):
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    Last edited by Scintillation; 2nd April 2014 at 10:45 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Feisol CT-3472LV Review

    A good tripod should just function without getting in the way - it should set up and collapse seamlessly, as if it was an extension of one's being. That said, the Feisol performed like how a tripod should perform. Although extra features like the levelling column could be better implemented, it still makes for a good alternative to the rather pricey Gitzo and RRS counterparts. Landscape and wildlife enthusiasts should give this tripod a serious consideration when choosing one.

    To try out the tripod:
    Visit Photosphere's Facebook Page for updates on their product demo sessions.

    Feisol CT-3472 Product Page
    Peter Hurley's Video Preview
    Last edited by Scintillation; 2nd April 2014 at 11:41 PM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Feisol CT-3472LV Review

    Reserve #5

  6. #6

    Default Re: Feisol CT-3472LV Review

    Updated with pictures of the tripod.


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