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Rumors => Third Party Manufacturers => Topic started by: Harley on December 17, 2011, 04:01:16 PM

Title: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on December 17, 2011, 04:01:16 PM
I recently got the Peak Design Capture as a gift which has an Alfa Swiss compatible tripod mount.  My current tripod is an inexpensive Slik aluminum with its own non-standard plastic tripod mount and a simple swivel head.  To be honest, it spends more time in the closet that under a camera. 
I had a little bit of sticker shock looking at the range of tripods and heads available, particularly because I started out interested in carbon fiber.  I would like to find a tripod that is somewhat easy to travel with and makes me want to bring it along and use it, but it doesn't necessarily have to be super-compact or high tech.  I have a GorillaPod for backpacking when size and weight are extremely limited. 
I guess I'm just wondering if anyone can help me evaluate what is worth it and what isn't when it comes to picking out a tripod. 
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Cannon Man on December 17, 2011, 05:08:48 PM
I tried manfrotto tripods and was very dissapointed! Then bought a gitzo carbon fiber series 2 tripod and head and i am perfectly happy with them! They are light, strong, works great in all conditions.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Minnesota Nice on December 17, 2011, 05:14:50 PM
A Gitzo will probably last you forever, it's made of Carbon Fiber so it's strong and light, they are generally pretty tall, and very sturdy.

A good tripod is worth the extra money.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: handsomerob on December 17, 2011, 05:27:45 PM
Manfrotto is a decent brand, offers great value for the money you pay.

But if you want the very best and if your budget permits, get a Gitzo. Carbon fiber should be your choice if you travel a lot and want a very sturdy yet very light setup. For maximum stability go for a model with 3 sections, instead of 4 or 5. Make sure it's tall enough so you don't have to bend each time you are going to take a shot. I personally try to avoid rising the center column for extra stability.

Get a decent ball head. This is a very important component, mostly underestimated. If money is no issue; brands like RRS, Markins, Kirk are the very best.

Make sure it can carry the weight of your current and future gear when choosing your tripod/head.  It is supposed to serve you for a very very long time (there are people who use the same tripod for over 2-3 decades) so buy the best you can and save yourself a lot of cash in the (near)future.

Gitzo product names might be confusing but you can use their configurator to find the one that best suits your needs:
http://configurator.gitzo.com/gitzoConfiguratorWS/default.html (http://configurator.gitzo.com/gitzoConfiguratorWS/default.html)
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: pwp on December 17, 2011, 07:09:47 PM
Gitzo is a great choice, whether carbon fibre or metal. I've got a 20 year Gitzo, a mid sized model with a ball head. It gets punished...banging around in the back of the car, rattling around in light stand bags, it gets wet, dusty and dirty and still performs like new. There are a lot of chips in the paint, but this tripod gets used heavily, it's not coddled. If it died tomorrow I'd be surprised, but I'd go straight out and get another one.

It's something like this http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/488035-REG/Gitzo_GT2941_GT_2941_Reporter_Tripod_Legs.html
with http://www.manfrotto.com/057-magnesium-ball-head-with-q5-quick-release

For more considered work in the studio or for precision architecture jobs, I have a large heavy Manfrotto which is just fantastic. http://www.manfrotto.com/475-digital-pro-geared-trripod-black with http://www.manfrotto.com/3d-super-pro-head

Paul Wright
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: tron on December 17, 2011, 09:07:55 PM
My previous tripod/head combination was a Manfrotto 055Pro + a 410 Gear Head for a total weight of 3.7 Kg!
It was not bad but it was heavy.

So, I got a Gitzo Systematic GT 3541LS with a Markins M20 head (I think it has been replaced now by Q20)

Total weight of the new combination: 1.7 + 0.58  < 2.3 Kg.

So it is much easier to carry it now.

In addition, this combination can support telephotos and even more weight than the previous one, not that I need to.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 17, 2011, 09:10:25 PM
My current tripod is an inexpensive Slik aluminum with its own non-standard plastic tripod mount and a simple swivel head.  To be honest, it spends more time in the closet that under a camera. 
I had a little bit of sticker shock looking at the range of tripods and heads available, particularly because I started out interested in carbon fiber.  I would like to find a tripod that is somewhat easy to travel with and makes me want to bring it along and use it, but it doesn't necessarily have to be super-compact or high tech.  I have a GorillaPod for backpacking when size and weight are extremely limited. 
I guess I'm just wondering if anyone can help me evaluate what is worth it and what isn't when it comes to picking out a tripod.

For your stated purposes, I'd recommend a Manfrotto CF tripod.  I think they offer the best compromise between quality and value.  Gitzo is tops, and costs like it; Manfrotto is owned by the same company as Gitzo, for what that's worth. For the Manfrotto CFs, there are two lines - 190 and 055. The 190 is smaller, lighter, cheaper, and has a lower weight limit.  I have a 190CXPRO4 (4 leg sections for better portability), and it supports a gripped body with 70-200/2.8 or 100-400 lens just fine.  The key factor should be your height - you want the tripod tall enough to have the viewfinder at your eye level - do not include the center column in that measurement (but do add in the distance from camera base to viewfinder.  Don't consider the center column because you should only extend that as a last resort - it adds much instability and vibration.

You'll also need a ballhead.  Gitzo makes the best legs, but their ballheads aren't so good.  Really Right Stuff, Kirk, Markins, and Arca Swiss all make excellent ballheads - and they're priced to match the Gitzo legs.  Manfrotto has decent heads, but they don't use an Arca Swiss-compatible clamp.  The solution is the Wimberley C-12 clamp, AS-type which can mount on other heads, including some by Manfrotto. The two I'd recommend are the 468MG and the 498 (no RC# since you'd be attaching the Wimberley clamp).  The 498 is relatively inexpensive but good quality; the only downside is that after you tighten the ball, when you release the camera there's a very slight droop that's ok for most uses, but can make critical adjustments tedious. The 468MG is a hydrostatic head that locks down firmly with minimal effort, and doesn't move at all once tightened.

Other than Manfrotto, a few other intermediate lines are worth a look - Induro, Benro, and Feisol.

Hope that helps...
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: sawsedge on December 17, 2011, 09:26:58 PM
This is a worthwhile read:  http://bythom.com/support.htm

I had an old Bogen 3221 with a very heavy Bogen ballhead... it was aluminum, moderately sturdy until I used a long tele with the legs fully extended, and fairly cheap at $100 or so (legs).  I replaced it with a Gitzo 3530 (about the same size) and a Kirk BH-1 ballhead.  Gitzo is worth the money.  If the ground it is on is stable, it won't budge.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: cbphoto on December 17, 2011, 10:00:46 PM
Although I have a 4-section carbon Gitzo and a hefty 5-section alloy Gitzo (from my 8x10 days), if I had to buy another 'pod for my DSLR I give this RRS carbon tripod (http://reallyrightstuff.com/ProductDesc.aspx?code=TVC-34L&type=4&eq=&desc=TVC-34L-Versa-Series-3-Tripod&key=it) a try.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: neuroanatomist on December 17, 2011, 10:16:57 PM
This is a worthwhile read:  http://bythom.com/support.htm

It is a good read, albeit somewhat misleading on regards to costs. He assumes that when you 'move up' you toss the superceeded gear in the trash or let it gather dust in the basement.  Personally, I sell the stuff I upgrade from, usually for 70-80% of what I paid (hard to do with a cheapo tripod, but fine with mid-range stuff).  It's also important to have a plan.  One reason I picked the Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 was that with the head removed it fits in an airline carryon hard case (my Pelican Storm im2500).  I know if I ever get a supertele (likely the 500/4 II, but the 1D X is first), I'll need a Gitzo 3-series or higher and a Wimberley II gimbal.  But I'd still keep the Manfrotto for travel. 



Key point - lots of talk about setups costing well over $1K, but we don't know Harley's budget.  Harley, that info would help with recommendations.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: tron on December 18, 2011, 09:51:16 AM
It is nice to have small and light tripods. However, if we overdo it they will be useless. I mean tripods are meant for steady photos and if we use telephotos and/or there is wind there might be a problem with ultra light and with many sections tripods.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Kernuak on December 18, 2011, 10:30:40 AM
I started off with the Manfrotto 190MF3, a relatively small mag fibre tripod (now replaced by the carbon fibre series). As Neuro said, it is handy for travelling, as it will fit in my suitcase, once the head is removed. Once I got my 300 f/2.8 though, it wasn't sturdy enough, so I started looking around for something a bit heavier duty. I looked at Gitzo, but didn't like the price and Manfrotto didn't seem to do anything with the right specs. Then when I was at the Focus show in 2010, I looked at some Giottos legs and heads. They have alternatives to Gitzo at a lower price. While the quality may not be as good as Gitzo, my model at least is a much better build quality then Manfrotto. It's much sturdier than the 190MF3, yet is lighter (although the ballhead is a big lump of steel, so adds significant weight).

http://www.giottos.com/
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on December 18, 2011, 01:02:21 PM
@Neuro: I was asking in part to establish an appropriate budget for hopefully a one-time purchase of a tripod.  I had sticker shock at some carbon fiber tripods in the $800 range, but I didn't know if it was appropriate to feel like that was unreasonable. 
@everyone:  This is all really good information and super helpful.  I will be dolling out +1's to each of you.
@scrappydog:  The dimensional info is very helpful, too, and makes perfect sense.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on December 18, 2011, 01:11:28 PM
The other part of the equation is that I have been considering getting a Gura Gear Kiboko bag (either the 30L or the 22L+) and possibly a supertele at some point in the very distant future.  My camera is the 7D.  I will eventually get a FF body, too.  (The prices on the 5D MkII have gotten so low that it's made me wonder if I should just scrap the idea of bringing up my accessories and go for a second body!)  My big thing, as many of you have so rightly pointed out, is to try to buy it once and then use it forever.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on December 28, 2011, 04:36:04 PM
Has anyone had experience with Benro?  I just tried out a couple of Benro Travel Angels:
http://www.benrousa.com/products_catalog_TransfunctionalTravelAngel-CF-TwistLocks.html

The sales people suggested this as a better alternative to Gitzo.  I looked at the 2691 and the 1691.  The ballhead that comes with the 2691 looked ok and usable, but not great.  The one for the 1691 looked weak. 

The tripods seemed fantastic though.  Carbon fiber, lightweight, great design for short folded length (legs bend 180 degrees up toward ballhead), hook under non-rotating, reversible column, twist-lock non-rotating legs, rubber and spiked feet, foam over one leg, very good quality case, converts to monopod, packs flat...  Both the 2691 and the 1691 seemed to have about a 1/2-stop (sic) better load rating than equivalent models from other makers.  I'm not a big fan of five-segment legs -- four is about as much as I would like -- but they were solid and straight at full extension.

Also, when I went back over to the Gitzo tripods, two of the three legs fell off of a GT2541 when we loosened them!  The sales guy was embarrassed.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: wickidwombat on December 28, 2011, 06:51:28 PM
Has anyone had experience with Benro?  I just tried out a couple of Benro Travel Angels:
http://www.benrousa.com/products_catalog_TransfunctionalTravelAngel-CF-TwistLocks.html

The sales people suggested this as a better alternative to Gitzo.  I looked at the 2691 and the 1691.  The ballhead that comes with the 2691 looked ok and usable, but not great.  The one for the 1691 looked weak. 

The tripods seemed fantastic though.  Carbon fiber, lightweight, great design for short folded length (legs bend 180 degrees up toward ballhead), hook under non-rotating, reversible column, twist-lock non-rotating legs, rubber and spiked feet, foam over one leg, very good quality case, converts to monopod, packs flat...  Both the 2691 and the 1691 seemed to have about a 1/2-stop (sic) better load rating than equivalent models from other makers.  I'm not a big fan of five-segment legs -- four is about as much as I would like -- but they were solid and straight at full extension.

Also, when I went back over to the Gitzo tripods, two of the three legs fell off of a GT2541 when we loosened them!  The sales guy was embarrassed.
yes I have the CF Benro travel angel and I love it it really is a great tripod, the aluminium one isn't a whole lot heavier either. its very solid, even when I use it with a gigapan epic pro, 1D and heavy lens, I think my novoflex head weight more than the actual tripod though :)

I got mine from here
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Benro-C-2691TB1-Carbon-Fiber-Travel-Angel-Tripod-B-1-/330538387722?pt=AU_TripodsMonopods&hash=item4cf59f890a
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on December 28, 2011, 09:53:33 PM
yes I have the CF Benro travel angel and I love it it really is a great tripod, the aluminium one isn't a whole lot heavier either. its very solid, even when I use it with a gigapan epic pro, 1D and heavy lens, I think my novoflex head weight more than the actual tripod though :)

I got mine from here
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Benro-C-2691TB1-Carbon-Fiber-Travel-Angel-Tripod-B-1-/330538387722?pt=AU_TripodsMonopods&hash=item4cf59f890a

Thanks for the feedback!  Really helpful.  Does yours have the monopod leg?  If so, do you use it? 

I feel like I'm close to finding the right thing.  I was going to check out a Feisol CT3442 & CT3441T -- I just found a dealer that is nearby.  He also has Photoclam ballheads, which I've heard good things about. 
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: ronderick on December 28, 2011, 10:30:07 PM
@Harley: Just some suggestions.

If you are sure you want to get a carbon fiber tripod and is deciding between Gitzo and Benro, I'll give you the same advice the local camera store shopkeeper gave me when I was checking the prices: you'll get what you've paid for.

I remembered he said there's different grades of carbon fiber, which influences the price and quality (stiffness, load capacity, etc.) of the respective tripods.

It's been a few years, so my memory is a bit thin here, but you can look up the information or ask your dealers before you make the choice.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: D_Rochat on December 28, 2011, 11:16:16 PM
I was looking to buy my first tripod and I wanted something in the sub $100 range as well as travel friendly. I ended up going with the Manfrotto Compact 5 Section Aluminum Photo/Video Kit with Quick Release. It's good, but not without it's flaws.

First off, I wasn't expecting much for under $100. I just wanted something relatively durable and light enough to pack around with me. It does those things just fine. The closed length is 18 inches and it weighs 2.5 lbs. I attached my old camera strap to it and it hangs from my shoulder and I hardly notice it. The overall construction is good and it'll extend up to 5ft. The big plus for this tripod is the portability and weight.

The bad..... I don't like the head all that much. I get that it's more of a compact video head, but it just seems a little weak. I don't feel like it's going to fall apart, it's just a little to hollow and plastic for my liking. When I throw my 24-70 L on it, it wants to creep a little with straight shots due to the weight of the lens. It doesn't support forward weight that well. To keep the compact 18 inch closed length, they had to make it a 5 piece telescopic leg which makes it slightly wobbly with the skinny bottom legs extended. You just have to make sure that it is still for long exposures or weigh it down if it's windy.

It is what it is. Would I recommend it? Yes and no. If you need a decently built, cheap tripod for traveling, city shooting and hiking, then I say go for it. If you want a rock solid tripod for lots of landscape, wildlife or studio, then it's useless.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on December 29, 2011, 12:03:27 AM
@Harley: Just some suggestions.

If you are sure you want to get a carbon fiber tripod and is deciding between Gitzo and Benro, I'll give you the same advice the local camera store shopkeeper gave me when I was checking the prices: you'll get what you've paid for.

I remembered he said there's different grades of carbon fiber, which influences the price and quality (stiffness, load capacity, etc.) of the respective tripods.

It's been a few years, so my memory is a bit thin here, but you can look up the information or ask your dealers before you make the choice.

@ Ronderick: Thanks for the advice!  I've felt the same way and was surprised that our local pro photo store guys gave me the opposite advice when we were trying out tripods today.  And then, as if to emphasize the point, the Gitzo fell apart when we extended the legs!  Exactly the opposite of what I would have expected based on many of the comments here.  So this really threw a wrench in my decision making process.

@wickidwombat: You've got a message from me in your inbox.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: ronderick on December 29, 2011, 04:50:53 AM
@ Ronderick: Thanks for the advice!  I've felt the same way and was surprised that our local pro photo store guys gave me the opposite advice when we were trying out tripods today.  And then, as if to emphasize the point, the Gitzo fell apart when we extended the legs!  Exactly the opposite of what I would have expected based on many of the comments here.  So this really threw a wrench in my decision making process.

When you say 'fell apart', do you mean that the leg became detached after turning the lock/joints many times in the "loosen up" direction?

Assuming that's what you've witnessed, the mechanism of the gitzo tripod is designed for that.

When you extend the legs, you're only supposed to rotate the joint a little bit (about half-a-turn of your wrist), just loose enough to extend the leg, and lock it in position by turning the joint the other way after ur done extending it.

The time I have the legs detached was when the shop people took it apart to help me clean out the sand from an outing at the beach.

Of course, they put the parts back together when they're done, but that's not something I'd try on my own...
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Flake on December 29, 2011, 08:05:13 AM
My advice is the same as in previous posts - avoid Manfrotto like the plague!  They used to be brand leaders but have now cheapened their products to such an extent that it has become very poor value.  Almost everything which comes as standard on other brands is an optional extra on Manfrotto, meaning that a similar set of legs actually costs double when it's brought to the level of rival products.  Then there's the column, many brands will allow variable angles from the vertical, but the Manfrotto will only allow vertical or horizontal, and there's no hook on the centre column for additional weight (unless you pay more for it!)

Carbon fibre is for me something of a 'look how much money I've got' feature rather than being of practical benefit.  When you have a chance compare the aluminium & carbon fibre versions of the same legs & check the weight saving - it isn't much, and you will often find that the maximum weight loading is compromised.  Lets say the Aluminium model takes 10Kg, but the Carbon one saves 300g but will only support 6Kg.  The carbon model costs a lot more, saves very little weight & isn't as stable.  This is something which you must consider before you make a purchase
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: wickidwombat on December 29, 2011, 05:35:43 PM
I still say the Benro tripods are great Value and excellent build quality
the other benefit of carbon fibre is no corrosion, if you plan on standing the legs in salt water or water for that matter this should be a big consideration, other than that I agree with flake the Aluminium versions are cheaper
and awesome value too the weight difference isnt alot especially if you put a bigger heavier head on it you will never notice the weight difference.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: DavidRiesenberg on December 29, 2011, 07:36:22 PM
I can also vouch for the Benro CF legs. Mine are branded as Induro but they are one and the same. Very stable with my typical loads (either a gripped 7D with 70-200 2.8 as the biggest lens or an RZ67) and even when I'm shooting video with a medium-ish rig on it they seem to transfer vibrations very well.
When I was debating the issue myself, the Gitzo ones that I tried didn't justify the big price difference. Maybe if I was using heavier setups it would be different but as it is I am very happy with its performance.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on December 29, 2011, 07:40:49 PM
When you say 'fell apart', do you mean that the leg became detached after turning the lock/joints many times in the "loosen up" direction?

Assuming that's what you've witnessed, the mechanism of the gitzo tripod is designed for that.

When you extend the legs, you're only supposed to rotate the joint a little bit (about half-a-turn of your wrist), just loose enough to extend the leg, and lock it in position by turning the joint the other way after ur done extending it.

The time I have the legs detached was when the shop people took it apart to help me clean out the sand from an outing at the beach.

Of course, they put the parts back together when they're done, but that's not something I'd try on my own...

I turned each of the twist locks about a quarter turn or so to loosen the leg sections.  All of the leg sections stopped at full extention and I tightened each back a quarter turn.  However, on two of the legs, the upper sections slid right out of the top twist lock joint.  I showed the salesman who played with it.  He said that wasn't normal and took it over to their service department.  They examined the joints and then took it to the back room for fixing.

I still say the Benro tripods are great Value and excellent build quality
the other benefit of carbon fibre is no corrosion, if you plan on standing the legs in salt water or water for that matter this should be a big consideration, other than that I agree with flake the Aluminium versions are cheaper
and awesome value too the weight difference isnt alot especially if you put a bigger heavier head on it you will never notice the weight difference.

I had an exceptionally good experience recently ordering some equipment from a Korean seller on eBay.  Since wickidwombat had a good experience with his Benro purchase from China and I read some other forum posts with similar stories, I decided to take a risk and give it a shot.  The Benro C2691T+B1 here in the States is about $530-$540.  Ordering one from China on eBay is about $360 including international shipping.  I corresponded with the seller to get some assurances that it is the real product with a manufacturer's warranty.  Plus he has a lot of satisfied customer according to eBay.  I guess I'll find out if it's worth it or not!
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: wickidwombat on December 29, 2011, 07:51:35 PM
good choice i'm sure it will be fine

I use these novoflex products as the head on mine got them all from B&H

http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/camera-support-systems/ball-heads/magicball/
http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/panorama-photography/panorama-plates/
the panorama one between the tripod legs and the magic ball

and on top of the magicball a Q mount
http://www.novoflex.com/en/products/camera-support-systems/quick-release-systems/qmount/

not cheap but reallly good quality

Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: kimloris on December 29, 2011, 08:17:25 PM
The BENRO tripods are really good. I bought one last year.  ;D
Since I did not want the ballhead, I called my dealer (www.photoaddict.fr in France) and asked if it was possible to only have the tripod from the Travel Angel kit C-2692TB1.
It was possible and I saved ~130€ from the kit price.
The reason I wanted without the head was that I already had the excellent Markins Emile Q3T but I read a lot of good reviews on the BENRO B1 ballhead.

The benro travel angel system is really well done. I actually like the fact that the legs fold back on the ballhead (and protect it from lateral shocks) which is nice when you know the price of a Markins ballhead (more expensive than the tripod).
The only issue I had was with the carrying case: one of the plastic buckle broke and I had to fix it (superglue).

It is a not an extremely light tripod (even though it is carbon fiber) but it is really stable (nothing to worry about for long exposure on a windy day). You can even put some more weight on the hook (using your camera backpack for exemple) to gain additional stability.
If you are carrying a lot of lenses and gear, the additional weight could be an issue for long hikes.

I do not regret my purchase.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on December 29, 2011, 11:20:27 PM
I started checking this website over a year ago out to figure out when the 5D Mark III would be coming out.  I had no idea what a learning opportunity this forum was going to be.  Really great contributors!
 
Thanks to everyone in this particular string, regardless of your specific recommendation.  I have learned more about tripods in the last week than I have in several years leading up to now.  I really appreciate your recommendations and I looked into each with equal enthusiasm. 

I think I've found the right thing for me.  I'll post again once I've had a chance to test it out and let you know the results.  Cheers!
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on January 09, 2012, 04:23:43 PM
yes I have the CF Benro travel angel and I love it it really is a great tripod, the aluminium one isn't a whole lot heavier either. its very solid, even when I use it with a gigapan epic pro, 1D and heavy lens, I think my novoflex head weight more than the actual tripod though :)

I got mine from here
http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Benro-C-2691TB1-Carbon-Fiber-Travel-Angel-Tripod-B-1-/330538387722?pt=AU_TripodsMonopods&hash=item4cf59f890a

Got my tripod from China today.  I ordered it on New Year, so shipping to the States was pretty quick.  It appears to be the real deal direct from Benro!  Tags, warranty card, allen wrenches.  Everything was packaged like it came straight from the factory.  So thanks, wickidwombat, for scoring the best deal on a carbon fiber tripod!  (+1)

I haven't tried it out yet -- only took it out of the packaging to inspect it -- but it's super stable, the joints are stiff and smooth.  Large diameter legs.  Loading my 300mm f/2.8 will not be a problem at all for this thing.

The tripod itself (w/o ballhead) is just over four-and-a-half feet tall (1400mm) without the column extended.  It folds to under 18" (450mm) and since the legs fold up around the ballhead, the ballhead doesn't add to the packed length. 

Speaking of the ballhead, it is much better than I would have expected.  Nice extras included like a weight hook under the center column, closed cell foam padding on the leg that turns into a monopod, spikes for the feet, bubble level on ballhead, alfa-swiss QR plate, etc.  Surprisingly, the carrying case is quite nice, too.  I may actually use it. 

Not bad for under $350.  Thanks for the help everyone!  I'll let you know how it works out. 
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on February 05, 2012, 08:09:32 PM
Finally tried out the Benro C2691T Travel Angel and B1 ballhead with my FD 300mm f/2.8 L and it worked perfectly!  I was worried the ballhead would be undersized, but it held firmly, panned smoothly, and the traction control was easy to fine adjust.  The tripod was rock-solid.  Really happy with the combo and since it's so easy to travel with I will be bringing it along everywhere.
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: barrett14 on February 24, 2012, 08:42:47 AM
I was originally looking to buy a used Gitzo 1541T but after someone recommended to me the Benro C2691TB1 I think I am going to go with that. He gave me a contact that can get me an educational discount for $395...  What is the deal with those ebay auctions that sell for even less?

Was glad to read some of you guys that have used this tripod had positive things to say. I think I am going to order one today.

How is the ball head itself? What is the real difference between that and a $300+ markins?

One last thing - the Benro is listed on their site at 3.8 lbs but not sure if that weight includes the ball head. The gitzo was only rated at 2.1 lbs... 
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: Harley on February 25, 2012, 02:42:13 AM
I got mine on eBay after the recommendation from a couple others on the forum who had done the same.  I was nervous about ordering from China, but we all got the real deal.  Mine was $360 including the shipping. 

The ballhead is much, much better than I ever expected it to be.  It's smooth, solid, and works with any alfa-swiss plate (one comes with it).  I put an old, all-metal FD 300mm f/2.8 L lens on mine and it doesn't phase the ballhead or the tripod one little bit. 

I've had mine for a couple months now and I absolutely feel like I bought the right thing.  It's super-easy to take anywhere with me.  The leg diameter is quite beefy.  And it's built to last.  If I remember all my research, the total weight including ballhead is under 4 lbs.  Regardless, the whole package is so much lighter than my Slik aluminum tripod that I simply don't notice the weight.  That telephoto lens weighs more...
Title: Re: Looking for tripod advice...
Post by: wickidwombat on February 25, 2012, 08:43:36 PM
Yep the benro is a great tripod although i use a custom novoflex ball head setup instead but the carbon legs are very good quality the benro ball head is good though i gave that away since i use diferent one. I also have the benro gimal and it is really nice with the big lens