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  • Feisol Tournament CT-3442 Rapid Review

    I've been searching for a nice solid tripod for backpacking and hiking for some time. I wanted something small and light, but that would be able to support a good amount of weight. I have been using a series 5 Gitzo for some time which is excellent for very heavy loads, but heavy and large. I still need the Gitzo for long lens support with the 600 f4, but I was mainly looking for something that could handle a good landscape setup and be easy to hike around with, and I didn't want ANY center column. I'm not a fan of center columns, but that's a topic for another day.

    Enter the Feisol Tournament CT-3442 Rapid


    After researching quite a bit, I found the Feisol. The specs were very promising. Only 2.49 lbs, collapsed length of only 18.9 inches, and specified to support up to 22lbs. Very interesting, and no center column! The price was decent enough at $399. http://www.adorama.com/FECT3442.html

    I decided to give it a try.

    When it arrived I was surprised how light and small it was, but yet seemed to be very sturdy.
    Here it is all collapsed with a pen next to it for a size comparison:


    It has 3 leg angle positions just like my gitzo, which allow it to get down low to the ground for some great low perspective shots.
    The legs lock at 25 degrees:


    50 degrees:


    and 75 degrees:


    The maximum extended height is 54.33 inches, and there is a separate center column add on that can be purchased to extend the max height to 69.7 inches if that is something you require (http://www.adorama.com/FECT3442CCK.html), but personally, I stand at 6' tall, and I've had no problem with the 54" max height, in fact most of the time its much lower than that.

    One interesting feature it has, is that the legs can fold 180 degrees and surround the head that you have mounted on it making the whole setup very small, light and easy to carry around. This of course depends on the type of head you use, it is optimal for ball heads, but I prefer a geared head for my landscape shots, and the modified Manfrotto 410 that I use is just a bit too big to allow the legs to fold all the way around it, but this doesn't really bother me.



    One thing this tripod has over the older Gitzos is that the mounting plate is only held into the spider by friction, which works well enough, but doesn't inspire confidence if you like to carry the tripod with the camera attached. The Feisol mounting plate is held in with set screws very nicely.



    I took the tripod out for some testing to the lakeside to shoot the Spiral Jetty a few weeks ago, and it worked out very well. The setup I used was a D800e with a 85 f1.8G, or a Zeiss 21 f2.8, my modified Manfrotto head, cable release, and the legs handled it very well.



    Here are some snaps of it in action on the shoreline by the jetty





    There are two different versions of the CT-3442, a regular version, and a 'rapid' version. The difference is that the rapid one incorporates a anti-leg rotation so that when you are extending/lowering it, the leg sections don't rotate. I purchased the rapid version and I think the slight added cost is worth it, in the non-rapid version you cannot loosen multiple leg sections at the same time otherwise the top leg sections will rotate as you try to loosen the lower sections unless the top sections are tightened beforehand. With the rapid version the anti-leg rotation fixes this issue and allows you to extend/collapse the legs much quicker.

    One slight downfall I've found with the Feisol CT-3442 is the lack of a rubber pad on the head mounting surface, its a fairly minor issue.

    So while I wouldn't mount my 600mm setup on it, that is what the Gitzo is for. This Feisol is ideal for hiking, travel, and other situations that require a compact, light, but still sturdy option that is still budget friendly. I realize that $400 may not seem 'budget friendly' to many people out there, when Walmart sells tripods for $30. when compared to a $1200-1400 monster gitzo or RRS, $400 isn't bad. Tripods, options and abilities, as well as cost is a subject for another article.
    Comments 5 Comments
    1. kamokevin's Avatar
      kamokevin -
      Nice review! Those carbon fiber legs really make a difference in the weight, my equally sized tripod with aluminum legs weighs a little over 4 lbs. How do you carry the tripod when you're hiking?
    1. Aloicious's Avatar
      Aloicious -
      Quote Originally Posted by kamokevin View Post
      Nice review! Those carbon fiber legs really make a difference in the weight, my equally sized tripod with aluminum legs weighs a little over 4 lbs. How do you carry the tripod when you're hiking?
      in my hand. haha. my backpack that I usually take has a place for the tripod which I use sometimes. my monster gitzo weights around 7-8lbs without a head, so this one is very nice and light and compact...but the gitzo is also spec'd to hold 80+ lbs and extends to 9 feet tall hahah
    1. kamokevin's Avatar
      kamokevin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aloicious View Post
      in my hand. haha. my backpack that I usually take has a place for the tripod which I use sometimes. my monster gitzo weights around 7-8lbs without a head, so this one is very nice and light and compact...but the gitzo is also spec'd to hold 80+ lbs and extends to 9 feet tall hahah
      Bah! That's not what I was hoping to hear This is the bag I've been using http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and it has straps for my tripod but it's super inconvenient and awkward so I was hoping you had a better solution haha
    1. Aloicious's Avatar
      Aloicious -
      Quote Originally Posted by kamokevin View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Aloicious View Post
      in my hand. haha. my backpack that I usually take has a place for the tripod which I use sometimes. my monster gitzo weights around 7-8lbs without a head, so this one is very nice and light and compact...but the gitzo is also spec'd to hold 80+ lbs and extends to 9 feet tall hahah
      Bah! That's not what I was hoping to hear This is the bag I've been using http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and it has straps for my tripod but it's super inconvenient and awkward so I was hoping you had a better solution haha
      I've got several bags in various sizes for different occasions, some are better than others in different areas. the backpack style ones are typically better for holding stuff like tripods and stuff for hiking IMO. I'll have to do some reviews on bags.

      This is my LARGE backpack, there's a pic that shows it holding the tripod:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IQGMRQ/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      This is my medium backpack, it also holds the tripod fairly well:
      http://www.amazon.com/Lowepro-Pro-Ru...2247291&sr=1-9

      then I've got a few small ones, none are really that great with holding a tripod, they're just physically too small to keep it secure and balanced.
    1. kamokevin's Avatar
      kamokevin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Aloicious View Post
      I've got several bags in various sizes for different occasions, some are better than others in different areas. the backpack style ones are typically better for holding stuff like tripods and stuff for hiking IMO. I'll have to do some reviews on bags.

      This is my LARGE backpack, there's a pic that shows it holding the tripod:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005IQGMRQ/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

      This is my medium backpack, it also holds the tripod fairly well:
      http://www.amazon.com/Lowepro-Pro-Ru...2247291&sr=1-9

      then I've got a few small ones, none are really that great with holding a tripod, they're just physically too small to keep it secure and balanced.
      Well maybe one day I'll buy a backpack, when I have enough gear to fill one up. That Lowepro actually looks pretty nice. I think for now I'm just going take the strap off the bag it came in and attach it to the tripod as a sort of one point sling
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