Feisol tripod question
I plan on purchasing a Feisol tripod in the near future for bird photography, and in looking as a few of their offerings I am a bit confused with the differences. I am told that for the money they are a great value. For example the CT3442 with a CB40 head is the same price as the CT3441S with CB40D head (though from different suppliers).
Can someone who is familiar with these products shed some light on the differences and I suppose advise if I am headed in the wrong direction? I should note that I will be working primarily with a Nikon D7000 and a Sigma 150-500.
thanks in advance.
VW, the CT3441S is a traveler-style tripod designed for maximum compactness. It has a 2" diameter baseplate and comes with a 2-section center column. The CT3442 has the same leg diameter, but the center column is optional and the baseplate is 3" in diameter to handle the larger ballheads. The CT3441S is limited to a ballhead housing of only about 50-52mm in diameter to allow the legs to fully close. This means that the largest practical Feisol ballhead size for the CT3441S is the CB-30C. The CB40 head you want to use has a base diameter of 60mm.
A 30mm ballhead diameter is too small for the large lens you want to mount. I have it, and it's tough to use with larger pairings. You're right to look at the 40mm class heads. What weight and size conscious photogs will usually do is mount a Markins Q3T, a PhotoClam 38NS or 34NS, a ProGold Series I or II, or a Sirui BSRG20X or BSRK20X. Of these, the Sirui heads are the cheapest but of good quality, the Markins offers the largest ballhead diameter (38mm) for the smallest base diameter (50mm), and the PhotoClam/Pro Gold is of similar quality to the Markins but with a large base ring that limits the maximum ballhead diameter.
All this means that you should probably steer towards the CT-3442 with a CB40D head. You might want to consider going with the CB50D for a few dollars more. The reason is not weight capacity per se, but the ability to set ballhead friction precisely so that you can position the equipment without loosening and tightening the ball constantly. This is a direct function of the ballhead diameter. Weight capacity of the head is of course only for a balanced load with the plate roughly horizontal, so make sure you use the 150-500's rotating tripod collar.
This leaves you with no center column and a 54" maximum height, which is a bit short for anyone taller than 5'4". So you should factor in the optional center column if you're tall or will be shooting on inclines.