FLM CP-30 L4 II or CP-34 L4 II? + ball head choice

Started 3 months ago | Questions thread
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razertw Junior Member • Posts: 26
FLM CP-30 L4 II or CP-34 L4 II? + ball head choice

(TL;DR at the end.)

Hello everyone,

I've been doing some research on tripod+ball head combinations for landscape/travel photography, and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

The best overall option seems to be either the FLM CP-30 L4 II or CP-34 L4 II.

Depending on the legs choice, I was looking at either the FLM CB-38 FTR / RRS BH-40 as a bigger head, or possibly the FLM CB-32 F / RRS BH-30 as a smaller one.

I'm currently using Nikon DX gear and I plan on switching to Fuji X-T system. I prefer smaller f/4 glass so weight is not really a concern.

My needs:

  • I'm 6’5” (196cm) so I want the tripod to be usable at the highest extension (ofc not always, I like to shoot low)
  • I want to be able to shoot sharp seascapes while standing in the waves
  • Stable for long exposures
  • Usable in higher winds
  • I don't need full frame gear so this could help me get away with smaller tripod
  • Basically, I'd like to have one ultimate and versatile, do-it-all tripod that will never let me down

I'm not sure if the CP-30 L4 strikes the perfect balance between big and travel tripod, or if it excels at neither.

Someone might come in and say that the CP-34 is overkill and the CP-30 L4 with even the BH-30 is plenty enough for Fuji mirrorless.

I just don't want to find myself in situations where I'll regret that I didn't go for the bigger model. Of course I'd prefer smaller + lighter if I can get away with it performance-wise, but I'm ok with lugging the heavier thing if it makes a noticable difference.

So the options are:

  • CP-30 L4 + smaller head
  • CP-30 L4 + bigger head
  • CP-34 L4 + bigger head

The smaller heads don't make sense with the bigger tripod. Even the bigger heads are probably still too small for the CP-34, but I don't really need a bulkier head, considering what gear I want to use it with.

Gavin Hardcastle uses the CP-30 + BH-30 and while it looks kinda funky, it seems like he has no problem with this combo. The BH-40 fits that tripod perfectly.

My only gripe with the CP-34 L4 is that the apex is kinda too big, which is good for stability, but again I don't need a big ball head so it would be kinda wasted. However, the versatility of the built-in bowl might come in handy in the future (optional leveling base and center column), whilst with the CP-30 I would be “stuck” with a fixed apex.

Now I've never used a higher end Carbon Fibre tripod so I'm not exactly sure what to expect in terms of performance in harsher conditions and so on. I've been using a 5.3 lbs (2.4 kg) alluminium Manfrotto 055XPROB and I've always considered it to be pretty stable, just a little heavy and fiddly. But I ran into issues in 20-30mph (30-50kmh) winds, where no matter what I tried it was so shaky with a telephoto lens.

This brings up some questions:

  • will the CP-30 L4 II actually be more stable/stiff than something like the alluminium 055XPROB, or am I just saving weight?
  • at around what max wind speeds can I expect these tripods to perform well, and how much difference does the bigger model make? in Centre Column tests, the CP-34 is almost twice as stiff as the CP-30, but what does this actually mean in a real world use?
  • in really strong winds, maybe even the CP-34 L4 II won't be enough?
  • is tripod stiffnes heavily dependant on the weight load? say if I'm shooting in rushing water or strong wind, will it shake the same no matter if it's an Apsc body or a FF DSLR + heavy lens on top?
  • what about the head, can a smaller 30mm head be sufficient? FLM vs RRS ball heads? The tilt knob on the FLM heads looks tempting, but not sure how useful it is in practice. I think I'm leaning most towards the BH-40 for it's simple and clean design.

Also there are other beautiful options like RRS TVC-24L (sits in the middle between the two FLMs), or something like PMG TR344L (love the height), but I feel like they're unnecessarily expensive...

TL;DR: FLM CP-30 L4 II or CP-34 L4 II for landscape/travel photography as one, do-it-all tripod setup? RRS BH-30/40 or FLM CB-32 F/38 FTR? Currently using NIKON DX gear but planning to switch to Fuji X system which is even lower weight. Is the CP-34 L4 overkill for this?

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