View Full Version : Review of Feisol CT-3442 tripod

22-Oct-2007, 09:45
This is not meant to be a general review, rather a review as it relates to my equipment and use. OK, maybe Iím just whining. After concluding that I cannot continue to carry 50 to 60 lbs. up and down mountains (or even moderate hills) and being unwilling to give up the 5x7 format (a Linhof Technika) or a complete arsenal of lenses, I began by replacing my Bogen tripod with the Feisol CT-3442.

I purchased the CT-3442 with a center column, the basic plate and the leveling head. My plan was to use the leveling head and eliminate the weight of my Bogen 410 geared head. Almost all of my photography is done with a level camera so I donít need much movement.

I was immediately impressed with the quality of the Feisol. It is well crafted and plenty sturdy. Fit and finish are excellent. It came with a carry case and several small adjustment tools. I have no complaints whatsoever, except as it fits or doesnít fit my needs.

The Linhof weighs around 12 lbs., so with a lens and film holder it is 13 or 14 lbs. and the Feisol handles the load with ease. It is sturdy and compact, but not perfect.

First, because it is so light, the combination is rather top heavy. With even a slight breeze, I am leery of leaving my dark cloth attached when unattended. I know I can weigh it down in various ways, but this was never an issue before.

Second, I hate the twist type leg clamps. I suppose Iíll learn to use them but the Bogen clamp is so simple. Itís tight or itís loose, thereís no in between.

Of minor concern, the Bogen apron that attaches to the tripod legs and creates a clean, dry three-pocket shelf when the tripod is set up, doesnít fit the Feisol. After 25 years of using it, I donít think I can do without it so I am in the process of building one to fit.

Now for the real issue: My plan to use the leveling head isnít working out. Unlike the leg clamps, there is no middle ground on the leveling head. It is tight or it is loose. Depending on the lens choice, and the attachment point (the Linhof has two) the camera can be difficult to level because it isnít always balanced. I can live with that, but if I need to tweak the composition (which I always do) by rotating right or left I have to release the head. Then I am back to square one. This has proven to be unworkable for me. If I had a rotating plate that worked independently from the leveling device, that would solve my problem (ideas anyone?). I have looked at some panoramic devices but they all seam to be geared to 35mm equipment.

So if you guys can help solve this rotation problem I can learn to live with the little things and give this tripod a very positive rating.


David A. Goldfarb
22-Oct-2007, 11:15
As far as the balance issue goes, you might try what I've done with my 4x5" Tech V. I have a short Arca-Swiss-type QR plate on the body, and a long one on the bed, both in the fore-aft orientation, so that with a long QR clamp, like the Wimberley C-30 or any other clamp of about 3-4", I can slide the camera from one plate to the other for the best balance with any given lens. This also functions as an ersatz focusing slide for macro work.

Dan Schmidt
22-Oct-2007, 11:42
feisol seems to have a panning base

PB-70 Panning Base

will that do the trick?

22-Oct-2007, 14:21
David Ė It isnít a problem except it makes it hard to adjust. Thanks for the info though.

Dan Ė Why didnít I think of that. Iíve looked at dozens of products from all over the place and never thought to look at Feisol! That looks like just what I need and itís only $39.00. They also have a quick release plate that looks good.


PS, I guess I'll have to quit whining now.

22-Oct-2007, 14:27
Have a look at the Really Right Stuff website. They make panoramic attachments with built in Arca style clamps that will fit straight onto your leveling head. They also produce long Arca QR plates that should fit your Technika. I use one of the former with my Nikon Digital Cameras and one of the latter with my Technikardan. I'm really pleased with both.

David Whistance

Greg Lockrey
22-Oct-2007, 21:12
David Ė It isnít a problem except it makes it hard to adjust. Thanks for the info though.

Dan Ė Why didnít I think of that. Iíve looked at dozens of products from all over the place and never thought to look at Feisol! That looks like just what I need and itís only $39.00. They also have a quick release plate that looks good.


PS, I guess I'll have to quit whining now.

When you get one, let everyone know what you think of it. I have yet to see an opinion written by a regular user on their ball heads. I know I like my 3471, but I have the RRS ball head which I am impressed with too.

emo supremo
6-Apr-2009, 06:46
Can anyone with experience with their Feisol compare it to, say, a Gitzo GT 1451-ish model? Does anyone even know where to find a real review of tripods? Point is I believe that my Deardorf when it is dry with film and lens is less than 14 pounds and shouldn't snap its legs but as for the wobble and vibration......? Should I let price be the panacea for this dilema or is anyone out there brave enough to contest the consensus on Mighty Lord Gitzo? Hey, why do I have to buy a Gitzo anyways... has tripod technology taken such a great leap forward beyond the realms of mortal manufacturing? I am driven to distraction over what to do about this tripod I'm specking. I think most people have reached the point of no return where real advantages of carbon vs aluminum have blurred. have a Deardorf but have no illusions of being able to buy one tripod that will be a backpack as well as an 8x10 tripod. Carbon is expensive, but not that expensive and magnesium is light but my idea of backpacking is carrying those few extra ounces around the city on the subway and NOT up Mt Washington. My Benro 328 is too heavy now that I hurt my foot and had back surgery but you will have to pry my film gear out of my cold, dead fingers. So I made a deal to lose ten pounds and treat myself to a (my first) carbon tripod.

1. The tripod will be used for my Sinar F (and the Hasselblad CM/500) so, if you take the approx weight of either equippped to go and double it, a 14 pound max ought to do it.
2. On one hand the salestaff at two prominent NYC are strongly urging the Gitzo 1541 c three section legs but come on, 600 bucks!
3. Like to keep it under 2 pounds if possible but only if it does the job.
4. Yes, you are correct...I need to buy a smaller, lighter 4x5 field camera.

Well the point is there is no way to know if it will do the job is there cuz it isn't like spotting scopes (type the keywords scope AND review and you get a table with accurate data) but with "tripod' substituted for scope you get redirected to useless urls. Why can't I find it when I google such a site?

6-Apr-2009, 10:19
I ended up buying the Feisol Panning Base and the Feisol Quick Release Plate. After some experimentation, I removed the QR and am using only the Leveling Head and Panning Base. The QR plate was a bit small and became a weal link. Generally this is working well. I still have an occasional problem with the leg clamps and I need to do something to keep the Panning Base securely attached to the camera (I need to add some friction between the two) but these are minor problems.

I used to carry the camera/tripod over my shoulder. I can still do that (with legs extended) but the tripod is so light, I can carry the camera/tripod (with legs collapsed) by the handle on the camera.

The key to the leg clamps seams to be in the order they are tightened and loosened. Tighten from the top down and loosen from the bottom up. I would love to have the Gitzo non twist leg feature but it isn’t worth $300.00 more.

Wobble and vibration have not been a problem for me. Most of the time when it is windy the wind is a bigger problem for my subject (leaves, grass etc.) than it is for the camera.

I should add that my set-up works for me because I almost never aim the camera up or down more than a few degrees (I think the leveling head adjusts 10 or 12 degrees). I thought I could tilt up or down by adjusting the tripod legs but that doesn’t work very well. As soon as the camera moves very far from the center of gravity the whole thing wants to tip over.

If I don’t plan on going far from the car I would use the Bogen. But when working from the car, I take a lot of stuff that never goes on the trail with me.

Robert Oliver
6-Apr-2009, 10:23
I think the problem with top heavy will be a concern with any ultra light carbon fiber tripod you get.

I have the feisol 3342 which I absolutely love for what it is intended to do.... Holding my camera steady far from the car. It's super light. That tripod is a dream to use while backpacking. I have had multiple spine surgeries so getting weight off of my back has been the goal.

I have a few ultra light tricks I use to help with the top heavy issues. I carry some tent cord, and a tent stake and a nifty little line tensioner that altogether weigh almost nothing. if the ground is too hard for the stake i can tie the cord to a rock, pack or even my foot. Cinch it down and the tripod won't budge.

I always choose a heavier tripod when working close to the car.

emo supremo
6-Apr-2009, 10:29
Very interesting way of describing these aspects. I'll be on the lookout for what happens in these situations. I wish I knew someone in the NYC area who owns the comparable Gitzo to do a comparison with because at this point I'm ready to buy two tripods, one of them the Feisol and the Gitzo, just to set my mind to rest.

Terence McDonagh
6-Apr-2009, 11:07
I have the Feisol 3442. Compared to my non-carbon 14XX series Gitzo, it's not nearly as finely crafted. But I don't think it needs to be. And I'm an engineer who loves precision as much as the next engineer.

I typically use the 3442 with a Kirk BH-3 and Kirk plates. I have the Feisol medium ball head as well as a back-up.

This combo has been more than adequate for a Hasselblad with a 250mm and 2x tele-extender, as well as for a Toyo AII and a 5x7 Deardorff with an average size lens (one I'm willing to hike with, and not a moster). The tripod IS light, but comes with a center-hook as standard and my camera bag, etc usually weigh enough to hold the thing down in moderate winds.

If winds are going to be low, I'd use it with my 8x10 and a pan-tilt head, but haven't tried it in the field yet. I'd preferably go with the Gitzo for serious 8x10, especially if I was shooting with the camera at a severe tilt.

16-Apr-2009, 14:40
I have a Berlebach with the leveling base which is great but I do not find it a suitable repalcement for a tripod head. It is a pain to screw the base of the camera into the large screw. I investigated buying a quick release system from RRS and that would be expensive. In the end, I bought a ball head.

I also have one of the Feisol tripods, the 3 section "Tournament" legs. It is great and has replaced my Berlebach for the most part for 4x5. I too don't care for the twist lock mechanism but the Feisol mechanism is at least equal to that on my smaller Gitzo tripod. My Feisol has a flat plate with no center column so it is extremely light. An Arca ball head works great on that with minimal additional weight. I have an Acratech ball head which is lighter than the Arca but not as solid.

I fussed a lot before I bought the Feisol but now consider it a no-brainer for a carbon fiber tripod for large format. Great tripod for the money.