View Full Version : Manfrotto 055 X Pro B vs. Feisol CT 3401
Hello All --
Forgive me if this retreads some ground already covered, but I'd like some feedback on possibilities for a good tripod for a Shen Hao 4x5 field camera. In keeping with my price range, I've narrowed it down to the Manfrotto 055 X Pro B and a Feisol CT 3401. I've ascertained that both of these should be suitable for my needs, but wonder if anyone has a recommendation between the two. I know that the Feisol is carbon fiber, but I've been unable to ascertain if this actually dampens vibration or is just lighter. Weight isn't that much of an issue for me as the tripod will often be used near a car. I'm most concerned about reasonable weight and maximum stability afforded in the price range.
I'm also a rank amateur when it comes to heads, so an added recommendation regarding these would be really appreciated. I'd love to get the whole thing in for around 300$ or so. Any thoughts? Other tripods altogether?
Allow me to apologize in advance for how open-ended this thread is...
Any chance of seeing and touching one first hand? That always helps. There are a lot of very happy Feisol users on this forum and many happy Bogen / Manfrotto users as well. Also, check out the Giottos line of tripods, they are a lot of bang for the buck.
Material is a matter of choice and your budget. I have used CF, aluminum and lava and have liked all of them. I currently use a Gitzo CF but have actually thinking of getting a nice Giottos classic aluminum as a back up to my Gitzo CF.
I think the main thing is to set a budget for the pod and head, and stick to it.
There will be A LOT of people who have different needs, different likes and different dislikes so take it all with a grain of salt. But probably either of the two you mention would be fine for what you want to do.
As for heads, well here there will be a lot of opinions. Some liked geared heads, some 3-way heads and others like ball heads. Like most, I have worked my way through several and have been using a Manfrotto 410 geared head for a few years and really find it perfect for what I do. But,others may find a ball head better or a 3-way.
In an ideal world you would be able to go see a bunch and get some hands on experience prior to making a decision, but that can be tough. I think, no matter what you decide on, after using it for a while you will either find it works for your needs or doesn't. If not, chances are very good that you can sell it and not loose much on the investment.
Sorry for the open ended response, but these are kind of tough questions as there are so many variables.
I use a Feisol CT 3401 with a CB50 ballhead for my small camera (a Hasselblad). I'm very happy with it and find it strong and stable enough for my needs with that particular camera. While the tripod feels like it should be weaker than an equally sized aluminium tripod, it does the job. I guess that this assumption is due to the weight or rather lack of weight. There's a hook on the bottom end of the center column where I can hang my backpack if I feel the need for it. I take it the Shen-Hao camera is in the same weight class as the 'blad, so the only possible issue is the larger area to catch the wind. (Hook, backpack ...)
As my LF camera is heavier than the Shen-Hao, I also bought a Feisol CT-3371 for my Sinar equipment. I'm equally happy with that tripod.
Anything negative? Well, I do like quick-locks (for the leg sections) better, but I havn't had any issues with the screw type locks. Also, I use a Sinar Tilt head for the larger tripod, and I really like that one better, but that is probably more an issue with me and ballheads. The Sinar tilt heads are also known for their stability with heavy cameras. (The one time I felt that the CB50 ballhead didn't suffice was when I had a 350mm lens on the 'blad. The center of weight was far from the ballhead and I had to pull the locks very tight. The pictures came out very sharp though, in spite of the wind.)
My main pod is a Gitzo CF and it replaced a Manfrotto 475 (built more for studio work) for it's weight. I can't speak to the 055 that you're looking at.
Positives on the Gitzo is the weight... CF is definitely the way to go if you're doing any amount of hiking.
Negatives on the Gitzo... not really a negative but I prefer the flip-locks on the Manfrotto.
As Eric mentioned... there are a lot of happy users of the Feisol here on the forum. Kerry Thalmann (on this forum) has them in stock. It may be helpful to contact and chat with him on the Feisol line.
As for the head... my preference is a geared head. Either the 405 or 410 are terrific heads. The 405 holds more weight than the 410 and, in your case, the 410 will probably be more than adequate.
I did use a ball-head for awhile and didn't like it (until I acquired the Arca Swiss B2 head) because you couldn't control the axis independently. But, some people don't have any issues with this.
Lots of choice out there. :)
Just my 2 cents worth.
I have the Manfrotto 055 and a Gitzo CF. A good friend has a Feisol which I am very impressed with. If I was in the market now I would buy a Feisol.
The Manfrotto is a good solid tripod, it's only problem is the weight. I bought it years ago to use with a medium format camera. Once I began to hike with my LF I went for a CF tripod.
If there is any chance you will use your LF away from the car then invest a little bit extra now, that investment will pay-off many times over in the future.
In the field, I use a 055MF3 with a 410 head for a Phillips 4x5 up to a 450mm lens. It performs superbly. I am not a fan of any tripod with twist collar leg clamps.
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