"The problem with not using a center column is, of course, that you can’t raise your lens by extending the center column. The solution I’ve adopted is to use a four-section tripod with a very large maximum height (78 inches, or 6.5 feet), and then to spread the legs extra wide when shooting birds at eye level; when I need to switch to shooting a bird higher up in a tree, I can simply pull one or more of the legs in to increase the height of the lens. This system is faster than using a center column and far more stable." (http://www.digitalbirdphotography.com/4.1.html )
Is it true that "this system is faster than using a center column"?
Also, if the legs have only 3 or 4 allowable angles, doesn't this preclude any fine adjustment of the height? so that you may have to also change the length of the legs?