Is there an appreciable difference in stability between the Feisol 3401 and 3442 tripods? I read all sorts of reviews and suggestions on Nikonians for both of these tripods, but never one that compared the 2 of them directly. Most of these posts were from several years ago and some things have changed since then, notably: price, metal leg locks, and addition of anti-rotation legs to both series, maybe some other things.
I have a heavy induro A413 and an old bogen 3021bpro, both aluminum so I am looking for a lighter general use rig for lenses under 200mm, preferably under $400.
Price is definitely a factor for me. As it stands, I can get the 3401 for just $285, or the 3442 for $400. My real question is what do I get for that extra $115?
I see the 3442 is:
- 2 inches taller (I don't mind bending a bit, I'm 5'8")
- a little bit lighter weight(insignificant in my mind)
- can accommodate 2 extra pounds (possibly insignificant?)
- and the legs fold over the top (I can't use this w/ my markins M10 anyway, so actually a minus for me as the 3442 are a little longer)
Is that really it or is there a some unseen stability thing favoring the 3442? Perhaps due to the larger base? I am not interested in a center column so that does not come into play.
#1. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 0
#2. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 1Mon 19-Mar-12 05:08 PM
I emailed Kerry Thalman at Really Big Cameras and here is what he told me:
"... unless they
folded over the ballhead, the tripod won't fit in the included bag with the ballhead installed. That may not be a deal breaker, but I just want you to know what the trade off is.
The CT-3442 is slightly more stable than the CT-3401. It will dampen
vibrations better due to the larger contact area between the tripod and ballhead. The CT-3401 is a great value, but the CT-3442 is a little better in all respects: a little taller, a little lighter and little more stable, and most of all more durable. The difference is the CNC milled mainframe of the CT-3442 is stronger and lighter than the cast mainframe of the CT-3401."
Based on many comments on this board and a few email exchanges with Kerry, I went ahead and placed an order for the CT-3442. I'll post my impressions when it arrives. I am looking forward to my new tripod!
#3. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 2Wed 28-Mar-12 02:15 PM
Well, I've had the 3442 for a week or so now, and I must say that I am quite impressed. My impressions thus far:
- unbelievably light. 2.3 lbs sounds light when comparing specs, but when you actually pick it up it is unreal... this thing is so light. I will not have any problems bringing this pod everywhere
- tall enough. I am 5'8" and when fully extended with a markins M10 head the camera viewfinder (non-gripped d200) is above my line of sight on flat ground.
- compact. it folds to ~19" with no tripod head or weight hook (same dimensions when folded for use or reverse folded)
- excellent leg locks. A quarter turn locks/loosens the legs very solidly (I got the anti rotating legs). Very impressed with the ease and smoothness of the leg locks and just how fast I can set up and take down the tripod. Worlds better than on my Induro a413.
- nice bag. well padded and easy traveling bag. I will probably not use it much because I cannot easily reverse-fold the legs over my M10 head (I can do it, but not without marring the finish on the tripod leg attachment joints) so it will not fit in the bag as is.
- sturdy for what it is. Realizing that this is intended as a travel tripod, it is much sturdier than everything else I have seen in its class. I would not feel comfortable using long lenses (except maybe a 70-300vr or 300 f4 in a pinch) but for wide angle and normal to 200mm tele lenses it is perfect (but you still need to use shot discipline, see below).
- easy to use leg locks. Spring loaded push button leg locks are very fast and easy to use; much faster to use than gitzo or induro leg locks (but the long term durability of the spring mechanism may be an issue, time will tell).
cons (with solutions):
- tipsy fully extended at 25 degree leg spread. Due to the miniscule weight below the camera, the tripod unfortunately becomes very tipsy when legs are fully or mostly extended with the M10 and a d200 with lens. This could be disastrous in the field on a slope or with wind. I would prefer a slightly wider leg stance (maybe 30 degrees would solve the problem) as this problem completely goes away at the next leg opening setting (50 degrees) and the tripod feet seem rather close together on the ground at the 25 degree setting (makes it harder to work).
---> hanging weight from the hook helps this problem, balance the weight above with weight below, or use the wider leg spread.
- small, flat feet. They do not grab onto surfaces well at the wider leg spreads because they are flat. Induro feet have a convex shape and I have found that to work much better.
---> use spikes outdoors and push the legs into the ground
- Leg spikes were not manufactured correctly. I could not install the long spikes due to a threading issue and emailed Kerry, who checked with Feisol, and indeed there was a manufacturing error. I am not sure how many sets are affected. Kerry said he'd send the new spikes when they come in from Feisol. Also, I do wish there was a nice rubber spike cover like the gitzo spikes have for use inside or when traveling with the spikes attached. I'll have to see what they have at the hardware store.
- lots of flex in legs (and maybe the spider?) when using the 75 degree leg spread using heavy gear close to the ground. This is expected due to simple physics, but I didn't expect so much flex.
---> collapsing all legs and just using the first and second set of legs greatly increases the stability, but flex is still present, perhaps due to the legs joints? Flex is minimized when using just the upper (28mm) legs.
The Feisol 3442 compared with my 3 previous sets of legs:
-Bogen 190xprob (sold): the 3442 is vastly superior in every category (weight, load rating, stability, height, travel ability) and blows this tripod away.
-Bogen 3021prob (sold): the 3442 is about equal or slightly better in all categories, but obviously is much lighter and easier to travel with than the 3021. I chose the 3442 as a replacement for this set of legs.
-Induro a413 (kept): (apples and oranges, I know) Induro is beefier, more sturdy, more stable, overall a better tool but weighs 8 lbs and is 30" collapsed. I kept this one for now, but am looking at the Feisol 3471 to replace it, mostly due to the difference in collapsed length.
Overall, I am very happy with my purchase. I am not convinced the 3442 would be a whole lot different than the 3401 (as others have stated), but I am happy with my decision. In fact, I do believe I will be looking at the 3471 legs in the near future. The leg mounts on the 3471 have bracing where they meet the spider (unlike the 3472) and I bet that flex at the spider/leg joint will be minimal with this set of legs when used at 75 or 90 degree leg spreads.
#4. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 3nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Wed 28-Mar-12 08:27 PM
Thanks for posting your review
I spent about a week with a 3442, but that was several years ago now. I don't recall it being particularly tippy. So I found your comments interesting. I didn't take it out in the field. Just tested in my home and back yard because it was a loaner from a member here.
my Nikonians gallery.
#5. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 4Thu 29-Mar-12 12:24 AM
'Tippy' is a relative term, I suppose. Having used a heavy aluminum tripod for years (the bogen and more recently the induro) the 3442 just felt very different because it was so light and the load on top of the legs did not change. Of course, the degree of tippiness (is that a word?) is relative to the height, so if the lower leg sections are not extended it is more stable. I do think that if the legs opened up just a tiny bit wider (like maybe to 30 degrees) it would not feel so tippy as it feels great at the next leg opening angle(50 degrees). Leg opening angles seem to be a hard spec to find when shopping for tripods, so I don't know if the 25 degrees is common to many brands or just to feisol. All told, as a replacement for my bogen 3021, I am extremely happy with the 3442.
#6. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 5nrothschild Registered since 25th Jul 2004Thu 29-Mar-12 08:34 AM
I did a search here for comments I might have made about leg stance when I tested the 3442 back in May 2008. I didn't find my measurements, which I remember doing but not the results . I can only suggest the differences between that and my 4 section Series 2 Gitzo G1228 were not earth shattering.
I know some Feisols have a somewhat shorter leg stance. Back around that era we did have some discussions here about one or both of their 37mm legs having a somewhat shorter leg stance.
I did find this comment that I made, while the test was fresh in my mind:
"In the real world, I always hang weight from the hook; the improvement in a wind is blatantly obvious. I would never shoot those legs in any sort of breeze without weight, with any lens."
For many years I shot my 300/2.8 on a Gitzo Series 4 alloy weighing 8.4 LB, very similar to your Induro. I never bothered to hang weight from that tripod. I always figured it had integral weight . Plus no built in hook (that was a later Gitzo Systematic innovation).
The comment I made above was in an era when I was mainly shooting the Gitzo G1228 except for long lens work on the G1410. For sure CF is different in this regard and the Feisol is a somewhat extreme case because of the light weight. I do think it is better to carry more productive extra weight, which most of us do in the form of camera bags or belt systems, than to carry it as otherwise useless tripod weight.
As you increase the leg angle a couple of things happen:
1. The height declines and that is not only a critical marketing spec it is something many of us obsess over.
2. More importantly, the rigidity and strength of the mount declines precipitously. Maybe not so much at 30 degrees but at the 50 degree angle, with all or a good portion of the legs extended, you do run a much higher risk of either cracking the mount or cracking a leg where it fits into the metal collar at the mount joint.
Personally I do not ever extend the legs of any of my tripods while in the wider leg angle stances, especially the widest "ground level" angle(s). My feeling is that those wider angle locks are there primarily to get low, where all legs are retracted. This is particularly true when shooting in snow, where pushing the mount down spreads the legs unnaturally and that can break any leg, including Gitzo legs, and especially CF legs.
I might use the wider angle locks with one section extended without too much concern but that is about it. And I probably do in the event that I need an intermediate height in between leg angle locks. I'm very conservative about this issue.
my Nikonians gallery.
#7. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 6Mon 11-Jun-12 12:31 PM | edited Mon 11-Jun-12 04:08 PM by cntangcn
Hi morsere01, thank you for starting the thread and providing the very helpful user experience. I am facing the exact same question (3401 vs 3442). I actually registered to this nikonian forum for being able to read your post (I am using Canon I hope they will not kick me out )
I have a Manfrotto 055XPROB, aluminum. in one way I like it very much, it feels sturdy, so solid, and so reliable. But with the weight of 2.4kg it is too "sturdy" on my shoulder. I am ok to keep it with me as long as I have a car with me and only carry it for a short time period. But if I have to travel by flight and don't always have a car at destination this 055xprob is just too much.
So I am in the market for a travel tripod. I want the folded length to be less than 50cm. weight to be some where between 1kg to 1.5kg. I started from a long list (vangard 255, 254, Feisol 3401, 3402, 3442, Gitzo 2541, Manfrotto 190cxpro4)
Vangard was out because I tried in store and somehow don't feel like it; this is purely a personal feeling and might has nothing to do with the product itself.
Gitzo was out because of budget, i dont want to wait and save for another year or two;
Manfrotto was out because the last leg seems too slim to me (diameter=11.6mm; I think Feisol is 19mm);
Feisol 3402 was out because of the shorter max height (i will not use the central column)
the left are 3401 and 3442.
Your experience raised a good point that I did not realize until i read this thread - the leg angels. I immediately went back to check the number of my 055XPROB and it is 23 degrees. since I am ok with the 055xprob the Feisol looks ok to me.
I personally don't like the reverse fold design and it is actually a minus for me too. but I do like that 3442 has improved body frame. I went to a Taiwan forum and it mentioned this was a weak part in at least some older models.
Hard to decide. I guess I will just go for the 3401.
the local dealer in here has just run out of 3401. I ordered and will probably get it in early July.
Thanks again for your review. it helped me a lot!
Enjoy your tripod!
#8. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 7Mon 11-Jun-12 06:38 PM
I love my 3442 so far -- it has held up well to a winter of hard steady use in the desert. I really like the reverse folding feature -- folded the tripod fits very nicely into the included bag, and the head is well protected from dirt and damage. I work in the field a lot and the tripod in the bag gets tossed into vehicles and dragged out a lot in windy, dusty, and sandy conditions. With legs reversed and in the bag I don't have to be nearly as careful as I had to be with my old Gitzos.
#9. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 8Mon 11-Jun-12 07:41 PM
Compare to casting used in 3401, CNC used in 3442 is more delicate and provides better quality.
and the price difference also reflected that.
You mentioned that reverse folding protected the ballhead very well. I was curious what is the diameter of your ballhead. I had an impression that 44mm ballhead will be too big for reverse folding. is that true in your experience?
#10. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 9Tue 12-Jun-12 04:22 AM
I think my Photoclam ball head is 42mm -- I wanted as large as would work as I have some heavy stuff. Kerry said this was the largest head that would fit. It does take just a bit of maneuvering of the head to let the legs fully fold, but when oriented right it fits just fine.
#11. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 10Tue 12-Jun-12 11:00 AM
>I think my Photoclam ball head is 42mm -- I wanted as large
>as would work as I have some heavy stuff. Kerry said this was
>the largest head that would fit. It does take just a bit of
>maneuvering of the head to let the legs fully fold, but when
>oriented right it fits just fine.
> ---Wingman Photo---
PC has 40mm and 44mm, I dont recall they have 42mm...
maybe yours is 40mm, like PC40NS?
#12. "RE: Feisol 3401 vs 3442 stability?" | In response to Reply # 11Wed 13-Jun-12 12:39 AM
Well, I just went to look (should have done that to begin with) and it actually is a PC44! As I said, it is a bit fiddly but positioned correctly it does work fine. Sorry about the confusion.
By the way, I don't use this rig for super telephotos or anything, but it has been fine and very stable (with decent tripod technique) for my D3 with 70-200 and 300 F4 even in wind and such...