First impressions of Photo Tech. Series 3 Carbon Tripod
I should be working but UPS brought me my toy (a Photo Technology Series 3
Carbon Fiber Tripod from eBay), which I had to open.
Out of the box I was concerned. The carry bag looks like it is worth at
least $15 to start; very good material, heavily stitched, two handles, an
accessory pocket and lightly padded. Given I paid less than $200 I wondered
what the tripod would look like if this much money was "in the bag" so to
Open the bag to find the tripod in a protective second bag. Hmmm.
Take out the tripod. Spiked legs with retractable rubber feet set onto
balls so they sit level, lever locks and two legs are already padded with
Leg extension lever clamps were a little loose (I could twist the sections
while clamped) so I tightened the clamps with the included Allen wrench.
The 3 spread angles are set via depressing a spring loaded stainless steel
pin on each leg; the leg/pin then lock on one of the nipples cast into the
magnesium casting the serves as the center column/leg assembly.
Height of platform with legs fully extended and no column height was 47
inches and with column raised 56 inches (narrowest leg spread). The
reversible column is also carbon fiber with a threaded weight hook that is
removed in order to reverse the column. The mounting platform is a good fit
on the center column with 3 set screws coming up though the bottom to secure
your tripod head after it is threaded onto the 3/8 inch mounting stud. This
will make a very secure ball head attachment that resists rotation.
Ooops. The column height is locked via a thumb screw through the casting.
BUT, when I took the column out, I found the thumb screw does not act
directly on the column. Instead, it deforms an inner ring which then clamps
the center column.
This is accepted practice for attachments to machine tools; it spreads out
the clamping forces and yields a very rigid attachment without risking
damage to the adjustable shaft (in this case, the center column). BTW,
after adjusting the thumbscrew for very slight drag on the center column,
only an additional 1/4 turn of the thumbscrew locks the column so you that
you cannot twist or change the height of the center column. Also, the thumb
screw wings are large enough to provide leverage without straining your
wrist, and small enough to avoid putting so much clamping force that you
damage the column or clamping ring or strip the threads of the
Sill looking for something that makes no sense to my limited knowledge in
The leg hinges! The legs are attached to the main casting (center column)
via a casting to which the upper leg section is attached.
This casting has two pins (Stainless?) of about 3/8 inch diameter that serve
as the hinge pins. These pins are captured in mating recesses machined in
the main casting.
While I see no adjustment for side to side play in this hinge system, the
column casting is actually two pieces (upper and lower)with about 1/8 inch
clearance, plenty of room for adjustment due to wear.
OK, looks like a real tripod with the possible exception of a ready means to
adjust the endplay of the leg hinges (could always use washers). If endplay
becomes a problem, then the center casting will tend to twist.
On tile floor at full height with rubber feet, and minimum leg spread, I see
no deflection of the legs when I press straight down (I weigh 180 #s).
Also, no tendency to twist at the center casting.
As you might expect, at full leg extension and widest leg spread, there is
considerable deflection. The middle spread is as good as the smallest
spread to this very crude, quick and dirty test.
Only time will tell how well this tripod holds up. The unknowns are quality
of the adhesive used to attach the legs to the castings, quality of the
carbon fiber tubes, and how well the leg hinge will hold up with use (and
what adjustments can be made to the sideplay, if needed).
OTOH, the leg hinges seem designed to avoid easy entry of dirt. And if you
get the main casting down in the mud, the two piece construction makes it
easy to clean the hinges out. The abrading action of dirt would be the main
source of wear. If we can trust the designers to have chosen the hinge
materials correctly, then wear "from use" should be minimal. This is
because wear has two main sources: abrasion (from dirt) and exceeding the
limits of elasticity of the materials used. In use, the main contributors
of the latter would be things like the tripod getting knocked over,
"working" the legs into difficult spots, excessive loading, etc. The kinds
of thing you do to a backpacking tripod. Hence, only time can tell.
The tripod comes with a 1 year warranty serviced out of New Jersey, USA.
Since it has the features I want (rigidity, low weight (3.2 lbs), lever leg
locks and retractable spikes), I am going to keep it. If there are going to
be problems with the leg hinges or adhesives, that should show up in time to
be covered by the warranty. Given that sound construction techniques have
been used where I know enough to look, I suspect that my "unknowns" will not
become a problem.
I have not seen the Feisol "in the flesh"; and I was considering it. But I
like lever locks (on some days I have arthritis in my wrist) and I wanted
the spiked legs. The padding is simply a nice extra that saves a trip to
Now, I have to get back to work so I can take the time out to use it.
Oh yeah, the seller offers a 14 day refund period.
#1. "RE: First impressions of Photo Tech. Series 3 Carbon Tr" | In response to Reply # 0
#4. "RE: First impressions of Photo Tech. Series 3 Carbon Tr" | In response to Reply # 0
>Height of platform with legs fully extended and no column height was 47 inches and with column raised 56 inches (narrowest leg spread).
This seems to fall far short of the advertised "Extended Height: 70 inches" in the ebay ad. Were you disappointed when you measured it? Also, you mention it weighs 3.2lbs but the ad says 3.75lbs. Did you weigh the tripod and actually get 3.2lbs? That even beats the Gitzo 1227!
#5. "RE: First impressions of Photo Tech. Series 3 Carbon Tr" | In response to Reply # 4Tue 11-Jan-05 02:43 PM
Whatever he was measuring, it was not the height of the platform. Measuring the full extension of the legs/column in the closed position I get 60 inches. This was not a problem for me because I mainly use the tripod at kneeling height anyway. And with only one section extended, this hits my kneeling height perfectly.
Thank you for catching the typo. I just measured the weight now (with a Gitzo 1277m head w/o QR) and it is 5 lbs exactly (2.28 KG) on my USB scale. The Gitzo which is billed at 1.1 lbs; so I think the 3.75 lbs for the tripod only is a good number.
Since the weight comes in at the 3.75 lbs, I doubt I got a "short" tripod. I think he measured wrong or it was a typo.
BTW, I have asked him to get me a second column that I could cut down so it would only be a ball head support w/ no real height adj..
I played with this a little some over the weekend. The system works well with an F100/80-200 at full platform height. Gets shaky at full col. extension, but at 1/2 column extension a weight bag settles it down. The main culprit seems to be loading/unloading of the center casting; the center column seems to be remain rigid in its bearing. I played with my 600 5.6 on it and at kneeling height it seems to hold up ok. w/ no col extension and only one section (second largest) extended. In other words, when I move the camera to and fro (w/ column 1/2 raised), the camera, column and center casting seem to move as one unit and the flex seems to start at the leg hinge.
Btw another typo from me: there is foam on all 3 legs; not just two.
So far, other than giving up the staying power of Manfrotto/Gizo or Slik corporations, I think this will work for me.