I am a brand conscious. I believe that good product never come cheap, even though not all expensive product are good.
I have been using few tripods before. I even bought few China-made ones that failed to meet my expectation. Then I got myself Feisol CT-3442 a carbon fibre traveller (Tournament series) tripod. Feisol is originally from Taiwan but now we can have Feisol USA, Feisol UK etc. I would say it is one of the cheap alternative to the super brand, super expensive Gitzo. Feisol served me well, over 2 years period, for many photo trips involving many streams & rivers, hills & mountains, locally or in oversea. It suffered many brutal consequences. I lost all its rubber feet. In the recent Danau Toba visit, two from three of its legs were fell from their socket…..but I managed to glue them back using a 3-tonnes epoxy adhesive. However the one thing that really irritate me now is that, somehow sand can get into the joint easily compared to during its ‘younger’ days.
Every time after an outing, especially those at the beach or rivers, I need to open every segments and clean them. If not, I will need Hercules strength to pull the legs out. With the next major outing planned in January 2011, I need to find myself a new tripod.
Thanks to Liew WK & Shunfa Teh (courtesy of Lee Photo Trading) they gave me a small carbon fibre tripod to try. Its a new player in tripod market and it is from China. It is Fotopro. I am sceptical actually…but since Liew is using few already and knowing how he shoot….I trust him. So yesterday, they handed over the MGC-584N traveller serie tripod for me to test & review.
Weight & size
Let me talk about weight first. It is not that light actually. When I hold it…..I know that it feels solid….and heavy as well. It is stated to be 1.14kg in weight, compared to my Feisol 3442 1.05kg. Having said that that’s between a carbon fibre with another carbon fiber. Do not even try to compare carbon fibre with non-carbon fibre…..the difference is like heaven and earth! And not all carbon fibre is the same. For its size, Fotopro should be lighter. I wonder which components contribute the heavier weight. The steels connection? The joint?
When compared to Feisol 3442, obviously MGC-584N is shorter & more compact. It is 43cm vs. 48cm folded length. 5cm is a huge different if we are talking about luggage especially to fit into a camera bag. However when unfolded, the effective height is almost the same. Please check the picture above.
When I mounted Photoclam PC-33NS to MGC-584N, with centre column attached, I can fold it completely….but not without centre column. If I put Photoclam to my Feisol, I can now fold it completely without centre column.
The built, as I mentioned earlier is solid and definitely not like few China-made tripods I used to own previously. The joints are smooth & one can customize the friction strength. The best thing is that, it has a built-in monopod! However looking at the instruction, one has to remove the leg (which feels securely tight in its socket), then remove the screw for the ballhead to be transferred to the monopod. Its pretty fast actually but still not convenience. Well, having said that, I don’t fancy that feature. I rarely use a monopod. But it is indeed a good to have & super cool feature! In fact I joked with Liew last time…..why not make two of its legs detachable…so that I can use it as trekking poles. Now….for me, I must bring both of my trekking poles for my mountain expedition, with or without porter.
The tripod bag
There is none! Only a creative tripod legs cover or mutifunctional bag as what they claimed in their website. After using it for a while, I realize that the material used to make the bag & the strap is of low quality. That is typical China-made standard. What a pity. A nice product spoilt by a low quality bag.
All in Chinese. Since they just started selling internationally, I hope they’ll quickly provide at least the English version. Not that it is really necessary….but I am still not able to figure out how to remove the centre column! Finally I managed to remove the centre column. What need to be done is unscrew the top portion of the centre column, & only then one can remove the whole thing. The upper portion need to be insert back.
This is something I am not sure. You guys have to check yourself. But it may be less than 1K as compared to Gitzo Traveler that cost more than 2K. But Gitzo is good. Whether it is worth the price, I do not know. I need Gitzo Traveler to try *wink*
I will use this tripod for my Mount Kinabalu trip. But since I don’t have a smaller ballhead, I already ordered Photoclam PC-33NS to complement MGC-584N. I just received my Photoclam, and will now test the tripod for good….
Wish me luck.
“Now everyone can own a carbon fibre tripod”