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Author Topic: Tripod - 3 or 4 sections  (Read 3878 times)
trigeek
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« on: March 01, 2007, 07:01:58 PM »
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I am getting ready to purchase a new tripod. Either the Feisol CT-3301 (3 section) or the CT-3401 (4 section). I'm wondering if there is any advantage in selecting a 3 section tripod over a 4 section. I am asking mainly about stability. I recognize that there are physical differences such as folded length, max height and weight.
Anyone's comments on the 3301 would be greatly appreciated (I have seen a number of posts on the 3401... all positive).
Thanks in advance...
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boku
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2007, 07:17:54 PM »
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You've pretty well covered the differences. You need to make that decision based on your needs. There isn't too much more to it.

I make an observation - I know folks that either go with one or the other and swear it is the best. I have a 3-section Gitzo - I couldn't stand a 4-section. Micheal has a 4-section, he's clearly appreciating that form factor. That tells me it's pretty easy to follow your heart and wind up with the right decision. People rarely, if ever, regret their first instinct on this.

But - if you are really tall, you better get the tallest tripod with a collapsed column, regardless of leg section count.
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Bob Kulon

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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2007, 07:51:07 PM »
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Actually, I use a right angle finder to make up for lack of tripod height.  If I have it at full extension.  I usually like to have the camera closer to the ground.
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trigeek
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2007, 04:56:30 AM »
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Thanks for the replies, guess I did not get my question across... the question I have is really in regard to the structural benefit of 3 vs 4 sections. In other words, is the 4 section tripod weaker than  a 3 section due to the extra joints,  Since the 4 section has one additional leg section that requires this last section to be thinner, would this be a disadvantage?
Thanks
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boku
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2007, 07:03:55 AM »
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Thanks for the replies, guess I did not get my question across... the question I have is really in regard to the structural benefit of 3 vs 4 sections. In other words, is the 4 section tripod weaker than  a 3 section due to the extra joints,  Since the 4 section has one additional leg section that requires this last section to be thinner, would this be a disadvantage?
Thanks
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=104179\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Like I said, those that own 4-section rigs say it doesn't matter; those that own 3-section rigs say it does.

Observation: people with 4-section rigs seem to deliver every bit as much image quality as those with 3-section legs, so either they are more careful, or it is no big deal.

The question is probably more based on suitability of form factor for intended transport mode and your stature (height).
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Bob Kulon

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Play it Straight and Play it True, my Brother.
trigeek
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« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2007, 12:47:16 PM »
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Like I said, those that own 4-section rigs say it doesn't matter; those that own 3-section rigs say it does.

Observation: people with 4-section rigs seem to deliver every bit as much image quality as those with 3-section legs, so either they are more careful, or it is no big deal.

The question is probably more based on suitability of form factor for intended transport mode and your stature (height).
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=104189\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Thanks Boku... did not read your  reply close enough. I'll go with my first instinct and order a 3 section. I currently have a 4 section tripod and do not like the amount of time it takes to extend all of the leg sections. 3 vs 4 is probably not all much time difference, but it may help for me to use it more often.
Thanks again.
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daveman
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« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2007, 12:25:36 PM »
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The big differences are in convenience before and after shooting. Note that the 3 section tripods don't collapse to as small a length as the four. This may be important for you if you do backpacking or for getting on an airplane, etc. However I prefer the 3's, because there are three fewer leg locks to adjust each time you set up. If you plan to use your tripod a lot, it adds up to a lot more time and effort for the 4-section rigs. Also, the 4 section systems often have smaller diameter legs at the distal end, so theoretically they may be a little less stable. Can't say I notice that.

For me, the bigger issue is whether to use a center post, as the presence or absence of that definitely does make a major difference. I'm willing to put up with minor inconvenience of no center post, for a big difference in the ability to get close to the ground. When I have a center post I often catch myself extending it, compromising stability.
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DavidRees
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« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2007, 01:20:35 PM »
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I have a Gitzo G1348 (4 sections) as my "default" tripod; I am 6ft in height, and with an Acratech Ultimate on top, there is more than enough extension available when the tripod is on flat ground. As a result, I only extend the fourth (the thinnest) sections about 1/2 way. I often leave them like this, and only collapse the other sections, when out in the field. This gives be the speed advantages of a 3 section, together with the extra flexibility a 4 section gives on a hillside. Finally, when I pack it away at the end of the day, it collapses further than a G1325 would.

I carry this tripod in a cloth bag, whcih can easily hold the tripod even with the bottom legs 1/2 way extended (remaining sections collapsed). This approach has worked very well for me, but may not suit others.

BTW, my other two tripods are also 4 section -- guess I just like that configuration.
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boku
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« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2007, 02:00:00 PM »
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The big differences are in convenience before and after shooting. Note that the 3 section tripods don't collapse to as small a length as the four. This may be important for you if you do backpacking or for getting on an airplane, etc. However I prefer the 3's, because there are three fewer leg locks to adjust each time you set up. If you plan to use your tripod a lot, it adds up to a lot more time and effort for the 4-section rigs. Also, the 4 section systems often have smaller diameter legs at the distal end, so theoretically they may be a little less stable. Can't say I notice that.

For me, the bigger issue is whether to use a center post, as the presence or absence of that definitely does make a major difference. I'm willing to put up with minor inconvenience of no center post, for a big difference in the ability to get close to the ground. When I have a center post I often catch myself extending it, compromising stability.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=105874\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

In addition to my main rig - 3-section 1325 with RRS BH-55 - I also have a 4-section 1228 with a RRS BH-40 on top for travelling for the same reason you describe. Best of both worlds.

The 1228 is modified with short/stub center column. I forget where it came from: Manfrotto? Kirk?
« Last Edit: March 10, 2007, 02:02:14 PM by boku » Logged

Bob Kulon

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Play it Straight and Play it True, my Brother.
elkhornsun
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2007, 04:34:26 AM »
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I use a 4-section as it is more compact and will fit in the Pelican cases for travel. Even then I have to remove the ball head to have the tripod fit. If the tripod is going back into the car I leave one set of sections extended so I don't have to fool with them every time I setup the tripod.  

If you never plan to take your tripod on an airplane go for the 3-section. As the tripod is rated for a given load it really does not matter whether it has 3 or 4 sections.

I put more emphasis on fast self leveling like with the Manfrotto 755B and having the ability to adjust the legs to any angle to adjust to uneven terrain.
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