View Full Version : Fiesol 3442 Tournament Edition Tripod Review

23-10-2008, 11:34am
Fiesol 3442 and Markins M10

This review will be based on the Fiesol Tripod as the M10 has numerous reviews on the internet.

The Feisol 3442 is a 4 section carbon fibre lightweight compact tripod that will support 10Kg and extends to 138cm without the center column.

Ordered this form Feisol direct in Taiwan, their site is a no frills easy to use site. As with any internet purchase i email them first to see if the item in stock as well as giving me an idea on customer service. 10 minutes passed and i had my reply from Orion! There are also quite a few options to go with this tripod such as, center column, levelling head, spikes, macro 90deg adaptor etc.

I ordered the Fiesol 3442 Tournament Class Tripod US$309.00 with the optional center column US$39.00, I will be using this tripod for mainly outdoor work and hiking so i went with the slightly shorter (48cm folded) 4 section version. The legs are 28mm cross section and the clamps are the Gitzo type, *note that with the Tournament series the legs can rotate in themselves. this is to allow the largest leg diameter possible. The total cost US$381.0 including airfreight delivery.

The Box came 3 days later - Taiwan to Perth in excellent condition. The Fesol comes with a carry bag that is moderately padded and and easy fit for the tripod. Rumours on the net said that the bag was very tight, Fiesol must have listened and changed it because mine is quite snug but in no way tight. (If you held the bag upside down the tripod would easily fall out under it's own weight). The bag also has a pouch on the side that looks after the included tools, a few allen keys as well as a tube socket. Also included is a hanging anchor hook that attaches under the head for weighing the tripod down in adverse conditions.

The construction of this tripod is first class, i looked for manufacturing shortcuts like burred edges, rough threads, misalignment and finishing blemishes. I could not find any!. The action of angling the legs is quite stiff which i now appreciate after use. (the legs will stay in place if i pick up the attached camera and tripod by one of the legs.) The baseplate is CNC machined and quite nicely too i might add. *note all hinge bolts are apparently aluminium so don't over tighten them if you play around with them.

Feisol have gone with a slightly novel approach to the baseplate making it removable and interchangeable. A circular disc is secured into the frame of the tripod via 3x4mm grub screws, (your ballhead then attaches via a 3/8" or 1/4" screw to this disc). This allows interchangeablity between the center column, no column, a levelling ball and socket type as well as a 90 degree macro center column clamp. This mount also proved valuable for myself as i will discuss in a minute.

I set the Feisol 3442 up without the center column as i was doing some macro work the next day and needed to go as low as possible I was surprised at the lightness of the setup. On my scales with a Markins M10 the whole lot is 1.5Kg so 1kg without the M10.

Please note with the Markins M10 the legs will NOT fold over the head, some say that it does but i would not do it for fear of scratching the tripod and/or bending the pan lock knob's shaft. The legs will sit snug next to the main knob of the M10 on one side but then as you fold the next leg over there is not enough room between the two legs to accommodate the two knobs and puts pressure on the small pan lock knob. The knobs are also quite close to the pivot point of the legs so even light pressure on the tips of the legs will translate to quite alot of force at the knobs. Now, If the head was positioned a little higher then it would allow a tiny bit more room for the knobs so i machined a baseplate similar to the Markins anti vibration bases for the Gitzo's only i utilised the 3x4mm grub screw baseplate system and substituted the mounting disc as mentioned earlier (see attachment). This allowed me to save weight and simplify the mounting system for the ballhead. As a bonus i can now leave the weight anchor hook installed when i fold the legs up and over the head for travel on my backpack. If you would like the legs to fold over the head out of the box get a Markins Q3, i have read that it folds away nicely with no damage being done.

In practise the legs are smooth and easy to use, when they are locked in the legs are surprisingly solid. If i lay a fully extended leg on a table with only the top section supported and hung a full 600ml milk carton on the tip of the leg there is minimal (less than 1 inch) movement at the tip. I would say there would have to be a couple of kilos to get any substantial (1 inch or more) flex in the leg.

The height on the Feisol is amazing. Without the center column my 6'4 height can comfortably lean over and use the camera for shorter lengths. With the center column installed and fully extended the camera viewfinder is over my head!

I'm not one to get into the finer nitty gritty *read mirror lock up vibration* examples on 300mm lenses, besides my biggest lens is a 24-105L so i don't qualify to even comment on that. There are a few examples of this that can be googled. There is quite a bit of information on the Nikonians site.

Since i have only had this Feisol for a couple of weeks now i can't comment on it's longevity, i can say that all the materials used are aluminium, carbon fibre and stainless steel so corrosion is not going to be an issue. Form an engineering point of view and it's simple design i am expecting this to last a long time.

Manufacture and Sales link http://www.feisol.com/english/feisolen.htm

I @ M
23-10-2008, 4:19pm
Thanks for an extremely well done post sixfootfour. :th3:

It is beaut to be able to hear from "locals" about the sevice offered by any company O/S and to able to get some detailed observations about the product in every day terms.
The feisol range were appealing to me because of the fact they don't have a centre column ( I'm a short arse :D ) and primarily want a tripod to hold a body and lens on a ball head either at normal standing height or in a sitting position.

Looks like I will have to speak to the minister of finance and hope that the Aus. $ goes back up again. :sport18:

25-10-2008, 9:52am
Nice review...thanks...im thinking of a similar setup......What was the reason you chose the M10 over the CB-50D feisol ballhead??? would be really interested to know.



27-10-2008, 4:17pm
I read on the net that the Feisol head wasn't as smooth as the M10 and the M10 has a minimum friction adjustment knob which adjusts the least amount of friction to the ball so once it's set for your camera and lens being used it can't be loosened beyond that point. This has the advantage of never having the camera flop down when loosening to reposition.

Mainly my decision was based on the numerous very positive reviews on i read about the Markins. The extra money was worth "buying once, buying right". The Plate that shipped for the 40D (PG-40N) is very nice too!

I am very happy with the M10 so far.

29-10-2008, 10:03pm
there was a review somewhere on the net about someone that took apart some of these Chinese knock off tripod heads. when you take away the heads, it really is more complicated than you think. Little things like whether they rounded off the ends of the tightening screws, can make or break the smoothness of the head. Plus if they are not made well they will not last as long and it will only get worse with time. In that sense better get it right the first time, you don't want your camera falling off a bad head!

04-02-2009, 3:07pm
Is this what you're referring too?
Can't vouch for this guys credibility, just stumbled across it yesterday.

14-05-2009, 3:36pm
Just a little follow up on this now that i have had some experience with it.

This is still one of my favourite pieces of equipment i carry with me at all times. The tripod has shown no signs of wear so far. The legs still tighten and feel the same as when they were new. I usually have the legs in the whitewash at the beach, apart form a rinse out when i get home i haven't needed to do any maintenance.

My only suggestion is to have a more secure fastening for the rubber feet. I have nearly lost them a couple of times. I will be looking for rubber screw in feet as there is an internal thread for this feature.

Also of note the Markins M10 ball head is absolutely magic! I love it!! Still silky smooth and more than competent at keeping my camera pointed where i want it with a minimum of fuss.


14-05-2009, 7:54pm
I've been using this tripod for a few months with heavy use. Where I go it goes, being so light why leave it at home, however my experience has been, (in song) Every where you go always take your Allen keys, Every where you go always take your Allen keys with you.

Why you may ask do I sing such a song, well the legs of my tripod have become very loose making it quite a handful to move about sometimes. I believe i could resolve the problem by getting a bit of loctite on the screws that holds the legs tight. I also had the base plate that the ball head screws onto come loose when I was at Carnarvon Gorge, and I hadn't brought the right Allen keys with me :(, so now i carry the two types I need every where.

The aluminium scratches very easily, my Markins M20 ball head has left scratches on the legs. If I pull the legs too far over the head the pan knob touches the aluminium and leave marks even the lightest touch seems to mark.

So why do I still persist with this tripod? Because its bloody tough! This little sucker has been covered in mud, sea water, had rocks dropped on it, it dropped on rocks, in lakes, rivers and creeks and the leg slide-out slide-in actions is still silky smooth it takes me about 30sec to go from on my bag to shooting, the carbon fiber seems to be of very high quality, it's resisting scratches and has that awesome whoooooooooosh sound you get when sliding the legs out.
The feet have very little wear considering they've been on all sorts of abrasive surfaces, I also have the spikes for the feet but have yet to use them (the rubber caps just seem to grip to everything).

Any other reasons to like this tripod? Hell yeah it's super light, I've done 15-20 km walks with this baby and I've never considered leaving it behind (it weighs less than my 80-200 f/2.8 nikkor).
It's stable as a mountain goat (not in the Simpson's kinda way) once setup I'm more then happy to walk off and survey the area, even on mountain tops with wind.
It gets down and dirty (I think about 30cm to the middle of the lens) and still reaches great heights (I'm 6'2") and i don't have to slouch much when using.
Service, I've had car part take longer to get to me. 4 days to Brisbane from date of order, and they respond really quick and in good English to emails.
Price, definitely under priced for what you get.

So will I get another one when i finally manage to break or lose this one? that's an unequivocal yes.
Summing up, if you're budget conscious but still want a tripod you can trust and is full of features I say go for it but perhaps give the feisol ball head a miss I've not heard too many good words about it.

Thanks for reading:th3: