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Magfiber tripods, has anyone used them?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by dond, Jun 29, 2005.

  1. I'm looking for a new tripod, sturdy with carbon fiber legs. The Bogen magfiber series, 055MF3 & 4 will support up to 15.5 lbs, has carbon fiber legs, relatively light weight and doesn't cost a whole lot.

    I've looked at the Gitzo's, but most are more than I want to spend, trying to keep the cost in the $300 range. Any suggestions? Nedd something to hold the D2X and 200-400 combo.

  2. gvk


    Jun 17, 2005
    Mystic, CT
    I have no experience with the Bogen-Manfrotto 055MF3, but I used the 3021 (Aluminum) for several years. The 3021 is a bit heavier, and around the same size as the 055MF3, with slightly lower maximum load capacity (6 vs 7 kg). The 3021 is a solid tripod, but I would consider it marginal for your intended use with a D2X and long lenses.

    My experience with tripods has led me to believe that you should derate the manufacturer's claims on load capacity by 2X for a stable setup. Otherwise, vibration can result unless the load is perfectly balanced over the legs, and the tripod is firmly planted on a solid level surface. These conditions may be possible in a studio, but are more difficult to achieve consistently in the field. A D2X with 70-200 VR is over 6 lbs; add 1-2 lbs for a solid ball head and QR plate. In my opinion, this is already pushing a 3021 (and probably the 055MF3) to its limits.

    Height is another consideration. I am 5ft 10in tall, and my eye height is at about 66 in. With the 53 inch maximum extension of the 3021 legs, and adding the ball head and camera height of 8-9 inches, I still had to extend the center column a bit to shoot comfortably without crouching. Extending the center column degrades stability, particularly with large heavy rigs.

    I replaced my 3021 with a Gitzo 1325 a couple of years ago.

  3. Don,
    Do NOT skimp on this. it will take 1000.00 to compliment the equipment you are using and trying to go cheap here will MOST LIKELY result in dissapointment. I bought the Gitzo 1348 and Kirk King Cobra for this very use and it is flawless. I tried it on a Bogen 1321 and pan tilt head and it was miserable. Just some friendly advice.
  4. jfrancis


    May 8, 2005
    Orlando, FL
    I echo the other comments. I have been researching this for myself over the last month. You have some serious equipment there and it deserves (and needs) no less than a top quality support system.

    I am looking at the Gitzo 1325 and a Markins M20 head. Frankly, I hate to drop a grand on stuff I don't use every day, but the Bogen 3021B/3030 combo that I have does not cut it with the D2X and 70-200 VR.
  5. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi don-

    i've had the 055mf3 for three months now. it's a solid tripod, and versatile as far as leg adjustments go. it was the right price point for me. never gave the gitzos a thought as they're too expensive for me.

    i've mounted a d2h + 70-200mm VR on it with no problems. i have yet to try my 300mm f/2.8 though, but i don't think it'll be a problem. the 200-400mm is heavier though, so YMMV.

    the only issue i have with it is the stickiness of the legs; they don't slide out as smoothly as an aluminum tripod.

    as with anything, try the tripod out in the store before you buy it. i'm short, so tripod height is rarely an issue for me.


  6. Thanks for the replies. It looks like I may have to go with a Gitzo 1325 or 1348. More than likely the 1348, as I'm 5'11" and the 1325 only extends to 58", while the 1348 extends to 65.7".

    These 2 tripods don't have center columns, is there a reason for that? Are center columns bad? Vibration issues?

    It's not only LLD that's bad, it's all the residual damage also. Once you get the new lens, especially if a large one, you need the new ballhead, lens plates, sidekick, now a new tripod...it never ends.

    I guess I have to look at it this way, once I buy a good tripod and ballhead and lens plates, I'm only buying once and they should last for a long time...at least I hope they do.
  7. Don,
    You are obviously doing your homework. The 1348 is great for your height and the fact that there is no center colunmn does two things, less vibration, and you can get it lower to the ground for low shots or macro work. It WILL last you a lifetime if cared for.
    Kirk enterprises sells the tripods and plates, great ball heads too. They do not have the sidekick that I know of as they sell a gimbal head of their own. I have the king cobra and it is great for that lens you have but many use the sidekick and love it and it may be less expensive. You will thank yourself later for this good decision.
  8. gvk


    Jun 17, 2005
    Mystic, CT
    There are some photographers who believe that center columns are evil. I am not one of them, and I have used tripods with center columns for a long time. However, they do reduce stability. Think about it. Instead of mounting your camera/lens directly on top of the tripod, you are mounting it on a beam that is then attached through some type of locking collar mechanism. Each of these can flex and amplify any vibration due to wind, mirror slap, imbalance, etc. Any motion or flex of the legs against the ground is also amplified by the lever arm of the column.

    That said, I do have a center column for my Gitzo 1325. It is quickly removable and can be replaced with the standard fixed center platform. I use the column mostly for macro work where the ability to make small vertical adjustments without resetting the tripod legs is very useful. The camera plus lens weight is usually smaller for close up work, even when using a bellows. Even then I try to avoid extending the column more than 6-8 inches or so. I switch back to the fixed platform when using long lenses for sports or wildlife shooting, or when opening the tripod legs to their widest setting to get close to the ground.

    Since we are around the same height, it is possible that the 1325 may be tall enough for you. At maximum extension the plaform height is 59 inches (actually measured, and unlike flimsy tripods, the Gitzos are solid when fully extended). A good ball head adds around 3.5 to 4.5 inches. I have found the total tripod to viewfinder height to be about 7.5 to 9 inches for various equipment configurations including, lens foot mounted 70-200 VR, camera plate attached directly to the ball head, or with lens foot attached to a Wimberly sidekick on the ball head. To set the viewfinder at my preferred height of about 64-66 inches or so I usually use a couple of inches less than the maximum tripod extension. This leaves some extra margin for leveling on uneven ground when necessary. In addition, the center column when installed but not extended adds an additonal 2.5 inches without much stability loss.

    I also looked at the 1348 when I purchased my tripod, but decided I did not need the extra height (or cost and complexity) of the 4 section leg design. It depends on what type of work you do, but I have never yet found the 1325 to be too short.

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