Feelin’ the pod…

My friend, Sherry Boylan of ChesBay360.com, had a terrific idea for me to post gear reviews. So, I created a new category–Gear Beat. Sherry’s been known to say, “I’m not feelin’ the pod” when she’d rather hand-hold the camera. It fits here for my first beat.

Travel to new places and don’t want to lug a heavy tripod around? I got a tip (thanks, Sherry) on the availability of a super new travel tripod from Oben… the CT-3510. Research showed that this carbon fiber tripod matched the features and capacities of the Gitzo Traveler GT-1541T. On my recent trip to New York City, I sauntered into B&H Photo (yeah, the actual store!) and checked out the most popular travel pods thoroughly. Honestly, I couldn’t find a more desirable travel pod than the Oben—at any price. It’s extremely light (3.2 lb with ball head attached), compact (15.5” folded up with ball head attached), and nearly 17 lb load capacity. Further, it is just beautiful. All the twist locks and knobs on the legs and ball head are rubberized for a nice grippy feel and tactile feedback that lends confidence that it’s locked down firmly. It also has nice touches like foot spikes you can install, and a removable leg that can be attached to the removable center post for a really cool monopod. I checked out the height with the legs fully extended and the center post down. It’s actually pretty tall for a travel pod. My back is thankful. It only takes a quarter-turn to unlock and lock the twist locks. And the legs can individually lock in two different angles, which helps in sloped or rocky terrain.

Negatives? The internal joint components aren’t as high quality as the Gitzos, and parts may not be as easily replaced as those in Gitzos. For heavy duty work using a super-telephoto lens, I’d probably go with the Gitzo GT3541LS and a Wimberley gimbal head, but that’s a different use case.

The Oben’s price…$399.95 including ball head. That’s a cool $600 cheaper than the Gitzo (w/head) combo. I liked the Oben best, and I’m not gonna hold it against them if they want to sell it cheaper. Heck, I thought, why not give them a chance? So  far, I’m thrilled. Not a single complaint. We’ll see how it holds up over time and travels, though. Note that my September 19, 2011 pic “Bright spot in dark times…” was taken at Clingmans Dome with my camera atop the Oben. Now, when I leave the hotel or cabin, I’m feelin’ the pod. Check out the links below for more info.

photoframd – Bargain Compact Carbon Fiber Tripod You Will Want To Carry

B&H – Oben CT-3510 5-Section Carbon Fiber Folding Tripod w/ BB-0T Ball Head

Posted on September 25, 2011, in Gear Beat and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Awesome review!!!! I was so excited when you bought that little bad boy because i knew i’d hear first hand whether or not to invest… its lookin good… :) Sure did seem like a great travel pod… so glad it has met your expectations!!!!

  2. Steven,
    I know you like your Oben, but I would appreciate your thoughts about the Oben CT-2400 tripod legs – no ball head. I have a ball head and thought I could save $100 by buying just the legs.

    Thanks,
    Bill
    Aka Whittwicky

  3. Bill,

    Just taking a quick look at the specs, some things stand out to me. The CT-2400 is just 4 segments instead of 5, so it ends up being a couple of inches longer when folded. The CT-3510 is only 0.9 lbs heavier, even though it includes the ball head. Most ball heads weigh MUCH more than this difference. Also, the CT-3510 legs fold all the way backwards neatly against the ball head when the center post is pulled up. Most other ball heads are bulkier, and this would cause the legs to bulge out some when folded. The primary reason I wanted a travel tripod is that I didn’t want to be ready to go out on the city and look over at a large, heavy tripod/head combo and say “nah, I’m leaving it here at the hotel.” The CT-3510 combination of legs and head give me an extremely light and compact (yet strong) solution that I will actually carry. Note that the CT-3510 holds loads up to 16.8 lbs compared to the CT-2400 that holds up to 11 lbs. It appears that the CT-3510 is a bit taller with the center post down than the CT-2400. The most stable position for the center post is all the way down. Lots of travel pods force you to hunch over too much, since they’re not that tall with the legs fully extended and the center post down. Not the CT-3510. I’m sure the CT-2400 is built very well (assuming similar build quality and materials to the CT-3510). If the issues I brought up are no problem for you, then I’m sure you’d be quite happy with it. Otherwise, I think the extra $110 or so for the CT-3510 may just be worth it. Good luck, Bill!

    Steven

  4. Thanks!!

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