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swarovski tripod and head (1 Viewer)

MalR

Well-known member
I am looking at buying a new tripod and head soon and I was wondering if anyone uses or has any opinions on the Swarovski CT101 carbon fibre tripod and FH101 head.

I would primarily use this for my Swarovski ATS80 HD scope (occasionally with my 40D + 400mm lens) and I like the fact that the scope's "foot" can fit straight on to the head without the need for a plate.

I've used one of the old Manfrotto/Swarovski tripods + head for several years and always found it to be very secure in how it holds the scope. Just wondering if the carbon fibre version is as good, how smooth the head is etc.

Warehouse Express is selling this combo for £429, which doesn't seem too bad for a decent carbon fibre tripod and head.

Thanks for any replies.

Malcolm
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
I looked at that too but I know it weighs more than the one I ended with. That was a factor with me, weight. Carrying around anything for an extended period of time gets to one so the less you have to tote, the better. I ended up with a Benro C258 and a Monfrotto head...
 

MalR

Well-known member
I looked at that too but I know it weighs more than the one I ended with. That was a factor with me, weight. Carrying around anything for an extended period of time gets to one so the less you have to tote, the better. I ended up with a Benro C258 and a Monfrotto head...

Thanks for the reply, Imans.

Weight is a big consideration for me too. The Swarovski combo is 1.68kg, which I didn't think was too bad. The set-up I have at present is more than 3kg, so I think I would notice a big difference.

Of course, stability is even more important.

Thanks again.

Malcolm
 
Gitzo

Thanks for the reply, Imans.

Weight is a big consideration for me too. The Swarovski combo is 1.68kg, which I didn't think was too bad. The set-up I have at present is more than 3kg, so I think I would notice a big difference.

Of course, stability is even more important.

Thanks again.

Malcolm

Hi Malcolm,

In my experience the Gitzo CF Tripod Legs are a notch or two above the rest, Manfrotto included. They are very elegant in their strength and simplicity.
 

lmans66

Out Birding....
Supporter
United States
Thanks for the reply, Imans.

Weight is a big consideration for me too. The Swarovski combo is 1.68kg, which I didn't think was too bad. The set-up I have at present is more than 3kg, so I think I would notice a big difference.

Of course, stability is even more important.

Thanks again.

Malcolm

The Swaro set up is less weight than what I thought.... My set up of a Benro C258 plus a Manfrotto 701 is 2.29 kg or 5 pounds. So you are light enough with the swaro.
 

Steve Dudley

aka The Toadsnatcher
I've never understood the interest in these 'branded' tripods. Both the Swaro and Leica models are badged up/made by Manfrotto/Gitzo and aren't as good (to use or in quality) as the Manfrotto/Gitzo originals (and certainly with the Leica you're paying a premium for the red dot). The last Manfrotto head (have they changed them) was poor. These branded models rarely deliver anything new or innovative.

In my opinion the main reason to choose Manfrotto or Gitzo is the leg locks used by teh two different manufacturers. Do you want thumb/flick locks or twist locks? I dont get on with twist locks so use a Manfrotto Carbon No. 1 (991?) leg set (which I've had for about 10 years so has probably now been superseded) with a Gitzo G2180 fluid head (a lower quality version is used on the Leica tripods).

I do have a couple of sets of Gitzo legs. Their quality is outstanding, second to none, but I just dont get on with the twist locks. If only they did a flick lock and I would switch.
 

Jim M.

Choose Civility
I've never understood the interest in these 'branded' tripods. Both the Swaro and Leica models are badged up/made by Manfrotto/Gitzo and aren't as good (to use or in quality) as the Manfrotto/Gitzo originals

What Manfrotto/Gitzo head is the same as the Swaro FH101 head? I'm not aware of any. The swaro head allows you to lock pan or tilt, or both, for example. Manfrotto/Bogen heads don't have this feature.

Best,
Jim
 

Steve Dudley

aka The Toadsnatcher
What Manfrotto/Gitzo head is the same as the Swaro FH101 head? I'm not aware of any. The swaro head allows you to lock pan or tilt, or both, for example. Manfrotto/Bogen heads don't have this feature.

The Swaro FH101 head is a unique item and developed for Swarovski. Don't know why it was developed, cos if it was the head I once tested it was/is poor compared to the popular Manfrotto and Gitzo heads. I've come across several people who bought it and ended up switching to another head.

My Gitzo locks in both pan and tilt, independently or together. So did my previous Manfrotto head.
 

Jim M.

Choose Civility
My Gitzo locks in both pan and tilt, independently or together. So did my previous Manfrotto head.

The popular Manfrotto lightweight heads, RC 700 and 701, don't lock in pan or tilt. (By lock I don't mean you can tighten it so that it won't move, I mean there's a separate locking mechanism.) The tightening screws on my RC 700 went "numb" after only a year of use because I would have to tighten so much to get the thing to keep its position.

Regarding the swaro head, I haven't used it in the field, but I know a guy who runs a birding supply shop and could use any head he wanted to for free. He chose the FH101. I know some have been dissatisfied with it, but every head out there has its detractors/horror stories.

Best,
Jim
 
Last edited:

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
The popular Manfrotto lightweight heads, RC 700 and 701, don't lock in pan or tilt. (By lock I don't mean you can tighten it so that it won't move, I mean there's a separate locking mechanism.) The tightening screws on my RC 700 went "numb" after only a year of use because I would have to tighten so much to get the thing to keep its position.

Regarding the swaro head, I haven't used it in the field, but I know a guy who runs a birding supply shop and could use any head he wanted to for free. He chose the FH101. I know some have been dissatisfied with it, but every head out there has its detractors/horror stories.

Best,
Jim

Jim,
I don't understand what you mean, sorry. On my 700rc2 head, there is one knob to tighten for pan, another for tilt, which are independent of each other, and either can be tightened completely, to allow a little movement or completely free, even though I admit that the tilt adjustment is tricky if you have a scope that is not well balanced.

I have no experience with the swarowski head.

Niels
 

Jim M.

Choose Civility
Jim,
I don't understand what you mean, sorry. On my 700rc2 head, there is one knob to tighten for pan, another for tilt, which are independent of each other, and either can be tightened completely, to allow a little movement or completely free

Hi Niels,

Tightening screws do not lock the movement.They just apply enough pressure via the screw so that only significant force will move the head. The swaro head has separate locks (I think they are applied via levers or switches) that locks panning/tilting without having to tighten anything. (Though it also has tightening screws to adjust tension of course.) I'm not sure how else to explain it if that's not clear.

Best,
Jim
 

MalR

Well-known member
Wow! Quite a flurry of replies since I last looked on here. Thanks to everyone for their input.

I must point out to Imans that the weight of the Swaro combo that I mentioned in my first reply to him (and which I had taken from the Warehouse Express website) was wrong. The head and legs together actually weigh 2.68kg.

I've been doing a bit more research myself and there seems to be quite a lot of positive feedback on the Swaro tripod legs, but more reservations about the head, particularly its durability.

Like Steve, I'm not a fan of twist locks on tripod legs. The other tripod I was considering was the Manfrotto 055CXPro3. I definitely can't run to Gitzo prices.

Anyway, thanks again to everyone for taking the time to reply.

Malcolm
 

Jim M.

Choose Civility
I've been doing a bit more research myself and there seems to be quite a lot of positive feedback on the Swaro tripod legs, but more reservations about the head, particularly its durability.

I found those reports about the head as well, which is one reason I went with the Velbon PH-157Q head instead. It's cheap but I've found it very durable. (Though like every head made, you can find a number of negative posts about it on this forum). It's also very inexpensive--recently discontinued, so even cheaper now. The only head I know of that allows you to tighten/loosen both pan and tilt by twisting a single handle, which makes for super quick set up when you need to get on a bird fast.

Regarding legs, I love my Velbon carbon fiber legs. Cheaper than Gitzo, but high quality; flip locks are available.

Best,
Jim
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Thanks Jim, got it now; I don't think I have been behind a tripod with that type of lock on the head that you describe, that was why it was difficult to grasp.

Niels
 

Dale Forbes

SWAROVSKI OPTIK Austria
The regular Swarovski carbon fibre tripod (CT101) weighs 1.5kg, and the smaller travel version (CT Travel) is only 1.4kg. Both carbon tripods are a carbon fibre with 12% bassalt for vibration dampening. These have been developed in conjunction with Swarovski Optik by an external company.

The new head (DH101) is the only tripod head that I know of that has been designed specifically for observation, and not just taken from photography. I have used it almost exclusively over the last few months (mostly on top of the travel tripod) for my birding and digiscoping and have been very impressed by its stability and functionality. We took customer feedback on our last head (FH101) and integrated it in to the new head. It may not look a whole lot different (except for the reduction in levers and the new automatic security locking mechanism), but the guts of it have been completely re-done. The tripod heads have been completely developed in-house.

It only weighs 550g, making the total setup 1.9 or 2.0 kg (depending on which tripod you choose).

If I am digiscoping in a bit of wind, I tend to hang my backpack on the tripod hook for extra stability. So far, I have always been happy that I have had the Travel Tripod / DH101 combo with.

Happy birding,
Dale
 

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Sleeper

Well-known member
Bit late to this thread

I own the FH101 and I can say that it is an outstanding head in both usability and design. I have used several manfrotto heads (128, 701) and this head is streets ahead particularly for digiscoping.

The pan and tilt are set to whatever tension you need when in use and then you never need to change this or tighten or untighten them. You then use separate locking levers one for the pan and one for the tilt. This means that instead of having to set the correct tension for use every time you tighten the knobs up, say on the manfrotto, for when you are walking about or traveling. This means I can go from using the scope with correct tension with my camera attached and then a couple of flicks and the unit is locked up for moving without the weight of the camera making the scope droop, two clicks later the head is back at the correct tension without fiddling with the two knobs to get the best tension. I have had the head a couple of years without any durability issues.

The weight of it is amazing and is silky smooth.

Downside is the poorly designed safety locking feature that always becomes unlocked half way!!

I hope the new one has rectified this although I can not justify changing my FH101 for the new DH101 although I keep telling myself that the head replacement is cheaper than scope replacement if the safety catch does fail!

I shall have a look at this at the birdfair.

I would never go back to the manfrottos now even if given one for free!
 
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