DISCLAIMER: I do not blindly recommend that people buy photo gear because someone recommended it. However since a lot of people ask me what gear I use, I thought i'd show what I use and why I chose it. Also note that I am writing this review long after I have purchased the item in order to give an accurate review on how the product performs after extensive use.
When looking for photo gear, I get into my super meticulous/gotta-get every feature I want/let's make an excel spreadsheet/I gotta feel it in my hands mode. I also think long and hard about what I am using it for and what I can use it for in the future. If i'm going to invest a lot of money in something, it better be really good and last me a long time. After buying a B+W 10-stop ND Filter, I really got into taking long exposures, and bought a really sturdy, metal Manfrotto tripod for $75. SEVENTY FIVE BUCKS!!!! At the time I had a Nikon D800, and was glad to have such a die hard tripod that would keep my camera and heavy metal lens still. However, the biggest problem was the weight! A large aluminum and steel tripod may not seem too heavy when you pick it up for a few minutes, but when you have that thing on you back for hours while you're walking around the city in summer . . . . . . ugh! I also bought a 10 Stop ND Filter for my Fuji X-E1, because i wanted to travel light without breaking my back, but the tripod was really heavy and way too big for my Fuji.
After a lot of research, nagging the staff at camera stores, actually creating an Excel spreadsheet and literally molesting tripods, I decided on getting a light weight tripod that i could walk around with. Much to the dismay of Ely Kay (a technical genius when it comes to photography), I avoided the Gitzo and purchased an Induro CT-214 with and Induro BHD0 ballhead. Here's what I look for and why I made my choice:
- Budget: I do not receive corporate sponsorship from any manufacturer. I am not extremely wealthy. I do not have a sugar momma (though I am looking). Therefore, budget is one of the first things on my list of criteria for buying gear. While Gitzo is known for it's quality, it is very expensive. The Induro tripod and head combination costed me around $540. The Gitzo equivalent (not exactly equivalent, but I'll explain later) would have costed me around $250-$300 dollars more. Other manufacturers had similar tripods at equal or lesser prices, but the Gitzo and Induro seemed to be the best quality (excluding Really Right Stuff, but they're uber-expensive).
- Size: Since this tripod was meant to be thrown on my back while i walked the Earth in search of good photos, I wanted something that was portable. Many brands make tripods that vary in size, but I chose to sacrifice some tripod height for a tripod that was more portable. The Induro CT-214 folds up to less than 2 feet long (20.87 inches according to the Induro website) but extends over 5 feet tall with the center column extended. Even without the center column extended, it was taller than the Gitzo. This is mostly because the Induro has four-section legs instead of three.
- Leg Locks: Now know that I had previously used tripods with latch locks, but the Induro has twist locks. That being said, I am sold on twist locks. Latch locks get caught on shrubbery, clothing and sometimes when I closed it, it would snap on my skin. Manfrotto makes a lot of travel sized tripods, but they mostly use latch locks. Gitzo uses twist locks, but the Induro has thick twist knobs that make it much easier to twist and tighten the tripod legs and also feels a little more comfortable in my hand. The twist locks on the Induro also tightened and loosened very easily. I could adjust the height of my tripod legs just as quickly as if I had latch locks.
- Weight: Now the weight of the tripod was just as much of a factor as size, because this thing was going to be on my back on long photo walks. Both the Gitzo and the Induro are made of carbon fiber, so this wasn't much of a deciding factor. The Induro was actually very slightly heavier, but i'm 6'1" and 225 lbs. so a quarter of a pound difference in weight is negligible.
- Stability: Now here is where the decision was really made. I had to have both of these tripods in my hand and really feel them out. I am not a "order online and see if I want to return it" kind of guy. I got both of these tripods side by side. Both are well built, but the Induro has thicker legs than the Gitzo and I like thick legs! (Oh snap, was that innuendo?) When I extended both tripods, I noticed that the bottom legs of the Induro were at least twice as thick than the Gitzo. Both tripods had center columns, but the Induro's oversized center column lock keeps that thing super tight. (I actually tightened it so much, I couldn't unlock it anymore and neither could the staff after I stealthily placed it back, so I will not be telling you where I tested these things out.) Last but not least, I just placed both hands on top of the tripod, leaned in putting my weight on it and did a little shimmy. (You're welcome, ladies). I hate to say it but the Induro just felt a lot more solid.
- Accessories: Now this isn't as important as the other stuff, but the Induro does come with some great accessories. inside the box was a carbon fiber tripod, a thick canvas carrying bag (that does not have a huge "INDURO" logo printed on it, thank you very much. Feisol, take notes.), an allan key to help tighten screws when needed and a set of spiked feet if you plan on shooting on soft terrain. None of this stuff is needed, but it is awesome to have and not have to pay extra for it.
ow these are the reasons I bought this tripod almost a year ago. It has been my main tripod when shooting with my Fuji, and I have also used my Nikons with it. I have thrown it to the ground, wielded it as a weapon, bumped it into many buildings and it still looks and handles well. My twist locks are still working perfectly and I have yet to need to tighten anything on my tripod. The only downside is that it does not reach my eye level, but I did choose to sacrifice height for portability. I'm giving the Induro CT-214 Carbon FIber Tripod 4 1/2 stars out of 5.