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-   -   Gitzo/Manfrotto vs. Chinese knock-offs? (

Photomonkey Apr 8, 2007 10:47 PM

Okay, I'm new to the tripod thing. Just acquired a Canon 30d and have three great Canon lenses - the heaviest being a 70-300mm IS.

I do a lot of hiking and want a relatively light tripod 3.5 lbs or less -- thinking carbon fiber here. I'm also 6'2" and need some heighth on the tripod. Plus super stability. Alright, I want it all.

I have about $200 total to spend and won't mind used equipment. I see I can probably buy both legs and a quick release ball head at that price IF I buy something like a Feisol or Fancier FT series - ala Chinese products.

My question: Are the Chinese tripods even close in quality (as they claim) to Gitzo and Manfrotto? Can I get what I want at my price? Or, should I just suck it up and lay out another 200-300 and buy the name brand?

Anyone with experience in the knock-off realm out there?

Thanks in advance. Your advice is much appreciated!

DougJGreen May 3, 2007 2:38 PM

I'm quite happy with the various Amvona products which are copies of Bogen/Manfrotto Gear, that I bought on ebay for around 1/3 of the price the comparable brand name stuff.

I have a couple of sets of the AT-858B aluminum leg sets (paid around $50 each including shipping), and 3 different heads:

I bought an ATH-H91 head for under $20 incl. shipping,
an ATH-H96 head for under $50 incl. Shipping,

and I just got a really nice ATH-A04 Ball Head for under $85 including shipping.

IMHO, each of these ball heads is worth at least twice what I paid for it. The ATH-A04 seems to be in the same class as the Feisol heads selling for close to $200.

gordonj May 8, 2007 12:23 PM

I recently bought CF Benro legs @ $249 and ballhead @ $99 from These are apparently exact knock-offs of much more expensive brand name items. So far I am very pleased, and SteadyPhoto was great to buy from. I do wonder if, at some point, there will be restrictions on these copies. So, if interested, I would look at them now rather than later! Good luck.

tommccarty May 17, 2007 12:59 PM

I ran a Google search. Still confusing

then their site

Looks good.. also Benro did reply cryptic only when I asked a few questions

Is there a formula or guideline to usecameras sized like a 30D or L1?
Average user, for occasional use but sturdy and won't fall if knocked a bit

DougJGreen May 17, 2007 4:13 PM

Well, I personally paid a ROCK-BOTTOM price for every item I ever got from Amvona, and every item arrived on time, and worked fine.

I also can't understand why anyone would ever leave negative feedback before they had received their item - and if you paid with a credit card or through PayPal, and Amvona refused to ship their item, they would be long since out of business from both ebay and the better business bureau - not to mention the various credit card companies, which would legally be responsible for refunding the payment to their buyers.

I don't doubt that their post sale service/support might be pretty abysmal, and I don't doubt that SOME small percentage of folks got broken items which left them highly dissatisfied. I also don't doubt that their own user survey ratings that are in their ads are biased because they scrub out the bad ratings. But the claims that they take people's payments and never deliver the item are clearly bogus nonsense. That's simply fraud, and ebay, PayPal, and various Credit Card companies would long since have put them out of business if it was happenning. They would surely NOT have a 99.6% feedback rating in 59K transactions - that type of feedback DOES correspond to a small percentage of folks who got goods that they were dissatisfied with, and a large percentage of customers who were happy with what they bought.

And my experience, after buying 5 separate items from them (3 different tripod heads, and 2 leg sets), is that their stuff is good quality knock offs that generally work quite well and are amazingly good bargains for what they deliver for the prices charged. Is their $60 on ebay Ball Head as good as a $400 head from Arca-Swiss? of course not! but it IS better, with more features and better specs than any other ball head that costs anywhere near $60.

tommccarty May 17, 2007 5:25 PM

Well, Doug, what would you buy today if you were looking for something for an L1? General hobby use..... using a non-stabilized lense set up, of course

I just went to BestBuy and found junk... the tripods we are talking about do seem to be well built

I did not buy from them, just the Benro people were less than helpful to me.



DougJGreen May 17, 2007 8:26 PM

Well, it depends what you are looking for and what your budget is.

You can get good and inexpensive, or you can get good and light. You can't have all 3 together.

Assuming that you didn't prioritize light weight over moderate price, I would get a Dynatran AT-858 leg set, and one of their many ball heads (Their H93 head is good, and VERY cheap - it tends to sell for under $15 plus shipping on ebay, and you can get QR plates for it at any Calumet store). That would give you a very fine, solid tripod rig with a good ball head that weighed around 7 pounds, and you could get the whole thing for $80 or so off ebay no problem by buying the legs and head separately.

If you prioritize light weight, you really need to determine how much you'd pay for how little weight - as a good quality 4.5-5 pound rig would cost around $200, and a good quality 3 pound rig would be closer to $350-400 complete.

tommccarty wrote:

Well, Doug, what would you buy today if you were looking for something for an L1? General hobby use..... using a non-stabilized lense set up, of course

I just went to BestBuy and found junk... the tripods we are talking about do seem to be well built

I did not buy from them, just the Benro people were less than helpful to me.



tommccarty May 17, 2007 9:59 PM

My size makes a difference as I am 6'3".. I did go back and look around a bit more. Maybe eBay is better than going direct?

BTW: Just a hour ago I received the latest B&H catalog.. all in color and it is jaw dropping full of info and will make this so much easier. Weighed in at three pounds or more
If you have not seen this, it is a good reference manual. Chock full of info, pictures and so much more.
All the tripods and gear on the site will help explain what I asked for as well.

Then I can compare. Money is not an issue. I just don't want to spend money on something just for a perceived pro name.

jackkessler May 21, 2007 5:31 PM

A post I saw in a now-archived thread made it pretty clear that the Better Business Bureau is essentially a shakedown racket. Dues-paying BBB members never get negative ratings no matter what, even when they are under criminal investigation. When they stop paying dues is when the BBB suddenly remembers negative reports about a business.

Ebay ratings are dubious as well. When you win an auction they instantly ask you to rate the seller when you could not possibly have received anything yet. ALL their business ratings are 99.9% super-duper and everybody just loves their new purchases and use lots of exclamation points!!! I don't believe it. As long as the sellers pay the piper at eBay they will call the tune.

DougJGreen May 22, 2007 2:32 AM

Ebay feedback is legit - but it is inflated, because many folks will not leave negatives because they are afraid of getting revenge negatives themselves. But, the fact is, any buyer who understands how to use ebay knows that they don't leave ANY feedback until they have received the item and they are satisfied with it. FYI, there is no way to have tens of thousands of transactions and an ebay rating of over 99.5% without being a reputable seller. But, for folks who don't know how to read ebay feedback, here's a short guide:

Any feedback below 95% is TERRIBLE, and I would never buy from such a seller unless they only had a SINGLE negative rating in a fairly small number of transactions, and they had a logical explanation for that single bad transaction

Feedback rating between 95% and below 98% is pretty crappy, and again, unless it was due to a very small number of specific negs that could all be logically explained, I would avoid the seller.

Feeback from 98% to 98.9% is fair to average - for any vendor with more than 100 transactions and a rating this low, still be wary unless the negatives can mostly all be logically explained.

Feedback fro 99.0% to 99.5% with a large number of transactions (several hundred or more) is good, and indicates a generally reputable seller, unless there are several very recent negatives that could indicate a seller that is exploiting a good rating to suddenly liquidate their business at the expense of current customeers

Feebacks from 99.6% or better with a large number of transactions means that the seller is reputable, and will endeavor to satisfy the buyer. There's basically no way (other than by stealing the ID of another reputable seller) to have a rating this high unless one makes an effort to make good with buyers who might initially be dissatisfied (such as by offerring to accept a return of defective items for a refund).

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