Velbon's original MAXi is now a series of three models: the original 343E, the compact 347E, and the 347GB. The original 1.9-pound 343E with ball head and sliding center column has been joined by the slightly less light ("heavier" doesn't apply to this line) 347GB with a 3-way pan head, geared center column and leg braces. The 347E is a slightly more compact version of the 347GB, designed to fit a camera bag, without the leg supports.
Features common to the MAXi series include:
• All die-cast metal construction
• Patented trunnion leg design, which accounts for the short fold size since the pins that attach the legs to the center ring are on the sides rather than the end of the legs
• Quick leg extension and collapse with flip locks
• Fits in carry-on luggage with a folded length under 18 inches
• Weighing 1.9 to 2.7 pounds, depending on model
• Extending as high as 61 inches
• Supports up to 4.4 lbs. of camera weight
• Rubber-tipped legs that screw up to reveal spikes to handle slippery terrain
• Nylon draw-string carrying case with fabric shoulder strap
• Limited lifetime warranty
• Available in either champagne or black
The main difference between the 343E and the two 347s is the head.
The ball and socket head of the original 343E includes a cork pad to firmly grip the camera bottom. Ball sockets can be quickly loosened, realigned and locked to stabilize the camera.
For copy work, product shots and other work that calls for a very small adjustment rather than a quick, large adjustment, the 4-way pan head of the 347s is preferable. The camera mount (which screws into your camera's tripod socket) includes a rubber pad to securely grip the camera bottom. How you mount the camera to the plate (perpendicular or parallel to the lens axis) can determine what camera moves are available.
On the pad is a small metal plate that easily detaches from the head by flicking a plastic lever. A small spring-loaded button pops the plate up for quick removal once the lever has done its job. And you can leave the plate on your camera. Additional plates are available for $9.
The 347GB reaches one cm higher than the 348E, which folds about 6cm shorter to fit inside a camera bag.
Any of these Velbon MAX-i tripods are quick to set up, easy to operate and light enough to take anywhere. They make the perfect travel tripod for digital cameras of any weight up to 4.4 pounds.
Color, some plastic elements, shoulder strap of carrying-case.
This tripod was designed by tripod experts and it shows, all parts feel secure and well-built. Though you will not be able to mount any really heavy lenses, its purpose is quite different. It is ideal to carry around as it is so light-weight and therefore will actually make you want to take a tripod with you wherever you go. This will allow you to take advantage of the best optical image quality your lenses can produce. A tripod that stays at home is really no help. This is where this Velbon truly shines.