For a travel photographer, a sturdy, but light and compact tripod is absolutely essential. I started using the Oben travel tripods several years ago when I got the Oben CT-3561, which I reviewed a few years ago.
There were a few things I liked about the Oben CT-3561. First and foremost, it folded up very small to easily fit wherever needed during travel. Second, it was very lightweight, so carrying on a long hike was not inconvenient at all. These benefits are also what I love about this the Oben CT-3565, which has even improved a fair amount in those, and other, fields
The BZ217T Ballhead is a Great Ball Head
The Oben CT-3565 tripod comes standard with the BZ-217T ball head. Combination ball head-tripod sets are usually not great quality as the ball head is just a cheap throw in. That is not the case at all with the Oben BZ-217T ball head.
My favorite part about this ball head is that it is very sturdy, but comes in a very slim profile. The ball head has four knobs that all work very smoothly. The most impressive knob to me is the friction-control knob. It works excellently, making it so you have very precise control over how stiff the ball will rotate.
To me, I think the CT-3565 is the perfect weight. The carbon fiber legs go a long way, but I have had plenty of carbon fiber tripods that are not this light. It weighs 3.2 lb. ( 1.45 kg) so it still isn’t the lightest tripod out there, but I wouldn't want it any lighter. I think this is the best you can go with being lightweight without being so light that the tripod is unavoidably flimsy.
This tripod is the most compact tripod I have every used. The tripod legs have five sections, while larger tripods often have four or even three sections. There are drawbacks to having five sections in that there is more to unscrew and tighten and the bottom legs get more thin and flimsy, but such drawbacks are far outweighed by the compactness of this tripod in my opinion. The five legs that slide inside of each other make it so the tripod is very compact when all the legs are collapsed.
The other feature that helps this tripod be so compact is that the legs are reversible. This means they can rotate 180 degrees so the ball head is tucked underneath. This makes it so the entire length is limited to the length of the legs without the ball head or mount. This all leads to an impressively short folded length of 15.2 in. (38.7 cm).
The stability was my biggest concern with my earlier travel tripods, though it was a relatively minor concern. The new CT-3565 has actually improved quite a bit in this model. With five tripod leg sections, it is unavoidable that the last leg is going to have a little give to it. With this tripod, the legs remain quite steady even extended all the way out. In good conditions, there is absolutely no unsteadiness in this tripod. It may struggle a bit when it comes to heavy winds or crashing waves, but it will perform much better than any comparably sized and priced tripod I have seen.
Ease of Use
Ease of use with a tripod for me usually comes down to three things: 1) portability; 2) Weight; and 3) Leg locks. The portability and weight have been discussed above and are admirable with the Oben CT-3565.
The leg locks also perform really well. Having five twist locks on each leg can be burdensome because that would mean doing 15 locks every time the tripod is used. That burden is minimized with this tripod because the locks easily loosen and tighten with just one twist, and it is actually really easy to tighten or loosen all five at once when the legs are collapsed. That means just three twists to loosen or tighten from the collapsed position. Even when doing one at a time, the half twist required makes it really simple to use.
The feet on the tripod are a unique design from what I have seen on most tripods. On the Oben CT-3561, there were really nice, long spikes covered by a rubber cap that could be removed. These spikes were great for using the tripod in the sand. However, over time, the rubber caps became looser and fell off without me noticing.
The CT-3565 got rid of the rubber caps and now has a twist knob that either exposes or hides the spike. This was really exciting for me since I don’t have to worry about ever losing the cover. Unfortunately, the spikes are not very long, which means they aren't as useful as the spikes on the earlier model.
The CT-3565 is really impressive and ranks as my favorite travel tripod. It isn’t a cheap tripod by any means, but I think it is a really good value, especially when you add a really good ball head that comes with it.
This may not be the ideal tripod for a dedicated landscape photographer that doesn't hike much, but if you like to travel or hike, I don’t think you can go wrong with this tripod and ball head set. To see the current price, head on over to Amazon.