Originally Posted by Steed
So then I take it you use a Hasselblad or Red system?
While I agree the physical properties of CF and for that matter graphite or even wood make it a good option for support equipment the amount of function you get from a system is a better selling point to me. If I can get a rigid system that offers the functionality I want or need, I don't care what it's made from for the most part.
RRS does make a good product, so does Bentley, my primary purpose in buying anything for photography is first and foremost function. The RRS system doesn't offer much more than a froto or gitzo at half the cost but like you said partial tool-less assembly and a CS rep on call, not selling points for me. And in my case RRS doesn't offer anything that functions like the 058b Manfrotto.
As for the center column thing... Say that to a macro or micro photographer and you'll likely end up with a column across your face lol.
I shoot full frame digital, and 120 and 4x5 film. So yes, a sturdy tripod is important to me. But even if I just shot 35mm stuff right now, 10 years from now I might be shooting medium format digital. The RRS will work with everything, not just what I happen to use right now. If I need a Macro setup I can buy a RRS centre column, but I would never buy a tripod that forces you to use one.
I wasted money on multiple manfrotto tripods, constantly upgrading them as my needs changed as I went from DX consumer bodies to pro DX bodies to FX bodies. The RRS will last the rest of my life, no matter what changes I make to my other equipment.
You seem pretty specific on your tripod needs, and if the Manfrotto meets them then that's great. That manfrotto would be useless to me.