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Sunwayfoto T1A20D-T Tripod And MFR-150 Slide User Review

Sunwayfoto T1A20D-T Tripod And MFR-150 Slide User Review - Bob Falcone reviews the Sunwayfoto T1A20D-T Tripod and MFR-150 macro slide.

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Sunwayfoto MFR-150 150mm Macro Rail in Tripods, Monopods and Other Supports

SF T1A20DT 008

Recently I have had a few client requests to do some macro-photography projects for them. I have delved into macro before, however not for clients and only as fun, learning experiences. Time to brush up and get ready for some professional results! Luckily, their schedules gave me a bit of time (due to their manufacturing schedules, meetings, a move to a new facility, etc.) to brush up my skills and acquire a few items that I felt necessary for macro shoots.

Enter on the scene one of my preferred photographic equipment manufacturers, Sunwayfoto. Sunwayfoto has been manufacturing photographic support equipment for many years, and their product line is a very complete one. Their products are top-notch, extremely well manufactured and can go toe to toe with the best of the best. Their products are just built extremely well, have a very smooth finish and just plain look great!

This review combines two very new products that really go hand-in-hand for shooting macro: The T1A20D-T Tabletop Tripod-Ballhead (Arca Swiss compatible clamp and plate) combo kit, and the MFR-150 150mm Macro Focusing Rail. Tabletop tripod-ballhead combos are fairly plentiful on the market, as are macro-rails, however ones that are sturdy and smooth to operate are a must have for the professional. Let’s see if these new products from Sunwayfoto live up to my expectations based on their past and existing products.

As an owner of other Sunwayfoto equipment, I have become quite accustomed to and appreciate their packaging. Similar to their products, the packaging is all business, no frills, very strong and protective! Don’t let the plain looking boxes fool you, they are very sturdy and ALL of their products, even the small inexpensive accessories are protected with thick conforming foam on the inside. Plus, I see no use in a pretty, colorful container that either gets thrown away or sits in a storage closet. I would rather have that money better spent by my manufacturers on the quality of their products! As a side note, all of Sunwayfoto’s product names and model numbers are etched into the aluminum, not painted on. You won’t see them fade or scratch off! That is quality.

What you also get in the packages, in addition to the appropriate product(s), are cleaning cloths, tools, ¼” to 3/8” tripod mount screw adapters, a camera plate, a protective carrying bag and manual:

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Also on the box are the product picture and specification labels:

SF MFR 150 001

As mentioned earlier, these products are brand new ones for Sunwayfoto. I have to admit that the quality, fit and finish are a step up from their previous products, which is quite an accomplishment.

Sunwayfoto T1A20D-T Tripod

The T1A20D-T is actually two products in kit form. It combines their new T1A20D Tabletop Tripod and their latest Low Profile Ballhead, the XX-28 (28mm ball). This ballhead is one of the newer generation of low profile ones, and low it is! In fact it is very small in size, but like its tripod partner it packs quite a bit of punch in performance! Its low profile keeps the center of gravity to a bare minimum, especially when the camera is tilted into the drop notch. The control knobs are simple and well laid out: The lever is the main locking lever and friction control. Simple for a small ballhead. Plus, the lever is a ratcheting one, if you pull out the lever you can rotate it without adjusting the tension. The small knob is the panning knob, rarely seen on small or ‘mini’ ballheads. Please don’t be alarmed or offended by the terms “small” and/or “mini”. These products are super strong and high performance for their size, plus they are butter smooth to operate.

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Also on the ballhead is a panning base scale with index mark. Here are two comparison pictures of the XB-28 and Sunwayfoto’s other small ballhead, the FB-28; as well as the larger ballheads in the XB series, the XB-52 and XB-44:

SF T1A20DT 005

Here it is mounted on the T1A20D Tabletop Tripod, perfect for product and macro work as well as a few with the FB-28 mounted on another Sunwayfoto Tabletop, the T1A10. A very nice feature of the T1A20D is the extendable legs which give it a greater reach. There are also two leg angle adjustments of 20 and 40 degrees, set with a little sliding lever at the top of the tripod. Ingenious.

SF T1A20DT 011

Sunwayfoto MFR-150 Macro Focus Rail

Let’s now look at the MFR-150 150mm Macro Focusing Rail. The purpose of any macro rail is minute focusing. In macrophotography, you are placing the cameras lens very close to your subject. You really can’t adjust focus, as the lens is set at the minimum focusing distance. So to perform micro adjustments of the distance between your lens and the subject, you have to move the complete camera/lens assembly. This is where the macro rail comes into play. You can adjust your camera forwards and backwards a millimeter at a time to get the sharp image you are after.

SF T1A20DT 030

All of Sunwayfoto’s products are CNC machined from T6061 aerospace grade aluminum alloy and their Military Spec Type-III hard anodized smooth finish ensure their abrasion and corrosion resistance. The rail has a 53mm Lever Arca compatible clamp, index marks on both sides as well as macro sliding screw knobs front and rear. Another very nice touch I have not seen on other macro focusing rails is the inclusion of a little screw handle on the rear in place of traditional knobs. This makes minute and large adjustments super ease without having to take your fingers off while you twist a knob. You just use your thumb and index finger and away you twist! Super easy, fast and intuitive. Here is the Macro Rail on the Tripod Ballhead, my Camera on the Tripod and Camera on the combined setup:

SF MFR 150 007a

Next a quick look at measurements and weights show that, like in the past, Sunwayfoto’s manufacturing tolerances and published specifications are spot on. I noticed on the weighing in that I failed to include the weight of the Camera Plate that comes with the kit, hence the discrepancy. Also, I included a weight of my camera (Minus my ring flash and extension tubes) to show that this combo can handle the weight of a professional sized body and lens setup:

When measuring the Macro Rail, my Caliper doesn’t go past 150mm, so I took three pictures of it: one of the scale and one at each end from the end of the scale to the end of the screw knobs. Doing the math they all add up to the published length! Like all of their products I have owned, Sunwayfoto’s manufacturing tolerances and published specifications are spot on. The small variances are probably due to my sub $100 digital scale and caliper. I have done the same with my other Sunwayfoto ballheads shown here and they are just as perfect in measurements and weights.

Here is my test setup, the Sunwayfoto MFR-150 mounted on the Sunwayfoto T1A20D-T. My Camera is the Canon 7D MarkII DSLR with Canon BG-E16 battery grip. The Lenses I used were my Canon EF 24-105 f4 L IS plus 1 Canon Extension Tube EF 12 II and 1 Canon Extension Tube EF 25 II for the lens cap in my photo tent, and my Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II for the iced over and snow topped dead flower buds, all of which were taken on different days. Notice the angle of my rig on the Tabletop Tripod and Macro Rail. Also, my Canon &D MarkII with my Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 L IS II were mounted on the same Macro Rail/Table Top Tripod for a very low perspective on the winter shots. This setup (Macro Rail/Table Top Tripod) was ROCK SOLID, no movement or vibration whatsoever, even during shutter actuation. I did not use a remote or mirror lockup or live view to lessen the “shutter/mirror clapping vibration” as I wanted to use these products in worst case scenarios. As I mentioned, my pictures came out clear and sharp!

SF CT 005
 

Sunwayfoto MFR-150 150mm Macro Rail Sample Photos

Sunwayfoto Verdict

In conclusion these new Sunwayfoto products are excellent tools to use and work like they are supposed to work. That is something that I have noticed over the years of using their gear. They innovate, they provide us Professional (and Amateur) Photographers with products that we need, yet they are somehow able to improve on their manufacturing skills as well as on the look, fit and finish of their products. During the unpacking, weighing, measurements and field testing I found absolutely no negatives or imperfections. These are off the shelf normal production units. Over my many years as a professional photographer and videographer I have owned numerous products from many different manufacturers. The Sunwayfoto products easily compete and in many ways exceed the competition, doing so at very competitive prices. Give their gear a try, you should not be disappointed whatsoever.

 

Additional images can be found of the Sunwayfoto T1A20D-T and MFR-150.

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