Help me pick a CF Gitzo

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by ben_hutcherson, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. I'm looking for SOMETHING to upgrade my current low-end Manfrotto 190 CF legs, and naturally I'm looking toward a Gitzo. I have a nice B-1 that I would continue using.

    The main things going on it would be a Nikon D800-class body with an f/2.8 zoom(or smaller prime). 70-200 or 300mm f/4 would be the largest on it. I might one day want to be able to stick a 300mm f/2.8 on it, but don't have that now to put on it.

    I'd like something that can occasionally handle a Hasselblad 500+150mm Sonnar and/or Pentax 67 w/105mm, but I'm also content to use a separate tripod for those if I can't get it all.

    The Gitzo range confuses me. I value light weight, but don't necessarily need something super compact when folded. I think that leaves me at 3 sections, which is an arrangement I've been happy with in the past on other units. I'm 6'2" and don't want to extend the center column to work at a comfortable height.

    I'm not averse to used(I prefer to buy that way) so can someone help me wade through the list of available options to find the right fit?
  2. You realise that Gitzo and Manfrotto are now one and the same company Ben?
  3. I've been using a Gitzo G1227 Mk 2 with a Linhof Profil II ball head for years. It's worked well and will hold all my cameras, including a light weight 4x5 iin most all conditions. It's light enough for hiking and small enough for travel. I think it's been replaced by a newer model at this point. Now however I've started using a 500mm lens on my Hasselblad and I've upgraded to a stronger RRS and Profil III, but that's another story.
  5. A Gitzo GT3543LS would be a good fit for you. it extends to just under 60" without a column and folds to 22.4", small enough to fit in a standard 24" suitcase if you remove the head.
    Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod (Long)

    I also have a GT3542XLS, which extends to 79" without a column, but only collapses to 26". I use this mainly for video, to reach over the heads of an audience and passers-by.
    Gitzo GT3543XLS Systematic Series 3 Carbon Fiber Tripod (Extra Long)

    There is little to gain from a 3 vs 4 section Gitzo in terms of stiffness. There is virtually no wobble in the joints, thanks to close-tolerance bushings. Even at 58", you wouldn't have to stoop much. A head and camera adds another 6" to the height, and your eyes aren't at the top of your head.

    Since these are "Systematic" tripods, the entire center section can be fitted with a flat plate, leveling platform (my choice), column, or video bowl (my other choice). A series 3 Gitzo is stiff enough to steady a 300 mm lens in the wild outdoors.

    Another choice worth considering is a Really Right Stuff #2 or #3 "Long" tripod. RRS uses larger diameter tubing, so their #2 is almost as stiff as a Gitzo #3.
  6. The Markins (from Korea) ballhead company had a very long and detailed analysis of metal. wood, and carbon fiber tripods ( using their ballheads) on the internet. The highly qualified 3rd party engineer doing the published analysis carefully described the testing, which used the same camera/ lens/ballhead combinations on different tripods. The data was too complex for me to totally recall, but it established that mass AND rigidity, as well as vibration absorption all determined which tripod is best. The extremely heavy wooden pods worked best, but from that point down there was considerable variation. Not all carbon tripods are equal: the carbon fiber material, method of manufacture, number of layers, and the metal connections between segments as well as the top (spider) affect eventual performance. His study, about three years ago, is not current, but it shows the difficulty in anyone trying to make an educated guess as to which tripod to buy. Manfrotto(owned by Vitec) bought Gitzo, closed the French factory and incorporated it with its Italian facility. China, Taiwan, and Japan now all make excellent tripods, as good or better than Gitzo or Manfrotto, but the only way I know to compare them is to be in a store (B&H, Adorama, etc.) that displays them all. In my one B&H visit, I discovered that the salespeople were somewhat opinioinated, land were somewhat vague as to why A was better than B. Price is not the only determinant. My personal tripod choice depends upon what I am doing with it: when travelling by air I use a CF travel tripod, when by car ( and no long hike) I use heavier and bigger CF or aluminum. I use upper level Arca-Swiss style ballheads and plates.

    Good luck.
    david_r._edan and rodeo_joe|1 like this.
  7. Ben, I have been using an older Gitzo 1325 (series 3) with a base plate for many years now. I added a safety plate underneath it to make sure that the base plate would not pop off the spider. Mine does not have G lock legs like the current series 3 Gitzo systematic pods but it has never let me down. It fits my 5 foot nine inch body. The general rule of thumb is that you should take your height and subtract 14 inches to get the correct tripod height. So you need a pod that is around 60 inches with no column so that your standing erect while shooting. The newer gitzo series 3 GT 3533LS pod should get you the height you need. Don’t spend $ 800 for a tripod that doesn’t fit when you can spend $900 and get it right. If you buy Really Right Stuff or Gitzo you will never have to replace it. I shot a 500mm f4 and currently shoot a 200-400 f4 on my Gitzo series 3 and a 600mm f4 Vr on a more modern series 5. A lens as stellar as a 300mm f 2.8 deserves a Really Right Stuff or Gitzo series 3 pod that will never leave you questioning or you embarrassed. I occasionally have seen folks at Bosque del Apache or the Washington Mall with a fast 300mm tele mounted on a series 1 Gitzo and wondered why the photographer chose to cut corners with a very expensive but inadequate tripod. Good Hunting.

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