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Thread: Tripods again - Gitzo System

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    Tripods again - Gitzo System

    So, I have some money coming up, but although I initially wanted to get an M9 with it, my girlfriend has rearranged my priorities, and a good chunk is now going towards a kindergarten (!), so I am now looking at rather more modest, if possibly more important, expenditures.

    I have wanted to replace my ancient Manfrotto 055C with something more stable and nicer to work with, and had initially considered a Berlebach, which have very good dampening properties (I am not getting into better and best here ), but careful thought has revealed two problems with this route: maximum height, and bulk. Wood is bulky.

    So now I am back to selling kidneys and buying Gitzos. I want to get the last tripod of my life, and I want it to be strong enough for the possible uses I am considering. At the moment, the most strenuous thing I could do to the tripod is using my Contax 645 with 120 Macro and Sinar e54, i.e. 22MP 48x36 back. At near distances, this ought to be a challenge in and of itself, but I am also adding a 210mm lens at some point, and I am considering eventually getting the (hard to find) 350/4 as well, so the tripod would need to handle this. Throw in dreams of Leica S2 or arTec, and this rounds out the needs section. Oh, and it will initially be used with an RRS BH-55, although this might change to a Manfrotto 410, 405, or (dream on) a Cube

    Unfortunately, Gitzo has rearranged their webpage, and I cannot even find the maximum height of anything any more, just weight, supported weight, collapsed height, and so on. I am considering Jack's favorite, the GT3541XLS, as well as the truly giant GT5561SGT (over 2,60m tall!), and any other similar model. I prefer a Systematic, since I don't use the center column, but I suppose it might be possible to convert a regular model if there is an interesting one to consider.

    Any hints to snap me out of my deadlock?

    Secondary question: how does one transport these things? My Manfrotto has a screw-on strap which allows me to throw it over my shoulder. Does the Gitzo come with anything like that? Most of the time, I don't want another bag with me, just a light strap which stays out of the way while I am shooting.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    I LOVE the GT3541XLS!! I use its full height on nearly every outing (or at least near its full height). Of course, not on all legs, but typically one leg on awkward ground, etc. I've also used it at full height while standing on a ladder, etc. Yet it still goes plenty low enough in most cases.

    This model is very stable and mates perfectly with the BH-55 (size/balance-wise). It's light enough to carry all day with a full kit. It's not so big that it's a burden on most outings. For MF gear like you have mentioned I think it's a great mix of size and stability.

    BTW: I shoot Mamiya/Phase One with lenses from 35mm to 210mm if that helps for size comparison.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    I have both the GT5561SGT and the GT2542L. I love both and use both with my LF camera and Phase camera. I prefer to have the choice. The GT3541XLS is just a little bit to heavy, for hiking and other stuff. Than again, If I don't move a lot or shoot on location, there is nothing that beets the 5 series.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Since the 3541XLS and 5561SGT are both Systematics, I guess the question is one of weight and height. Do I really want to carry almost twice the weight, in case I need to get to more than 2m?

    Christopher, you do architectural photography, right? How often do you expand the 5561 fully, and how do you step up to it when it is fully expanded? I guess a 1m stepladder would do the trick?

    Interestingly, my old beast of a Manfrotto weighs 2,6kg, which is almost halfway between the two Gitzos.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Well I haven't used it much at full length so far, but the main reason for that is, that in the last year I did not shoot a lot of architecture. More personal projects. And now traveling for 6 months till December. However, really like to shoot from a higher few point and I think even two meters make a difference. (The same as sometimes shooting from the ground) For me weight wasn't an issue when deciding, because i already had two other gitzos. (One 1 series for my leica and very ligh travel and the 2 series for hiking and longer trips) What you need depends a little on how tall you are. I'm around 1,90m and so I only need a small step ladder.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    I step on the Peli case when my tripod is at (almost) full length ...

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    If I was essentially a landscape photographer, and living in an ideal world, I'd carry a 4m ladder with me at all times.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Correction

    If I was essentially a landscape photographer, and living in an ideal world, I'd have an assistant carrying a 4m ladder with me at all times.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Hi Carsten,
    Some time ago I decided for a Gitzo 2542L.
    It allows me to go high enough to look compfotably through the viewfinder without using the middle extension (I mean "Mittelsäule"), when using the Hy6 with WLF I dont even need to fully extend the legs. (I am 1,87m tall)
    It is a very nice compromise between size, weight and stability.
    I am not shooting tripod that much - but from the few times I did not see any problems to use this tripod with the Hy6 or with the ArTec.

    I also own a Berlebach which is beautiful but frankly the Gitzo is much more compfortable to carry - both size and weight.

    I lusted for a 3541 XLS for some time but if we talk portability I believe the 2542L is much more comfortable.

    It is often intruiging to buy the "real big stuff" but the question for me would be: as big and heavy as necessary but not more.

    However if you do not need/plan to carry the tripod much and just bring it with your car I like the Berlebach because of its weight. (It also looks much better in the living room ) Sometimes with the Gitzo Carbon I feel I could easily tip over the tripod over and damage my camera.
    For my part as a hobby photographer it is often during travel and vacation where I have the time and the need to use a tripod.

    Regarding the head I have a ball head from Gitzo which works very good but I love the Manfrotto 410 and believe it is perfect for its price. I feel there is not anything else I should need and never saw it necessary to spend any more money on a head.

    I also admit that sometimes I think I should have just bought a Benro instead of a Gitzo- but with the Gitzo one has at least the feeling to go for the "real" stuff without compromise.
    Last edited by Paratom; 12th November 2009 at 02:32.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    That last point is interesting... there are a number of companies making carbon fiber tripods at this point (Benro, Gitzo, Giotto, Manfrotto...), and there is also a new carbon fiber version of the Manfrotto I have, and many of these are much cheaper than the Gitzos. Even Calumet has some carbon fiber tripods they are selling under their own name. I don't know if they are as good though, and in general, I would tend to think that they are not. Has anyone done some comparison testing, or are there any good websites which test this?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    ...and just to confuse you more, Carsten---RRS has a new CF tripod out that is uniquely positioned in capabilities/description between a 3 and 5 series Gitzo. My guess is RRS is the type of company that would put out a product on par with a Gitzo.

    I like the Gitzo 5541LS, but had RRS come out with their CF tripod earlier, I would have considered it----similar capabilities but two pounds lighter than the 5 series....

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    That last point is interesting... there are a number of companies making carbon fiber tripods at this point (Benro, Gitzo, Giotto, Manfrotto...), and there is also a new carbon fiber version of the Manfrotto I have, and many of these are much cheaper than the Gitzos. Even Calumet has some carbon fiber tripods they are selling under their own name. I don't know if they are as good though, and in general, I would tend to think that they are not. Has anyone done some comparison testing, or are there any good websites which test this?
    I oly know that I have used a smaller Benro Carbon which was "cheap" (price-wise) compared to Gitzo. However it feels 90% like a Gitzo with the exception that the screw-mechanism is a little slower compared to that of the new Gitzos.
    The other exception is that the price of the Benro includes a very nice bag.
    To me it looks like a very good copy.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Btw, no one answered the one part of the question: how do you carry your Gitzo around? Does everyone use a bag, or are there other options?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    I am considering Jack's favorite, the GT3541XLS, as well as the truly giant GT5561SGT
    Just to weigh in, I still *LOVE* the 3541 XLS! If it broke today, I would replace it instantly without hesitation or regard to price and not even consider other manufacturer comparable options. I need nothing stronger or heavier duty for my current uses, I like how it works and trust it in all conditions.

    *IF* I still shot birds with 800mm telephotos in front of my Canons OR still shot an 8X10 view camera, I would get the 5561GT and put a Wimberley for the Canon/Tele or a uber-heavy-duty head on top for the 8X10. But aside from those situations, I have not had any need or desire for a 5-series with my current MF outfit.

    To carry my 3 series I used to bag it and that was a PITA, so I decided all I needed to do was wrap the Cube to protect it. That has all gone away and now I simply toss it in the back of the car naked, no bag or wrap. If traveling by air, I remove the Cube head and put the legs in my checked roller duffle along with my clothes and boots, and stuff the Cube in my camera bag which I carry on.

    My .02 only and FWIW,
    Jack
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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Btw, no one answered the one part of the question: how do you carry your Gitzo around? Does everyone use a bag, or are there other options?
    I have a thinktank roller bag with a spot for the tripod when I am working with it.
    When traveling I go like Jack,
    Take the column off and put the tripod in the suitcase, head in my carry-on
    I also have on optech tripod strap which I can use to sling it over my shoulder. There are others such as silk which make these.
    -bob

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Btw, no one answered the one part of the question: how do you carry your Gitzo around? Does everyone use a bag, or are there other options?
    I use a Benro bag The Gitzo bag was too expensive and the Manfrotto too big for my taste.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    I carry it in my hand ;-)

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    In the field I carry the tripod cradled across my body like an upland bird shotgun, or I carry it over my shoulder like a Nitro Express in Botswana. Sometimes camera is attached, and sometimes not. It can also be carried in the tripod holder of my backpack and that works fine too, but I prefer to carry it like a long-gun.

    I also own a rather compact Benro. I bought it in Bangkok at a time when other options were scarce. Other than Benro I could get bad stuff, a couple of Sliks, or some overpriced Manfrottos (due to tariffs), and the Benro worked fine. Now Gitzos are available there too though. Anyway, the Benro is quite well made for the money and there's nothing crappy about it in comparison to Gitzo. It's a little less sexy and refined, but an excellent value IMO. And as Tom mentions, the case is nice.

    That said, like Jack, if my 3541XLS were lost today I would simply order another one. I wouldn't waste any angst over it. I'm that content.

    In the car I lay the tripod and head so that they don't bang on stuff, maybe with a jacket padding it, etc. I have also slid it into the Benro bag (though it's too long for the bag I have) just to keep it from banging against a dog kennel in the car. Mostly it is carried in the vehicle about like Jack and Bob described.

    I hike miles with it, but would not likely choose it for much over 8 miles or so. I carry my Phase/Mamiya kit with as many as seven lenses on most outings. Most typically though, I carry six lenses. I'm 5'8" and about 145 lbs. (maybe 150 this week, need to get out more).

    Hope that helps.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    I think I have to redefine hiking: For me that is a full day trip and can be up to 30miles. So at that point weight really matters. Ever ounce.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Yep, hikes can be longer or shorter. Terrain matters, weather, how much shooting is done, etc. I don't hike more than 8-10 miles at time these days, but I'm referring to lineal distance covered, not all the side trips and positioning, etc.

    "Back in the day" I was in to backpacking and handled things differently. These days time is more limited, as is energy. A typical afternoon/evening outing for me these days might be four to five miles hiking out from my vehicle, shooting until past dark, then return. Mornings might be the same. All day (pre-dawn 'till after dark) hikes are fewer these days for me. Still some, but not as often, as I often return to the vehicle and move to another location mid-day.

    I don't normally do overnight backpack trips with my full kit these days, but I have identified a couple such trips for spring of 2010. Still, the hiking will mostly be around 5 or 6 miles per day to allow for shooting, waiting for light, etc. As an experienced backpacker, mountaineer, hunter, 30 miles per day is too much for me for photography, especially to allow time for shooting the way I like. Others with more energy and a different shooting style probably feel differently. I don't have the "pep" for it these days.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    So, there is nothing like this strap included with Gitzos? I find that sad, this strap is really handy. Note how the bottom is a garotte which stretches over the feet. The top screws into a dedicated threaded hole. It does slowly work its way loose, but this takes so long that I just finger-tighten it once every two weeks or so.

    Attachment 24733
    Last edited by carstenw; 12th November 2009 at 16:23.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    OpTech makes one similar. I have it, but it stays in the car or home now because I get tired of dealing with it.

    http://optechusa.com/product/detail/...RODUCT_SUB_ID=

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Thanks Dale, I'll have to browse around a bit and find something I like. The dual garotte might work well, since I can just leave the top on at all times, and let the bottom dangle when in use.

    I am leaning towards the 3541XLS, I must admit. I have thought of a 2-series, but with the almost certainty of a 210mm in my future, and the possibility of a 350mm, I feel safer with the 3541. The 5561SGT is really neat, but almost twice the weight, and the difference is most useful in a scenario I don't currently find myself in.

    I still have a little time to mull it over though
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Carsten, one good thing about the OpTech strap is that my wife likes it. She's always willing to schlep the tripod, though I seldom take her up on it. When I have the strap along I feel less guilty in doing so.

    As mentioned above, I have a more compact Benro, as well as a Gitzo AL Explorer, but since adding the 3541XLS I've not taken the others out. I use them indoors to hold lights, etc. and occasionally for reflectors outdoors. I brought the Benro back from Bangkok (again) recently because I felt I might like it for some longer hikes, but so far I keep reaching for the 3541. I love the height, and also as mentioned, my hikes are not major expeditions.

    I suggest that you consider the collapsed length so that it doesn't catch you off-guard. It's fine for me, but one might feel it a bit longish when collapsed.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    It is admittedly a bit long (about 10cm more than my 055C), but I don't see any way around that. I want a tall tripod, having been caught out twice recently without enough length in mine. I will remove the leveling head, for a bit less total length I find myself not using it as much as I thought I would.

    About the weight, I think that 2kg is low enough that I would carry it just about anywhere. The rest of my equipment weighs much more.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Obviously theres no faulting the build quality of the Gitzo system, but i absolutely hate the leg locking mechanism- those damned twisting collett locks, they never seem to want to go the right way, hate them with a passion, may be its just me but if manfrotto had a tripod as solid which used their lever locks i would buy it in a second!

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Aaron, that problem was solved to an almost non-existent degree several years back when Gitzo went to the anti-twist leg system. It is very easy to unlock and lock legs now.
    Jack
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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Yep, the best system I know.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Aaron, that problem was solved to an almost non-existent degree several years back when Gitzo went to the anti-twist leg system. It is very easy to unlock and lock legs now.
    Thanks Jack, i missed that news!
    So my problem now is how to 'sabotage' my current ones so i can justify picking up a new one. They're fairly indestructable but my one year old is currently using my studex as wigwam so it could become a permant structure in his play room

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    I need bags for my Gitzo Series 5 and Series 3.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Really Right Stuff sells a bag. Not sure of the length.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Quote Originally Posted by Dale Allyn View Post
    Really Right Stuff sells a bag. Not sure of the length.
    I checked their website before, i think i have to check again but as you said, not sure of the length sizes.

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Hi there!

    I'm looking for a new tripod and just wondered if the GT3541XLS is still a good option.
    (40MP | 645DF | 28 - 300mm)

    Jack: You still like the GT3541XLS most or do you have a new favorite now?

    Thanks,
    Jonas

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    I do like the GT3541XLS a lot and use it regularly. That would be my recommendation unless you need really heavy support.
    -bob

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob View Post
    I do like the GT3541XLS a lot and use it regularly. That would be my recommendation unless you need really heavy support.
    -bob
    Well, my biggest lens would be the Mamiya 300mm 2.8 APO. So the GT3541XLS shoud go with that.

    Thanks for your help!
    Jonas

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Hi All

    This is my first post. I really enjoy the Get DPI forum!

    I used a Gitzo Recorder for many years, since 1983, along with an Arca Swiss ballhead, and Linhof IV. This was the only camera and tripod I've used since then. This tripod never died but as I'm now entering the realm of digital MFD I decided to search for a lighter replacement. I did look seriously at a new Gitzo until Really Right Stuff announced their new Versa tripods.

    I just purchased the Really Right Stuff Versa 23 after a ton of research. It is absolutely perfect from my point of view. It's light, sturdy, has the right (and adjustable) leg angle, weight hook, easy to turn locks, positive lock, and bombproof in all conditions and terrain.

    I do pound the lights out of my equipment. 1979 winter ski of the John Muir Trail, 1983 climb of the West Ridge of Mount Everest to 27,500 feet without supplemental oxygen, 2008 first ascent of east face Mount Isto and first descent of the Jago River , Brooks Range of AK, etc.

    Sorry for the brag, but I do need absolute equipment reliability. Fedx isn't coming out with a spare battery, or replacement tripod leg one hundred miles out in the Alaska bush. My Gitzo did sort of fail in Alaska with two legs that would not retract due to stuck leg locks. I tried to get them unstuck with a small pair of channel locks but the squeeze started to buckle the tripod legs. I stopped. The stuck legs weren't too big deal, but were a pain to fit into the inflattable, i.e.do not puncture, two person boat.

    The hiking thing with a tripod has come up and I don't know how any one carries a tripod with a sling, or bag, or in their hands. In my book, any walking other than on pavement requires that you put your gear/tripod into a backpack. I never was into the specialty camera packs. That just meant another piece of gear and more weight added to my already over sized load. I always carry my gear in my backpack. At one time I didn't use a camera bag. I just swaddled the 4x5 in a sweater, changed film at night in the sleeping bag, only brought three film holders, one lens, used my jacket for a dark cloth. My pack still weighed 85 pounds with climbing gear, food and other equipment.

    That all being said I strapped my tripod on the outside of the backpack. Still do, always will. I can use my hands to scramble, stop a fall, check the time, and most importantly look around more comfortably. I also need a day pack at least for food, water, spare clothes, map, headlamp..... Using a back pack also meant that the four leg, more collapsable version of tripods wasn't a consideration or necessity.

    The lighter GT Recorder was never an issue with the 4x5. I drilled a hole in the bottom of the center post of the GT, ran a sling through the hole, clipped my back back to the sling and piled rocks on the pack for ballast. My camera never moved. The one time that I didn't use this method to stabilize the tripod the Linhof blew over 60 miles from nowhere, broke the ground glass and arms that held the assembly to the camera back. I used duct tape to paste the glass together and taped the fix to the camera back to make pictures for the rest of the trip. It worked.

    So to the tripod question. As with all equipment decisions, decide what your end is. The what, why and where of what it is you're trying to accomplish. Then buy the means
    (who cares what it costs, we're photographers) that get you to that end.

    Claude Fiddler
    www.wildernesslight.com

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    Re: Tripods again - Gitzo System

    Welcome to GetDPI Claude!
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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