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Author Topic: Gitzo tripod or no?  (Read 5482 times)

Jay Khaos

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Gitzo tripod or no?
« on: July 01, 2013, 10:49:09 AM »
It seems like Gitzo is kind of universally accepted as "the best" when it comes to tripods.  But if I try my hardest to ignore the fanboy-esque reviews and comments I see about them online, and don't let myself be tempted by their slick branding materials, it seems like there has to be a better and cheaper alternative.

Currently I have a manfrotto (it was around $100).  I'm pretty sure it's made out of aluminum. It is sturdy even with my 5d3 w/ 70-200 on it, and that's probably the largest rig I'd ever have on a tripod unless I can afford the 200mm f2 IS someday lol.  But the head isnt changable, there is no level, and the head sinks too low when I tilt the body on its side (even when it's as tight as possible).

I like the Gitzo traveler tripod (gt1542t).  The weight, max/min height is cool, weight limit is good, but the price is pretty steep even for that one at $670.  I went to a local camera shop and looked at them in person, ready to buy one if it proved to be on par with the hype online.  The rubber foot stops seemed loose on most of them.  One model's legs slid completely out and detached.  Small problems, and possibly only because they were abused as floor models.  But still, considering the price and their "...forever" tag line, I lost confidence in them.  I searched about those issues online and found reviews about the same thing happening to other people.

Does anyone have a tripod in mind that they swear by... built to last, useful features.... lightweight is a plus, but not necessary?  Was my experience coincidence and is the Gitzo really as great as it's cracked up to be??  Or is my gut right, and they are over hyped?
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Gitzo tripod or no?
« on: July 01, 2013, 10:49:09 AM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2013, 11:01:30 AM »
Personally, I prefer Really Right Stuff as 'the best' support gear.  I find the build quality to be a little better than Gitzo (e.g. the aluminum parts are anodized on RRS, painted on Gitzo), the teardrop feet are more stable, etc.

Of course, RRS is even more expensive than Gizto, and unless you're local to SLO, CA you can't even try them out without buying them (they only sell direct, no distributors).

Regarding the legs sliding completely out, they're designed to do that if you unscrew the locks far enough (that might or might not be what was happening with the one you tried).  What happens if you get saltwater or windblown sand in your tripod legs?  With Gitzo and RRS, you just unscrew the locks, disassemble the legs, rinse them with clean water and let them dry - they're designed to be field-strippable/cleanable.  Manfrotto legs require tools to take apart (usually a hexkey and a nut driver; for some you have to pound out a pin with a hammer and awl). 
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Jay Khaos

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2013, 11:12:09 AM »
Personally, I prefer Really Right Stuff as 'the best' support gear...

Actually I remember coming across them a while back, and I think I pretty much wrote them off because I wasnt prepared to spend nearly that much at the time.  I do remember reading multiple places that people like their heads the best...

And yeah with the Gitzo leg, I was thinking that it might have been intentional, although I didn't notice any locks.

For me, I guess lightweight it probably more of a plus than weatherproof and pure strength is.  I rarely take my stuff into harsh environments (portrait/fashion shots and stock photo), but I do carry it around, so that's why I was liking the carbon fiber on the Gitzos.  I will definitely look closer at the RRS gear though... I had forgot about them
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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2013, 11:21:46 AM »
I'd take a Gitzo over anything, I own 20 of them and they've been great. Parts and maintenance are easy if you do run into a problem.

I use and love the Traveller tripod.

Markins makes the best and lightest heads in my opinion and make one exclusively for the Traveller.

I've had a bad run of luck with RRS products and their service has been mediocre for us, so we moved on to another provider for gimbal products and ballheads.
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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2013, 11:31:56 AM »
If your images are fine, and you are just doing photography as a hobby, then stick with what works.  Gitzo is for serious photographers who need reliable equipment that will do the job when they ask it to, and its priced accordingly.  There are other less costly brands with heavy duty legs that may not be as reliable, but work well.  Manfroto makes high quality legs at a fair price, but not $100. 
 
The head is probably more important than the legs, don't skimp there.  Where the legs suddenly become critical is with long exposures.  If you hang your camera bag with equipment from the under hook of your tripod legs to stabilize it, you should be fine.
 
The Manfroto combined head and legs like Costco sells, for example, are of pretty limited use.  The first time a little gust of wind blows over a 5D MK III and 70-200mm lens, the repair bill will set you back many times the cost of a good tripod with underhook, but if you are aware of the risk and take precautions, you can make do with most anything.
 
The other thing is that eventually, you will want to go to Arca  Swiss type Quick Release plates.  Manfrotto has finally indicated that they will make them.  They are very universal among pro's, there are so many weaknesses in the RC2 plate system.
 
So, first buy a high quality head with AS type QR plate ($500 and up), then consider good legs.  If you already have a good head, you will soon recognize that the weakest point is now the tripod legs.
 
Be sure to get a tripod that sits tall enough for you to look thru the camera viewfinder without any cranking up of a center column.  Better to bend over than crank up that column.
 
Here is a example of reasonably priced legs from Manfroto.  They have 4 section ones as well for a few dollars more. 
 
Check that the height is adequate for you, some of these might require you to get down on your knees.  48 inches with center column down is just too low.  This Manfroto falls in that category.
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-190CXPRO3-3-Section-Carbon-without/dp/B0015MFTE4/ref=sr_1_5?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1372691654&sr=1-5&keywords=tripod
 
Vanguard makes good ones as well as cheap ones.
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-190CXPRO3-3-Section-Carbon-without/dp/B0015MFTE4/ref=sr_1_5?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1372691654&sr=1-5&keywords=tripod
 
Induro also makes some good ones and some not so good.  Watch out, $200 for a 49 inch high tripod is wasting your money unless you are pretty short.  Get one that is over 60 inches or even 70 inches so you can set it up on a slope.
 
 
http://www.amazon.com/Induro-CT313-Section-Extends-Supports/dp/B002VUJM2Y/ref=sr_1_11?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1372692034&sr=1-11&keywords=tripod
 
For me, the Gitzo traveler is not quite tall enough at 58 inches.  Even adding 6 -7 inches for a head-camera combination, I'm 6"2 and my eye is about 69 inches-70 inches above the terrain.  If you are six feet tall or less, its fine.
http://www.amazon.com/Gitzo-GT2542T-Traveler-Tripod-Black/dp/B009DP5RV0/ref=sr_1_4?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1372692197&sr=1-4&keywords=tripod
 
 
 
 
 

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2013, 11:36:37 AM »
I've been pretty happy with my Gitzo travel tripod.  I live in Japan, and most of my traveling is by train and foot so size and weight was a major factor.  I wouldn't hesitate to get another Gitzo, though I would certainly look at RRS and other brands before buying.  (I don't think RRS was making the tripods back when I got mine in 2011; I have a RRS ballhead on my Gitzo which I actually picked up at the store in San Luis Obispo on a trip back to CA to visit family.  At that time, most of the tripods they had on display were Gitzos).  My first tripod was also a Manfrotto (190 something--sorry, forget the code).  That tripod would have been fine for me if I was still living in CA and did most of my traveling by car, but it was kind of unwieldy on the trains over here.

I found my RRS ballhead to be great, except that recently the plate has been "sticking" so that when I release the lever / clamp the plate doesn't open.  I have not approached RRS about what might be going on yet--just haven't had time.

Jay Khaos

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2013, 12:22:36 PM »
I'd take a Gitzo over anything, I own 20 of them and they've been great. Parts and maintenance are easy if you do run into a problem.

I use and love the Traveller tripod.

Markins makes the best and lightest heads in my opinion and make one exclusively for the Traveller.

I've had a bad run of luck with RRS products and their service has been mediocre for us, so we moved on to another provider for gimbal products and ballheads.


Thats good to know.  I've heard the opposite about parts and maintenance being easy though... I've read that it's near impossible to reach Gitzo and the only way to request a part is via e-mail (and the writer said that they could not get a response).  That scared me off a little...  I hadn't heard of Markins' head.  Thats why I love this forum!  Always learning stuff...

If your images are fine, and you are just doing photography as a hobby, then stick with what works.  Gitzo is for serious photographers who need reliable equipment that will do the job when they ask it to, and its priced accordingly.  There are other less costly brands with heavy duty legs that may not be as reliable, but work well.  Manfroto makes high quality legs at a fair price, but not $100. 
 
The head is probably more important than the legs, don't skimp there.  Where the legs suddenly become critical is with long exposures.  If you hang your camera bag with equipment from the under hook of your tripod legs to stabilize it, you should be fine.
 
The Manfroto combined head and legs like Costco sells, for example, are of pretty limited use.  The first time a little gust of wind blows over a 5D MK III and 70-200mm lens, the repair bill will set you back many times the cost of a good tripod with underhook, but if you are aware of the risk and take precautions, you can make do with most anything.
 
The other thing is that eventually, you will want to go to Arca  Swiss type Quick Release plates.  Manfrotto has finally indicated that they will make them.  They are very universal among pro's, there are so many weaknesses in the RC2 plate system.
 
So, first buy a high quality head with AS type QR plate ($500 and up), then consider good legs.  If you already have a good head, you will soon recognize that the weakest point is now the tripod legs.
 
Be sure to get a tripod that sits tall enough for you to look thru the camera viewfinder without any cranking up of a center column.  Better to bend over than crank up that column.
 
Here is a example of reasonably priced legs from Manfroto.  They have 4 section ones as well for a few dollars more. 
 
Check that the height is adequate for you, some of these might require you to get down on your knees.  48 inches with center column down is just too low.  This Manfroto falls in that category.
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-190CXPRO3-3-Section-Carbon-without/dp/B0015MFTE4/ref=sr_1_5?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1372691654&sr=1-5&keywords=tripod
 
Vanguard makes good ones as well as cheap ones.
http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-190CXPRO3-3-Section-Carbon-without/dp/B0015MFTE4/ref=sr_1_5?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1372691654&sr=1-5&keywords=tripod
 
Induro also makes some good ones and some not so good.  Watch out, $200 for a 49 inch high tripod is wasting your money unless you are pretty short.  Get one that is over 60 inches or even 70 inches so you can set it up on a slope.
 
 
http://www.amazon.com/Induro-CT313-Section-Extends-Supports/dp/B002VUJM2Y/ref=sr_1_11?s=photo&ie=UTF8&qid=1372692034&sr=1-11&keywords=tripod
 
For me, the Gitzo traveler is not quite tall enough at 58 inches.  Even adding 6 -7 inches for a head-camera combination, I'm 6"2 and my eye is about 69 inches-70 inches above the terrain.  If you are six feet tall or less, its fine.
http://www.amazon.com/Gitzo-GT2542T-Traveler-


Thanks for the suggestions.  I do make do with what I have, and I'm definitely a big fan of making do with less where I can.  And though I will probably not have my tripod sitting in saltwater or resting atop a rocky cliff (I might though), I have come to a point where the marginal benefits of pro gear is becoming worth the investment to me. 

I'm about 5'10 so I think the traveler is high enough for me.  Some of your links look good too. I'll research some more.

I've been pretty happy with my Gitzo travel tripod.  I live in Japan, and most of my traveling is by train and foot so size and weight was a major factor.  I wouldn't hesitate to get another Gitzo, though I would certainly look at RRS and other brands before buying.  (I don't think RRS was making the tripods back when I got mine in 2011; I have a RRS ballhead on my Gitzo which I actually picked up at the store in San Luis Obispo on a trip back to CA to visit family.  At that time, most of the tripods they had on display were Gitzos).  My first tripod was also a Manfrotto (190 something--sorry, forget the code).  That tripod would have been fine for me if I was still living in CA and did most of my traveling by car, but it was kind of unwieldy on the trains over here.

I found my RRS ballhead to be great, except that recently the plate has been "sticking" so that when I release the lever / clamp the plate doesn't open.  I have not approached RRS about what might be going on yet--just haven't had time.


Thanks for the comment.  I'd probably be on foot with the tripod attached to my pack too.  I'd love to be in Japan with my camera right now..
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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2013, 12:22:36 PM »

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2013, 05:35:48 PM »
I have three Gitzos and they are, for lack of a better word, perfect. I have the 1542T Traveler. It is quite solid for its weight/size, but only extends to 46" (w/o cent col) so is rather short. I also have the 2541EX. It has the angled center column and infinitely adjustable legs which are very useful for macro and odd positioning situations. It is, however, only truly stable to 52". My big gun is the 3542XLS. It is stable with a volkswagon on top during a hurricane, and it extends to 79". Its downside is that it folds down to 31" w/ballhead attached. All three pods are perfect in their design and manufacture. The trick is getting the one who's specs fit your need.  I am now "investing" in a different brand. Last year I picked up a Sirui P-326 monopod for $90 on ebay. It is magnificent. I was so impressed, that I picked up a Sirui T-1205X pod for travel. It is smaller and lighter than my GT Traveler, extends almost as high and is almost as stable. Is it as good as my Gitzo? No, but it is good enough. I will be selling my Traveler. Two days ago I purchased (off ebay for $369) a Sirui M3204X tripod which on paper seems to be the ideal everyday pod. It folds down to 21" (incl ballhead) and extends to 58" (not incl head) so no more bending over. It weighs under 4 lbs and I expect it to be my go-to pod when my Gitzo systematic seems to be overkill. So yes, Gitzos are wonderful pods. The question is are they worth the money to you.

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2013, 08:30:30 PM »
I have three Gitzos and they are, for lack of a better word, perfect. I have the 1542T Traveler. It is quite solid for its weight/size, but only extends to 46" (w/o cent col) so is rather short. I also have the 2541EX. It has the angled center column and infinitely adjustable legs which are very useful for macro and odd positioning situations. It is, however, only truly stable to 52". My big gun is the 3542XLS. It is stable with a volkswagon on top during a hurricane, and it extends to 79". Its downside is that it folds down to 31" w/ballhead attached. All three pods are perfect in their design and manufacture. The trick is getting the one who's specs fit your need.  I am now "investing" in a different brand. Last year I picked up a Sirui P-326 monopod for $90 on ebay. It is magnificent. I was so impressed, that I picked up a Sirui T-1205X pod for travel. It is smaller and lighter than my GT Traveler, extends almost as high and is almost as stable. Is it as good as my Gitzo? No, but it is good enough. I will be selling my Traveler. Two days ago I purchased (off ebay for $369) a Sirui M3204X tripod which on paper seems to be the ideal everyday pod. It folds down to 21" (incl ballhead) and extends to 58" (not incl head) so no more bending over. It weighs under 4 lbs and I expect it to be my go-to pod when my Gitzo systematic seems to be overkill. So yes, Gitzos are wonderful pods. The question is are they worth the money to you.

I actually ordered the 1542t a little while ago online, along with the Markins Q3 traveler and a Markins plate.  Got the tripod for 499 USD new... seemed like a good price so I went for it.  I saw a blog post about the specific setup and i love how it looked with the red markins head.... that pushed me to pull the trigger lol.

Thanks for the input though.  I feel a little more confident about the choice.
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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2013, 07:40:03 AM »
I have three Gitzos and they are, for lack of a better word, perfect. I have the 1542T Traveler. It is quite solid for its weight/size, but only extends to 46" (w/o cent col) so is rather short. I also have the 2541EX. It has the angled center column and infinitely adjustable legs which are very useful for macro and odd positioning situations. It is, however, only truly stable to 52". My big gun is the 3542XLS. It is stable with a volkswagon on top during a hurricane, and it extends to 79". Its downside is that it folds down to 31" w/ballhead attached. All three pods are perfect in their design and manufacture. The trick is getting the one who's specs fit your need.  I am now "investing" in a different brand. Last year I picked up a Sirui P-326 monopod for $90 on ebay. It is magnificent. I was so impressed, that I picked up a Sirui T-1205X pod for travel. It is smaller and lighter than my GT Traveler, extends almost as high and is almost as stable. Is it as good as my Gitzo? No, but it is good enough. I will be selling my Traveler. Two days ago I purchased (off ebay for $369) a Sirui M3204X tripod which on paper seems to be the ideal everyday pod. It folds down to 21" (incl ballhead) and extends to 58" (not incl head) so no more bending over. It weighs under 4 lbs and I expect it to be my go-to pod when my Gitzo systematic seems to be overkill. So yes, Gitzos are wonderful pods. The question is are they worth the money to you.

I actually ordered the 1542t a little while ago online, along with the Markins Q3 traveler and a Markins plate.  Got the tripod for 499 USD new... seemed like a good price so I went for it.  I saw a blog post about the specific setup and i love how it looked with the red markins head.... that pushed me to pull the trigger lol.

Thanks for the input though.  I feel a little more confident about the choice.

As long as the Traveler is tall enough for you, you will love it. It is seriously well built. I have the "regular" Q3 on top of mine and it is the perfect head. Buttery smooth action and locks up like a rock. The only negatives for the head are that the spirit level is on the clamp plate so you can't read it with the camera attached, and the panning lock takes a little more force than I would like to lock up solid. These inconveniences are easily overlooked due to the super smooth action. Enjoy!

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2013, 08:54:55 AM »
Personally, I prefer Really Right Stuff as 'the best' support gear.  I find the build quality to be a little better than Gitzo (e.g. the aluminum parts are anodized on RRS, painted on Gitzo), the teardrop feet are more stable, etc.

Of course, RRS is even more expensive than Gizto, and unless you're local to SLO, CA you can't even try them out without buying them (they only sell direct, no distributors).

Regarding the legs sliding completely out, they're designed to do that if you unscrew the locks far enough (that might or might not be what was happening with the one you tried).  What happens if you get saltwater or windblown sand in your tripod legs?  With Gitzo and RRS, you just unscrew the locks, disassemble the legs, rinse them with clean water and let them dry - they're designed to be field-strippable/cleanable.  Manfrotto legs require tools to take apart (usually a hexkey and a nut driver; for some you have to pound out a pin with a hammer and awl).

Yep, I've seen a lot of Gitzo Systematic tripods which fall apart after exposing to saltwater and sand. My GT3541LS has had all three lower leg assemblies and spikes replaced, along with every hex bolt on the thing (4 I think) due to corrosion. It's a great pod for stability....but ut's not what I'd call robust. If I was buying again, I'd get a RRS tripod.
Expensive, but worth it in the long run.
The bottom end of the range Gitzo's don't compare to the top end. The traveller pods are pretty weak and unstable compared to the Systematic range. You probably think....I'll just get this traveller for now...but you will find that you will want more stability soon enough.

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 09:31:39 AM »
As long as the Traveler is tall enough for you, you will love it. It is seriously well built. I have the "regular" Q3 on top of mine and it is the perfect head. Buttery smooth action and locks up like a rock. The only negatives for the head are that the spirit level is on the clamp plate so you can't read it with the camera attached, and the panning lock takes a little more force than I would like to lock up solid. These inconveniences are easily overlooked due to the super smooth action. Enjoy!

The height was a slight drawback, but easily outweighed by the portability of the traveler.  And the hidden level on the Markins was also weird.  I was considering RRS's traveler-sized ball head as well but I found a good price on the markins and the level isn't really something I'm going to use much anyway.  I've been reading reviews and whatnot about all different tripods and I'm still pretty confident this one is exactly what will work for me.

The Sirui tripods look pretty awesome btw...

Yep, I've seen a lot of Gitzo Systematic tripods which fall apart after exposing to saltwater and sand. My GT3541LS has had all three lower leg assemblies and spikes replaced, along with every hex bolt on the thing (4 I think) due to corrosion. It's a great pod for stability....but ut's not what I'd call robust. If I was buying again, I'd get a RRS tripod.
Expensive, but worth it in the long run.
The bottom end of the range Gitzo's don't compare to the top end. The traveller pods are pretty weak and unstable compared to the Systematic range. You probably think....I'll just get this traveller for now...but you will find that you will want more stability soon enough.

I've heard that about the Gitzos... and really the RRS tripod isnt THAT much more.  If I were planning on exposing my tripod to the elements or doing long exposures, etc... I would have probably gone for a RRS.  My main use for my tripod will be to stabilize my 85 1.2 for portraits.  And I'll be attached to me more than it's actually in use so that's where the size/weight factor comes into play.

@GMCPhotographics, what do you think of the Gitzo Ocean series?  Would you consider one of those possibly over a RRS.  I haven't heard much on the Gitzo ocean tripods.  Is it because the RRS tripods are still better for that use?
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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2013, 09:51:50 AM »
Yep, I've seen a lot of Gitzo Systematic tripods which fall apart after exposing to saltwater and sand. My GT3541LS has had all three lower leg assemblies and spikes replaced, along with every hex bolt on the thing (4 I think) due to corrosion. It's a great pod for stability....but ut's not what I'd call robust. If I was buying again, I'd get a RRS tripod.
Expensive, but worth it in the long run.
The bottom end of the range Gitzo's don't compare to the top end. The traveller pods are pretty weak and unstable compared to the Systematic range. You probably think....I'll just get this traveller for now...but you will find that you will want more stability soon enough.

I bought one of the Gitzo safari series (1540F) a while back which has the same ocean lock devices (as far as I know) as the ocean series on the 2 lowest leg sections to keep the worst of the crud out, however the safari series does not have the 316 stainless head and baseplate sections that the ocean series does (which also means it costs a hell of a lot more!). To me, it seems very well made and stable (obviously it's not meant for use with super teles or MF stuff but I knew that, portability is the key for me) for what I want- a 7D sized body with a standard zoom or 70-200 etc. The reason I went for the 1540F over the traveller was the increased height- this one will just about reach my eye level, which the traveller (1542) does not. The tradeoff is that it's a bit bigger, but it's always a compromise.
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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2013, 09:51:50 AM »

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2013, 09:56:28 AM »
The bottom end of the range Gitzo's don't compare to the top end. The traveller pods are pretty weak and unstable compared to the Systematic range. You probably think....I'll just get this traveller for now...but you will find that you will want more stability soon enough.


The RRS travel tripod that compares to the Gitzo Traveller is the TQC-14.  I have it, it's an incredibly robust tripod in a small, light package (I wanted something that would fit in my Storm im2500 carryon hard case without removing the head). 

A friend has the 1542T, and we compared them side-by-side.  The RRS TQC-14 is substantially more stable - it is rated for 25 lbs, but it can support a lot more. How much more? Let's just say I would not recommend trying this with the 1542T...   ;)

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2013, 10:29:58 AM »
The RRS travel tripod that compares to the Gitzo Traveller is the TQC-14.  I have it, it's an incredibly robust tripod in a small, light package (I wanted something that would fit in my Storm im2500 carryon hard case without removing the head). 

A friend has the 1542T, and we compared them side-by-side.  The RRS TQC-14 is substantially more stable - it is rated for 25 lbs, but it can support a lot more. How much more? Let's just say I would not recommend trying this with the 1542T...   ;)





Actually I do plan on trying that now that you gave me the idea...  The TQC-14 is nearly double what I paid for the gt1542 or else I would have probably gotten it
5DIII | 85mm f1.2L • 70-200mm f2.8L IS II • 50mm f1.8 II

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Re: Gitzo tripod or no?
« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2013, 10:29:58 AM »