Harley said:@ Ronderick: Thanks for the advice! I've felt the same way and was surprised that our local pro photo store guys gave me the opposite advice when we were trying out tripods today. And then, as if to emphasize the point, the Gitzo fell apart when we extended the legs! Exactly the opposite of what I would have expected based on many of the comments here. So this really threw a wrench in my decision making process.
When you say 'fell apart', do you mean that the leg became detached after turning the lock/joints many times in the "loosen up" direction?
Assuming that's what you've witnessed, the mechanism of the gitzo tripod is designed for that.
When you extend the legs, you're only supposed to rotate the joint a little bit (about half-a-turn of your wrist), just loose enough to extend the leg, and lock it in position by turning the joint the other way after ur done extending it.
The time I have the legs detached was when the shop people took it apart to help me clean out the sand from an outing at the beach.
Of course, they put the parts back together when they're done, but that's not something I'd try on my own...