I have been frustrated with my tripod for quite some time now, but had not been able to pull the trigger on a new one. Over the last 24 hours, I discovered two very good reasons to say “goodbye” to my old tripod and “hello” to a new Gitzo.
I had taken some photos on Saturday using my tripod, but had not taken it down, so last night, I decided to put it away. As I was taking it down, the head disconnected from the mounting plate, causing my camera and my favorite lens, the Canon 24-70/2.8L, to tumble to the floor. The camera appears to be fine, but the lens was not. The fall was from about five feet to a carpeted floor, so although the lens glass did not shatter, the lens broke apart adjacent to the mount, disconnecting the electronic connections. That lens was my favorite. It has traveled with me on every trip. It has been on tiny planes, out on the ocean in many boats, on many of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and up a couple mountains, but where does it crash? In my living room. It was a sad day.
So this morning, I sent my lens off to Canon Professional Services, hoping that it can be repaired. If not, I’m out $2,000 on a replacement. This costly mistake finally prompted me to pull the trigger on a new tripod. The only bit of good news is that starting today, via B&H, Gitzo is offering $150 rebates on tripods priced at $450 or more! So the $500 tripod will really cost $350.
I ended up selecting the Gitzo Mountaineer GT0532, and here is why. I knew I wanted a tripod for travel. It doesn’t do much good to have a super sturdy tripod that you can’t take anywhere due to the weight. I am not a nature photographer, so my longest lens was 200mm. Given the weight of my camera and my heaviest lens, which weigh in around 6 pounds, I could get a tripod with a lighter load capacity, and accordingly lighter weight and smaller size. Gitzo redesigned its Moutaineer series earlier this year so the “0” series, which used to have a load capacity of 11 pounds, could now bear as much weight as its “1” series, which could bear 17 pounds. They redesigned the carbon legs to use what they call “Carbon Exact” tubes which were more sturdy than the older Carbon Fiber 6X. They also improved the locks and important to me, they made a sturdier upper disc to improve the connection with the head. I don’t know how they could improve the locks. I love the locks on my Gitzo monopod, making it super easy to set up, so I ‘m excited for the improvements with the new tripod.
I love my Really Right Stuff ballhead and monopod head, but for my purposes, I could not justify a minimum of $850 for a tripod. I narrowed down my choices to three tripods, the Mountaineer GT0532, the Mountaineer GT0542, and the Traveler 1542T. Here’s how the differences broke down. The Traveler folded down smaller, to 42.5cm, versus 48cm on the GT0542 and 53cm on the GT0532. It was also lighter, but just barely, at 1kg, versus 1.12kg on the GT0542 and 1.07kg on the GT0532. However, the Traveler did not have the design improvements made to the Mountaineer series. The other consideration for me was the maximum height. The Traveler had a maximum height of 149cm (116.5 with the center column down), versus 137cm(112cm) on the GT0542 and 132cm(108cm) on the GT0532. The other consideration was sturdiness. From my reading, it is generally believed that the 3-section tripods are sturdier than 4-section tripods given that there are less connecting parts.
I travel with a ThinkTank Airport Airstream. None of the tripods would fit in this rolling bag, even the Traveler. So the closed length was really not a deal breaker. All were pretty comparable on weight. They all had identical load capacity. On height, at 5’6″ tall, any of the designs are fine for me. It came down to the number of leg sections, so I opted for the GT0532. It also came with the smallest price tag, $500 before the rebate, versus $575 for the Traveler, and $576 for the GT0542. I expect to receive the tripod from B&H by the end of the week and I’ll post my initial impressions, so stay tuned!
Do your camera and lenses a favor, and invest in a good tripod today!
To see what’s in my camera bag for travel, take a look here!
The Gitzo Rebate Form can be found here. I only saw the rebate form on the B&H website. I don’t see it on the Gitzo US site or via Amazon, so choose wisely.
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