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Author Topic: Speaking of Tripods  (Read 6573 times)
markgoble
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« on: August 04, 2010, 03:33:37 PM »
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I'm searching for a new Tripod, i will use it for Landscape Photography. I have an old metal Gitzo that weighs 13 lbs. including the head, it's way too heavy. I'm thinking about the Gitzo GT3541XLS, any comments out there about this Tripod.

My height is 6 foot.

Thanks,  Mark
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ternst
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2010, 04:40:43 PM »
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Hey Mark, the xls is the same pod I use as my main one and I'm 6' also. Been using it for a couple of years and I use that extra extension all the time (currently using it with one of the cube heads - great combo - and a heavy medium format system). I'm been kind of shocked by the fact that all three legs have come loose at the top and have had to be glued back by Gitzo, and also all three feet have fallen out - TWICE each! Very pis-poor quality for a tripod this expensive (heard of the same issues from a lot of other photographers), but I guess if you are Gitzo you don't have to make them last anymore you just sell by your name. My tripod is covered with duct tape and electrical tape to keep the legs on and the tips from falling out again, but it is still the first set of sticks that I reach for...
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dchew
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2010, 08:56:50 PM »
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I also use this tripod.  At 6'4" I can stand under the thing.  I have the systematic version with no center column so it can essentially go all the way to the ground.  I was worried it would be too large to carry; my previous tripod was the "2" series Gitzo Mountaineer.  But it really is not that much different carrying around unless your going miles or over night.  I haven't had any trouble with the legs, in fact I think they are great.  However the tips do come loose.  Some put locktite on them.  I'd love a cube like Ternst has but I have the relatively low-budget RRS BH-55, which replaced my age-old Arca B1.  

There are a few things to know:  First, it is indeed big, so you need to develop a system to extend and collapse, otherwise you may find yourself stretching to reach the leg rings or hitting your neighbor, even if that neighbor is in the next county.  New Gitzo's come with special star-type allen screws for some of the fittings, so don't lose the two that come with it; you need both to tighten the top leg hinges.  

I usually leave the lowest legs extended 2-3 inches so the bottom set of leg locks stay out of the dirt.  I really like the systematic version without a center column.  However, if you do a lot of macro or relatively close photography it can be a real pain because there is no easy way to adjust the height even 1/4 inch.  

The best thing about the XLS is that hillsides are a dream.  It doesn't take much of a slope to dramatically shrink the effective height of a tripod.  This thing handles even steep hills with aplomb.

Ciao,

Dave
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JeffKohn
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2010, 09:59:21 PM »
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Another 3541XLS & Arca Cube user here. I've been very happy with the combo, I can't think of anything else I'd rather have (regardless of price). I too have the systematic version. I'm about 5'-11" and I normally only have to use 3 leg sections but that extra section comes in handy on a pretty regular basis either due to terrain or just wanting as much height as I can get (I keep a small step ladder in the trunk when traveling by car).

My tripod is about 2 years old, and has held up well, no repairs needed. I replaced the Gitzo feet with the screw-in titanium spikes from Markins (which have slip-on rubber covers for when spikes aren't appropriate).

I do have a smaller 2-series tripod that I use for longer or more strenuous hikes though. The 3541xls is a bit bulky/heavy to strop to your backpack when using trekking poles. But I always prefer the larger Gitzo when I think I can get by without trekking poles.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2010, 10:01:38 PM by JeffKohn » Logged

markgoble
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« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2010, 12:05:36 AM »
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Quote from: ternst
Hey Mark, the xls is the same pod I use as my main one and I'm 6' also. Been using it for a couple of years and I use that extra extension all the time (currently using it with one of the cube heads - great combo - and a heavy medium format system). I'm been kind of shocked by the fact that all three legs have come loose at the top and have had to be glued back by Gitzo, and also all three feet have fallen out - TWICE each! Very pis-poor quality for a tripod this expensive (heard of the same issues from a lot of other photographers), but I guess if you are Gitzo you don't have to make them last anymore you just sell by your name. My tripod is covered with duct tape and electrical tape to keep the legs on and the tips from falling out again, but it is still the first set of sticks that I reach for...

Hi ternst,

Sorry about the problems you have had with the tripod, i have had the tips of my Gitzo fall out also, had to glue them in. I was viewing a video on Ken Rockwells site, the video is a tour of Gitzos manufacturing plant, and i kind of wish i had not seen it, it just gave me a bad feeling about quality. Your right, with how expensive they are it's sad.
Im not familar with the cube heads, what brand and model number do you have? I was thinking about a RRS BH-55, but i may want to re-think this. I shoot with a DSLR and LIGHT prime lenses.
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Dustbak
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« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2010, 12:22:01 AM »
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I use the 3540XLS which is a predecessor of the 3541XLS but mostly the same tripod. Fortunately I have never had one single problem with it, nothing like the ones I sometimes read about. I use it without center column as well. I use it with a Burzynski head. The combination is very light but extremely sturdy and very versatile.

I have just bought a Sachtler for the really heavy stuff and for usage under more extreme circumstances.
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markgoble
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« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2010, 12:24:32 AM »
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Quote from: dchew
I also use this tripod.  At 6'4" I can stand under the thing.  I have the systematic version with no center column so it can essentially go all the way to the ground.  I was worried it would be too large to carry; my previous tripod was the "2" series Gitzo Mountaineer.  But it really is not that much different carrying around unless your going miles or over night.  I haven't had any trouble with the legs, in fact I think they are great.  However the tips do come loose.  Some put locktite on them.  I'd love a cube like Ternst has but I have the relatively low-budget RRS BH-55, which replaced my age-old Arca B1.  

There are a few things to know:  First, it is indeed big, so you need to develop a system to extend and collapse, otherwise you may find yourself stretching to reach the leg rings or hitting your neighbor, even if that neighbor is in the next county.  New Gitzo's come with special star-type allen screws for some of the fittings, so don't lose the two that come with it; you need both to tighten the top leg hinges.  

I usually leave the lowest legs extended 2-3 inches so the bottom set of leg locks stay out of the dirt.  I really like the systematic version without a center column.  However, if you do a lot of macro or relatively close photography it can be a real pain because there is no easy way to adjust the height even 1/4 inch.  

The best thing about the XLS is that hillsides are a dream.  It doesn't take much of a slope to dramatically shrink the effective height of a tripod.  This thing handles even steep hills with aplomb.

Ciao,

Dave
Hi Dave,
How do you like the BH-55?
I am also from Northeast Ohio, Akron. But living in Mexico now. Missing C.V. National Park. Thanks for the tips.

Mark
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markgoble
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« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2010, 12:35:40 AM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
Another 3541XLS & Arca Cube user here. I've been very happy with the combo, I can't think of anything else I'd rather have (regardless of price). I too have the systematic version. I'm about 5'-11" and I normally only have to use 3 leg sections but that extra section comes in handy on a pretty regular basis either due to terrain or just wanting as much height as I can get (I keep a small step ladder in the trunk when traveling by car).

My tripod is about 2 years old, and has held up well, no repairs needed. I replaced the Gitzo feet with the screw-in titanium spikes from Markins (which have slip-on rubber covers for when spikes aren't appropriate).

I do have a smaller 2-series tripod that I use for longer or more strenuous hikes though. The 3541xls is a bit bulky/heavy to strop to your backpack when using trekking poles. But I always prefer the larger Gitzo when I think I can get by without trekking poles.
Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the info. As mentioned earlier i'm thinking about a BH-55 for my DSLR and light prime lenses. I'm not familar with the Arca Cubes, would they be over the top for my light equipment? Also is there a web site for the spikes from Markins, i may want to go this route also?
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markgoble
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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2010, 12:47:25 AM »
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Quote from: Dustbak
I use the 3540XLS which is a predecessor of the 3541XLS but mostly the same tripod. Fortunately I have never had one single problem with it, nothing like the ones I sometimes read about. I use it without center column as well. I use it with a Burzynski head. The combination is very light but extremely sturdy and very versatile.

I have just bought a Sachtler for the really heavy stuff and for usage under more extreme circumstances.
Thanks for the feedback Dustbak !
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Dustbak
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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2010, 02:19:45 AM »
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Quote from: markgoble
Thanks for the feedback Dustbak !


No problem. Have a look at the burzynski head as well. I know it is a fairly unknown one but it isn't extremely expensive and well worth its money. It is also a perfect fit into the Gitzo tripods as it falls in between the legs instead of being mounted on top of the 'top-plate', eg. you have to take out the top plate and replace it with the head. This way it falls really nicely into the tripod.
« Last Edit: August 05, 2010, 02:49:42 AM by Dustbak » Logged
dchew
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2010, 05:29:45 AM »
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Quote from: markgoble
Hi Dave,
How do you like the BH-55?
I am also from Northeast Ohio, Akron. But living in Mexico now. Missing C.V. National Park. Thanks for the tips.

Mark
Mark,

I like the BH-55 very much so far.  Its design fits how I like to work in the field.  I just recently replaced my Arca Swiss B1.  Like Jeff I also still use the 2-series for backpacking and mountaineering and I've had a BH40 on that for a few years, but rarely use the 2-series tripod. On a recent trip to Alaska I took it with me, and reminded myself how much I like the position of controls and the dual drop slot.  I have an L-plate on the camera (5DII) and use the quick-release clamp (the one with the lever).  After I got back I tried to use my Arca B1 but was immediately frustrated with its ergonomics.  So out came the wallet.

Some may not like the knob positioning, but for me it makes perfect sense and now I can easily switch between tripods because the ball heads are similar.  I pay a lot of attention to the "systems" I use when shooting. Things like how I change lenses on the camera, how I change flashcards, and how I set up a tripod.  Ballhead design is a big part of many of those systems.  

I'm looking forward to this fall in CVNP.  I'm also starting a project on the many great small parks here in Geauga County.

Ciao,

Dave

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ternst
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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2010, 06:34:44 AM »
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I've used the Gitzo spiked feet from the beginning, always glued in and they still fall out somehow (they come with rubber covers also). In fact just yesterday while getting ready for a couple weeks trip to Iceland I noticed that one of the new spiked feet is now loose - it was glued in with locktite as they all have always been. What I do is tape them tight with electrical tape after glueing and that will hold them on, but it is just a shame I have to do that.

I've got 8-10 different tripods (wood, aluminum, carbon - I'm a tripod hoar!), and actually find this one with the cube head to be very light and easy to carry and the best combo of them all (I've got heads by Markins, RRS, and Gitzo too). I just carry it over my shoulder via padded sling and can carry it and a heavy camera backpack for hours - great system.

I use the Photoclam version of the cube head and love it - once you use either species of the cube-type head (Photoclam or Arca-Swiss) you won't be happy with anything else.  Spending that sort of cash on a tripod head was tough to face for a starving artist like myself, but it is easily as valuable as any lens I've ever purchased - other heads seem like toys to me now and are very frustrating to use. (not good for action like sports or wildlife though) I find this cube head to be at least as fast as any ballhead for landscape work, and probably faster, certainly easier to use.

I've taught my students for years that "lightweight" tripods are not very good, and can in fact lower image quality when you think your camera gear will be "sturdy enough" on one of them. It is much better to lose a pound or two of flesh and buy a heavy tripod instead (most of us are overweight to some degree anyway) - not only will your photos generally be better with a heavier, more sturdy tripod, but your health will be better too, ha! (I just lost 20 pounds in advance for my Iceland trip and I'm considered trim to begin with - there was plenty of fat to lose though, and I hope to never gain it back again.)

A good tripod and cube head are an investment like any other piece of camera gear, although should last through many camera systems far into the future so the cost per year is really quite low, even with an expensive setup.

Tim Ernst in Arkansas

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JeffKohn
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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2010, 03:34:57 PM »
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Quote from: markgoble
Hi Jeff,

Thanks for the info. As mentioned earlier i'm thinking about a BH-55 for my DSLR and light prime lenses. I'm not familar with the Arca Cubes, would they be over the top for my light equipment? Also is there a web site for the spikes from Markins, i may want to go this route also?
The Cube/Multiflex aren't so much about total capacity, as precision and ergonomics. They give you all of the precision of a traditional geared head (with independent control of each axis), but are not much bigger or heavier than ballheads such as the BH-55. There's no slop or sag in the mechanism like with some pan/tilt and ballheads. They also have a top rotating platform that makes shooting panos a little more convenient.

As Tim said, once you've used a cube it's hard to go back to anything else.

Here's the info on the spiked feet: https://www.photoproshop.com/product_info.p...578/language/en
« Last Edit: August 05, 2010, 03:36:16 PM by JeffKohn » Logged

markgoble
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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2010, 04:44:04 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
The Cube/Multiflex aren't so much about total capacity, as precision and ergonomics. They give you all of the precision of a traditional geared head (with independent control of each axis), but are not much bigger or heavier than ballheads such as the BH-55. There's no slop or sag in the mechanism like with some pan/tilt and ballheads. They also have a top rotating platform that makes shooting panos a little more convenient.

As Tim said, once you've used a cube it's hard to go back to anything else.

Here's the info on the spiked feet: https://www.photoproshop.com/product_info.p...578/language/en
Thanks Jeff, I'll check both of them out. With the Cube being geared, is it any slower to operate?
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dchew
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« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2010, 07:16:18 PM »
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Quote from: markgoble
Thanks Jeff, I'll check both of them out. With the Cube being geared, is it any slower to operate?
I think this depends on the precision required for the shot.  Lining up even moderate closeups is frustrating with a ballhead, so the cube would probably be faster even though it is more "deliberate."  Same goes for panos.  Straightforward subjects are probably quicker with ballheads, but I'm not sure that's a good thing...

I'm pretty convinced someday I'll be shooting with a cube.  But for me the investment warrants trying it first to be sure; I haven't yet had that opportunity.

Dave
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ternst
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« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2010, 08:17:34 PM »
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Hey Mark, as I noted above, a cube head is every bit as fast as any ballhead, and probably faster for landscape-type shooting. And it only takes about 30 seconds to get used to one at first - after that, using a ballhead seems kind of slow and backwards. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record...
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markgoble
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« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2010, 09:01:53 PM »
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Quote from: ternst
Hey Mark, as I noted above, a cube head is every bit as fast as any ballhead, and probably faster for landscape-type shooting. And it only takes about 30 seconds to get used to one at first - after that, using a ballhead seems kind of slow and backwards. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record...
Thanks Dave and Tim, i must have missed my meds today.      
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markgoble
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« Reply #17 on: August 10, 2010, 11:48:17 PM »
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About ready to order the Gitzo 3541XLS, before i do, does anyone know of another Brand and Model that would come close to the 3541XLS ?

Thanks,

Mark
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gazwas
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« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2010, 05:51:58 PM »
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IMO Gitzo tripods are just sold on their name (and high cost  Shocked).

Glorified Manfrottos.... and made in the same factory I'm told.

The classic Gitzo tripod existed when they had the green hammered paint finish and no other tripod manufacturer could come close to their build quality and stability. Thats not the case any longer and there is much more choice for a lot less money.

I know forums have a tendency for people to hang out and only complain when things go wrong but I've heard so many stories from people (and also a couple of guys in this thread) having problems that it seems to me there not the same great tripod as old. Considering the cost to purchase one is so high, they should never go wrong........  Undecided
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feppe
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« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2010, 06:09:59 PM »
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IMO Gitzo tripods are just sold on their name (and high cost  Shocked).

Glorified Manfrottos.... and made in the same factory I'm told.

The classic Gitzo tripod existed when they had the green hammered paint finish and no other tripod manufacturer could come close to their build quality and stability. Thats not the case any longer and there is much more choice for a lot less money.

I know forums have a tendency for people to hang out and only complain when things go wrong but I've heard so many stories from people (and also a couple of guys in this thread) having problems that it seems to me there not the same great tripod as old. Considering the cost to purchase one is so high, they should never go wrong........  Undecided

Perhaps - there's a lot in photography world sold at a premium with name alone Smiley Manfrotto owns Gitzo, so it's no surprise they're made at the same factory. It's no different than Toyota and Lexus in that Gitzo is Manfrotto's high-end product. And they used to make Porsches in the same factory in Finland as they made Saabs...

I recently bought a Gitzo Traveler to replace my aging Manfrotto with a cracked hinge. Had it only for a few months, but haven't had any problems. Very solid and tiny size, the CF legs are much sturdier than the much heavier and bigger aluminum Manfrotto even when she had her best days. I didn't really test it against cheaper brands, but I went for the (arguably) best since I didn't want to replace it for at least ten years like its predecessor.

The only complaint on Gitzo's I've heard recently is that many people have troubles with the bottom feet falling out. Not sure what the issue is, but on my Traveler the last section screws out - it's a feature and having legs fall out is user error. I just hours ago cleaned out sand from the section after having it set up on a beach for fireworks photography which was made much easier since I could unscrew the leg and get to the threads. Perhaps on other models there's some legitimate issue with the legs falling out, though.
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