52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Much better than I expected,
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This review is from: Gitzo GT3541 Series 3 Carbon 6x 4 Section G-Lock Tripod - Replaces GT3540 - Black (Camera)
Why spend nearly $800 on a tripod?
First, there are many good sources of tripod reviews. Thom Hogan has an article on his website about tripods and heads where he argues the case to save money and time by simply doing it "right the first time." There are also some good educational points on tripod selection on the Really Right Stuff web site. Both of these sources argue for buying a good quality set of legs.
The general consensus is simply that if you want the best mass market tripod get a Gitzo. Yes, if you are on a budget you can find less expensive options, but if you read the above two sources and do you own observations of the actual tripods you will soon see the validity of their arguments. Manfrotto seems to be the best of the budget tripods. People generally don't like the Chinese made knock-offs over long periods of time.
Carbon Fiber vs. Aluminum
Carbon fiber for anything in the field is better than aluminum. Carbon fiber is much lighter, it doesn't conduct heat and cold as easily as aluminum, and it dampens vibrations faster, and it is very strong for the size of the legs. If you are thinking of aluminum, then stop reading this review and look elsewhere.
Series 2 vs. Series 3
You want to purchase a tripod based on both the weight of your gear and the focal length of your lenses. I have a Nikon D700 with a 24-70 mm lens. I could get by with a Series 2 tripod, but after setting up both a Series 2 and a Series 3 tripod side-by-side I decided to go with the Series 3. The Series 2 has a smaller leg spread and just does not seem nearly as stable especially when there is a big camera sitting on top. Add a little wind and I know I would be holding onto the tripod to calm my nerves. So, Series 3 it is.
Systematic vs. Mountaineer
Gizto makes the Series 3 with a center column (Mountaineer) and one with the column as optional (Systematic.) Many photographers will argue for not using the center column because it reduces stability. They are right and there are tests published to prove it. However, if I want to shoot a macro, the ability to adjust the camera up and down an inch or so at times is very helpful instead of adjusting all three legs. At the same time, the Mountaineer series lets you remove the center column and attach the mounting plate to the hanger bolt on the bottom. This gives you the benefit of the column-free Systematic series. This changeover takes less than two minutes and is done completely without tools. I think this is a great feature. So, the Mountaineer Series gives you support for a column when adjustment this is a priority and the ability to remove the column when stability is paramount.
3 sections vs. 4 sections
No doubt about it a three section tripod has more stable legs than a four section tripod. The last leg is relatively small compared to the other sections. This difference is, obviously, even more pronounced with a four section tripod. The factor that changed my mind was practical over theoretical. A slightly less stable tripod taken along is better than a more stable tripod left at home. The three section tripod with a head on it is too long to fit in a suitcase without dis-assembly and is cumbersome to carry strapped to a backpack. Therefore, I went with the four section tripod that collapses to a nice portable size suitable for airline travel and backpacking.
Yes, this tripod is expensive. You will have your doubts about spending this much money. I did too. Read Hogan's article again. Read other reviews. Save your lunch money for a few months.
There you have it. This was the logic I used to make my selection for the Gitzo 3541 Mountaineer carbon fiber tripod.
If you buy one, I hope you enjoy as well as I enjoy mine.
Finally, in case you are wondering, I plan to mount a RRS BH-40 LR head on this tripod along with the appropriate L-bracket. The RRS folks said this model was a good match for my gear and tripod. I didn't want the BH-55 because of the extra weight and size. My second choice was one of the Markins head that many people really like. I'm sure either line is a winner.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 22, 2011 5:37:51 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 22, 2011 5:40:13 PM PDT
Actually I find this tripod (3541L) very poorly designed! The feet tend to fall off and the legs travel under the head making it difficult to set up quickly, extra attention has to be made to insure the legs are properly locked at each segment. Gitzo does not have customer service, they have yet to respond to any query. While sturdy, it is overpriced. My old Manfrotto did not have any of these problems, that being said it was not as sturdy with a big lens
Posted on Aug 2, 2011 2:46:42 PM PDT
Excellent suggestion regarding the center column vs the Systematic with no center column. Thanks
Posted on Apr 10, 2012 6:07:46 PM PDT
Christopher Alexander says:
I can't disagree with anything you wrote, and you make some great points. I just can't spend more on a tripod than I spent on my camera. Ho hum, off to a cheaper item. Thanks for the review.
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