Which tripod

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Despite putting off the purchase of a replacement/upgrade to my existing tripod for almost 12 shoulder-breaking months, I've decided its time to upgrade. I posted a similar question a year ago but wondered if there was any updates/new advice before I take the plunge. I'm considering the Gitzo 1349 carbon fibre and wondered if there were any more horror stories re; legs becoming unglued etc? Also any recommendations re: a lightweight head, I prefer pan/tilt types. My overriding need is for a lightweight but sturdy beast!! As usual, all and any advice/recommendations are gratefully accepted!! Thanks again, in advance, Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), July 24, 2001


Hi Paul, You may want to checkout the new Gitzo Explorer which is available as a 3 or 4 section carbon tripod. This one certainly looks vesatile, a bit like a Bembo.

Although most of the carbon tripods available now will suit a lightweight 4x5 camera. They all seem well designed. I personally went for the Manfrotto 3 section carbon simply because I prefer their lever locks to Gitzo's twist locks. Which I've used but never really liked on one of their Studex Performance tripods.

Good luck with your selection. I don't think you will regret the move to a carbon fibre tripod, I certainly haven't.

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), July 24, 2001.

No opinion on Gitzo.


Ries makes the lightest weight pan/tilt head I know of at about 2.5 pounds, model J250. Very rugged. My only complaint: it's easy to rotate the camera; perhaps going to 3/8 threads would help. At $291, it's not cheap. See: http://www.riestripod.com/head.htm. Panning is accomplished by loosening then head mounting screw, so this might be difficult with the Gitzo. (I don't know how the Gitzo's mount.)

Bogen: 3057 is a very rugged beast, even for 8x10 cameras. The old standbys of 3047 & 3039 are also competent performers for 4x5 and smaller. Bogen are all reasonable values. I like the quick mount Bogen plate system. These are, however, heavier than the Ries.

3057 weighs 4.5 pounds, 3047 & 3039 weigh 4.2 pounds each.

I own the Reis, 3057, & 3047. For stability with heavy loads, Reis or 3057 are your best choices.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), July 24, 2001.

A few months ago I moved from a Horseman HD to a Linhof TK45S. At the same time I upgraded my tripod to a Gitzo 1325 carbon fibre and the G1570M low profile magnesium head. The whole system weighs less than my old series 2 gitzo and bogan pro pan and tilt head. The system is rock solid and light! The head weighs just 2.9 pounds and the legs are 4.5 pounds. I have had the system in the snow and in Death valley and no problems with the legs. If you do decide on Gitzo, I would strongly urge you to order them through Robert White in England. The price is about half of BH price and you can get them delivered via UPS 3 day. Shipping is just a hair over US shipping and no sales or VAT tax.

-- Randy Redford (redford01@home.com), July 24, 2001.

I believe many people carry around heavier tripods and heads than they need. With my Deardorff 5x7 I use a Velbon Carmagne--about the same size and weight as the 1200 series Gitzos but less expensive and (in my opinion) easier to handle--and the Bogen/Manfrotto 3028 head. The head is a real sleeper, by the way. I would definitely check one out before spending lots more money on a much heavier head. Tripod and head together weigh less than 4.5 lbs, and they provide perfectly adequate support for the Deardorff. The rigidity of the camera is the limiting factor in this set up.

-- Chris Patti (cmpatti@aol.com), July 25, 2001.

Paul, I have a Gitzo 1548 with a magnesium low profile head, I use it for 4x5 (linhof TK45) and 8x10 (Gandolfi Variant) I could not be happier! I put it off buying this tripod because of the price, but finally after reviweing my chiropractic bill, I figure it was less expensive to get the tripod...:-))

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm@worldnet.att.net), July 25, 2001.

Which camera(s) and lenses will you be using ?

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (qtl@ai.sri.com), July 25, 2001.

Hi Paul

I`m a happy user of the 1228 Gitzo and the Mamiya Magnesium head and I work with the Arca F-Line 4x5 and the Horseman HF 4x5 and I`m very happy with it! I tested it against a Manfrotto and the Gitzo was a bit better in stability. For me it was also very important thad it is very short closed. I`m sure you could put a 12 kg camera on it!

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), July 25, 2001.

Hello again Paul. Presumably you know what you are doing, but in my unscientific way I think stability necessarily involves a certain amount of weight, as well as structural rigidity. Apart from the expense and the relatively unproven nature of carbon fibre in tripods, I can't help feeling they're too light. My Gitzo 1410 plus Arca B1 (sorry, don't like pan/tilt heads) is lighter than the Manfrotto 058 I used to lug around, but still comfortingly solid yet compact, a delight to use. The trad Gitzos last for ever, too: my backup is an old Gitzo Cremaillere 3 with an original Arca Monoball, still going strong, used it today. Especially if you use a light camera, I suggest some weight in the legs helps - you recommended your Silvestri to me, remember? I checked them out at Robert White recently, plus Cambo, Arca, and a s/h Arc body... still undecided! My Gitzos support an RZ and Nikons.

-- Anthony Harrison (AnthonyHar@aol.com), July 25, 2001.

Thanks for all of the advice everyone! I will use the tripod with an Ebony SW and a Silvestri SLV, both very lightweight cameras. But as all LF shooters know only too well, the camera "body" is often the least of our worries! By the time we add a couple of lenses, meter ,darkcloth and film holders the weight does become an issue. It just seemed crazy to "suffer" lugging a heavy pod up hill and down dale, hence the need to move to a CF tripod. My concern has always been twofold, firstly, how substantial are they and how do they survive the stresses of being out in the field, and secondly, are they too light to support LF cameras?? Are they likely to blow over?? I suppose the technology is still fairly young and only time will tell if they are up to the job of field work. My concern over ungluing seems to have been answered in previous threads, and it appears that the Gitzo warranty is a good one.I see that the Gitzos are supplied with a hook in the centre column to add weight to the structure, how practical this arrangement is, I don't know. Some of the positions I get myself in make it nigh on impossible to sling my backpack beneath the tripod!! But the pros still outweigh the cons (Ithink!!) and I've decided on a 1349, but need to sort out a head now! Thanks again, this forum certainly makes a world of difference not only to procedures but also the problems of which kit to buy. Kind regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), July 26, 2001.

I have used 7 different gitzos both CF and aluminium alloy. In my experience, the CF tripods are durable and can take abuse in the field (like beeing used as a walking stick in a steep scree slope or for fording rivers). If I was using the same cameras as you do, I would get a 1227. Although I have also a 1325, I feel that the 1227 is adequate to support my Canham, which is heavier and uses longer lenses than your cameras. If you haven't used Gitzo tripods before, you might want to think twice about buying a 4-section tripod. The Gitzo locks are the most rigid, but they can be a nuisance to use, and with a 3 section, you'll deal with only 6 of them. Besides, a 3 section tripod is more rigid than a comparable 4 section tripod.

I seldom feel the need to attach weight to the center column. I would do that only in very windy conditions, which are anyways quite marginal for photography. I carry a zip-out bag that I fill up with rocks, which I find more practical than attaching the backpack. True, this is a bit of a chore, but less than carrying a heavy tripod all the times.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (qtl@ai.sri.com), July 26, 2001.

Why not get a Gizto without a center column. Center columns add weight and decrease stability if you use them. I use the G1325 (3 section, no column) for my 8x10 Wisner.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), July 26, 2001.

Thanks for even more valid points. The reason I've opted for the 1349 is that it will give me extra height should I need it. The extra weight in opting for this model is negligible. Interesting point about adding weight to the hook!! As far as a head is concerned I'm leaning toward the Gitzo 1370M low profile. Any views?? Thanks again all, Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), July 27, 2001.

I use the G1570M head and like it. The long handles help me control my heavy camera. I use this on the G1325. The G1570M seems a better match for the G1325/G1349 series since they can hold a similar weight: 26 lb for the tripod, 22 lb for the head. The G1370 head holds only 13 lbs, not enough for my Wisner, but this may be enough for you.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), July 27, 2001.

hi paul, i m workin with the carbon one 1549 and it s a really good choice. working up to - 30 c in canada. no problems! regards marcus

-- marcus schwier (marcusschwier@hotmail.com), July 31, 2001.

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