So, I tore down my Gitzo Mountaineer GT1542 to see what's so special about it. Actually, I do this with every tripod I buy to discover its weaknesses and proper disassembly for maintenance, cleaning, and lubrication. During the process I just happen to take a close look at each part to see how well it's been made, purely out of curiosity. In this case, I was truly interested to see if Manfrotto/Gitzo does anything differently during the manufacturing process that justifies the higher retail price or legendary status.
Serious question: What’s so great about Gitzo tripods? After spending a few hours inspecting my new Gitzo GT1542 Mountaineer Series 1 tripod and GH1382QD Series 1 ball head, for every positive engineering or design decision they made, there’s an equally puzzling or outright poor one. For now, I’m going to focus solely on the knobs for the ball head. I promise I’ll focus on the other things later once I’ve gotten a better look, but the next item will be the leg angle locks.
After the trip to Forks, I realized I needed a mini tripod for those times when I forget my full or travel sized tripod. One that's small enough to carry all of the time and when height isn't all that important compared to just getting the shot. This is one of those things I'll be throwing into the bag whenever I may encounter low light, ensuring I can use whatever shutter speed I need to get proper exposure without fear of instability.
Cleaning and lubricating your tripod, no matter what material it's made of, will extend its life. The biggest point of contention seems to be over lubrication, so here's where I'm going to attempt giving a definitive answer for most tripods and ball heads.
As promised in my previous blog post, I'm revisiting my thoughts on the Leofoto LN-324C Systematic Carbon Fiber tripod I picked up before going to Forks, WA. The trip gave me my first chance to use the tripod in a real world setting for photos I cared about. After putting the Leofoto LN-324C and LH-40 ball head through the roughest conditions I ever plan to use it in, it has stood up admirably. There are no conditions to this conclusion. It is an excellent tripod, full stop. The value oriented pricing only makes this combo that much more appealing.
Out of the box, the Leofoto LN-324C made for an intimidating presence. Fully extended, it was clearly as tall as advertised and the weight seemed about right. Looking more closely, all the details looked right. Tearing it down exposed finely machined parts all around and a carbon weave that didn't betray it's "10 layer" claim; the weave was consistent throughout with no waviness or warping of threads and no pitting or cracks in the resin. All of the aluminum bits are finely milled with no tooling marks. Parts that may have originally been cast were finely machined to remove any casting seams and cuts into it were obviously milled. The anodizing is consistent all around and all of the included optional hardware is of similar quality. No flashes, splinters or metal shavings anywhere. Metal on metal contact points showed evidence of lubrication and glided through their movements smoothly.
My B2 ball head has had an issue with drift since purchase, and after months of dealing with it, I felt it was now time to finally fix the issue.
The G2 a high quality, low profile ball head with huge capacity and smooth action that punches well above its weight. It compares favorably against more well-known name brands even if you take out price as a factor.
So, if you read my previous gear review on the Manfrotto BeFree Compact Carbon Travel Tripod, you'll understand that I needed to replace that turd quickly. This time choosing not to ignore my better judgment, I decided to give the Benro Slim Carbon Travel Tripod (TSL08CN00) a shot. This will be the third Benro tripod I've bought with my own money and while the ProAngel didn't work out after a couple of months of use, my Adventure Series 2 Carbon has held up quite well.
I only had this tripod for a week before returning it from whence I bought it. I was so thoroughly disgusted with it after receipt, then after one use, that I didn't bother to take photos of it before throwing it into its shipping container and sending it back.