As much as I like Gitzo as a brand and the quality of their products, some of their stuff just isn't as good as others. Take for example their leveling base; Gitzo features a large lever for tightening a head to the base and a handle borrowed directly from their sister Manfrotto's lineup. Instead, I got the series 3 leveling base from Really Right Stuff. It's lighter, has a simpler attachment system with no silly lever and a much sleeker locking handle with, get this, a gear hook! That hook alone is almost priceless, allowing me to attach weight for stability when I'm not leveling the head, ending any need to swap back to the flat top base. Back into the box that can go.
I finally have my dream 3 tripod setup. Gitzo Systematic GT3543LS+GH3382QD, Mountaineer GT1542+GH1382QD, and Traveler GT1555T+GH1382TQD. Next up is the Gitzo GM2542 Monopod and Mini Traveler Tripod. I plan to give all of them a thorough shakedown in Long Beach, WA in a couple of weeks and then in the North Cascades the week after. That is all.
BMW doesn't make a perfect car. While certain aspects may exceed those of other makers, those others oftentimes exceed that of BMW. Despite that, the Bavarian badge commands respect and with it comes an unmistakable allure for most when they see it. It's a symbol of quality but not necessarily the best and certainly not with all products that display the marque. The Bavarian roundel holds cachet for many and that's something very hard to quantify, an intangible factor that appeals to one's emotion rather than objectivity.
So, just like what happened with the deal on the Gitzo Mountaineer GT1542 + GH1382QD kit, I got a price alert on a Gitzo Traveler GT1555 + GH1382TQD kit for 45% off the advertised price of $989. So I bought it, because I have no self control.
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.
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.
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.