Sun 06-Jan-13 02:36 PM | edited Sun 06-Jan-13 02:39 PM by nrothschild
I suspect that the differences between alloy and CF are not so obvious you would notice it in a quick inspection in a shop.
In my case I have an 8.4 LB 3 section Alloy Gitzo G1410 Series 4 and a <4lb 4 section CF Series 3 GT3541LS.
The weight and bulk, and leg diameter, especially the lower sections, of the Series 4 is hugely larger than the Series 3. In very careful controlled tests I found no situation where the Series 4 outperformed the Series 3, which I found absolutely amazing.
From that I am of the opinion that the differences should be even larger within the same series but I do not have comparable series alloy and CF to test.
The Series 4 *might* do better in a stiff wind, but adding weight to the CF tripod should nullify all that. I did field test the two tripods (plus an RRS TVC-33) in the field in a very stiff and steady wind with my 500/4 AFS. Even in that case the CF did as well or better than the alloy.
I find this all very counter-intuitive and I do not believe I would have come to the same conclusion by simply comparing in a shop. It took many weeks of well thought out testing to prove this to myself.
I'm not suggesting you are making a mistake by going with an alloy, but simply to try to give you better data to make a decision.
If you want to try to test this yourself, I would bring your camera and longest lens to the shop and then shoot images at about 1/10s shutter speed of the same subject and distance, using both mirror up (or exposure delay more if you don't have a camera supporting Mup) and "S" mode (no exposure delay, using a remote. That is the basis of my own controlled testing. Any finely detailed target, such as a newspaper taped to a wall, will do.