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Is this new Gitzo a near-perfect single-tripod solution

subhasis

US
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subhasis Registered since 25th Sep 2006
Fri 17-Nov-06 08:15 PM

After looking at the posts at this forum and other forums for a while, it appears to me that many folks critical about sharpness end up buying two sets of tripods: (1) a lightweight set (e.g., Gitzo 1228/1258/1227/1257 with M10) and a heavier set (e.g., Gitzo 1325 with M20). They use what is appropriate for the size/weight/focal length compromises needed in a particular situation. Thanks to Neil and Lee for recently posting some excellent photos to show what each of these solutions is capable of achieving under various conditions.

However, there is a new Gitzo tripod coming out (and earlier pointed out by Steve in a different thread) - it is the 3540LS. It appears to be the closest solution to a single tripod that can be the best compromise in most situations. The maximum height of this new 3540LS (57.5") is similar to that of the current 1325 (58.3"). Its weight is 3.8 lbs / 1.7 Kg and folded length is only 21.7”. However, it is a 4-section tripod as opposed to the 3-section 1325; this may turn off many of us from stability and ease of use point of view. But, after thinking through it, it does not appear to be a serious shortcoming. Please bear with the lengthy list of the following points why I think it is the closest solution so far to an ideal single-tripod solution:

· Stability (leg-locks): Though it is a 4-section tripod, the new G-lock appears to be significantly stronger as is evident in Gitzo web-site/literature and also through private communication with the Bogen representatives in the US. The fact that Gitzo has increased the supported weight rating of this new class of tripods by 50% based on the additional rigidity of the new G-locks also indicates that the new 4-section tripods are possibly as stable (or better) as the current 3-section ones from the point of view of the leg locks.
· Stability (lowest section): Another argument against the 4-section tripods is the thinness of the lowest section. This appears to be somewhat mitigated in this new 6x series compared to the current series. The new 35xx series has a leg thickness of 1.2 mm as opposed to the leg thickness of 1.5 mm for the current 13xx series. As a result, the lowest section of the 3540LS should have a diameter that is ((1.5-1.2) x 2 x3) = 1.8 mm more than the diameter of the lowest section of the current 4-section 1348 tripod. For the 13xx series of tripods each lower section has a diameter that is 4 mm (1.5x2 + 1 mm of clearance) smaller than the diameter of the section above it. That puts the thickness of the lowest section of the new 3540LS pretty much at the mid-point of the thickness of the two lowest sections of the current 4-section 1348. And even purists like John Shaw have used the 1348 without much problem. Based on all these, it appears to me that the stability of the new 3540LS will be in the same class as that of the venerable 1325.
· Ease-of-use: Again 4-section tripods take longer to operate. However, the current 1325 does not have ALR or G-lock. The ALR feature will make the new leg-locks much more convenient to operate. Gitzo also claims that the G-lock feature is not only more rigid, it is also faster to operate. If I take their words for it, a 4-section tripod like the 3540LS may be similar in ease-of-operation compare to the current 3-section 1325. Also, the lowest section needs to be extended only when the tripod is near eye-level for most people. Considering all these, it again appears that the new 4-section3540LS could be (almost) as easy to operate as the current 3-section 1325.
· Portability (weight): The 3540LS weighs 3.8 lbs that is pretty much at the middle of the weights of the 1228 and the 1325. Hopefully, the reduced weight will not be a serious stability problem in high wind.
· Portability (size): The 3540LS has a folded length of 21.7” – pretty much the same as the 1228 and almost 5” shorter than the 1325 – great for fitting in the suitcase for airplane travel. However, the 3540LS will have the same large cross-sectional size as the 1325. So, overall the size of the 3540LS would be somewhere in the middle of the 1228 and the 1325.
· Other Miscellaneous points: There are other minor points that seem to favor the 3540LS. It will have the built-in bubble level that is possible on a 1228 ONLY if one fits the Kirk tripod base on it. Also, 3540LS will be better than the 1325 at low height for height adjustment because the difference of height at the lowest angle setting (90’) and at the next angle setting (55’) will be smaller for a tripod with lesser folded length.

In summary, stability and ease-of-use of the 3540LS should be similar to that of the 1325 and the portability of the 3540LS will be pretty much in the middle of that of the 1228 and the 1325. The short folded length of the 3540L will make it easier to carry and to fit in a suit-case. Overall, this tripod is not bad by any means. Please let me know what you think about this new tripod.

Thanks,

Subhasis

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