Misc. Ramblings on the Gitzo 3540XLS
All righty then...
After the 3540XLS arrived, and I had attached the Markins M20 ballhead, and done the prerequisite test pattern shots, I decided to actually take some photos with the 80-400 VR sitting on a Kirk replacement foot. This stuff ain't for the faint of heart. Here are some miscellaneous ramblings,impressions, and dilemmas.
First, because of my 5'11" stature, I was sure I needed the height of at least the 3530LSV (listed at 58.3 inches) or the XLS at about 58" with only 3 sections extended. As it turns out, with 3 sections extended on the XLS, the viewfinder of the D300 with the Kirk replacement foot on the 80-400 is just at eye level. Hooray for calculations. Well, except that eye level may be slightly too high for using the tripod. I didn't realize how much I counted on using the top LCD for tasks like setting the exposure compensation and white balance. I worked at using the rear LCD which is really excellent on the D300 - repeating everything shown on the top and more. So it's truly a learning experience. Of course I could always not fully extend the (3) legs. I'll have to work with it more to see which seems best.
I'm really impressed at how solid the XLS is; heads and shoulders above other tripods I've used (no pun intended).
The next day I decided I needed a field trip, so Wiley and I headed up to see if we could find some hawks. There's a place not far from here where I've previously had some success. The first dilemma arose as I tried to choose which camera bag to use to carry everything. I realized the only bag I have with any means of attaching a tripod is a Tenba medium Shootout backpack. This is still a fairly large bag, and the whole enchilada with the tripod attached is huge. It worked fairly well, although I wouldn't really consider the Shootout to be a good pack for hiking. It's meant more to carry a whole bunch of gear (including laptop) on short walks. What I really want is something to carry a minimum amount of gear on longer and more strenuous hikes. I have some backpacking and hiking backpacks that I might try adapting. Does anyone have any good ideas on something made specifically to purpose. The Think Tank Rotation360 looks interesting. The support system looks good, and it looks to be about the right size. My only concern is that it may be too "gimmicky". While the Glass Taxi looks about the right size, it doesn't really look like it's made for travelling any distance. Most of the other "backpacks" are really just designed for carrying incredibly huge amounts of gear, but not really hiking. I doubt too many people go out to hike 6 miles with every lens, camera body, tripod, flash, battery system and light meter, laptop, and instruction manual they own. Or else they're in much better shape than I am. I've learned to be a minimalist.
OK so we finally get out on the trail, walk uphill a few miles and find a good spot to set up. There are a few hawks in the area. Of course none come anywhere near. After about an hour Wiley (the golden retriever) is getting bored. So we pack up and walk on another mile uphill to a promising looking ridgeline. Wouldn't you know it - as soon as we get there, here's a beautiful redtail working towards us along the ridge. Wiley assumes his best hidden position, and I struggle to get the tripod up and the camera out. But too late - the hawk has passed (within about 20'). I thought that when you bought a Gitzo, the animals would at least wait for you to get set up. Isn't there some sort of warranty? I'll write my congressman. I guess I learned that it's better to get the camera out first, and then (if you have time) worry about the tripod. The day was still young, but to no avail as we hung out for over an hour more and our only avian visitors were a few crows and some swallows. I took a total of 18 photographs with exactly zero keepers. It was a beautiful day in the hills though - I can't think of too may other places I'd rather have been.
#1. "RE: Misc. Ramblings on the Gitzo 3540XLS" | In response to Reply # 0Smiert Spionam Registered since 26th Nov 2007Tue 08-Apr-08 01:02 PM
I hate to say it, but you may have a gray market, or even a counterfeit, Gitzo. Otherwise, the RaptorLure(tm) Pheremone Deployment System would have kept that hawk around for hours.
Really, RL-PDS is among the new Gitzos' best features -- at least as important as GLS and ALR.
#2. "RE: Misc. Ramblings on the Gitzo 3540XLS" | In response to Reply # 1AKFlyr Registered since 25th Feb 2006Tue 08-Apr-08 05:42 PM
OMG!!! I think my Gitzo is defective! Smiert once again you have hit the nail on the donkey. I did some reading on the RL-PDS, and it looks like they've been working on the formulation. You know those French... I was wondering why Wiley was displaying such amorous attention to my backpack with the attached XLS. Clearly they've been working on the WolfLure Pheromone Deployment System, and although mine is clearly marked as to the RL-PDS, I'm thinking the box was mis-marked. I think I'll keep it anyhow - just think of the incredible wolf shots I'll get in AK when I return in 2 weeks (or maybe some interesting Wiley puppies). Just hoping there isn't a dash of the BearLure or the TyrannosaurusLure included. Those zygopophyses give me the willies.
#3. "RE: Misc. Ramblings on the Gitzo 3540XLS" | In response to Reply # 2verdeo Nikonian since 13th Mar 2007Thu 10-Apr-08 03:28 AM
I enjoyed reading of your adventure with the 3540xls. I just recently purchased the same and would like to add my extreme excitement with this unit.
Being 6'5", I really wanted to purchase a quality tripod that would have generous height for me. The moment that I unpacked it, I was elated with the build quality and beauty of this unit. I've been playing with it for a couple of weeks now, and I am truly thrilled with it's solid feel and ease of use. I mounted a Markins M10 to mine and the combination seems well worth the extra cost of these two units. I am expecting an RRS L bracket in a couple of days and then I will have a chance to truly test this combination.
I hope that you will post further comments on your quest for an equipment bag. I am also looking for a suitable pack for this tripod and minimal gear.
Please keep us posted with your comments!