Tripod and Ball-head advice sought
I'm looking to purchase a tripod and ball-head, principally to be used when trekking in the Scottish Highlands and to a lesser extent when taking slow shutter speed pictures of subjects like waterfalls. I've read the FAQs in this forum and, to fulfill my criteria of top quality, reasonably compact size and lightness am leaning towards a carbon fibre Gitzo tripod with Markins ball-head. The question is; which model for each do I go for?
At present I have a D300 body with Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 lens, but will in time purchase a zoom providing a focal length at least up to 200mm, and possibly 300mm. Given that this article states that "The recommendation for professional ball heads is to have at least three times the load capacity for your heaviest camera-lens combination in order to have smooth operation at the "sweet spot", I figure that Markin's Q3 should be fine. Any thoughts on this choice over, say, the M10?
As for the tripod itself, well, I really like the size and weight of the 5-leg (not ideal) Series-1 GT1550T Traveller tripod but am wary that it's limit is a 200mm lens. I also feel it may be too small for me (I'm 5'10" in height). As such, I'm also considering the 3-leg GT2530 or 4-leg GT2540 Series-2 Mountaineer tripod, both of which stand taller than the GT1550T and, at a push, support up to a 300mm lens. Any thoughts on these three tripods or alternative suggestions?
#1. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 0Sun 04-May-08 04:34 PM
The ballhead - I would suggest an M10. The Q3 may perform well, although some with 17-55 class (heavy and nose-heavy collarless) lenses are not totally happy with the performance. The Q3 was primarily designed for use as a lightweight head on a monopod. Secondarily it can handle small lenses well. You are thinking about a 300 in the future? An F/4 or F/2.8? Not sure? It is the nature of ballheads that for a given design and engineering, such as exists in the Markins line, bigger is always better and I think the M10 will always be the standard all around buy-once-for-life Markins head. It's better to spend $340 instead of $273 and carry 4 or 5 extra ounces than to outgrow a still expensive head some day.
The Tripod - There is a huge urge to cut every possible ounce and inch here. Consider the pricing of Series 1, 2 and 3. Not much difference. I don't think it pays to cut a few ounces and risk spending the same $500 or more for what could be an underpowered set of legs. Here's my take on Gitzo classes:
Series 3 - This should be considered the "standard" tripod. Reasonably portable yet is typically used with lenses up to 600/4 (although I think I would personally go with a Series 5 for that monster lens). If you are willing to carry it (and it is not much heavier than a Series 2, or much bulkier depending on the model), it will truly last a lifetime. If you do deep macro you should consider the difficulties of working at or near 1:1 (or beyond). You need all the support you can get. A Series 3 is truly a buy once for life leg set. Even if you get a smaller leg set for ultra-portable needs, you will always want to use your Series 3 whenever possible, with any lens. Most users report good results here even with a 4 section, whereas a 4 section 2 series is much more controversial, leading to some interesting portability/performance considerations. Since this is a "standard" or sorts, Series 3 is available in more geometries than the other series, especially in CF.
Series 4 and 5 - These are for big guns- something like 400/2.8, 500/4, 600/4. These are typically specialty legs just for those lenses. If you need to go here, you will most likely need a smaller leg set- Series 2 or 3 - for work with more conventional lenses.
Series 2 - if you are shooting 200mm or less (no cheating with TC's), these legs can perform well, in reasonable conditions (light or no wind in particular). This is the smallest class that most knowledgeable users will accept, unless they have specific needs for a Series 1 and also have something larger for situations where portability needs are not as severe.
Series 1 - Rarely recommended by anyone without lots of caveats. Most people that buy these for a single leg set solution are unhappy unless all their shooting is below 100mm. Although you suggest Gitzo recommends lenses up to 200mm here, see also their 2007 PDF catalog page 9 (pdf page 14), recommending Series 1 up to 135mm. They're fudging here, and inconsistent. There is no magic line marking suitability. My own 4 years experience with a Series 2 is that that is the smallest leg set I would use for a 200mm lens, and I would stay away from the 4 section if at all possible.
Here is a great thread discussing the reasons why you might want to shoot a Series 0 (and why you might not). I think it is fairly applicable also to the Series 1.
If your main concern is weight and not bulk, you would be better off with a Feisol 3342 or 3442 than a Series 1. I am in the processing of reviewing almost 200 controlled test images comparing all aspects of those legs against my older Series 2 G1228. At worst it's a dead heat. A perfect solution might be a Gitzo Series 3 and one of those Feisols, which keeps the cost of a dual leg set down to something close to reasonable.
You can make a Gitzo work for lenses larger than Gitzo recommends or I recommend. I shot a Series 2 with even a 300/3.8, working at up to 600mm for a while. It is limiting, and I'll never know how many shots it cost me. I do know that after getting some experience with the Series 2, and considering the price I paid, I never felt I got my money's worth and for a single leg set solution. I should have just bought a Series 3. Back then there were fewer options, though, the standard CF model then (G1325) was equivalent to a 3530LSV, with a fairly long folded length.
And lastly, you will probably want at least 55" height to work at "eye level" on level ground without raising a center column. Extra height never hurts if you work on slopes. That usually becomes a trade-off.
#2. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 1Sun 04-May-08 07:48 PM
Neil, thanks for such a comprehensive response
>The ballhead - I would suggest an M10<
I suspected the M10 would end up being recommended by others. Truth to tell I've done a fair bit of searching the forum and was aware how much coverage it had received. I'm fairly certain it'll be the M10 I end up getting. I've a question though. Are Gitzo/Feisol tripod bolts 3/8" diameter (Markin's site states that the mounting hole for the M10 is 3/8")? Also, does one purchase the dovetail shoe separately?
>You are thinking about a 300 in the future? An F/4 or F/2.8? Not sure?<
I can't definitively say at this point, but I suspect I'll end up with the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S VR. Beyond 200mm focal length I haven't got a clue - I was simply covering myself. It maybe that I find that the 70-200mm accomplishes everything I want in a telephoto lens.
>Series 3 - This should be considered the "standard" tripod...If you are willing to carry it (and it is not much heavier than a Series 2, or much bulkier depending on the model), it will truly last a lifetime...A Series 3 is truly a buy once for life leg set.<
You've made this sound extremely tempting from a 'rock-solid tripod' point of view. The problem, however, is two-fold. First, it's more than twice the weight of a Series 1 Traveller and half again the weight of a Series 2 Mountaineer. Second, at 2" over 2' it's a fair length to be considering strapping to my rucksac. Bear in mind that when I say trekking I'm talking about climbing Scottish Munros; 'Mountains' over 3000'/914m in height, some with scrambling routes. I do these as much for the enjoyment of walking/scrambling as the taking of photos.
>If your main concern is weight and not bulk, you would be better off with a Feisol 3342 or 3442 than a Series 1. I am in the process of reviewing almost 200 controlled test images comparing all aspects of those legs against my older Series 2 G1228. At worst it's a dead heat. A perfect solution might be a Gitzo Series 3 and one of those Feisols, which keeps the cost of a dual leg set down to something close to reasonable.<
Those Feisols do look very good and thank you very much for bringing them to my attention. I have to admit it's weight that concerns me the most. Remember that the D300 and (especially) 17-55mm are pretty weighty themselves - certainly significantly heavier than my mother's Canon 300D that I temporarily used prior to the D300. At the end of the day I have to lug all this gear up and down (small) mountains!
Your suggestion of a Series 3 for, shall we say 'ground work', and a smaller, lighter class of tripod like the Feisol for romping up and down hills is excellent, albeit substantially increasing the overall cost. In addition, if as you say the Feisol is at least as good as a Gitzo Series 2, then at less than half the weight of the latter and smaller in bulk, it seems I'd be foolish to go for anything less than the former.
>...you will probably want at least 55" height to work at "eye level" on level ground without raising a center column.<
Yeah, I'd calculated ~57" for eye-level, though I could easily live with having to stoop a little. I take your point re sloping ground.
Hmm. I'm certainly now considering the Feisol if I go only for something small and light, but you've also made me reconsider going for something that initially I'd dismissed out of hand as being too much for my needs; a Series 3 Gitzo (it really does look robust doesn't it). I'll have a think and let you know what I decide/have any further questions.
Thanks for helping out,
#3. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 2Sun 04-May-08 08:41 PM
The 3/8" bolt and threads are standard on all the tripods we've talked about here (Gitzo and Feisol, and virtually all others), as well as the Markins head.
>> Also, does one purchase the dovetail shoe separately?
I think your mean "plate", not "Shoe". The shoe is the clamp and is permanently affixed to the ballhead. The plate is attached to the lens or body. Assuming you mean plate, yes, you have to buy the plate separately. I've seen some suggestions here that you might get a plate thrown in with a Feisol tripod, maybe.
I fully understand your need for light weight. The important thing is that you understand the compromises as best you can, going in. I agree that your most sensible option is to get a lightweight tripod now, knowing that future lens upgrades may demand something a bit larger. A lot depends on technique and subject, too. Your D300 has full mirror lockup. In calm conditions you can get a away with a lot on something like the Feisol, or a Series 2 Gitzo. If you shoot in wind, then you just have a tough decision. But even there, you can hang weight from the tripod, you can shoot very low to the ground, and or find shelter from the wind. Maybe most importantly, the smaller tripod satisfies your current lens, and probably in most reasonable conditions. You don't need a Series 3 for a 55mm lens. You need it for the teles. A Series 2 class will handle a 70-200 nicely, but struggles a bit with a TC on that lens, especially a TC17 or TC20. And, lastly, you have to think about how important that half KG is to you now, and how you'll feel about hiking any tripod, plus the body and now a couple of heavy lenses, adding a 70-200 or 300/4, for example. What you do may not even be practical if you're weighed down with a bag of heavy lenses.
#30. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 3Nonprophet Basic MemberWed 28-May-08 02:36 PM
>I fully understand your need for light weight. The important
>thing is that you understand the compromises as best you can,
>going in. I agree that your most sensible option is to get a
>lightweight tripod now, knowing that future lens upgrades may
>demand something a bit larger. A lot depends on technique and
>subject, too. Your D300 has full mirror lockup. In calm
>conditions you can get a away with a lot on something like the
>Feisol, or a Series 2 Gitzo. If you shoot in wind, then you
>just have a tough decision. But even there, you can hang
>weight from the tripod, you can shoot very low to the ground,
>and or find shelter from the wind. Maybe most importantly,
>the smaller tripod satisfies your current lens, and probably
>in most reasonable conditions. You don't need a Series 3 for
>a 55mm lens. You need it for the teles. A Series 2 class
>will handle a 70-200 nicely, but struggles a bit with a TC on
>that lens, especially a TC17 or TC20.
As always I very much appreciate your in-depth reviews and advice here on tripods.
In reading through many of your posts, I notice that you've never tested any of the various legset/ballhead/body & lens combinations while using a weight on the center hook.
While I think many of your tests have yielded interesting and sometimes surprising results, I'm curious as to why you've not tested using the center hook--it's there for a reason and IMHO testing a D200 with a 70-200VR and TC on a 2 series Gitzo without using a weight on the center hook is slightly akin to doing a crash test on a car but not putting the seat belt on the dummies.....ok, maybe that's an exaggeration but you get my point!
Given the huge variance in tripod results from making the simplest of changes (i.e Markins base plate instead of factory center column) to reduce vibration, etc--I for one would be very interested to see a comparison of say a Gitzo 2530 weighted vs a Gitzo 3530 unweighted with a 300mm lens all other things being equal.
I've been a longtime user of a 1228, and I always got very satisfactory results as long as I hung something from the center hook--especially in windy conditions. I usually carried either my Nalgene water bottle or a small zip-string sack which I would put rocks into and then hang from the center hook.
As you know, we're all trying to get the best tripod at the least cost, smallest size, lightest weight, and yet sturdiest support for our needs--so the difference in cost, weight, and size between a 2530 and a 3530 can be huge--depending upon how you look at it. If those differences can be compensated for (or nearly compensated for) by using a weight on the center hook, that would indeed be worth knowing!!
Thanks again for all your efforts!!
"No photographer is as good as the simplest camera."
#31. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 30Wed 28-May-08 09:13 PM
The reason I don't generally test with weight is that when I have tested that, I have found some improvement, but not enough improvement to change my thinking on what legs to shoot with various lenses.
Here is a representative test (warning: large image in this link).
I have tested from 6 - 10LBs or so of weight. Linze tested his 3442 with and without weight, and came up with about the same conclusion- it helped- a little, but not enough to solve, for example, his problems with an 80-400 at 400mm.
When I recently tested the 3442 against my G1228 I ended up shooting about 400 images, all carefully set up and with detailed notes, of course. If I were to test with weight, I think I would also have to test without weight, making that now 800 images. Then there is the issue of how much weight, and you can see that the permutations are endless. I also don't test soft ground. I KNOW that soft ground is bad for vibrations, but for a lot of reasons it is just not practical to test.
In the real world, I always hang weight from the hook; the improvement in a wind is blatantly obvious. I would never shoot those legs in any sort of breeze without weight, with any lens.
Personally I do not find the difference in cost, size and weight between the Series 2 and 3 to be "huge", but that is in the eyes of the beholder. I do find the difference in performance to be huge. For example, I was out shooting this weekend with another Nikonian and until a hawk showed up, we played with some gear. I put my 500/4P with TC14 (700mm) on my G1228 and her GT3530. In a tap test, the Series 2 came in around 5 full seconds, where the 3530 came in around 1 second flat. You have to see this in the viewfinder to appreciate the difference. Late in the day, with a 300/4 + TC14 on the GT3530, we tap tested it. It didn't vibrate. It just went "klunk" on the tap and came back and stopped.
I like my G1228, in situations where ultra-portability is helpful. In retrospect, though, for my own personal use, I find that the need for that much portability has not been as important *FOR ME* as would be the additional stability of a Series 3. I made up for that with a G1410. I still have a need for something in between those extremes; it truly never ends .
#4. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 2Sun 04-May-08 11:39 PM | edited Sun 04-May-08 11:45 PM by William Symonds
Before I joined this forum I would have imagined Feisol 3342 WAS a Munro had you asked me.
I now have one (a tripod that is) and I am delighted with it. It is really very spartan - jet black with no centre column and not much in the way of branding - but provides astonishing stability for a 1030g tripod.
If you get one shipped to Blighty you can expect to pay some duty and VAT but it will still be a great deal.
Enjoy the hills!
W i l l
Nikonian in Bogor, West Java
#5. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 4Mon 05-May-08 09:52 AM
>I think you mean "plate", not "Shoe".<
Yes, you're correct; sorry 'bout that.
>Maybe most importantly, the smaller tripod satisfies your current lens, and probably in most reasonable conditions.<
My thought exactly. Likely greater than 90% of the photos I take will be landscapes. As such, I expect the 17-55mm to be on the D300 on an almost permanent basis - it's why I bought the 17-55mm in the first place.
>You don't need a Series 3 for a 55mm lens. You need it for the teles. A Series 2 class will handle a 70-200 nicely, but struggles a bit with a TC on that lens<
Then I think that a Series 2 is the 'jack of all trades, master of none' tripod for my circumstances and therefore not what I'm looking for. I'd rather have more than one tripod but where each represented maximum efficiency for the role required of it, than one tripod that under certain conditions represented (possibly gross) overkill.
I'm becoming more convinced that a Feisol or Series 1 Gitzo is the way to go for my trekking and that a Series 3, albeit likely purchased at a later date, is the way to go for ground work.
>...you have to think about how important that half KG is to you now, and how you'll feel about hiking any tripod, plus the body and now a couple of heavy lenses, adding a 70-200 or 300/4, for example. What you do may not even be practical if you're weighed down with a bag of heavy lenses.<
I think we can kiss goodbye to my lugging a 300mm telephoto lens up a mountain. If photos was my raison d'être for climbing hills then it'd be a different story and I'd bear the additional weight of the larger lenses and Series 3 tripod with a 'no pain, no gain' type mentality. However, I'm simply not at that point yet (though I can see it happening more and more as time goes by).
>Before I joined this forum I would have imagined Feisol 3342 WAS a Munro had you asked me.<
>I now have one...<
Between the two it's the CT-3442 that I think has the edge for me. It is 20g heavier than the CT-3342 (negligible) but is approximately 4" shorter in length when folded.
The Feisol sounds like a very good tripod. However, I do have a couple of reservations that I feel may turn out to be deal breakers:
1. I've read here that the CT-3442's legs won't fully close when a Markin's Q3 ball-head is used. Therefore, the slightly larger M10 that I'm leaning towards getting would make matters worse (does anyone know if a Gitzo Series 1's legs close with a Markin's M10 ball-head?);
2. Whereas I can look at Gitzo tripods in person before buying here in the U.K., I can't with Feisol, which immediately makes for a purchase carrying greater risk - or added expense should I wish to return it.
In addition to the above, I see from another thread in this forum that Gitzo has relatively recently released the GT1541T which, with a load capacity of 4.5kg, is a step up from the 2kg rating for the Gitzo GT1540 Series 1 tripod it presumably is meant to replace, yet retains the same weight and size as the GT1540.
#6. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 5Mon 05-May-08 03:37 PM
Just a couple more thoughts about your questions above.
1. The Gitzo mount is significantly narrower than the Feisol. That is the nature of a center column arrangement, verses a flat plate. The Feisol is, I think, 5" across each leg of the triangle formed by the base, or about 15" in circumference. My Gitzo G1228 series 2 is about 3-3.5", depending on how you measure. This may be a consideration in terms of packing it in a backpack.
2. Even if you cannot fully close the traveler legs around the ballhead, it may still result in a smaller package because of #1.
3. I was able to close a Feisol 3442 over an M10, although it was tight. Personally I'm not a fan of these fold over setups. When I packed up the 3442 to return to the owner I had to do the fold up thing, and had to fit it back into the stock shipping box. I thought it was more effort than it was worth. It may very well be worth the extra effort, due to your backpack, but you may want to consider the convenience issue. If you are hiking along, and see something you want to shoot, you want to minimize the setup and tear down time, including packing and unpacking, etc. This is why I carry my tripod on an Op-Tec camera strap- it's very fast to set up and tear down. I'm not suggesting you carry the legs that way- it won't work for your climbing. I'm just trying to articulate some of the general set up and tear down issues. If you can fit any of these legs in your pack without doing the fold over, it will minimize the effort involved, IMHO.
4. There are no "Jack of all trades - master of ALL" tripods. You can't have it all.
5. The 1 series legs, including the Travelers are all rated at 8kg, per the Gitzo PDF catalog summary page. I've seen some other numbers floating around, but not sure where you got yours. I suspect, but have no specific knowledge, that the 8kg payload rating is the correct spec. Despite that, the limitation of any 1 series leg set is the 12mm bottom leg (on a 4 section), the rather slim 24mm top leg, and the resulting limiting focal length, not the weight. Gitzo's don;t collapse when you put a lot of weight on them; they just vibrate a lot
If you have local shops that carry Gitzo, you should handle the Traveler and see what you think about the general geometry (leg sizes). Try shooting an image in the shop of something with fine detail at around 1/10s, with and without mirror delay with your 17-55. If your shot without mirror delay is identical to the shot with mirror delay (or at least acceptable), it may work well for you. It will also give you an idea of how 28mm legs will handle, to the extent that things will be improved- and you can do the same on a Series 2.
I attached a couple of images of the 3442 and my G1228 side by side, illustrating the different in mount geometry. One image illustrates the Feisol with stock flat plate and the G1228 with a TB-20, the other image with their respective center columns. I didn't take any images of the Feisol folded over.
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)
#7. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 6Mon 05-May-08 09:01 PM
Neil, thank you very much for yet another very helpful reply. If I can kindly ask a few additional questions:
In the first of your two photos, both the Gitzo 1228 Series 2 and Feisol 3442 appear almost identical in length. Feisol's site gives the length of the 3442 as 18.9" and I'm assuming that your 3-section Gitzo 1228 is the equivalent of the Gitzo GT2530EX (3-section CF legs from Gitzo's '07 catalogue). However, the latter is given as 26.8" in length. What am I missing? Are the latest Series 2 Gitzo tripods greater in length that older models?
>...the Travelers are all rated at 8kg, per the Gitzo PDF catalog summary page. I've seen some other numbers floating around, but not sure where you got yours...<
From the same catalogue! I see the graph you note on page 8 of the document, but on page 15 the maximum load is 2kg and 4.5kg for the two Series 1 models respectively. Maybe I'm missing something?
#8. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 7Mon 05-May-08 10:23 PM
My G1228 is a *four* section, same as the 3442. It measures 19 7/8" from the end of the rubber feet to the TB-20 flat plate (not counting the 3/8" stud). The Feisol was about an inch shorter, consistent with their spec.
With the center columns attached, the situation is reversed, with the Gitzo having a slight advantage (shorter) due to the lower profile center column. Although I don't like high profile center columns, being a flat plate kind of guy, surprisingly the Feisol tested as well as (or likely better than) the Gitzo in side by side tests with the center column. I was very surprised; I expected the Gitzo to blow away the Feisol, due to the lower profile and overall much more robust construction. I'm not sure how the Feisol center column folder over; I didn't focus on that issue. Maybe Dan (the owner) can chime in if that's an issue.
Regarding the Gitzo spec... without the asterisk, page 15 makes no sense at all, in the context of payload recommendations across the entire spectrum of series. But the comments related to the asterisk is so specific it's hard to ignore. OTOH, take a look at catalog page 21 (pdf page 25), where the series 00 is spec'd for lenses up to 175mm, but the Series 0 (next LARGER size) is spec'd for only 135mm. that is surely nonsensical. These would be good questions to throw at a Gitzo rep. I try to stick to the chart in the back, and the graph on page 8 for specs. Those specs are all consistent with common sense, at least.
If I had to guess, the asterisk'd comment was probably intended for the Series 00. It is also nonsensical that the 5 section (with a thinner 5th section) is rated double the 4 section. That's backward. If all the sections follow the 4mm progression, the 5th section is just 8mm in diameter.
#9. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 0
happened to be in hong kong last month and purchase a benro carbon tripod and took a chance on a photoclam 40 tripod head. the shop owner said that the photoclam were a korean version of the markins .the total for both was $400 us. After looking at the markin site, the photocalm is an exact duplicate of the markin. so far it seems like a good but and a nice combination.
#15. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 9Lakota Registered since 25th Jun 2004Wed 07-May-08 09:19 PM
My Korean maybe a little rusty, but the Photo-Clam is not the same as a Markins. I get this from Reading the Photoclam website. The specs are totally different, they have many more models, with different weight Capacities, but doesn't seem to compare to the Markins specs on weight capacity. I can see some differences in appearance also. I have never heard of PhotoClam, but I see they have been in business for over 10 years. I am going to do some more research on them, as I have some friends in Mapodong, S. Korea.
-When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself.
- Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief
#10. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 0
Thought I would add that I am basically the same height as you, and when I completely extended the GT2530 at the store the other day it came basically right up to eye level, once you consider that a ballhead and camera will be sitting on top of the tripod. The GT2540 is a couple of inches shorter.
I ended up ordering a GT2531. Upgraded version of the GT2530 with minor enhancements (see thread: https://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=159&topic_id=24584&mesg_id=24584&page=)
I don't forsee my telephoto needs extending beyond 200mm as I too prefer landscapes over telephoto. I reckoned that a Series 1 was not tall enough- going by the numbers the Series 1 tripods are a bit shorter than the Series 2, and starting to creep into "too short" territory. Also consider that you will probably run the Series 1 fully extended more often due to its lower height, and thus possibly making it less stable than desired. And again that you may need to extend the center column, yet again compromising stability...
The weight is about 33% less, but I think bulk-wise you're not saving that much by going with the series 1 anyways- not when you consider the stability compromises you have to make. Thus I decided to go with the 2.
Just thought I'd relate my experiences. I have ordered the tripod, but need to get a ballhead. I am waffling between the Q3 and the M10 myself.
#11. "RE: Tripod and Ball-head advice sought" | In response to Reply # 0
Some great advice here Robbie and good responses from you. Not trying to "cheap out" on a tripod and head will benefit you for many years.
I have 2 big Gitzos but recently got a long term Induro loaner. It is the Induro C413, a large very sturdy 3-section carbon fiber tripod with a center column (which I will remove). Induro is beginning to make Gitzo representatives nervous as their build quality seems to be first rate and the pricing structure makes Gitzo folks take notice. I would encourage you take a look at the Induro line.
Heads are a matter of taste for the most part I think. Markins is wonderful. I use Kirk. As a lightweight alternative to the Markins you might consider the AcraTech. It's a top choice and lighter than Markins, Kirk, Arca, etc. Price competitive too.
BTW - the Induro loaner I got came with an Induro head but I'll reserve comment til I've used it enough to make a cogent opinion. First impression is good though.
Take Only Pictures, Leave Only Footprints
#13. "Choices, choices" | In response to Reply # 12Wed 07-May-08 06:26 PM
Well, I managed to take a look at a 4-section Series 1 Traveller (GT1540) and 3-section Series 2 and 3 Mountaineer (GT2530 and GT3530 respectively). There really is no substitute for seeing tripods in person.
It goes without saying that the size and weight of the Series 1 greatly appeals to me. The height was definitely a touch on the low side requiring that I stoop a little, but it wasn't a total disaster. Flexure of the legs of the erected tripod was clearly visible when two of the legs were gripped and a torque induced. That said, as my first introduction to a carbon fibre tripod, nevertheless I was impressed by what stiffness it did possess.
The difference in size of the Series 2 when folded compared to the Series 1 is significant though the difference in weight wasn't as great as I'd been expecting. When erect, the difference in stiffness was very apparent and I now fully appreciate why a Series 2 would be recommended as a minimum when using something like a 70-200mm lens.
Finally the Series 3. Wow. Nothing's moving this tripod. Almost identical in folded length to the Series 2 with slightly more than again the difference in weight from the Series 2 as there is from the Series 1 to Series 2. This tripod truly is ultra rigid.
So, what now? Well, whilst scouring the internet the other evening I came across a simple yet powerful statement: "A heavier tripod that you don't carry is nowhere near as good as a lighter one you do." I can't shake the feeling that limited height and stiffness notwithstanding, I'd carry a Series 1 with me without hesitation but may end up leaving a Series 2 at home. If that were to be the case then the Series 2 would represent a waste of money, especially in light of the fact that I've decided definitely to purchase a Series 3 for any and all photography that, for the moment at least, doesn't involve trekking long distances and/or gaining height.
Given that I'm going for a Series 3, that no matter what will be a keeper, I'll have an opportunity to carry it around for a while before deciding whether the weight and/or size would be an issue for more demanding treks. If size alone or size and weight becomes an issue then it's clear that a Series 1 is required because the difference in folded length between a Series 2 and 3 (3-section) is 0.4" which is negligible. If weight alone becomes an issue then the decision is made more difficult because by proportion, a Series 2 is significantly lighter and a Series 1 even more so.
The way I see things, the great advantage of first purchasing a Series 3 and seeing how I get on with it is that if/when I decide I require a more modest sized tripod, I should know with far greater certainty 'going in' whether a Series 1 or 2 is the way to go. However, before I go ahead and purchase a Series 3, does anyone have any thoughts on my reasoning/conclusion?
#14. "RE: Choices, choices" | In response to Reply # 13Wed 07-May-08 08:45 PM
Good post, Robbie! I think you articulated well the differences between the series.
I think a 3 + 1 makes much more sense than, say, a 2 by itself, particularly for your activites. You're right on track and have a good appreciation for why I call the 3 a "standard tripod".
#16. "Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 13Thu 08-May-08 12:01 AM | edited Thu 08-May-08 12:08 AM by William Symonds
This seems very sensible.And Gitzo 3530 must be a good tripod as it sounds like another Munro
I may yet a 3530 should I get anything longer than a 200mm one day in the future.
If you want light and reasonaly rigid then I wouldn't overlook the 3442 - though - based on Neil's photos above it clearly packs up bigger than a 1228/2540 and so a 1540/1541 will have some noticeable size advantages.
W i l l
Nikonian in Bogor, West Java
#17. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 16Thu 08-May-08 05:56 PM | edited Thu 08-May-08 06:04 PM by AreBee
>I think a 3 + 1 makes much more sense than, say, a 2 by itself...<
Now that I've seen the range, me too, and thanks once again for all your advice.
>Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442<
Ah ha! Clearly someone who's familiar with Scottish Gaelic names for hills. The question is; without searching the internet, do you know what they mean?!
>...Gitzo 3530 must be a good tripod as it sounds like another Munro.<
Have you done any Munros (or Corbetts or Grahams) yourself?
Thank you very much for your input. It was very much appreciated. I've ordered the Gitzo (I could've bought it from where I auditioned it but wanted to give my custom to the shop where I got my D300 and 17-55mm) and remote cord for the D300 and should receive them very soon.
Oh, one more thing; is the general consensus that I should purchase the Markins M10 and plate from the online store here at Nikonians? I remember doing a search a few days ago and having difficulty finding it elsewhere.
#18. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 17Thu 08-May-08 08:01 PM
My bluff is called - I am hopeless on the Gaelic names, though I'll guess Ben means Mount or whatever and Sgurr means the apex of a ridge.
I've been up most of the Welsh 3000 footers, and even used to know what a few of them meant, and a few Sgurrs in the Cuillins plus a couple of Bens (Lawers and Nevis).
The moment my son is old enough we will be going to Snowdon when we are back on leave.
I'd look only at the Proshop and Markins direct (www.markins.com). An M10 and plate form Markins will set you back $340 plus $50 for the plate plus postage and the pleasure of contributing to Her Majesty's Customs and Excise Department. But the Euro prices may be significantly more.
While you are ordering you may want to think about going "SuperGitzo". This includes Nikonian leg wraps, a flat plate to replace the centre column and in particular you may want to get the Markins spikes for use in the great outdoors.....
Good luck - you are getting an awesome rig!
W i l l
Nikonian in Bogor, West Java
#19. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 18Thu 08-May-08 09:12 PM
For those of you who wonder what on earth we are rabbiting on about...........
I claim a score of 50%.
What is you answer - no peeking!
W i l l
Nikonian in Bogor, West Java
#20. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 18Fri 09-May-08 04:49 AM
Thanks for the link; I'd forgotten about Markins themselves.
>While you are ordering you may want to think about...a flat plate to replace the centre column...<
Are you referring to something like the TB-20?
As for the Gaelic, well, firstly, 'Ben' is an anglisization of the Gaelic word Beinn, pronounced 'Vine' but with the 'V' replaced with a 'B'. Beinn means 'mountain'.
'Sgurr', pronounced 'Skoor' means 'peak' and refers to non-rounded hills.
'na' means 'of' ('nan' means 'of the')
Thus, 'Beinn Dearg', pronounced 'Bine Jerag', translates as 'Red mountain', 'Sgurr na Stri', pronounced 'Skoor na Stree' translates as 'Peak of strife' and 'Sgurr nan Gillean', pronounced as written, translates as 'Peak of the young men'.
#21. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 20Fri 09-May-08 04:52 AM | edited Fri 09-May-08 04:57 AM by William Symonds
Yes though I think you may need a TB30 for a 3530.
Thanks for the translation - I've not neen to the Highlands for almost 20 years now - I spent a delightful couple of days rambling near Mallaig in November 1990 following a business trip to Edinburgh before taking the night train back to London. This thread has reminded me that another trip is long overdue.
W i l l
Nikonian in Bogor, West Java
#22. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 21Fri 09-May-08 09:24 PM
>...I think you may need a TB30 for a 3530.<
I've now ordered the GT3530LSV, as opposed to the GT3530S. I was informed that the LSV (which was the one I auditioned) does not come with a centre post which, I reasoned, would be a good thing. However, this states that the Markins TB30 cannot be used with either of the aforementioned tripods.
Can some kind person help me out please? I wish to attach the Markins M10 ball-head (and plate to mount the camera to it) to the GT3530LSV. What is required to achieve this?
>This thread has reminded me that another trip is long overdue.<
I'll be heading home (I work in London at present) to my beloved Highlands in around three weeks time. I can't wait to hopefully get some cracking photos.
#23. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 22Fri 09-May-08 09:34 PM
You just screw it on - no need for the TB30.
The TB30 is designed to replace the centre column assembly - giving you a more stable set-up with fewer joints to wobble.
With the LSV systematic you really have that already.. It's arguably the best tripod in the World, especially paired with the M10. Not THAT heavy either!
W i l l
Nikonian in Bogor, West Java
#24. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 22Fri 09-May-08 09:36 PM
The 3520LSV and all the systematics come with a flat plate with a 3/8" stud. You screw the M10 onto the flat plate's stud.
The TB-30 converts a Mountaineer, which comes stock with a center column, into something like a flat plate. The Mountaineer has a threaded hub stikcing up from the mount. The TB-30 is machined to screw onto that hub.
The LSV will come with a video bowl attached to the mount, and also a flat plate. Remove the video bowl and install the flat plate. You will get a crescent wrench that fits the nut on the mount. The video bowl will make a nice paper weight
I think that answers your question? Let me know.
#25. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 24Sat 10-May-08 05:04 AM
>The TB-30 converts a Mountaineer, which comes stock with a center column, into something like a flat plate. The Mountaineer has a threaded hub stikcing up from the mount. The TB-30 is machined to screw onto that hub.<
Got it, now.
>I think that answers your question?<
It does, thank you.
The GT3530LSV should be with me on Tuesday. I've now also ordered the M10, mounting plate and tripod spikes which I believe should arrive by the end of next week.
#28. "RE: Ben Gitzo 3350 and Sgurr na Feisol 3442" | In response to Reply # 27Tue 13-May-08 04:22 PM
>I am considering exactly the same set up. Let us know how some of your experiences.<
Will do. My tripod arrived this morning as expected . I'd forgotton how light it was! Just waiting on the M10 now...