Even though we ARE Nikon lovers,we are NOT affiliated with Nikon Corp. in any way.

English German French

Sign up Login
Home Forums Articles Galleries Recent Photos Contest Help Search News Workshops Shop Upgrade Membership Recommended
members
All members Wiki Contests Vouchers Apps Newsletter THE NIKONIAN™ Magazines Podcasts Fundraising

Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review

Nonprophet

US
202 posts

Click to send email to this author Click to send private message to this author
Nonprophet Basic Member
Tue 10-Jun-08 12:59 AM | edited Tue 10-Jun-08 03:10 AM by Nonprophet

I just got this new model a few days ago, and wanted to share my thoughts on this new Gitzo model with fellow Nikonians.

The Gitzo G3541LS is the new version of the 3540LS. It is a 4 leg Systematic Series (no center column) carbon fiber tripod. The stats are as follows:

Max. height: 57.5"
Min. height: 3.9"
Folded Length: 21.7"
Max Load Capacity: 39.6 lbs
Tripod Weight: 3.8 lbs

The new 3541LS features a new base plate from Gitzo. The new base plate now has a center hook (a new feature for Systematics!), a new "safe-lock" base plate covering material that is supposed to prevent tripod heads from slipping, as well as a new set screw that screws upwards from the underside of the base plate and makes contact with the base of your tripod head. The combined downward force of the base plate center 3/8" threads coupled with the upward force of the smaller set screw are supposed to reduce tripod head slippage and vibration.

The center hook is a welcome addition and it functions very well. Upon initial inspection I was disappointed as I thought the hook was ABS plastic, but closer examination revealed that it is black anodized aluminum--good for Gitzo for not skimping here!

I currently own a G1228G tripod with a Markins Q3 Emile ball head, and I wanted to upgrade in order to start using some larger glass. I was really wanting a "one tripod solution" as I just can't justify owning more than one expensive CF tripod.

The G1228G has been great--lightweight, sturdy, and compact. Given my satisfaction with it, I was originally looking at a Gitzo 2 series replacement, specifically the GT-2530 or GT-2540. But after reading many reviews here and talking with our resident tripod "expert" Neil, I decided that a 3 series systematic would be my best bet--and here's why:

1. I never use a center column, and if I bought another Mountaineer series tripod I would want remove the center column and purchase a Kirk or Markins base plate at an additional cost of $80-$100. The only real downside for me with the systematic tripods are that they used to not come with a center hook--and I use a center hook a lot. Now that the new ones are coming with a center hook, that solved that problem. For those of you with the older Systematics, the new base plates will be available for about $30--see below on where to get them.

2. My G1228G weighs 3.4 lbs and has a 17.5 lb load capacity. My new GT-3541 only weighs 3.8 lbs, and yet has an amazing 39.6 lb capacity! It is also a full 5" taller than the G1228 (or the GT-2540) and yet it's folded length is the same as the 1228 and less than the 2540! (I still don't know how they do that.....).

3. The biggest glass that I'm currently using is a 70-200VR w/TC-17e teleconverter, but I recently purchased a 300mm AFS and larger glass may be on the horizon.

4. As you can see in the pictures below, the form factor of the 3541LS is very similar to the G1228 in terms of folded size. The similarities end there however as once opened the 3541LS dwarfs the G1228 in terms of height, tube size, and leg spread. The massive spider/base plate assembly coupled with the larger 32mm tubes on the 3541LS just scream stability--this thing feels like the rock of Gibraltor!

5. There have been some claims here that the Systematic series is more prone to vibration than the Mountaineer series because of the metal "bridges" that hold the center column sleeve on the Mountaineer tripod base plates (see pics below). As someone who was getting ready to spend a good chunk of money on new tripod, I wanted some other opinions on this and so I contacted Gitzo directly. The rep that I spoke to said that Gitzo was well aware of these claims, that they had tested this thoroughly, and had found that the claims had no merit at all. Indeed, he went on to say that their test have shown the opposite--that the Systematic tripod base plates are LESS prone to vibration than the equivalent Mountaineer series. If you look at the pictures below, you can see the that the base plate on the Systematic base plate is significantly thicker than the base plate on the G1228 Mountaineer. While the entire baseplate of the 1228 is just over 1/4" in thickness, the base plate of the GT-3541LS is over 7/8" thick--more than 3X's thicker than the G1228!

6. The new g-lock anti-rotation leg locks are just wonderful! When the tripod is closed, with one hand I can grab all 3 locks, flick my wrist a 1/4 turn to unlock them, pull the bottom leg section out which draws out all the others, and then turn eat lock another 1/4 turn to lock them down solid. It is amazingly faster to open than the older style, and likewise so is folding it up again.

While I was upgrading, I also upgraded my Markins ballhead from the Q3 Emile to the M10 and I'm very happy with that decision as well.

The new GT-3541LS aren't easy to find yet, I got mine here, very, very nice people to deal with and at least when I ordered mine a few days ago they were offering free shipping in addition to the current $40 rebate from Gitzo. They should also have the new base plates for those of you who want to upgrade your older Systematics.

In conclusion, I'm ecstatic with the GT-3541LS! It's nearly the perfect height for me with the Markins M10 and a D200 w/L bracket (I'm 6'3"), yet it still folds up just as small as my G1228 did (and it fits nicely in my Think Tank Tripod Bazooka Bag) and only weighs less than a half pound more while nearly tripling the load capacity.

I think the 2541 is also a great tripod, but given the cost of dealing with a center column replacement and the fact that the GT-3541LS only weighs about 2/3 of a pound more while offering a 60% increase in load capacity, I'm really glad that I went with the GT-3541. It meets all of my needs now and, given that I know people who are using it with 500mm and 600mm glass with a Wimberly head and they are very happy with it--it will meet my future needs as well.

After two back surgeries in the past 3 years my days of long back-packing trips are over, but I still can do 5-10 mile hikes with no problem and I would not hesitate to take the GT-3541/M10 combo on strenuous day hikes. I also travel quite a bit, and while I never carry my tripods in my carry on bags (TSA won't permit spikes) the 21.7" folded length of the GT-3541LS means that it will easily fit into any of my checked bags as well as the external tripod holder on my Lowepro RoverII backpack that I use for back country work. Although I didn't weigh them, when I pick up the G1228 w/Q3 ballhead in one hand and the Gt-3541LS w/M10 in the other hand--there was no palpable difference in weight at all.

I think Neil makes an excellent point when he reminds us that we tend to get pretty carried away with saving a half pound here or $50 dollars there by trying to buy at the margins of what we need when we should really be looking at the big picture and buying something that we know will meet all our needs without compromise.

Lastly, I looked long at hard at some of the cheaper CF tripods, but the only one that closely matched the Gitzo 3541LS's specs was the Feisol CT-3472, and with a $520 price tag, the $120 or so savings just didn't seem worth it given the 3 year warranty and no ALR legs. If I was considering a 2-series Gitzo, I might give the Feisols a harder look as many folks seem happy with them and they are about half the price of the Gitzo 2-series. I've heard many not-so-good things about the Benro and Velbon CF's, so I never really seriously considered them.

I believe that the GT-3541LS represents a nearly perfect solution to my needs. My only 2 complaints about the GT3541LS would be A) price, and B) I wish they used aluminum instead of plastic threaded zircs for the tripod feet (at least they look like plastic to me). For the premium price we pay for these tripods, I would expect only premium materials. Still, all the Gitzos do come with a lifetime warranty and an excellent reputation for bending over backwards to provide excellent customer service--and at the end of the day that's what I really want--high quality with excellent customer service.



Click on image to view larger version



Click on image to view larger version



Click on image to view larger version



Click on image to view larger version



Click on image to view larger version



Click on image to view larger version



Click on image to view larger version



Click on image to view larger version


Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)
Attachment#3 (jpg file)
Attachment#4 (jpg file)
Attachment#5 (jpg file)
Attachment#6 (jpg file)
Attachment#7 (jpg file)
Attachment#8 (jpg file)

"No photographer is as good as the simplest camera."

Subject
ID
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
1
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
2
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
3
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
4
     Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
5
          Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
8
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
36
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
6
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
7
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
9
     Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
10
          Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
11
               Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
12
                    Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
13
                         Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
14
                              Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
15
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
16
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
17
Reply message RE: GT3540LS spyder, plate & hook
19
     Reply message RE: GT3540LS spyder, plate & hook
21
          Reply message RE: Gitzo Safe Lock replacement platform
23
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
18
Reply message RE: Gitzo GT3541 vs. GT3541LS
20
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
22
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
24
     Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
25
     Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
26
          Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS + M10 or M20, height
27
               Reply message Bounce
28
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
29
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
30
     Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
31
          Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
32
Reply message RE: Gitzo 3541LS Mini-review
33
Reply message RE: GT3541LS vs. Feisol CT-3442 or Series 2 for Hiking?
34
     Reply message RE: GT3541LS vs. Feisol CT-3442 or Series 2 for Hiking?
35

G