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Gitzo vs Feitzol - The usual dilemma

lofling

SE
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lofling Registered since 19th Jun 2008
Thu 19-Jun-08 07:17 PM | edited Thu 19-Jun-08 07:32 PM by lofling

Hi everybody,

This is my first post here. Hopefully, not the last one (whatever that means!).

I have a Nikon D80 with the 18-55 VR kit lens, 70-300 4.5-5.6VR, 50 f1.8 and the Tamron 90. I am 169 cm, which equals 5’6”-5’7”.

I am interested in taking pictures of many things, but mainly wildlife, birds and flowers etc. Therefore, I might get a longer lens, even though I really can't afford it right now. On the list is the Sigma 150-500 or a used 300 f4 with a TC, maybe, but probably not the 80-400 VR (It might depend on the tripod expenses I have to make for one of these). I really need a good tripod; my Sunpak 6601 is not up to the task... I will mostly shoot macro and landscape on the tripod, but perhaps also use the 70-300 (VR is ok, not good, but ok and the lens is not good for birding at dusk or dawn). Thus, most of the times I'll use a lens shorter than 200 mm.

My main priority is portability. The means light weight, and I have also realized that not bulky is even more desirable. Sharp pictures are of course the reason why I am getting a tripod, but I won't bring the tripod if it is too heavy or too bulky. I both hike and climb and therefore, CF it is. I am not in a position to justify buying two tripods, even though that would be optimal.

These are my thoughts:
I have narrowed it down to either Feisol or the Gitzo, with a Markins M10 ball head and an Arca-Swiss compatible QR system with an L plate (the M20 is really overkill right now, I think. I haven’t tried any head yet, though). The Feisol 3442 is my main idea. However, looking at Neil’s and Linze’s test, it might not be enough for the 70-300. Since I am not planning to use the tripod too much with this lens I could just take the inconvenience of using the tripod not fully extended whenever that happens. The Gitzo 2541 is about the equivalent.

My other plan was to buy a Gitzo 2541 – but it is too much money for too little gain in picture quality for me. I mean, it will be more expensive than any lens I own…

As mentioned, I might buy a longer lens for birding, like the 300 f4 with a TC or the new Sigma 150-500 (if the reviews are ok), if I ever can afford it. The Gitzo I am considering is the 3541LS, which I think is the perfect match for my current lenses and may be ok for light 500 mm lenses (is that true, has anybody tried it?). Sadly, Feisol doesn’t have an equivalent of the 3 series. This is my big dilemma. Should I buy a GT3541LS just in case (remember, it is a bit heavier and bulkier and also harder to fit in a bag for travel) or just buy a Feisol 3442?
The price almost makes it a no-brainer for me. But I really want the best stuff (I still want the D300 instead of the D80, even though I am a happy camper now). Also, if I’ll stick with the tripod for a long time, the price difference isn’t really a big deal. Also, I am likely heading back to Sweden in a year or two, and the Gitzos are about 40 % more expensive there.

The last questions are – Is there really a big difference between the RRS L plates and any other? Do I need to buy anything more for the setup, like an RRS QR clamp?

Thanks for the help! and sorry for the long post!

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