First of all, since this is my first post ever let me just say, what an amazing resource, this Nikonians.org. I have had so many of my questions answered simply by perusing the appropriate forums.
Brief background: My first Nikon was the N6006. Bought my first digital, a Coolpix 995 in 2001. (It's since been handed down to my son and still works great.) I have been using a D70 since '04 and have enjoyed it very much. On almost an impulse, aided largely by the wave of great press, I stumbled on a "too good to miss" deal on a D300 in mid '08.
Okay, here's the really embarrassing part: other than a few test shots, it has sat unused in my safe like some sort of electronic crown jewel, to be marveled at but not touched. The reason being that I quickly realized that this was not a tool to be used on either Auto or vari-program modes as I have lazily done with the D70. So as time permitted, I enrolled in Photography classes at the local U. in order to "start from scratch" learning how to shoot manually. First introductory class is behind me and I am waiting for "Digital II" to begin. My enthusiasm was really jump-started and I am very eager to soak up everything I can asap in order to not only make use of the D70's capabilities, but move on to the D300.
( I know what you're thinking, "blah, blah, blah...three paragraphs in and we still don't see why this drivel is in the Tripods forum, get to the point, would 'ya???" )
Sorry for rambling, I'll get to it. After a good bit of reading here on the forum and some independent research, I have to agree that continuously "stepping-up" in tripods makes very little sense if you plan to be semi-serious about photography. Since I'm already on my second cheap one, I've decided to take the plunge on what will hopefully be my last tripod purchase. I've pretty well decided on a Gitzo 3 Series and leaning toward the systematic since most of what I've read indicates that raising the center post is not really desirable anyway. My question is: how much attention should I pay to the 3 section vs. 4 section leg argument? Do you really lose that much stability with the fourth leg extended or is it primarily a "packability" issue?
I promise, if I can get a few opinions from you patient and knowledgeable members, I will exercise my very best editing skills in all future posts. Not only to keep the length bearable but also to battle my chronic case of "run-on-sentence-itis".
Thanks in advance.
#1. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 0jacsr Registered since 08th Apr 2006Wed 08-Apr-09 11:40 PM
Welcome to Nikonians.
There have been multiple discussions on this topic and you can search the forum for them.
In summary; the consensus is that a 3 section is more stable than 4, however, with today’s CF technology and Gitzo’s G-Lock either would be fine.
IMHO convenience and portability are the main factors in deciding on 3 or 4 sections. Each has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to portability and ease of setup.
The Systematic is a good choice and you are correct in trying to avoid a center column. Pair the Gitzo with the appropriate Markins head and you will be set. Match the Markins based on the camera/lens combo you are expecting to use now or in the future.
Enjoy your D300, It is a great camera, I have really enjoyed mine.
Hope this helps.
#2. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 1Thu 09-Apr-09 12:42 AM
I agree -- with current generation Gitzos (Gitzi?), there's little or no difference between 3 & 4-section legs. A series 3 Gitzo, especially a recent generation CF one, is an amazing tool.
If the new catalog is to be believed, it looks like there will soon be both basalt and aluminum systematics with the updated g-locks, etc. -- that would give you three choices, at different weights and price points, but with essentially similar handling.
#3. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 2Thu 09-Apr-09 01:07 AM
Thanks for the responses, folks.
I just received my M20 on Monday but I can't bring myself to put it on my old Slik
Transportability is very important to me, not just as it pertains to air travel, but also ease of carry. That's why I'm going to stick with CF.
I guess it would be hoping for too much that the release of the new models will have any significant effect on prices of the current models. I didn't think so. Oh well, thanks again for your input.
#4. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 3C_F Nikonian since 09th Jan 2008Thu 09-Apr-09 02:44 AM
after long debates (with myself and my billfold) I just ordered the Gitzo GT3541XLS Systematic ser.3 with 4 section; I'll have it on Friday
The main reason for doing so is my being 6'3" and I decided the extra height might come in handy in certain situations btw you don't have to use the 4th section but its there if you need it.
I can't wait to see how it compares to my slik and how my body will respond to carrying on wilderness hikes (camera shake will be induced by my exhaustion rather than an unstable set up ).
Now, I'll top it with my RRS BH-40 and hope the ballhead is strong enough since I just got the Sigma 150-500 lens AFTER getting the ballhead- oh well, we'll see...
Anyways if you are interested I'll post my layman impressions after my initial trial.
Don't dream your life - live your dream
#5. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 4Thu 09-Apr-09 04:18 AM
I just got a Gitzo 2541Explorer.
Despite the hard core purists I would highly recommend it especially if you like Macro photography or need more flexibility in camera placement.
PS I will write more about it later.
#6. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 5Thu 09-Apr-09 09:28 AM
The 3541LS is currently at the top of my list, ( I'm 5'11" ), but I haven't made up my mind yet.
I would be very interested in both of your impressions of the XLS and the Explorer. Thanks for posting.
#22. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS, GT3541XLS & GT3530LS" | In response to Reply # 6Thu 16-Apr-09 12:09 AM
I'm 5'10.5" (1.80 m) & the GT3540LS (now replaced by GT3541LS) height is fine except if I want to shoot eye level in steep hills or shooting wildlife pointing up more than 20 degrees with a long lens (200-400mm in my case).
I noticed that we both use primates for our avatars & that reminded me that a few weeks ago I got really close to some howlers monkeys that were resting on high branches & the steep angle of the lens & the necessary stooping made it a real pain in the neck.
In retrospect, I wish I would have opted for the GT3541XLS instead.
The trade-offs: $100 more, .5lbs (224g) heavier, 6" (15cm) longer folded but a nice extra height of 20.5" (52cm) when you need it. I find myself wishing for that extra height more often that I thought I would and figured out that I need a second smaller travel tripod anyway so I wish I would have gone with the real thing.
With only 3 sections extended the GT3541XLS is already 1.5" higher than the GT3541LS.
Did you see Nonprophet's mini-review of the GT3541LS?
About the 4 vs. 3 sections debate for a Series 3 the trade-offs are a slightly longer folded length (GT3530LS is only 4.7" (12cm) longer folded vs. the GT3541LS) but then you have 3 more leg locks to setup and the smallest leg looks like this instead of the larger one on the right side:
My Nikonians Gallery. Monteverde Costa Rica.
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#23. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS, GT3541XLS & GT3530LS" | In response to Reply # 22Thu 16-Apr-09 01:00 AM | edited Thu 16-Apr-09 01:03 AM by twolabs
Hey monteverde, your message is about ten minutes past the time when I could have thoughtfully considered all of your well reasoned points and used them in my decision making process
I had just seen the link in this very forum for the Canoga Camera 10% discount promotion which coincides nicely with the Gitzo $40 rebate so....I pulled the trigger on the GT3541LS. DOH! The Canoga deal expires at 12 Pacific time so I was under the gun
I can certainly see how shooting those elevated subjects for an extended period might send me to the Chiropractor. That is an impressive overall height difference which I will likely miss. One factor is, my hand already got a slight case of the shakes as it hovered over the mouse to click on that final "Purchase" button I'm just not used to casually dropping large sums of cash on what is at this point, only a hobby. That extra hundred might have been too much for my ticker. Also, while the 6" increase in the folded length isn't much, I might personally appreciate the increased "packability". I have read accounts on these forums from people infinitely more experienced in photography than me who state that they have no problem storing their expensive CF tripod in their checked baggage but I'm the nervous type. I don't mind paying for good quality equipment but I can't foresee EVER entrusting it to random airline baggage handlers.
In any case, thanks for sharing your thoughts on the subject and I love that Howler monkey shot. That baby looks awfully fresh, I wonder how old he/she is?
#24. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS, GT3541XLS & GT3530LS" | In response to Reply # 23Thu 16-Apr-09 03:32 AM
Stephen, don't worry about the price, it hurts only once. After seeing the beautiful thing & using it a bit you will see that you made a good investment.
Anyway the Gitzo's retain a very high resale value & besides, what's the point of investing all these $ in gear to end up ruining the shot with a shaky tripod?
The "packability" criteria also tipped me towards the GT3541LS but with hindsight how often do I pack it & the XLS with the head removed is about the same length as the LS with head.
There is not much meat in your profile, what kind of lens are you planning to use with the tripod? If it's not long lenses with collar mount, you will not miss the extra height of the XLS.
I think the baby was about 2-3 weeks old.
#25. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS, GT3541XLS & GT3530LS" | In response to Reply # 23Thu 16-Apr-09 08:19 AM
Don't kick yourself quite yet
Although Jacques elegantly points out the benefits of the XLS, don't underestimate the difference in portability that that 6" or so make.
Although I too have argued the merits of the XLS, I recognize that the long folded length maybe/almost puts it into the "specialty" class. Not sure I would want to tote one around all day while on vacation. Now, working out of my vehicle, which is where I would want one, I don't think anything can beat it in terms of versatility.
A lot of people consider the GT3541LS to be the best one tripod all around solution- as long as you are not too tall and generally find the 57" max height to be adequate for whatever eye level shooting you do. Those legs are the same folded length as my G1228 4 Section Series 2 (which only goes to 52"). My G1228 is a pure joy to tote around, and I suspect the GT3541LS would be the same, but with more robust geometry more useful with longer lenses. The GT3541LS, for many people, is a better single tripod solution.
#26. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS, GT3541XLS & GT3530LS" | In response to Reply # 25Thu 16-Apr-09 08:53 AM | edited Thu 16-Apr-09 08:54 AM by twolabs
Thanks for the reassurance guys, at this point I'm way too excited to try the thing out to have any buyers remorse.
Jacques - My profile is light just like my camera bag and my wallet I sold a couple of lenses that weren't getting much use so I'm down to: a Sigma 18-200mm OS, a Tamron 90mm 2.8 that I use for portraits and macro and the Nikkor 70-300VR that came with the D300. I also have an older/slow Tamron 200-400mm that I bought to shoot horse races but to give you an idea of how long it's been, I was using the N6006 at the time Maybe now that I have a good support, I'll dust it off and give it some use.
Thanks again for the kind comments.
#27. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS, GT3541XLS & GT3530LS" | In response to Reply # 26Thu 16-Apr-09 12:25 PM
As one of the unabashed GT3541LS cheerleaders, I don't think you'll be disappointed. While the extra height of the XLS might be nice sometimes (gimbal shooters should especially pay attention to Neil's observations about birds in flight), there's a big difference in portability between 22" and 28" collapsed. The XLS needs a dedicated bag or a very large suitcase to fly, and the shorter legs carry better on a pack or shoulder, too.
I also prefer the shorter legs for macro -- a long legset can be pretty gangly, since even when collapsed the footprint down low is large.
All compromises, of course -- and the equation is different for everyone.
Hope you enjoy it!
#34. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS vs. Shorter GT3541XLS" | In response to Reply # 27Thu 16-Apr-09 10:36 PM | edited Thu 16-Apr-09 11:08 PM by monteverde_org
Smiert, I have been using my GT3540LS since a year now, I love it & every time I grab it I'm glad I did not settle for a cheaper offering.
I agree with Neil's "A lot of people consider the GT3541LS to be the best one tripod all around solution" if you are not to tall.
I was just pointing out that for me & my long lens, the extra height convenience would trump the once in a while suitcase packing inconvenience. I'm starting to get better in approaching wildlife and in my dense forest environment they are often high up in the trees.
Now the GT3541LS folds to 21.7" (55cm) & the GT3541XLS folds to 27.6" (70cm) for a 6" (15cm) difference.
If 27.6" (70cm) really does not fit in diagonal in your suitcase with head removed then you can remove sections 2, 3 & 4 & shave 4" (10cm) which bring the folded length difference down to only 2" (5cm). You just wrap the exposed ends in Saran Wrap with a rubber band. It's an inconvenience to pack & unpack for air travel but compared to everyday use...
If you use a tripod strap to carry it in the field, extend the legs 6" (15cm) & see if it's such a problem for you. The GT3541LS does not fit in my backpack anyway.
About the extra .5lbs (224g) weight trade-off, here is the kicker: two tripods for the price of one + a few $ naturally.
In the the Gitzo 2009 catalog from the link you posted in the FYI: new Gitzos for 2009 thread, on page 92, you can see the new G-Lock leg section reducers (for Series 1, 2, 3 and 4) which you can use to remove the smallest legs on the XLS when you know you will not need the extra height.
On my cheap kitchen scale, the bottom leg weights 60g x three legs for a total of 180g which bring the weight & max height of the shorten XLS almost identical to the GT3541LS.
Just food for thought and yes, the GT3541LS is awesome!
Here is an other example of 45 degree overhead shooting with a 200-400mm & some pain in the neck.
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#35. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS vs. Shorter GT3541XLS" | In response to Reply # 34Thu 16-Apr-09 11:13 PM
Food for thought, indeed -- I can definitely see circumstances where the extra height on tap would be helpful. I was more positioning the 3540/3541 as a reasonable (and still portable) upgrade to the 2541, though that's not necessarily the best place to stop for everyone.
I just took apart one of the legs on mine the other day -- in addition to being stronger, it breaks down quicker and easier than the older locks. I think it's much more reasonable to expect taking them apart from travel than it used to be.
Here's one that will make Neil cringe:
I realized that I can put the lower leg sections from my 3541LS on a 1541 for a two-section ultra light shortie combo with spiked feet. The corollary: I can also put the bottom *two* sections of the 1541 on my 3541LS, for an eight-foot tottering frankenstein on high heels. Just because I *can* doesn't mean I will -- but this modular thing goes both ways.
#36. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS vs. Shorter GT3541XLS" | In response to Reply # 35Thu 16-Apr-09 11:27 PM
And these G-Lock leg section reducers got me thinking: why not remove leg sections 3 & 4 on my GT3540LS, swap for a smaller ballhead without clamp & voila, a super light Series 3 with a max height of 2'7" (80cm) for hiking and usable sitting down.
Can't wait to see the price of these reducers. Come on Gitzo, be nice!
#39. "RE: Short & super light GT3541LS" | In response to Reply # 37Fri 17-Apr-09 01:06 AM
I should add: 2'7" (80cm) max height for the tripod with the 2 sections removed + head & viewfinder height, usable sitting down (on a garbage bag, it's humid around here), crouching, bending over, or with Live View or with a cheap 105g 1-2.5x II edition Seagull Angle Viewfinder that you can find for more or less $45 on eBay and which I will order right now!
#38. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS vs. Shorter GT3541XLS" | In response to Reply # 35Thu 16-Apr-09 11:42 PM
>> for an eight-foot tottering frankenstein on high heels.
I think that merits an image
And it would certainly test Gitzo's G-Lock design
It would be kind of interesting to test that monstrosity against the stock Series 1. The mount, being more substantial is a big plus. The 5 or 6 leg joints a minus, and the bottom spindly legs is a push on either configuration. So you have the bigger mount pitted against the excessive number of leg joints. I'd buy tickets and popcorn to watch that test
A set of those new end caps could also convert the Series 1 into a one section, for even more weight reduction. Plus, zero time spent retracting and extending the legs!
#52. "Cancel the Helicopter!" | In response to Reply # 41Fri 17-Apr-09 11:41 PM | edited Sat 18-Apr-09 08:18 AM by monteverde_org
Just to give you some more (crazy) ideas, it's just a leg with a disc in a column collar after all...
Reminds me about the often mentioned argument in the Mountaineer vs. Systematic debate: why put a monopod on top of your tripod?
"The newly released extra long telescopic column GS5510XLS further increase the versatility of the Systematic range. Thanks to the four section it can make any systematic tripod up to 172,5cm - 67.9 inches taller.
Combined to the Giant tripod (GT5561SGT) it can elevate your equipment up to 4,2 meter - 165 inches (13.8 feet!) for fabulous aerial shots". From the 2009 catalog, page 56.
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#7. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 3
>I guess it would be hoping for too much that the release of
>the new models will have any significant effect on prices of
>the current models.
It looks like the series 3 CF legs aren't changing at all this year, so there won't likely be any downward pressure on the 3541LS/3541XLS.
#8. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 7Thu 09-Apr-09 01:29 PM
Despite comments made at times on this site that "real Nikonians" end up with standard (ie non center post tripods) I went ahead and purchased a Gitzo 2541 Explorer.
The criticism of the Explorer include more prone to vibration due to the Center Post and 4 section legs and inadequate load bearing capability.
Here is why I bought a 2541 Explorer last week.
1) Got a good price $575 versus $650 regular price.I am not sure Carbon fibre is always worth the premium but it sure looks great.
2)I want to do more Macro Photography and the Explorer allows an almost infinite variety of positions with its adjustable Center Post and legs. Despite what has been said by some ,once the Center Post is locked it is as rigid as any Center Post Tripod.
3) I put my D90 with a 70-200mm lens (and Teleconverter) and quick release plates on a scale and the total weight was 5 pounds 13 ounces. My Markin M10 ball head weighs another pound.Thus statements that a series 2 tripod like the 2542 Explorer is reaching its limit with a 200mm lens is bogus.
4) While a 4 section tripod may be slightly less rigid than a 3 section one ,I am at a point in my life that I no longer do shoots in 40 mph winds etc. I also challenge anyone to show that under normal conditions that you can see more blurring in a picture taken with a 4 section Carbon fibre tripod.
5)I am 5ft 6" and I need to raise my Center post less than 2 inches for me to look directly into the viewfinder of my D90 (on a Markin ball head).
Hope these comments help
#9. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 8Thu 09-Apr-09 02:20 PM | edited Thu 09-Apr-09 02:22 PM by nrothschild
I don't think the 200mm rule of thumb is "bogus". I demonstrate it here (warning big file in that link)
The upshot is that there are limits to the shutter speeds that can be shot at any given focal length with any given legs. I demonstrate there that without mirror up, you get easily visible blur at 100% pixels at 200mm. As you increase FL it gets worse and is visible even in downsized images.
That is on a Gitzo G1228 with Markins TB-20 replacement plate, and a Feisol 3342 with a flat plate.
If you mount a camera on the Explorer and turn the center column such that the body has to hang out from the center of gravity, that only gets worse. For the most part the explorer's articulated arm is intended for (or generally used for) macro. I don't think you would use that for shooting wildlife, landscape, or portraits, for example. Close macro is even more sensitive to vibration than moderately long focal lengths. The closer you get (as you approach full 1:1 and maybe beyond with extension tubes, etc.) the worse the problem.
If you are shooting flash with exposures well below ambient light, or you are shooting at or near sunny 16 ambient exposures you may do fine with the articulated head, depending on how far you extend the camera from the mount.
Many people, though, expect their $1000 investment (with head and other related toys) to perform well at all shutter speeds, in all sorts of light, and our advice is generally aimed at difficult shooting. I don't need a $1000 tripod to shoot sunny 16 or full flash.
If you reproduce my test shots at 1/10s shutter speeds (no flash) with that mount articulated to the side, I suspect you will be very surprised at the results. Our recommendations are based on shooting anything at any shutter speed, and as much as possible without mirror up if necessary since that makes it impossible to catch a fleeting moment- important for things like insect photography. Even with Mirror Up, it might take great care to get consistent results at critical shutter speeds- again depending on how you configure the articulated arm, primarily how far out you hang the camera.
I don't think there is a huge bias against 4 section tripods here, at least not Gitzo G-Lock tripods. Most people here are on the fence over that, so I think your assessment of the "consensus" of the forum advice is not accurate. I myself have a slight preference for 3 sections, but I shoot long lenses such as 300/2.8 and 500/4. I've considered the GT3541LS for example, and the only reservation I have is that I am also considering a Series 5
Edit: we very rarely even discuss actual vs spec'd payload weight here; I'm not sure where you got that from . Most of the discussion is oriented toward focal length limitations.
#11. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 9Thu 09-Apr-09 03:51 PM | edited Thu 09-Apr-09 10:08 PM by RSchussel
The reason I said that the 200mm rule is bogus is that some people act as if the use of a 200mm lens on a series 2 Gitzo is questionable.
I looked at various test shoots and appreciate the effort you went to try to standardize your results.
Yes vibration is a problem. But it is a problem for most tripods unless they are very substantial like a series 5 etc.
People seem to believe that a series 3 will solve their problems and in most cases it won't--thats my point.The differences between series 2 and 3 tripods is not that great.
1) All of your examples use tripods that are less substantial/rigid than the 2541EX. The Gitzo 1228 is rated to 17.6lbs load and the Feisol 3342 to 22lbs. I am not saying that the 2541EX will be significantly better --but it would be an improvement.
2) Mirror slap is a significant factor in many of your tests.The reality is that at slower shutter speeds (1/10sec) some degradation will occur no matter what tripod you choose --its all a matter of degree.
3) It is only when you start to go over 200mm is vibration a significant factor.But would even a series 3 Gitzo make much difference?
4) You say that "I don't think you would use that
for shooting wildlife, landscape, or portraits". The articulated arm in the Explorer is no worse then any other Center Post.When the arm is fully retracted the results would be very close to a tripod without a Center Post.
I would bet that when the articulated arm is raised only an inch or two the increase in blurring is relatively small.
#12. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 11Fri 10-Apr-09 10:29 AM | edited Fri 10-Apr-09 02:04 PM by nrothschild
I think a 3 Series is a significant improvement over a 2 Series. Have you ever actually shot both in the same session and compared?
Have you ever shot your Explorer and an older 2 Series to see if the new, higher payload ratings really make a real world difference? I have compared newer and older 2 Series (not an Explorer though) and I don't think so.
The Explorer has been "criticized" here, but not for the reasons you suggest. I don't recall any discussions of an "inadequate payload capability" per se.
I don't think an inch or two of center column extension hurts much. What I do see in the field is a lot of people shooting too short tripods with 12" or more of center column extension to make up for a fundamental lack of height for what they want (usually upright eye level shooting). That is what I personally caution about. I think if you are going to use a center column it should be for fine tuning composition, not to make a short tripod taller. I live without one, but in the ideal world I would have a Systematic with an add-on option for those times when it makes sense, and I know I've discussed this here recently.
The Explorer costs, weighs more, and I don't believe that in real life the articulated arm solves the problems that most people think it will. When shooting down low, the articulated arm doesn't really add value, it essentially goes horizontal simply to get out of the way in order to do a "ground level set" that otherwise is impossible with a fixed non-removable center column. In it's most stable configuration (head and platform butted up against the mount), it is not much different than a portrait flop on a standard tripod, but about 4" more off center.
When shooting from higher up, I think most people believe that the articulated arm will "reach out" to the edges of the tripod legs, allowing shots in tight quarters that would otherwise be difficult to get. But that sets up a very off center load, and tremendously increases vibrations. How much you can get away with is a complex subject because it depends on your payload weight, focal length, macro, and shutter speeds.
I have always thought of the Explorer as a specialty tripod. I would never shoot one as my primary or only tripod, but that has a lot to do with the fact that I take my own Series 2 Mountaineer to the edge of it's envelope as it is, and that is without any center column at all. I've personally tried to take a middle ground with any advice I give about the Explorer. I mainly try to explain that it physically cannot do what many people think it will do.
#14. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 12Sat 11-Apr-09 02:20 PM
Your additional comments/clarifactions are helpful.My interpretation of you originally comments was somewhat different.
I don't disagree that some people are misusing center column tripods when they are extended too far. But that doesn't mean the Explorer is a speciality tripod--I see it being used by people wanting greater flexibility with the understanding that the Explorer has limitations just like any other tripod.
You say that the series 3 is a significant improvement over the series 2--do you have any empirical proof? you also said that the Explorer is 4" off center--I measured 1.5".
By profession I do research--I often find that differences found often do not translate into meaningful ones.
Your site shows that mirror bounce creates blurring.However I would ask if the blurring would be noticable (to the aveage person) in an 8x10 or or 16x20 picture of landscape etc.
I don't feel that the definitive test has been done--comparing the 2541 Explorer to a series 3 carbon fibre . Ideally a series 3 with extra long legs should also be included--it might prove worse than a series 2.The difference between the series 2 and 3 might not be as significant as you think.
I am not in a position to own several carbon fibre tripods--thus the Explorer is my only tripod.
#17. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 14Sun 12-Apr-09 08:53 PM
I've had a busy weekend and your fundamental question is not easy to answer. First, I want to dispense with a couple of specifics:
>> you also said that the Explorer is 4" off center--I measured 1.5".
Yes, it is off center by 1.5", when the arm is vertical. BUT, in the context that I meant it, it is being used down low to the ground, such that the arm must be swung horizontal to get it out of the way. Worst case, in that situation my tripods and Markins ballhead is offset by the length of the ball stem and the thickness of the clamp, in portrait flop. Probably the same 1.5" or so.
Because your arm is horizontal, the offset in the case of a low to the ground configuration adds the total height of the ballhead casing, or about 3" or so depending on the model. That puts the base of your camera offset by 4.5" or more, the exact value would have to be measured (it could be more). Even if you flip the ballhead to point up (putting the camera now in portrait mode, you are always offset by 4.5" or more. If you orient it in landscape mode (relative to the ballhead- not the scene) it is a bit more than that, at a minimum.
Comparing a Series 2 to a 3 (or any other support choice), you are looking for hard numbers, hard tests. You want The Definitive Answer. That answer does NOT exist, for two reasons:
1) Vibration is such that any one test can give very misleading answers. This is because the amount of vibration is dependent on various resonances. I have seen situations where obviously inferior configurations produced better results than more stable configurations- but only in one certain configuration that happened resonate well. In any other configuration it would perform more poorly, just as expected. The problem with a definitive test is that you never know if your results from any one test is skewed by odd resonance issues, one way or the other.
2) In real life there are huge numbers of variables. Different gear, different technique, difference expectations, different conditions. It is impossible to day, generally, if tripod A is "good enough" or even if it is better than tripod "B".
Do you ever miss shots because of support induced vibrations? Do you ever get blurry images? What percentage? That is an impossible question, of course, because the percentage varies tremendously based on the factors I mention in #2 just above.
What I can say is that over the course of many years and my last 100,000 images or so, I've gotten to the point where I expect 100% sharp images, in terms of support issues. I may blow the focus. I may have subject motion problems. I may be shooting an impossible slow shutter speed in an impossible wind, wich I am exluding here. But I can say with certainty that I can make even difficult shots in "reasonable" conditions (not a 40MPH wind) 100% of the time in most cases. I still often shoot multiple images in challenging situations but I know that when I am culling, no matter how close I look, those extra shots are almost always a waste of time- in terms of support issues.
That's worth something. Shooting with long lenses (200mm and up) can be very challenging. When you get a soft shot, it is not always obvious why. I used to drive myself nuts trying to nail down the reasons for soft images. Now I get my support right- I may overkill it a bit by some standards - but when I blow a shot I can almost always be very certain it was not a support issue. That is very helpful, especially with things like wildlife where focus and other issues cause frequent problems.
What I'm trying to explain above is my own real world results over a fairly long period of time (4 years or so) that has made me come to the conclusion that I don't want to push the envelope with my support if I can help it.
Now, comparing a Series 2 to Series 3, let me put it this way... I bought my Series 4 Alloy specifically to use with my then "new" 500/4 Ai-P. That lens scared me because I knew I had to vet it quickly (bought used from a fellow Nikonian with a relatively short trial/return privilege as usual). My concern was differentiating any optical issues from support issues. At the time I didn't think my Series 2 would even hold that thing up properly. In fact it does, although it was years before I ever shot the lens on the Series 2.
When I first used the 500/4 on the Series 4, I had a lot of problems. If not in my images, in my comfort level. I used to call that lens "My Tuning Fork" because of the way it behaved when I applied long lens technique. I've gotten pretty good at it, with practice, and I think I can do a good job with that lens down to about 1/50s or so on the Series 4. I usually shoot it at 700mm, otherwise I prefer having AF on my 300/2.8 + TC17.
I've shot the 500 on my Series 2, in situations where my Series 4 was tied up with the 300/2.8, set up for birds in flight with a gimbal, and I wanted a quick shot at 700mm. I don't have much confidence shooting that lens on the Series 2 below 1/100s, and even that doesn't feel right, regardless of the results. Here I'm talking about the stability of the view through the viewfinder while I'm shooting with Long Lens Technique.
All the above is just to say that there is a HUGE difference in how that lens handles on a Series 2 vs Series 3.
Now, I've tap tested my Series 2 against the later GT2540 with a 70-200 working 340mm. I saw ZERO difference. I use a tap test to simulate the handling of Long Lens Technique. it is a somewhat more consistent and repeatable test than just assessing the view in the viewfinder.
I have also tap tested my 500/4 on my G1410 side by side with a GT3530, both with Markins M20 heads, swapping the lens back and forth. I found the results to be identical, which surprised me. I also tried some Long Lens Technique with similar results.
If you consider all the above, you can see why, even though I have not had the chance to do that test directly between a Series 2 and 3, the outcome is inevitable. I was very impressed with that Series 3, and it gave me some pause because I've been considering a Series 5 for my next tripod.
You are now going to come back and say... "you're talking about a 500/4 and I'm talking about my 18-200 (or maybe a 70-200). I will respond that the differences I saw are still present on a smaller scale, and represent fairly the relative effects of wind and other difficult shooting conditions (that can include soft ground, for example, where a somewhat heavier tripod has an edge).
You have asked the question... can you see the difference between a Series 2 and Series 3 in an 8x10 or 16x24 landscape? That is actually a fairly best case situation, where presumably you are doing little cropping. In my work I often need to crop deeply. Most long lens shooters do. I never know what people are going to do with their tripods- most shooters don't know where their shooting will take them. Because of that, I tend to err on the conservative side on this, for all the reasons above.
Remember I asked you above how many unacceptably soft shots you get? If your answer is ZERO, then you have the right tripod for you. That does mean that that tripod is the right decision for anyone else, or that I would change my advice if I knew your answer was zero. The answer is important to you, though, because in another reply here you seem to be rethinking your decision. If your shots are all sharp, then you should not allow "gear lust" here to change your mind, especially if that change is going to cost some money (meaning you can't return the exlorer).
You, of course, cannot answer that question, having only owned it for a week. You can't possibly have run across all the situations that come up for most people over the course of time. You can, though, in a reasonably short period of time set up many of the difficult situations as your work presents you and test your results.
The most comprehensive tripod tests I have ever seen is Diglloyd\'s tests. He charges about $25 for his report. I bought a copy 4 years ago and found it very well worth the cost, considering what I've spend on support over the years. He did test a Series 2 against a Series 3 and I can save you some money by telling you that he didn't think well of the Series 2. IOW, he found very significant differences in performance. Although his test is rather dated now, comparing a G1228 against a G1325, I think, of the 2004 era, I'm confident that the relative performance of the two series has not changed in any way that would fundamentally alter the conclusions of the report or, IMO, a good buying decision based on today's models.
#20. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 17Tue 14-Apr-09 12:59 AM
Please forgive the delay in responding but I felt I needed to do a little experimenting before responding.
I appreciate the time and effort you made to respond to my prior questions.
There are several things that I still don't understand
1) Why would an earlier CF Gitzo tripod (rated at 6kg load) manifest no more vibration than the 2540 (rated at 12kg load & which has additional features to reduce vibration) and why would the series 3 Gitzos (rated 18kg) be significantly superior to a 2540.
2) Why do a tap test to compare Tripods instead of taking some pictures without any outside influence and see which is sharper.
I think my original point has been lost--that the 200mm rule for Tripods like the 2541EX is bogus.It seems many of your comments involved significantly longer lens.
I performed the following non scientific test using the following equipment.
--Gitzo 2541EX with a Markin M10 ball head. The Center column was raised two inches.
--Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 with VR turned off
--Nikon TC17 to make the equivalent focal length 510mm.
--Shots taken a 1/30,1/60 and 1/125 at F11 using the cameras timer .
--Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro with Novoflex Castel rail.
All observations below were made at 100% crop.
1) Using the 70-200 with the 1.7 Teleconvertor (equivalent focal length of 510mm) I noticed significant blurring at 1/30 .Blurring diminished at 1/60 and by 1/125 blurring could not be seen.
2) When using the 70-200 at 200mm (equivalent to 300mm) I could not detect any blurring at 1/30.
3) I also used the Tamron to take some shots at 1:1 at 1/15 in natural light with the articulated arm parallel to the floor and extended 6 or 7 inches..No blurring was detected.
1) Series 2 Tripods like the 2541EX can accommodate 300mm without any problem. Even larger lens can be used if speeds of 1/125 or greater are used.
2) For Macro Photography blurring does not seem to be a concern when the articulated arm is extended several inches (for Macro lens of 100mm or less.)
#21. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 20Tue 14-Apr-09 04:47 PM
I think you missed the point I was trying to make in my previous reply... you cannot judge a tripod's suitability solely based on controlled testing, and presumably indoors (?).
I also don't understand the inconsistency between one of your results...
"1) Using the 70-200 with the 1.7 Teleconvertor (equivalent focal length of 510mm) I noticed significant blurring at 1/30"
And your related conclusion...
"1) Series 2 Tripods like the 2541EX can accommodate 300mm without any problem."
Isn't significant vibration" a "problem"??
I also think you are making some assumptions that you cannot make with your current gear, such as...
"Even larger lens can be used if speeds of 1/125 or greater are used."
That is a very broad statement- larger as in longer FL, physically larger, or larger/heavier? If you are stating that in the context of something like a 200/2 or 300/2.8, I would caution you not to try to extrapolate things, or however you came to that conclusion. Granted, though, you need quite a long focal length to have a problem at 1/125s. Although... years ago I thought I detected just that when shooting my 300/4 at 600mm on my Series 3. Somewhere in my galleries I think I have a composite test image (shooting the moon) demonstrating that. The D70 has no exposure delay or mirror up- at the time that was a huge concern for me, being a Mirror Up fanatic.
My tests, on my site, demonstrate that with modern high density sensors my Series 2 does show some blur at 200mm. However, it is fairly minor and may be acceptable to many, but likely not to others who are very picky and may have needs for deep cropping. Interestingly, I did not see much if any blur at all when I did my old tests with my D70 and D2H. Since a lot of people want even more pixel density than the cameras have now at 12mpx DX, this is important to them because any blur at all results in wasted pixels and empty magnification. Again, this is an issue of individual expectations.
I should also mention that we get a LOT of people coming over here who just bought a 70-200, and are looking for a tripod to support it. They often do not mention TC's at all. Personally, I am very reluctant to recommend a tripod for that lens that I believe is only fully suitable without a TC (the Series 2) because I know 70-90% of the people that buy that lens will be putting a TC on it, even if they don't think they will at the time. Putting a TC on that lens is just irresistible for most people. Statistically, assuming that the lens will not be used with TC's (for the purpose of dispensing advice) is a bad bet and I think does a disservice to most people.
I should also mention that you imply that for some of your tests you may have shot at 1/30s at the slowest speeds. Be aware that if you take the time to figure out how to properly engineer a very broad shutter speed bracket (keeping aperture and ISO constant!) you should find that the most dicciult shutter speeds fall within 1/5s to 1/15s. It varies depending on the configuration, but the few times I have done this the worst images fell in that range.
The reason why the images actually improve at speeds slower than about 1/5s (in controlled tests) is that the mirror slap dampens out well within the exposure, thus resulting in a blur that exposes down one or more stops from the overall exposure. This is not true, of course, outdoors with any wind at all, where any wind generated (or any external) vibration will likely be constant across the entire exposure and in general the image will degrade consistently with increasing shutter speed, to the point of diminishing returns where the exposure receives a more or less constant and "full" amount of vibration.
The reason I tap tested the Series 2's was simply that I could not take over that camera shop to set up test targets, lighting, etc. Also, I place a lot of value in tap testing because, as I have mentioned several times before, that is a very fast and reproducible way to gauge the suitability of a tripod for Long Lens Technique, which is important to me and most other experienced 200mm (+) shooters. I actually did attempt some ad hoc test shots but I was uncertain, afterward, about some of my methodology, and also I had one too many frames in the camera, which lead me to suspect the accuracy of my notes.
Your macro results are not consistent with mine, but I have not done a lot of macro testing with my tripods. I just know what I see in real world shooting. You may want to check out some of John Shaw's books. He is a very experienced Pro shooter and prolific writer. He maintains that no tripod less than a Series 3 is suitable for macro work. So at least I'm in good company on that line of thinking
I cannot stress enough that your tripod may be perfectly suitable for your needs, but it may not be suitable for others, even using the equivalent gear. Speaking for myself, the advice I give is "worst case" and very conservative because I don't know what people do with their gear and even if they try to explain what they do, it is simply too complex of a subject (IMVHO) to try to push the envelope in terms of advice. I do always say, though, in general, that a Series 2 is "adequate" for 200mm, but a Series 3 will help if the extra weight and bulk are not an issue. I thread that needle very carefully.
#28. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 21Thu 16-Apr-09 04:05 PM
What I said was not inconsistent.
Using my 70-200 ( equivalent to 300mm on a D90) blurring was NOT an issue with my 2541EX-- a 26lb rated series 2.
What I did see is that at longer focal lengths( with a TC17) blurring did start to be an issue --thus the need to shoot at 1/125 with longer focal lengths( 510mm equivalent focal length with a TC17).
My take away is that for most people blurring is NOT an issue for lens like the 70-200 or 300 f4 on
Tripod like the 2541EX.I don't have access to the large/heavier f2.8 lens like the 300mm etc to make any judgments.
Remember that the 70-200VR comprises 95% of all of the f2.8 telephoto lens made by Nikon over the past 7 to 10 years. Thus much of your advice is only for a relatively small part of the population. Like most people I don't have $5K to 10K for the other F2.8 Telephoto lens.
I think the reason for all of the back and forth is that your original post left me with the impression that you feel that if a person is willing to take a little risk the Gitzo series 2 Carbon fibre tripods MIGHT be OK up to 200mm. I think you require the ultimate in performance and for you anything less is unacceptable.
While I don't disagree that having a more rigid Tripod like the Gitzo series 3 will probably make some difference I don't see any empirical results that compares a series 2( rated at 12kg) versus a series 3 (rated at 18kg).
As to Macro photography I don't have a blurring problem at 1/15 sec with my Tamron 90mm mounted on a Novoflex Rail and Markin M10 ball head using my 2541EX. It would be interesting to try to determine what things we are doing differently that our results are so different.
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#29. "RE: Gitzo Tripod selecting the right series" | In response to Reply # 28Thu 16-Apr-09 06:03 PM | edited Sun 26-Apr-09 02:27 AM by nrothschild
Bob, download the Gitzo 2009 catalog from the link found in the FYI: new Gitzos for 2009 thread & read the page 9 "selecting the right series".
From that page:
"If you are looking for a support that maximizes image stabilization, maximum load capacity is no longer enough to let you identify the correct support for your setup. If you only consider maximum load, you may find yourself using a tripod that's strong enough to hold your equipment, but not sturdy enough to properly stabilize your images, no matter how good your camera or lens. While weight is decreasing, the actual lens view angle remains unchanged.
A 200mm lens has a view angle of 12°, while a 400mm lens has a 6° view angle. A deviation of 6 degrees projected over a distance of 300m is equal to 31.5m. To take these constants into account, the ideal tripod should really be selected according to its torsional rigidity"
"We've tested our tripods with the most popular lenses on the market to identify which Series provides the best stabilization performance for different focal lengths. For example, we recommend Series 2 tripods for use with 200mm lenses. If you decide to use a 200mm lens on a Series 1 tripod, you'll need to pay more attention to keeping your equipment steady and may have to avoid critical conditions like strong winds. On the other hand, if you use your 200mm lens on a Series 3 tripod, erring on the safe side will allow you to use your system in the most critical conditions without having to worry about image stabilization."
Gitzo says page 48: "The Explorer is another of our tripods for special applications" & on page 49 that the Series 2 Explorer is "Recommended for lenses up to 300mm maximum" but that's border line, it's up to the user to decide to use it instead of erring on the safe side with the Series 3 recommended for "300mm lens up to 400mm maximum".
They say on page 52 about the Series 2: "Recommended for... 200mm lenses, up to a 300mm maximum.
Now trow into the mix 1.5x crop factor, weight of gear, head, plates, shooting conditions, type of ground, spikes or not, LLT, mirror delay or up, shutter speed, price & weight of the tripod, leg diameter, CF or not, the pilot in the cockpit, etc and shake & bake!
What Neil is saying is that is is even more difficult to push the limit of a Series 2 Explorer & looking at the design, it seems pretty obvious.
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
#30. "RE: Gitzo Tripod selecting the right series" | In response to Reply # 29Thu 16-Apr-09 06:57 PM
I will stand by original statements--For most people a series 2 explorer is more than adequate up to 300mm.
After your quote from Gitzo you add your own comment about borderline --I feel thats a distortion of what Gitzo is saying.
I rarely shoot at 1/5 sec or in 40mph winds. If you like to obsess about blurring go for a series 5 or a 50lb professional tripod.
Not everyone has $700 to $800 for a tripod and another $350 for ball head.
I would rather have a great shot than an ordinary one that is 10% sharper.
#31. "RE: Gitzo Tripod selecting the right series" | In response to Reply # 30Thu 16-Apr-09 08:01 PM | edited Thu 16-Apr-09 08:27 PM by nrothschild
>> I will stand by original statements--For most people a series 2 explorer is more than adequate up to 300mm.
I think you have to appreciate that most people frequenting this forum and those coming here for advice do not consider a minimum shutter speed of 1/125s adequate. If that meets your expectations, that's great- you have the perfect tripod for you, as I have suggested several times now. However, you extend your own expectations to "most people", passing judgment on Gitzo's recommendations in the process, and there I think you are factually incorrect. And, you don't need 40mph winds to cause problems. You will be very surprised, I think, at what a 10mph wind will do to a 70-200, especially with a TC.
I don't see anywhere in this thread, and certainly not in my opening post where I generally suggest a Series 2 "might" or "might not" be suitable for 200mm. I only pointed to my own tests, which supports Gitzo's findings - assuming they believe as I and most of us here believe that a 1/125s minimum shutter speed is inadequate. I also pointed out some disadvantages of the explorer mount. But that has nothing to do, per se, with Series 2 legs. Those are two very different issues, which you are muddling together.
#32. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 30Thu 16-Apr-09 08:07 PM
"For most people a series 2 explorer is more than adequate up to 300mm" - "most" maybe according to you but certainly not to all people, all the time.
What kind of 300mm? VR or not? With or without TC? On DX crop factor or FX? What is your definition of sharp? Do you shoot wildlife at dawn & dusk with slow shutter speeds? Do you crop your images like the one in post #22?
If you travel or hike somewhere & it's windy, do you just pack up your gear? Take a look at at Neil's nice bird pictures on a windy day here.
The most important is that you are happy with it & that it suits your needs but that's different from recommending it for shooting @ 300mm.
"Not everyone has $700 to $800 for a tripod and another $350 for ball head" - and that's why there is so many cheaper options out there but this tread's title is "Gitzo Tripod Choice" wich right of the bat implies a certain budget & quality requirements.
I ride my motorcycle @ 8,500 rpm in third gear or @ 4,500 rpm in forth gear. There's trade-offs & advantages to both & thankfully it's up to me to decide.
#42. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 32Fri 17-Apr-09 12:46 PM
I think you have solidified the point I have been trying to make. That is MOST people will find the series 2 more than adequate for up to 300mm.
The problem is that your responses are aimed at a minority BUT they come across as advice for everyone.
Below is what you and other should be saying when you respond
For most people the series 2 is optimal up to 300mm while the series 3 extends this to 400mm. Factors like cropping at 100%,wind,shooting between 1/5 and 1/15 of a second or adding a teleconverter will effect sharpness. For example you will probably need to shoot at 1/125 or higher if you use a 70-200mm with a 1.7TC( equivalent to 510mm) and a DX format camera.
I would hope that you would sign your responses rather than using an email name.
#43. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 42Fri 17-Apr-09 01:42 PM
I think at this point we can agree to disagree on what "most people" here expect from their high end tripods. You've had the final word, Bob, now let's move on to other things
All Nikonians are obliged to indicate their full names in their public profiles, therefore some choose not to repeat that in each email. Just click the icon on the upper right of each message to see who you are talking to "-).
#45. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 43Fri 17-Apr-09 02:04 PM
>I think at this point we can agree to disagree on what
>"most people" here expect from their high end
>tripods. You've had the final word, Bob, now let's move on to
No, don't stop now!
I've been enjoying these back and forth discussions!
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#46. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 45Fri 17-Apr-09 02:26 PM
OK, as a result of your appeal, against my better judgment I'll let this go further for the moment. I want to caution everyone to keep this civil and don't get personal, because that is where these types of threads (with two parties dug in deep) ultimately go.
#44. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 42Fri 17-Apr-09 02:01 PM
I'm sorry, Bob, this is preposterous. Your claims are incompatible:
"For most people the series 2 is optimal up to 300mm"
You then minimize the limitations, saying that "Factors like cropping at 100%,wind,shooting between 1/5 and 1/15 of a second or adding a teleconverter will effect sharpness."
but you then acknowledge that the problem is much worse:
"you will probably need to shoot at 1/125 or higher"
From your own claims, the most one could possibly say is that "at higher shutter speeds, the series 2 may be adequate for up to 300mm." That's approaching the kinds of speeds at which people use monopods effectively (not me -- I'm terrible with one). Put another way, you're saying that an "optimal" tripod configuration is one that only buys you a couple of stops of stability over shooting handheld.
I have higher expectations than that, especially from a several hundred dollar tripod system.
I'm glad your legs are working out for you -- but it's irresponsible to be telling other people what sort of advice they ought to give, especially when that advice is contradictory and misleading.
#47. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 44Fri 17-Apr-09 02:28 PM
Without getting into a peeing match --you need to read what I wrote rather than emotionally responding.
As I said most people don't own a Nikon 2.8 lens larger than 200mm.
For me my series 2 CF Explorer's pluses outway its disavantages. And I think that unless I am using my TC17 with my 70-200 I don't normally see bluring as a problem. In most cases I know I have to up the ISO or shutter speed with the Teleconverter.You may not be willing to do that.
The bottom line is that a series 2( more robust recent ones ) gives great results using up to 300mm . Beyond that other factors come into play.
My other comments about 1/125 are for people who push beyond 300mm --like shooting at 500mm.
#49. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 47Fri 17-Apr-09 03:42 PM
No one has put any emphasis at all on the exotic F/2.8 lenses. All these discussions are directed at the 70-200 at 340mm or so, and by extension the 300/4 because I can assure you that it handles about the same at 300mm as the 70-200 at 340mm, as my test results clearly indicate.
Nor has anyone questioned your preference for the Explorer for your applications.
The primary focus of this discussion is the Series 2 (not the explorer, but any Series 2) working around 300mm. The choice of an explorer to work at 300mm is a secondary issue, I think, but an important one, which is worthy of discussion too, but these are two distinct issues.
IOW I for one don't see your recent responses as on point.
The core of the latter discussion and disagreement is simply your assertion that "most people" will find a 1/125s minimum shutter speed acceptable at 340mm on a thousand dollar support investment. And again, not if you find it acceptable, but your insistence that "most people" would - despite the fact that no one has stepped up to the plate to support that assertion . There is really nothing else under discussion or up for dispute.
I have to ask you, have you used a TC14 with your 70-200? I have, and as a matter of fact it spends a good deal of time on that lens and has been tested very carefully by me over the almost 5 years I've had it. For now I'll just say the decline in performance between 200mm and 280mm with the 70-200 was so significant that it made me question the mechanical connections and do extensive comparisons with my 300/4. There is nothing magic that happens at 340mm here. Any (bad) magic happens somewhere between 200 and 280mm but I have no way to find that line if it really exists, not having a 70-300 class lens to test.
It would also be interesting to see your test results. Everything that forms the basis of my own opinion and referenced here is posted to my site for all to evaluate for themselves. We have not seen yours, nor the details of the configuration or methodology. You have lamented several times that no one has made available certain tests, such as Explorer verses Mountaineer or Series 2 vs Series 3.
You have data you could share that might help us all evaluate these things, at least in terms of your own explorer and camera body. It would certainly help us evaluate your assertions. You have also not disclosed any details of your tests, as I do on my site. For example, it is not clear to me if you tested indoors or outside, or if you used exposure delay, or if you compared images with exposure delay on or off. The relative performance of exposure delay mode on a D90 would be of critical importance to all users of that body since it is the only in-camera tool at your disposal to minimize mirror slap.
With all that said, don't read too much into any direct comparison between your tests and mine, which were shot with very different bodies. It needs to be taken in context because it is a very imperfect comparison at best.
#50. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 49Fri 17-Apr-09 05:00 PM | edited Fri 17-Apr-09 06:51 PM by nrothschild
I want to follow up my post #49 just above to say that I reviewed some tests I shot last year, a shutter speed bracket using my G1228 with TB20, D200 (no grip), 300/2.8 AFSII, from speeds of 1/640s down to 4s. My main objective was to demonstrate two things:
1) Where an admittedly overloaded tripod starts to degrade
2) The phenomenon that below a certain shutter speed the image actually starts to improve due to damping of vibrations well within the exposure, as I may have discussed previously in this thread. (bad choice of lens, probably, because I see that it took well over a second to damp out ).
Interestingly, the image held up very well down to 1/80s, where I really have to pixel peep to see a difference between images shot with a 5s mirror up delay and without any delay. At 1/40s it is obvious to me, but many might find it acceptable, especially in the context of a reasonable size print, uncropped except to conform to the print aspect ratio, however you want to define that. At 1/20s it is obviously unable to cope, as I would expect since that is near my typical acid test speed of 1/10s. And, of course, the 1/10s test was not any prettier.
The interesting thing is that you report that your 70-200, below 1/125s, was significantly degraded, I guess, yet my image at 1/80s was pretty decent even though I used an exotic lens for the test, not the 70-200 or the similar geometry 300/4. IOW, there is some suggestion here that my Mountaineer with TB-20 would outperform your explorer (with the center column retracted and vertical in it's most stable configuration) in a more comparable pair of configurations. Think about that.
Now, your test and my test were done for very different reasons, with different gear. The only thing I read into a comparison of my test to yours is that it makes me want to see your tests and the details, and to consider attempting to produce coordinated tests as best we can, eliminating as many variables as possible, to compare our two series 2 legs, as best we can. At best it is an imperfect test, but I have never seen any attempt to test the stability of the Explorer mount in any way whatsoever, which is the genesis of much of the discussion and disagreement here.
And, of course, if anyone else has a D300, an Explorer, and a 70-200 and TC14 or TC17 (or 300/4 AFS), that would make an even better test since we could at least remove the camera body from the variables. I can supply my standard test target as a high quality JPG.
Just reinforcing the importance of sharing results as best we can verses endless speculation and statements of opinion
#51. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 50PeterMatthews Registered since 19th Nov 2006Fri 17-Apr-09 09:18 PM
Just thought I'd chime in here. I'm pretty new to the forums, but hope I can add something as I recently swapped from a 3 series to a 2 series explorer.
3 series is undoubtedly more stable and can cope with the 80-400 (with RRS replacement collar)at 300mm. At a push it can cope with it at 400mm provided there is not too much of a breeze and the tripod and lens are weighted down.
2 series is, as Gitzo indicates, fine up to 200mm. Above that you have to be careful with technique (mirror up etc), prevailing winds and weighting the camera and tripod down. By 400mm outdoors the 2 series explorer is pretty poor and won't give much benefit over VR and/or a monopod.
I've not had any problems with either setup using a 150mm macro lens and a bit of care over technique.
So why did I swap to the 2 series explorer... flexibility. The leg locks and the off centre head provide so many options, not just for macro but for uneven ground and unusual viewpoints. Sure, when the 'centre column arm' is extended to the side there is increased vibration, but I can live with that (and mitigate it by using bean bags or camera bags as counterweights and damping weights) because it quite simply allows me to shoot from angles that the 3 series cannot.
IMHO the 2 series explorer is a superb tripod up to 200mm and a passable one up to 300mm. If that is where you spend most of your time shooting then it should be recommended. If you spend most of your time at 300mm or above then go for series 3 or 5.
#53. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 50Sat 18-Apr-09 01:33 AM
What seems to be getting lost in the discussion is that on my D90 a 70-200 is equivalent to a 105-300.(And the 70-200 has dimensions and weight similar to a 300 f4 . Whether it behaves the same as 70-200 on a tripod others will need to chime in.
In addition I said that when I used my TC17 with the 70-200( equivalent to a 510mm) blurring was an issue. I also said that by increasing the ISO and/or shutter speed I was able to get nice looking pictures at 500mm.
My conclusion from the crude tests that I did was that up to an equivalent of 300mm I did not detect any blurring that I could see in an actual picture ( as opposed to a test chart) .
My tests were done with the tripod in my home but shooting at objects that were outdoors.My intent was to try to minimise the interactions that can occur and confound the results.
You said that you have jpegs of your test chart. Would it be possible to get a copy and the shooting distances you use etc.I will try to show what I obtain.
PS I updated my profile as someone questioned what equipment I had.
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#55. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 53Sat 18-Apr-09 08:42 AM
>What seems to be getting lost in the discussion is that on my
>D90 a 70-200 is equivalent to a 105-300.(And the 70-200 has
>dimensions and weight similar to a 300 f4 . Whether it behaves
>the same as 70-200 on a tripod others will need to chime in.
I started shooting 35mm film around 1978. In 2004 I abandoned film and since then have shot purely digital - in DX format, as every other digital Nikonian did until the D3. I can assure you that I am well aware of all the DX/FX issues regarding focal length and "FX equivilent FL"]/b]. I just happen to have an extremely strong preference for avoiding this "xxxmm equivilent" stuff unless it's absolutely necessary in the context of a discussion. Mainly because I have read too many threads where a person flips back and forth between optical focal length and "effective focal length" and at some point he stops being precise and then I have no clue what he's talking about .
Given the above, when I say a Series 2 is good to 200mm, that implies DX because for 4 years that was the only option. Old habits die hard. If you want to convert that to 300mm effective FX, be my guest. An entirely different issue is what Gitzo implies with their recommendations- DX or FX? That is worthy of some discussion, but I'm going to insist that anyone that wants to go there needs to start a new thread because this thread really needs to wind down, not go off on a new tangent.
As I have stated previously, a 300/4 behaves almost exactly like a 70-200 = when a TC17 is mounted on the 70-200 to make it shoot the same approximate optical focal length (there isn't a huge difference between 340mm and 300mm but that likely accounts for the relatively minor differences I see and you can see in my test shots where I directly compare those two lenses at those FLs).
>In addition I said that when I used my TC17 with the 70-200(
>equivalent to a 510mm) blurring was an issue. I also said that
>by increasing the ISO and/or shutter speed I was able to get
>nice looking pictures at 500mm.
You keep repeating this, and I keep telling you that if that suits your style- shooting an effective minimum shutter speed of 1/125s - then that is just fine. And I keep repeating that my issue with your comments is not your own personal assessment of your tripod at 340mm on DX, but your insistence that "most people" are perfectly happy to do the same. "Most people" are not, as demonstrated by the comments of the other members in this thread.
>My conclusion from the crude tests that I did was that up to
>an equivalent of 300mm I did not detect any blurring that I
>could see in an actual picture ( as opposed to a test chart) .
No one has taken any issue with that statement, assuming you are talking about an optical 200mm (70-200 WITHOUT a TC), and that is more or less consistent with my own tests (I do see a slight blurring with my 12mpx DX body but I suspect I'm looking closer than you).
>My tests were done with the tripod in my home but shooting at
>objects that were outdoors.My intent was to try to minimise
>the interactions that can occur and confound the results.
>You said that you have jpegs of your test chart. Would it be
>possible to get a copy and the shooting distances you use
>etc.I will try to show what I obtain.
You will get a PM/EM with a link to the file, which includes a PDF describing my procedures. I would suggest, just for the sake of consistency that you follow them as best you can.
>PS I updated my profile as someone questioned what equipment I
#48. "RE: Gitzo Series 2 Explorer Adequate for 300mm?" | In response to Reply # 44Fri 17-Apr-09 02:46 PM
I can't resist jumping back in here and following up Michael's on target VR comments because when this 1/125s thing first came up I instantly I thought about the VR aspect.
My first instinct was "I can outshoot that with VR". Now, I've never spent a lot of time testing my VR skills against a tripod, but I know that in real life shooting 1/125s at 340mm or thereabouts, with VR engaged, is not rocket science and not a tremendous test of skill. IOW, I'm out shooting with VR on a monopod and my shutter speed is 1/125s, I'll shoot that without a second thought and the results are always acceptable. At 1/10s I don't always get consistent results with VR at 300ishmm, but some report that they do. I would guess that I am very good to 1/60s or so, being very conservative, and 1/30s is very doable push come to shove.
Now, that leads to the following question:
"If I can easily shoot 1/60s, and likely 1/30s with some backup frames, on a monopod with VR enabled, why would I spend $1000 for a Gitzo and a high end ballhead to limit myself to 1/125s?"
And the corollary:
"If I do find myself in a situation shooting a tripod that is capable of only shooting down to 1/125s at 340mm, and I find I need a slower shutter speed in the 1/30s to 1/60s range, then it would be logical at that point to remove the camera from the tripod, mount it on my monopod, turn on VR, and take my shot . Once I do that I have to question the $1000 that I just threw at my support problem"
And once again, in the context of "most peoples expectations", I would be very surprised if most of us here would not go through the identical thought process. There is no other logical conclusion.
#33. "RE: Gitzo Tripod selecting the right series" | In response to Reply # 30Thu 16-Apr-09 08:56 PM
Well, I'm one of those who upgraded from a series 2 to a series 3 Gitzo specifically because what you're saying is good enough... isn't good enough. I found that with a 300/4, my series 2 started to be unreliable by around 1/60s, especially with a teleconverter. I use my tripod even more often for natural light macro than long teles. I found similar issues with a 150/2.8 in deep macro, where slow shutter speeds are the norm. It wasn't subtle.
It's not about price -- the difference between a series 2 and a series 3 CF Gitzo isn't dramatic. There are also aluminum and (soon) basalt series 3 legs that reduce the expense of CF.
What is very expensive is buying twice. If anything, telling people to buy an explorer for a 300mm lens is setting them up for frustration, and higher costs in the long run.
It's also not about weight. My 3541LS weighs less than four pounds. A series 2 is a bit smaller package overall, but these new series 3 legs add a lot of performance for just a bit more size and weight.
I think the compact series 3 is starting to replace the 1228/2541 as an ideal all-around legset. In comparison to just a few years ago, many people are combining longer lenses with cropped cameras -- the result is a lot of stability problems. It used to be that 300mm was special -- and the only people who went beyond it were dedicated wildlife shooters with big support rigs. Longer lenses than that are now commonplace at the upper end of the consumer market, and those lenses require both technique and good support to perform well.
"I would rather have a great shot than an ordinary one that is 10% sharper."
Of course -- me too. It's not germane to the discussion, though, which is about making the right tripod purchase the first time.
#15. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 8
Interesting points made here.
I'm in the market for a CF tripod and have been viewing the Gitzo 2541 EX for it's macro capabilities. But i also shoot landscapes and other shots where i just want a steady tripod. It would be nice to think that just one $600.00+ tripod would be enough for the average person, but i'm getting the impression that it's not.
Can i ask where you bought your 2541 for $575.00? I've been searching, but only have found it for $650.00.
Every time i research a tripod, i end up more confused!
After reading these posts along with Neil's responses, i'm not sure which way to go at this point!
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#16. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 15Sun 12-Apr-09 02:43 PM
I bought the 2541EX at Norman Camera.He is a link to the tripod
For me the issue is whether the difference between a carbon fibre Gitzo Mountaineer and Explorer to attenuate vibration is meaningful.While some obsess about small differences their is often a high price to be paid for tiny improvements.For example is the the Nikon 105mmVR enough optically better than a Tamron 90mm to justify the price difference.
From my perspective that question has not been adequately addressed.
In the case of Neils tests an earlier less substantial CF Gitzo was compared to a more substantial Aluminum tripod.In both instances vibration can be seen in the charts.
What I disagree with is statements are then made that the CF 2541 Explorer and other series 2 Gitzo's are inferior to the series 3 Gitzo's.
There are two fundamental issues that need further empirical research.
1) How much more vibration is found for Gitzo CF series 2 (26lb load) tripods as compared to the series 3 CF.At what focal length does the difference start to diverge.
2) When looking at actual photographs of landscapes etc is their a meaningful difference between the two tripods especially if looking at an 8x10 or 16x20 print.
I believe the second point is the more critical to determine.
John,if you want the ultimate and have the money get two tripods.
As I can only afford one really good tripod I went with the 2541 as it will be more than adequate for most of my needs,
#10. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 0
I happen to use the GT3541XLS. Here's why. I think the argument about selecting a hight so that you don't have to crouch over is secondary. To me the important question is where you want to place your camera for the best composition. Sometimes that means going really high, and the GT3541XLS lets you get that hight. In fact, I have been known to sometimes stand on a small step ladder when I've extended the legs all the way to get the composition I want. It also helps when you are shooting on the side of a hill and the downhill leg has to be extended to level the tripod. To me creature comfort is secondary to getting the best image.
#13. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 10Fri 10-Apr-09 01:13 PM
Thanks to all for your thoughtful responses, no such thing as too many points of view, IMO.
Obviously personal preferences can vary widely.
Personally, just a short time ago I would have thought it ludicrous to actually utter the phrase, "here's a tripod that meets my needs, and it's only $700". Perspectives can change I guess.
Anyway, thanks again for the feedback, I appreciate it.
#18. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 13C_F Nikonian since 09th Jan 2008Mon 13-Apr-09 12:31 PM | edited Mon 13-Apr-09 12:34 PM by C_F
Well, I received my GT3541XLS Systematic on Friday and all I can say so far is WOW - WOW - and WOW again.
First i panicked because the delivery package was so light I really thought the tripod was not included.(not to mention the outer box said 'Manfrotto'... lol). I think my back IS going to be ok no matter where I go with this equipment.
After setting it up with 3 sections extended, I had to tip toe to see through the viewfinder with the 4th extended I can walk through it.
The design, workmanship, and finish is just a delight to look at - almost don't want to take it out to the field and scratch or dirt it.
I will not be able to try my 150-500 for a while (its some 400miles away) but the combination of this tripod, BH40, D300, is bound to make me VERY happy and right now I'm hard pressed to think of a situation (normal) where it would not work except maybe setting it up on the boat while under sail but will try when the time comes.
Meanwhile I think even though the price was a hard pill to swallow in the long run there will be no regrets.
Good luck with your decision process and keep in mind @ the end of the day 'its just money'- in my case 'well spent' ...
set up with 3 sections extended and yes it is a doorway in background lol.
Attachment#1 (jpg file)
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#19. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 18Mon 13-Apr-09 12:55 PM | edited Mon 13-Apr-09 02:12 PM by twolabs
Holy Cow! Didn't I see that thing in the "War of the Worlds" movie? What a monster! Somebody call the National Guard! ; )
It's a beautiful piece of hardware. Thanks for the photo and the review.
#56. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 19Wed 29-Apr-09 02:08 AM
This thread is very long due to assumptions and criteria not being made explicit by several contributors.
If I read Neils comments he and several of your recommendations are based on tripods that can be used at any speed in some wind without blurring for longer lens.
Where much of the confusion lies is stating a Focal length without stating whether the camera is DX or FX. A 200mm len on a FX camera has an effective focal length of 300mm on a DX body.
If you put a 17TC on a 200mm lens its effective focal length is 340mm on FX but on a DX body 510mm.
People need to clearly state that a lens without a Teleconverter may work well on a tripod but when a TC is added significant blurring may occur due to the increased focal length.
The recommendation that several of you seem to be making is that if an extra 7/10 of a pound and/or an extra $100 to $250 is not an issue buy a series 3 Gitzo CF Tripod rather than a series 2 if you are using a lens with a greater focal length than 200mm FX--effective focal length of 300mm on a DX body.
MY COMMENTS--For most people a 70-200mmVR F2.8 (using a DX body) will produce good results on a Gitzo series 2.If you plan to use teleconvertors or want to play it safer go to a series 3.
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#57. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 0
An interesting discussion that has developed in this thread.
I wonder if we can convince some of the attendees of the next ANPAT or something to spend a couple hours in the evening/nighttime (after the good outside photography has gone of course!) to shoot some tripod tests. I mean, it is probably the only time (or at least one of a few times) that a good sized collection of gear will be assembled in the same location. Many times individual tests are difficult to compare to each other because either someone doesn't own all the glass necessary, or does not own all the tripod sizes necessary, DX body vs FX body, etc.
Having a test done at once where the full range of lenses and tripods can be tested in the same conditions at the same time would produce a pretty interesting dataset IMO.
The goal of course would be not to prove or disprove any one individual's comments but to gather a collection of pictures/observations on the performance characteristics of different lenses. Then users could look and see what the test results are and it may help them in their purchasing decisions, in addition to advice given by the members of the forums.
Perhaps it's just the engineer in me talking
#61. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 57Wed 29-Apr-09 11:46 AM | edited Wed 29-Apr-09 12:53 PM by nrothschild
I can say from experience that that would be a difficult thing to put together at an ANPAT. It takes a lot of time, and a lot of iterative sessions to come up with consistent comparable results.
It's better done in your own home or studio, where you have the luxury of time in your favor.
Anyone interested in testing their support and sharing the results can download my own test chart and shooting suggestions here from my FTP site. I'll be glad to answer any questions, either here or via email (use the icon on the upper right of the post).
#62. "RE: Gitzo Tripod Choice" | In response to Reply # 61Wed 29-Apr-09 12:02 PM
>I can say from experience that that would be a difficult
>thing to put together at an ANPAT. It takes a lot of time,
>and a lot of iterative sessions to come up with consistent
>It's better done in your own home or studio, where you have
>the luxury of time in your favor.
>Anyone interested in testing their support and sharing the
>results can download my own test chart and shooting
>from my FTP site. I'll be glad to answer any questions,
>either here or via email (use the icon on the upper right of
Neil, i don't think your "here" link worked correctly...
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#59. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS Feedback?" | In response to Reply # 58Wed 29-Apr-09 09:01 AM | edited Wed 29-Apr-09 09:03 AM by twolabs
Hello Jacques, short answer would be an unequivocal no. No buyers remorse whatsoever. The tripod is a "beautiful piece of kit" as our British brothers say.
I am back on my unfortunately "normal" six day work week schedule so I haven't had time to do anything but admire it so far, but I am really looking forward to field testing it asap. It seems incredibly sturdy and well made.
I'd just like to say that I think, with the help of many knowledgeable and experienced Nikonians, I made an excellent choice that will more than meet my needs for the foreseeable future - ( 'til death do us part ).
I have been reluctant to post about it here as it seems to be a touchy subject with some folks. Let me just state, for the record, I'd much rather be known as a skilled photographer than as the owner of expensive equipment. That is my goal and I'm sure the goal of most everyone here so I certainly don't begrudge anyone their differing opinions on the subject. Whatever works for you is obviously paramount.
On a related note, I took advantage of the Canoga Camera 10% discount, ( paired with the Gitzo $40 rebate ). I had not dealt with them before but I was very pleased with the experience. They sent me a shipping notification less than 24 hours after I placed my order and the tripod arrived in fine shape. I wouldn't hesitate to purchase from them again.
Thanks for asking.
#60. "RE: Gitzo GT3541LS Feedback?" | In response to Reply # 59Wed 29-Apr-09 11:13 AM | edited Wed 29-Apr-09 11:15 AM by nrothschild
>> I have been reluctant to post about it here as it seems to be a touchy subject with some folks.
Congratulations! You've joined a growing list of very satisfied 3541LS users . There is a lot of merit behind the concept of being totally happy with a major equipment purchase, especially since so many are so dissatisfied with theirs, and that is a recorded fact in the archives here. For whatever reason, support seems to lead to more (rapid) equipment upgrade spirals than many other aspects of our gear selection.
I've never understood why so many seemingly otherwise level headed (by my way of thinking) people that spend endless money on increasingly diminishing returns from the bottom body plate on up get so worked up about spending (in most cases) much less money on similarly diminishing returns below that body plate.
The same arguments can be made and are made in the body and lens forums... why do you need a D300 or D700 or D3 when a D60 will do just fine? Why do you need to spend $1600 on a 24-70/2.8 when a basic $130 18-55 will, in many cases, shoot the same image with indistinguishable results.
(I defy you to take a well executed landscape image at F/8 - F/11 with a D60 + 18-55 and a D300 + 24-70/2.8, print them at 8x10 and distinguish the difference)
That's not to say that there are no reasons for acquiring a 24-70/2.8, but I will suggest that there are equivalent diminishing returns, depending on your application. For the landscape example, the diminishing returns could be argued to be near zero. For other applications, the benefits of the 24-70 will arguably make or break an image. The same can be said for camera bodies and I am certain the same can be said for support.
And interestingly, there are arguably more good reasons for choosing relatively inexpensive bodies and lenses than inexpensive support. At least with the Nikon body lineup, increasing cost always results in increasing weight and bulk. There are no Pro bodies with the same form factor and weight as the entry level DLSRs. Same is true for the lenses, where there is no Pro level lens as small and compact as the entry level lenses. With support, though, increasing cost results in better performance in lighter and less bulky packages. I see more value in a D60 and 18-55 for an advanced shooter, for example, than an inexpensive tripod, on a relative basis. There are no redeeming features other than cost.
Now, to be clear, I'm not questioning why a D300 owner would choose a $120 Bogen over a $700 Gitzo. For some that is an imminently rational decision and most of us have to pick our spots carefully, not having endlessly deep pockets. I am questioning the depths of emotion behind the many who, for no logical reason, spend huge sums above the camera body plate and then draw a seemingly arbitrary line in the sand at the camera body plate and suddenly discover the "gear doesn't matter" philosophy when it comes to support.