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Hands-on Traveler Series 2 Mini-Review Gitzo GK2580TQR

BobbyHobs

US
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BobbyHobs Registered since 20th May 2009
Fri 22-May-09 07:11 PM | edited Sun 24-May-09 02:03 PM by BobbyHobs

Here is my "mini-review" of the GK2580TQR series 2 Traveler tripod + quick release ball head.


SPECIFICATIONS:

GK2580TQR including GH2780TQR head specifications:

Max. Height: 154 cm/60.6” *
Max. Height w/o column ext.: 129,5 cm/51” *
Min. Height: 32 cm/12.6”
Folded Length: 43 cm/16.9”
Max Load Capacity: 7 kg/15.4 lbs
Tripod + Head Weight: 1,72 kg/3.78 lbs
Tripod Weight: 1,29 kg/2.88 lbs
Tripod Weight w/o Column: 1,16 kg/2.59 lbs

* Height Including Head


The out of the box experience was excellent. Everything was perfect and workmanship appears to be top notch. The maximum width of the tripod is 4.5" when collapsed. The discontinued GC1201T bag isn't going to get it. Gitzo marketing department recommended the GC1100. This is the smallest thing they make which will fit, but is nearly twice the length of this tripod (tripod is 16.9 and the bag is 25.6" long internaly, 30.3" externaly). This would defeat the purpose of a compact tripod in my eyes.

Below is a pictorial account of my out of box experience. I will send the corresponding photos to Jacques for him to post since I do not have the ability to do so with my account. Please ask if you have any further questions not answered in the pictures or words below.


Picture 1:
Box as received. Nicely packaged and no shipping damage.

Picture 2:
Contents as removed from the box. Gitzo's "environmentally friendly" cloth bag and a small bag of accessories. That bag is nice for storage, but not suitable for travel as it offers no padding whatsoever. It is just a cloth sack with a drawstring.

Picture 3:
What is included in the accessory bag: 3 wrenches, a Gitzo tag, tube of head grease and instruction manuals.

Picture 4:
Tripod out of the bag next to a $5 bill as a size reference.

Picture 5:
Close up of the new magnesium spider assembly. Very pretty. There are slick little spring loaded stops that lock the legs into position. They automatically engage as the tripod is erected and must be toggled back with your thumb as you go to stow the tripod. It is designed very ergonomically as your thumb will hit the curvature of the stop very naturally when you grab the leg to close it after use as you can see in this image.

Picture 6:
Top of ball head. My ball head is silky smooth when partially tightened. For those who don't know, PTFE is the non trademarked name for TEFLON. There is a great sweet spot where I can move my camera with ease and still feel confident that the head will not slip, even with my 70-200 f/2.8 lens out front. This confidence fades when you tilt way out to 45 degrees and the hold is clearly not as strong when the camera is so severely out of balance - and all bets are off when you fall into the > 45 degree slot with the big lens. Pan movement is easier than ball adjustment when partially tightened which I'm sure is by design.

The plate which comes with the head has a spring pin to prevent rotation. However, my gear doesn't have the matching dowel hole for this spring pin to fit into, so I had to remove it to prevent scratches on my mating components. The pin is only held in by a riveted clip on the back of plate and is easily removed, but not without bending the clip slightly.

A minor gripe on fit and finish: I notice some of the finish is worn from the camera plate and minor scratches are seen where this slides in and out of the top of the ball head. Not sure if someone was trying to demo the unit at the camera store before they shipped it or if this was something they did at the factory to assure a smooth fit. Either way, I don't really like it. I have a much cheaper Manfrotto 484RC2 mini ball head on my monopod which has superior finish on the plate after 1 year of use.

Picture 7:
End view of the new spider when in the folded position.

Picture 1 (2nd group):
Another angle on the ball head.

Picture 2 (2nd group):
Camera mounted on the tripod at full height. Note that I am 6'3" and my eye level is only 2" above the viewfinder at full height. The camera in this picture is a Canon 5D Mark II with a battery grip (without grip would be a couple inches shorter). Sorry, no Nikon handy! The lens in this picture is a 24-105 f/4 lens. The tripod legs lock in two positions. The one shown and a much flatter position which I would estimate at only 10 degrees from ground level.

I compared the torsional rigidity to my much bigger/heavier Manfrotto 3021BPRO (set to the same height): I really thought this would be far from a fair comparison because the aluminum 3021BPRO weighs 5.3 lbs WITHOUT the head and only folds to 25.6 inches (again, without the head):

http://www.amazon.com/Manfrotto-3021BPRO-Professional-Tripod-without/dp/B00006I52Z

The Gitzo has superior torsional resistance vs this big Manfrotto. It isn't a lot (both are very good in this regard), but I can twist the Manfrotto just a little farther with the same amount of effort.

Picture 3 (2nd group):
Closeup of Camera mounted to head.

Picture 4 (2nd group):
Head removed from center column. This is not what I expected to see here. Maybe others will not be surprised. I believe you could purchase the Gitzo GS2320D (catalog page 91) to provide a standard upper disk for the tripod (reps to Jacques for catching this).

The diameter at the top of the column with the ballhead removed is 1-9/32". Looking through their catalog, to me this looks like the same center column Gitzo uses on all of their series 2 tripods, only this version doesn't come with the top plate (you can see this same smaller diameter aluminum piece the top plate is mounting against in many of their pictures).

Picture 5 (2nd group):
Center column removed from assembly. The center column is only 4.56 ounces (.29 lbs) for those who may wish to remove this to save weight and use the grould level mount all the time.

Picture 6 (2nd group):
Reversed center column for ground level set and reassembled to show what this looks like.

Picture 7 (2nd group):
The end of the column where the hook assembly is mounted.

Picture 8 (2nd group):
The retractable hook assembly removed from the bottom of the center column.

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