Would Like Unbiased Advice on Tripod Selection
I am thinking about buying a Gitzo 2531 tripod and Really Right Stuff BH-40 Mid-sized ballhead with LR, and BD80L-Plate. I have read a lot of the primers on this here at Nikonians and elsewhere.
I use a D-80 and longest lens is 200mm, but I think my heaviest is 105mm with VR. I imagine some day (not a priority) I will get something zooming to 300mm. I plan to use it as my only tripod and am expecting to use it outside in the city and hiking.
My question (and I have seen discussions here that clearly regard the Gitzo CF6x as a necessity) is whether the premium to upgrade from a "similar" Manfrotto or other manufacturer really worth it? Kirk for instance sells Induro I believe. For that matter is the upgrade from the Gitzo Basalt line to CF6x really worth it. I know people will sometimes say they like whatever they have because they have it and want to justify the purchase to themselves. I know there is no right answer, but if I can put the couple of hundred dollars toward a new lens rather than the upgraded tripod maybe that is a better use of funds. For some reason I think I know the answer.
#1. "RE: Would Like Unbiased Advice on Tripod Selection" | In response to Reply # 0Smiert Spionam Registered since 26th Nov 2007Mon 07-Sep-09 05:00 PM
Lots of opinions, of course -- and lots of room for honest disagreement. I've owned a bunch of tripods over the years (several Manfrottos and a couple of Gitzo basalts along the way), and in the past two years I've done some serious upgrading and landed on some excellent Gitzo CF and RRS gear. My take on your question:
You get what you pay for with Gitzo. Their gear is generally more stable, more durable, and better supported than the other options. It's also a pleasure to use, especially the latest versions with the G-lock legs. Manfrotto is a very reliable honest alternative on a lower budget -- a 055 Manfrotto is a reasonable substitute for a Gitzo series 2 like the 2531. The Gitzo will be nicer to use and may edge out the 055 with its performance at difficult shutter speeds, but the 055 is a respectable tool.
I think the Gitzo basalt legs are a viable alternative to CF, especially if you find a good deal on one (there's been so much revision to the Gitzo line in the past year or so that there are a lot of recently discontinued models). I do think CF is a notch more stable, but the basalts are good tripods. I'd certainly take one over any Induro (Benro/Amvona/Flashpoint, etc.) tripod, whether CF or not. I don't trust or respect the Induro way of doing business, and I'm disappointed to see someone like Kirk sell them. I suspect it has a lot to do with the much higher margins for dealers on that equipment (my local shop is full of them). Others may disagree, of course.
I think a Gitzo 2531 & a BH-40 is a great all-purpose combo. Bumping up to a series 3 (like a 3541LS) adds more stability on the long end, but the series 2 is quite good as an all-around tool. If you are willing to spend enough to have two tripods, a series 1 and a series 3 is just about ideal for most of us -- but for a single tripod, series 2 is a solid choice, especially if you want to hike or travel with it. After having owned Markins, Kirk, and RRS heads, I've decided that the BH-40 is the best small/medium head for me. I like the ergonomics, and prefer it over the others -- but all three are excellent.
#3. "RE: Would Like Unbiased Advice on Tripod Selection" | In response to Reply # 0
You will see many opinions on the difference in quality but the weight is inarguable. Comparing same leg diameter (the only true comparison), alternative CF, with the exception of Feisol, are heavier than Gitzo. Induro legs are not cheap, so you have to weigh the weight savings against the price, and consider the quality issues too. Same with Gitzo Basalt; a little heaver but less expensive, Gitzo Quality and they have a few advocates here. I would personally rather shoot on Gitzo basalt for about the same money and weight.
#4. "RE: Would Like Unbiased Advice on Tripod Selection" | In response to Reply # 0
I just bought the exact setup you're looking at. It's my first real tripod/ballhead so I don't have any info regarding how it compares to other stuff. I've got a D90, 18-200 and 35/1.8. I chose to "buy right" to start with as that's just what I try to do in all my hobbies, if the funds allow.
The quality, fit and finish of the Gitzo and RRS stuff is unreal. Very, very happy. Now if I could only have time to get out and use it. I know if I would have bought something else I would have always been wondering what it was like to have the top notch stuff.
Good luck in whatever you decide to go with.
Visit my Nikonians gallery.
#5. "RE: Would Like Unbiased Advice on Tripod Selection" | In response to Reply # 4Fri 02-Oct-09 03:35 AM
Ok well I swallowed hard and just placed my order for the Gitzo 2531, RRS BH-40 and L-plate. Four weeks ago I didn't even know what an "L plate" was and now I cant live without one. I decided that if I want to become a really good photographer as a serious hobbyist then I needed to use a tripod. And as I have heard - a tripod in the closet is the most expensive tripod there is. So it became obvious to me what to do: Gitzo and one of the half-dozen or so ballheads that compete with each other. Oh, and that darn "L-Plate".
My great fear is the equipment it overkill. That a Chinese brand would be more appropriate for my level of photography and my level of camera and lenses. But, my hope is that this allows me to take my time to frame my targets and really experiment with the shutter speeds, aperture settings and other settings without rushing the process. Although reading books is great (I have read 2 of them for the D-80) I know that nothing teaches like trial and error. And nothing is more fun than learning new things and enjoying the whole continuum of being a photographer. Otherwise, there are really good point and shots out there if I just want a good quality shot for memories.
Thank you everybody for your honest responses. I really like this site and appreciate the sincerity of members even when dealing with newbies like me.
#6. "RE: Would Like Unbiased Advice on Tripod Selection" | In response to Reply # 5WD4MLA Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Fri 02-Oct-09 02:30 PM
Nothing will improve your photography more than the use of a quality tripod. Aside from giving your equipment the proper support, it will slow you down and let you form better compositions.
I have used a tripod for years and about to upgrade to a Gitzo 2531 and Markins 10. From what I read, the BH-40 and Markins 10 are pretty much equal and it comes down to a personal choice.
Good luck with your equipment.
Great Smoky Mountains
of North Carolina
#7. "RE: Would Like Unbiased Advice on Tripod Selection" | In response to Reply # 5Smiert Spionam Registered since 26th Nov 2007Fri 02-Oct-09 04:34 PM
It's very good equipment, and I hope you enjoy it. If, for some reason, it isn't a good fit for you, it's easy to resell. Gitzo and RRS gear tends to hold its value very well, so if you need to upgrade, move sideways, or just free up some cash, the cost of ownership isn't nearly as high as some of the lower end brands.
I doubt you'll want to do that, though.
#8. "RE: Would Like Unbiased Advice on Tripod Selection" | In response to Reply # 5