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Question on Tripods


Newburyport, US
5 posts

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lss Registered since 17th May 2012
Thu 07-Jun-12 06:16 PM

I am new to Nikonians and first want to say thank you to the creators, contributors and moderators for making this such an informative and welcoming site.
I am an avid amateur photographer, but hoping to advance well beyond that. I have decided it is time to upgrade my tripod, and have spent hours reading everything I can find on this and other sites about what would be the best for me. I want this to be the last tripod I buy. I currently have a Nikon D7000, and my lenses consist of a Nikon 70-210 4-5.6, 28-70 3.5-4.5 and a Tokina 11-16. I may have a 300mm or even remotely possibly a 400mm lens of some type in my future, but nothing bigger than that. I also occasionally do some “digiscoping” with my Swarovski 80 MM scope and Nikon Coolpix 4500. My tripod is a Bogen 3001 with a Bogen 3030 pan/tilt head. I recently read on this forum that it would be the equivalent of a Series 1, so am beginning to understand why my photos are not as absolutely sharp as I would like/expect them to be, even when shot on the tripod. I shoot mostly landscapes/seascapes, some macro (with macro filters), and occasionally birds. To have a lightweight tripod is essential for me, as I hike, bike, and sea kayak with it. That said, I don’t want to compromise stability, so that is where it gets difficult.
I was debating whether to go with a Series 2 or 3, and decided that for future insurance the Series 3 would be best, although not as light as I would like it to be. After reading the glowing recommendations for the Gitzo GT3541LS, I had decided that those were the legs for me, combined with a Markins Q20 ballhead (research has convinced me that this is the best ballhead). Even though that combination is not quite as light as I would like it to be, it is still slightly lighter than my current setup which weighs in at 5 lbs 11oz; also, it is taller than I really need it to be (I am 5’2”) but I know that as long as it doesn’t affect closed length or weight, a little more height is a good thing. The problem is that the GT3541LS is no longer available, anywhere. The replacement for that, the GT3542LS has increased in folded length by 1”, and worse, the weight has gone from 3.79 lb for the GT3541LS to 4.32 lb for the GT3542LS (taken from the Gitzo website); also, the price is now at $900.00. The increased weight and hefty price make the GT3542LS not attractive to me. At this point I am considering the (Mountaineer) 3541, which is 4.37 lb and available for around $700. I would plan to slightly reduce the weight of the GT3541and enable lower to the ground shooting by removing the center column, which I don’t want to use anyway. Although it is a “short” tripod, the height of the legs plus the Q20 still puts my camera a few inches above my eye level.
I am looking for feedback from people much more experienced in this than me, before I invest a considerable amount of money. Are owners of the Mountaineer GT3541 happy with it? What would be the downsides? Do I need any additional hardware to use it with a Q20 head without the center column?
Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer.

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