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.
#1. "RE: Question on Tripods" | In response to Reply # 0WD4MLA Nikonian since 10th Nov 2002Thu 07-Jun-12 10:17 PM
Welcome to the Nikonians!!
It looks like you have really done your homework. I think your decision to go with the Series 3 Gitzo is the correct one to match up to your future lens. I have the Series 2 Mountaineer 2531 which is the 3 section and the Markins M10. I choose the series 2 because after about 40 years for shooting I pretty much know where my interest is and the largest lens I have had on my tripod is my 16-85VR.
If I were going to shoot with a 300mm I would have gone with the series 3 and the markins Q20 is the perfect match for that series. If you get a Mountainer and remove the cemter column you might want to consider the TB-30 Base Plate https://www.ppsna.com/product_info.php/cPath/21/products_id/76
or the TH-300 Base Hub https://www.ppsna.com/product_info.php/cPath/21/products_id/523
These will add stability to your tripod and will allow ground level height. If I were to remove my center column I would go with the Base Hub. I am a landscape photographer and have never used my tripod for low shooting so I did not remove my center column, but I do not extent it either.
I really like my Mountaineer and the Markins heads are so easy to set up and use. You will need some type of Camera Plate or L bracket and I would consider an L bracket over the plate because it will allow you to go from landscape to portrait very quickly and it will keep the camera centered over the head and at the same eye level. No need to use the side slots in the head to make vertical shots. Another decision you will have to make is whether to get the screw knob quick release or the lever type. I have the knob type and I am very happy with it. This is a personal choice. If you go with the Lever Type, it is best to keep all your plates and L brackets with the same manufacturer. That will keep the adjustments to a minimum. If you go with the Knob Type, you can mix the plates or brackets with no problem. I purchased the Kirk L bracket and am well satisified. RRS also makes one for the D7000 but it comes in two parts, the bottom serves as a camera plate and if you screw the side piece in (2 bolts) it becomes an L bracket. I like the one piece design that Kirk makes. I leave it on the camera all the time.
I hope this will help a bit and I am sure others that have the Series 3, 4 section Gitzo will come in as well.
Great Smoky Mountains
of North Carolina
#3. "RE: Question on Tripods" | In response to Reply # 1Sat 09-Jun-12 09:14 AM
Thank you very much for your reply. I'm glad to hear that I was on track for what I should be considering. I think the Mountaineer Series 3 with the TH-300 Base Hub is the way I will go. Hopefully the modifications are not too difficult to make. The L-bracket will have to be a future purchase, although I realize that a plate is not inexpensive either, especially if I replace it down the road with a bracket, but I have concerns about being able to access the various camera slots with an L bracket.
#2. "RE: Question on Tripods" | In response to Reply # 0
Jerry really covered things very well. If you are looking at longer focal lengths then a Series 3 is the way to go. I went through the Series 2 to Series 3 things as my focal length needs increased.
I appreciate the concerns over the Gitzo pricing, which, at the moment has everything out of whack. Historically, Systematics were cheaper than Mountaineers because that center column alone is quite expensive, far more than the flat plate on the Systematic.
Similarly, with today's pricing you can buy a Mountaineer, a Markins hub, throw away the Gitzo mount (which is not cheap) and come out even.
I have not handled a new Gitzo systematic so I have no opinion on the utility of the extra weight thrown into the new triangular shaped mount. I assume and hope they did not squander the low weight of the GT3541LS for nothing.
It may be that you ultimately need two tripods to solve your problems. I have 3 Gitzos and didn't solve all my problems, but I didn't really do it right from the start and the line has far more options now.
That Swarovski definitely should have a Series 3 although I see people digiscoping with Series 2 class legs all the time. I don't see the resulting images though. But primarily visual birders look at these things very differently. It really depends how much digiscoping you want to do and the image quality you want. I assume you are a birder?
my Nikonians gallery.
#4. "RE: Question on Tripods" | In response to Reply # 2Sat 09-Jun-12 09:31 AM
Yes, I am a birder (but enjoy photography more than birding). I got into digiscoping when I realized that without intending to, I had the equipment for it, (scope and Coolpix 4500), which was before I had moved from a film slr (Nikon FE) to a digital slr, so it increased the range of my Coolpix. I have always been frustrated with my digiscoping results however, blaming the blurryness on wind, subject movement, etc, but now I realize my tripod could have a great deal to do with that. I am primarily purchasing the new tripod for photography with my D7000 though. I use a tripod about 80% of the time when I photograph, so am looking forward to having one that is not only more stable but is also easier to operate than my 3001.
#5. "RE: Question on Tripods" | In response to Reply # 4Sat 09-Jun-12 10:25 AM
My advice to you is to buy a Series 3 *IF* you really want to make that digiscoping work.
Wind and tripods and blur is all the same problem (or a major part of the problem) and you will need to deal with an "average" wind.
I think Digiscoping is tough. Especially birds. But you own most of the gear already. If you ever get into birding with a photo lens you will need a minimum of 400mm and then you will still need the Series 3.
If that is too heavy for your kayaking and other activities then either something has to give or you need two tripods, assuming you are not birding when you need the more compact tripod. If you are doing both at once, just get the Series 3 and try to make it work for all your activities.
Have you tried the D7000 on the scope? I think that will be easier because you should be able to lift shutter speeds quite a bit. The CP4500 was not exactly a low noise wonder.
I did a little of this with a CP995. The CP990/9954500 filter threads made for a very convenient digiscoping setup for me, but I was using my Questar and some 1.25" eyepieces with those threads built in. I have not tried afocal projection (typical digiscoping) with a DSLR but use it without eyepieces.
my Nikonians gallery.
#6. "RE: Question on Tripods" | In response to Reply # 5Sat 09-Jun-12 08:22 PM
You are probably right about me needing more than one tripod, but I am coming to the conclusion from what I have read that the Series 3 is probably the way to go, especially knowing what the results are from using a lighter weigh tripod.
I have not tried digiscoping with my D7000. My digiscoping setup also consists of an adapter that attaches the camera directly to the scope. I bought it online from a man in Malaysia, and it is a beautifully crafted piece of hardware - its just that the extreme magnification afforded by a scope picks up on any type of movement at all. I live in an area that is one of the best birding spots in the country, and would love to get into birding photography, but the $$$ are just too high. Maybe would do a 400 someday though.
I think that if eventually I find that I need a lighter setup for occasional use, perhaps I should buy the smaller Markins head and put it on my Bogen. The only thing that I don't like about the Bogen is that I find the leg locks extremely difficult to loosen and tighten. I carved a wrench out of a block of maple to use for that.
Thanks so much for all your advice,
#7. "RE: Question on Tripods" | In response to Reply # 6Sat 09-Jun-12 10:50 PM
I think the Series 3 is a good choice. You will likely like the stability so much you won't notice the extra pound or two over a Series 2. It will always be an option.
Once you have the support upgraded then you can more easily diagnose the digiscoped images.
my Nikonians gallery.