With the Magica series, isn't the point to replace the Gitzo top plate with the Markins hub? In that case, I'm not sure that it matters whether you start with the systematic or the mountaineer 3-series because in both cases the Magica is substituting the TH-300 hub for the Gitzo factory hub. (I'm having a hard time finding information on your Option 2, the Magica-S with the GT3542LS legs, so I can't compare prices and specs.)
The GT3542 series is the newer (latest?) version of the Gitzo legsets, with supposed improvements in the strength-to-weight performance versus the 3541 series. Still, I think the improvements added some weight (and price) to the 3541 series of tripods. Not sure which teleconverter you have in mind, but even the older 3541 legs should be ample for the 300 f/4 + 1.4 or 1.7x teleconverter (Gitzo rates the 3-series for lenses up to 400mm).
If Option 1 saves you a decent amount over Option 2, that's the way I would go myself. If the price difference is small, then I might opt for the latest Gitzo legs (Option 2).
Well, there you have it. For $10 more, I'd personally go for option 2, which folds a little smaller and carries a little lighter than option 1. But I wouldn't sweat this one too much: you'll be happy with either choice.
Historically it would have been about $100-$150 cheaper to go with the Systematic. That because the Mountaineer models were historically priced that much higher.
The latest Systematic models came with a stiff price increase that was not applied to the not (yet) updated Mountaineers. So now they price out very similarly.
I think you are right, Ray, to pick the one with the most desirable folded length and total height, and section count. Either way you end up with similar legs (except for possibly section count, and folded/max length), and a TH-300 hub.
Since you will be replacing the Mountaineering hub, the extra beef in the stock Mountaineer vs Systematic mount won't do any good in the closet.
If you like long shots, you might go for the Mountaineer. I figure in the slight chance you run into someone that broke his mount and wants to replace it, a Mountaineer mount is probably worth more than a Systematic.
Or, come to think of it, maybe not, considering current pricing. I haven't tried to price out a newer Systematic mount, but the old mounts were fairly cheap, around $100 (probably not including a flat plate, which costs $80 from Gitzo).
(Just kidding about the above, but it's fun to roll those things around. Those are potentially valuable spare parts to someone).
The Systematic has the same 3 position leg angle locks. But remember, in either Magica model it is the Markins hub that supplies the leg angle lock. Even if there was a significant difference between Mountaineer and Systematic mounts, it is a moot point because that difference will reside in a closet .
The 3541L and 3542LS are very, very similar to the extent that they are built to attain roughly the same height with very similar sized leg components. And again, the differences between the models will be removed when you install the Markins hub.
The Markins hubs are really nice. I've been testing one for several months now. It replaced my GT3541LS systematic mount. Very light weight, very compact profile, and a very strong fundamental geometry.
I also have the Markins Series 2 Mountaineer replacement top plate on my older G1228 and that is also very well designed. The hub just further streamlines that design into a one piece part.
Wed 13-Feb-13 10:56 AM | edited Wed 13-Feb-13 10:57 AM by nrothschild
Good choice . I am very happy with my GT3541LS, and with my Markins mount it is identical to what you will be ordering. I think of it as providing Series 3 stability with Series 2 portability. It was a game changer for me. And I know its limits because I am shooting a 500/4 at 700 and 850mm on it, really far beyond its design objective.
P.S. get the optional hook, or roll your own with a 3/8" bolt with hook or eyelet.
Wed 13-Feb-13 11:02 AM | edited Wed 13-Feb-13 11:03 AM by Ray B
That's good to hear! My longest lens at the moment is the 70-200mm 2.8 but I'm making this purchase on the basis I shouldn't need to upgrade ever again even if I end up with longer glass or the occasional rental
The optional hook makes sense too, thanks for the heads up!
It is truly a lifetime tripod. A lot of people quickly outgrow a Series 2 (I did). Even if you end up some day with a 500/4 or 600/4 and decide to add something like a Series 5 you will most likely want to keep the Series 3 for use with less demanding lenses. A Series 5 is a lot of tripod to haul around if you don't really need it.
>I also ordered a Nikonians Pro Sling for each body as these >will work great with the camera plate and L plate, replacing >my Black Rapids.
I use an unbranded Op/Tech pro sling strap with the D800 + L-bracket combination and find it works...okay. The nylon strap is thick and not very slick, so moving the camera up to eye level for shooting is not as quick as some other systems I have used (not with Nikon, but I used the Leicagoodies strap with an M6, and that worked very smoothly. See http://www.leicagoodies.com/strap.html).
I still use the pro sling because I like wearing the camera across my body rather than slung around my neck (helps a lot to reduce neck strain), and as long as I'm careful I can get the camera up to eye level fairly quickly without the strap getting tangled.
I use the Kirk Security strap, which is a pre-built shoulder strap and integrated Arca-Swiss clamp, similar in concept to the Black Rapid + RRS clamp.
I use various Op-Tec straps on all my cameras and my larger collared lenses, both Op-tec and Nikonians branded. The modular nature of the Op-Tec system is such that I can add a shoulder strap or quickly take it off, leaving just the pig tails hanging. I remove the Op-Tec strap when using the Kirk Security Strap, with the pig tails either left hanging or clipped together for neatness.
The Kirk strap is extra long. Although sometimes the strap will bind or rub against whatever else it is entangled with (I use a Think Tank belt system most of the time), it generally works well and I can get the camera to my eye very quickly.
I think the Kirk strap was probably primarily designed for collared lenses but also works well with collarless lenses. I just never wanted to totally give up my Op-Tec straps, for some reason.
There are various relative benefits and trade-offs of each system. The Kirk is the least expensive, selling for only about $10 more than a typical small clamp.