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Thread started 30 Dec 2013 (Monday) 15:22
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Alta Pro vs Gizto Explorer?

 
Snydremark
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Dec 30, 2013 15:22 |  #1

I'm in the market for a new tripod, but the pickin's for features that I really desire are pretty slim; I've narrowed my choices down to, either, the Alta Pro 284CT or Gitzo 2541EX. Each has its pluses/minuses, but I was curious if folks around here had any experiences with either/both sets of legs to share.

I've been looking for a replacement set for my Manfrotto 055CXPro4, that still has multipositional legs and an articulated center column, being CF, and under 25in when collapsed. These two offer those things but also have some cons that I'm having a hard time resolving.

Alta Pro:
- The actual mount/movement mechanism for the center column appears to be made entirely of plastic and I have concerns about the durability of this under hard use, outdoors.

Gitzo:
- Damned pricey
- Being that I'm in the US, Manfrotto/Gitzo's customer support and service is, as near as I can tell, somewhere below abysmal. If something *does* go wrong with this, I'd be out $800 for something that I can't get service for.


What nuggets of wisdom do you, of "they say" fame, have for me? :D


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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cuda2k
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Dec 30, 2013 21:38 |  #2

Replying mostly because I'm in the hunt for a new tripod as well. Time to upgrade from the spindly things I've got now as I want to move more into long exposure work. Been eyeing the Alta Pro myself as I just can't justify moving into Gitzo kind of money.


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Xyclopx
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Dec 31, 2013 01:19 as a reply to  @ cuda2k's post |  #3

I have the gitzo and think it is awesome engineering. I had my doubts about the plastic locks for the leg angles but they seem to be adequate. All very hight quality.

I will advise though that one should not get the ex unless if the adjustability is truly needed (like for macro). Setting up is a pain, especially at night time.

And yeah their customer service really is as bad as you've heard. Unfortunately I know first hand.


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peter_n
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Dec 31, 2013 08:58 |  #4

^ As a Gitzo user I sympathize as I've also experienced their awful customer service. I'm really hoping nothing goes wrong with my 3-series systematic...

WRT a carbon fiber/articulating center column tripod that folds to <25in take a look at the Benro C2980T (external link) which folds to 21.5in. I use an aluminum 3 leg section version of this tripod (see pic below) and it's seriously sturdy and well constructed.

Benros are Gitzo copies and some of the parts are interchangeable. If you're unfamiliar with the brand they are well made tripods with about 85% of the quality of a Gitzo at about half the cost, or sometimes less. They're also durable, I'm now into my fourth year of use with a carbon fiber Benro travel tripod and if you're interested in the details of their CF construction there are some pictures in a review I wrote a few years ago now. They're pretty much still the same.


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Snydremark
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Dec 31, 2013 11:01 |  #5

Excellent, I'll check it out, Ben; thanks! The one thing I *really* like, that only the Gitzo offers is a, basically, unlimited range of adjustment on the angle of each leg; how are the 3 "presets" on the Benro? Have you felt, much, like you wanted to have in-between positions with it?


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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peter_n
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Dec 31, 2013 11:16 |  #6

If you're asking me (Peter) I actually never considered the Gitzo model because I don't actually like the idea of the infinitely adjustable leg angles, and I've never felt that the limited angle adjustment on the Benro was an issue. This preference is driven by my use of the tripod; indoors and shooting inanimate objects (still life shots). However I do use a ballhead that's infinitely adjustable/lockable with just one knob. That's where I need the simple control of an unlimited range of adjustment.

I understand why Gitzo offers the flexibility on the angle adjustment, but I don't need it. Also I think that some of the parts used on the Gitzo are composite and have failed, there was a thread recently on this subject on the FM forum. The articulating pieces on the Benro are made of magnesium alloy and aluminum.


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Snydremark
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Dec 31, 2013 11:52 |  #7

D'oh! Thanks PETER...I somehow confused you with ben_r while I was typing :|

Cool; I'll check into the one from dc photo stuff...it looks like the latest model is the 2980T now. Any idea how that compares to the 2680T? I can't seem to find much info on these models online, in English...


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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RileyNZL
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Dec 31, 2013 14:18 |  #8

I have a Gitzo Explorer (Basalt, 3 leg sections) and although it was very pricey I have been very happy with it so far. It's the only decent tripod I've used so can't really compare it to other brands options.

Only word of warning, using the centre column in positions like the one shown above with a decent size DSLR and lens is pretty much impossible without using the counterweight hook.


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Mike ­ K
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Dec 31, 2013 14:40 |  #9

Snydremark wrote in post #16566703 (external link)
The one thing I *really* like, that only the Gitzo offers is a, basically, unlimited range of adjustment on the angle of each leg; how are the 3 "presets" on the Benro? Have you felt, much, like you wanted to have in-between positions with it?

I actually found this "feature " of the Explorer to be a real pain most of the time. Because there were no preset leg angle stops, each of the 3 leg angles needs to be individually set every time you open up the tripod. Most of the time if the 3 legs are not opened up exactly the same amount and the tripod is on a flat surface, the tripod is rather crooked (not vertical) and at least oneor two of the leg angles has to be reset. Thus most of the time this results in a substantially longer set up time, although for odd angle set ups its certainly more flexible. With preset leg angles one can vary the length of one leg to achieve much the same result of adapting to an uneven surface.
I liked the tilting center column set up of the Explorer.
The lack of any preset leg angles prompted me to sell my explorer. I now use a Manfrotto with the lateral center column for several years. There are a few other, less common tripods on the market that have legs with preset angles and a tilting center column.
Mike K


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Snydremark
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Dec 31, 2013 14:45 |  #10

Thanks for the feedback there, Mike. It does look like I'm going to go with the Benro, as suggested by Peter.

@Riley: Yeah, I use the Manfrotto 055 with the articulated center column, and have used it with the 7D + 70-200...so yeah, I'm aware :)


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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peter_n
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Jan 01, 2014 10:23 |  #11

RileyNZL wrote in post #16567232 (external link)
Only word of warning, using the centre column in positions like the one shown above with a decent size DSLR and lens is pretty much impossible without using the counterweight hook.

I completely agree with this. The rig on that tripod is a Leica M and a 50mm lens; a featherweight compared to a heavy DSLR.

Mike K wrote in post #16567290 (external link)
I actually found this "feature " of the Explorer to be a real pain most of the time. Because there were no preset leg angle stops, each of the 3 leg angles needs to be individually set every time you open up the tripod. Most of the time if the 3 legs are not opened up exactly the same amount and the tripod is on a flat surface, the tripod is rather crooked (not vertical) and at least oneor two of the leg angles has to be reset. Thus most of the time this results in a substantially longer set up time, although for odd angle set ups its certainly more flexible. With preset leg angles one can vary the length of one leg to achieve much the same result of adapting to an uneven surface.

This is what I meant when I said up in post #6 that "I don't actually like the idea of the infinitely adjustable leg angles". I can understand why you might want this feature but since I don't do macro out in the field but it's clearly a pain to set the tripod up every time.

Snydremark wrote in post #16566825 (external link)
Cool; I'll check into the one from dc photo stuff...it looks like the latest model is the 2980T now. Any idea how that compares to the 2680T? I can't seem to find much info on these models online, in English...

WRT dc-stuffs as a source; many on this board have bought from him (including me). D. Chan is an honest and reputable dealer. One thing that you should know is that shipping from China can be a little slower than normal at this time of year because of the holidays.

I corrected the model number in my post #4 above. The C2980T and the C2680T are respectively an articulating tripod and a travel tripod - two completely different models. To view the complete range of Benro products visit their English language web site (external link). Benro have a distributor in the US but they don't sell Benro's best tripods which are their systematics, these articulating tripods and their travel tripods. Some good Benro aluminum tripods can be bought in the US but you mostly have to source from mainland China to get their best designs.


~Peter

  
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Snydremark
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Jan 01, 2014 19:21 |  #12

Thanks for the additional info, Peter. I'd noticed that dc was where you originally linked in your review, that several folks bought from them and that they were still the ones selling this, so I'm pretty comfortable there. Read through the site and it definitely looks like the C2980T is the one that I'm going to go with; the only other concern I have is support/service.

If this is coming through China, does Benro offer US service/support?


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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peter_n
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Jan 02, 2014 08:25 |  #13

Benro customer support for items sourced from mainland China is through the dealer and I think the warranty is for 5 years. I broke a part on my Benro travel tripod (my bad) and replaced it with a Gitzo part.

D. Chan is a decent guy. He ultimately helped a bloke in Kazakhstan after I asked him to, even though Victor wasn't one of his customers. Here's the story, read the whole thread.


~Peter

  
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Snydremark
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Jan 03, 2014 14:30 |  #14

Well, I pulled the trigger today; should be here by the end of next week-ish...some fudge factor in there for customs, etc.


- Eric S.: My Birds/Wildlife (external link) (7D MkII/5D IV, Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5, Canon 24-105L f/4 IS, Canon 70-200L f/2.8 IS MkII, Canon 100-400L f/4.5-5.6 IS I/II)
"The easiest way to improve your photos is to adjust the loose nut between the shutter release and the ground."

  
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peter_n
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Jan 04, 2014 09:01 |  #15

Great! Let us know what you think of it when the tripod arrives.


~Peter

  
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Alta Pro vs Gizto Explorer?
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