As promised, here is my review of my latest tripod setup. First off I want to thank all those who posted in this thread as you were all very helpful! Thanks!
As usual with my reviews, my main goal is to help any out there who are thinking about, or might think about after reading the review, buying the item(s) I am reviewing. And with that being my goal please feel free to ask any additional question on anything I might have missed or not covered and also feel free to as for pictures of anything else that you may want to see that I failed to show in the images I did post. I try my best to be very thorough in my reviews but it's impossible to cover EVERYTHING! I do my best and I do it not only to help others but with the hopes that others will see my reviews and be inspired to take the time to write reviews of their own to help others as so many other have helped them!
Now, with that being said, on to the good stuff.
I previously owned the ever popular Bogen / Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod legs topped with a Bogen / Manfrotto 488RC4 Ballhead and for the money thought it to be a GREAT setup! However the size of the setup was so large that after owning it for six months I realized I almost dreaded taking it out sometimes dues to the sheer size and weight. I enjoy doing a lot of shooting that's "on the go". I typically find myself in places that require a fair amount of walking to get to, and if I have to heft around a large heavy tripod all the while it makes the trek that much more difficult to make. So I'll start by stating some facts: the Bogen / Manfrotto 055XPROB w/ 488RC4 combo weighs in at a hair over 7lbs and when fully closed measures a slight bit over 30" long. not terribly menacing when you look at it and pick it up for a brief moment as many of you who own it know, but try carrying it around for a few hours along with a bunch of other camera gear and tell me how light it is! So I began looking for a lighter, stronger, more stable and all around better setup that I hoped would be light enough and easy enough to carry that it would give me less of a reason to go out without a tripod due to bulkiness and weight. What I landed on was the following:
Gitzo 1541T Traveler 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs
B&H LINK, B&H Price: $574.95
Gitzo Parts List/Diagram: LINK
The Gitzo GT1541T Traveler 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs uses a unique patented 180° folding mechanism that accommodates a head inside the folded tripod legs, which makes this the smallest folded tripod for its open size and number of sections. In addition, this tripod uses advanced "Carbon 6X" carbon fiber material for its leg construction. This improved tubing is stronger, lighter and as resistant as its 12 layer predecessor. Carbon "6X" is manufactured using a complex, 3-D process weaving 6 layers of carbon fiber into smooth, solid constructed tubes.
The GT1541T is ideal for use with a pro DSLR with a 135mm lens (up to a 200mm maximum), a MiniDV camcorders, or spotting scopes. This Series 1 model is the ideal solution for photographers on the move or when space and weight are key factors.
• Anti-Rotation Leg (ALR) System The Anti-Rotation Leg (ALR) system makes it quick and easy to open and close the tripod. Simply turn all of the locking rings at once and the whole leg can be pulled out in seconds.
• G-Lock Design The G-Lock mechanism has been completely redesigned in order to achieve a 20% increase in rigidity, faster operation and stronger, safer locking. G-Lock's special design also provides a "gravity lock" effect: the higher the load applied vertically to the leg, the stronger the lock.
• Ground-Level Set This feature allows you to remove the center column to save weight and get the camera closer to the ground. The upper disk is removed from the center column and inserted directly into the upper casting using the column hook. No tools required.
• 1mm Gitzo 6X Carbon Fiber Tube Gitzo was able to develop a six-crossed multilayer carbon fiber 30% lighter than the previous 1.5mm generation that features the same exceptional performance of stability and vibration absorption and unbeatable quality.
• Performance Design Performance design allows the legs to be set individually at 24°, 55° and 90° to cover every angle you want to shoot.
• Hook Redesigned built-in, spring-loaded retractable hook on the bottom of the center column provides a place to hang a stabilizing counterweight such as camera, sand or water bags. It has also been improved with a self locking system that avoids accidental loss.
• Removable Leg Tips Removable rubber leg tips are interchangeable with Gitzo universal accessories such as the big foot, long spike, etc. They have also been improved with a self locking system that avoids accidental loss.
• Rapid Column Grooved Rapid center column, with locking collar, for improved stability.
Load Capacity: 17.6 lbs (8kg)
Maximum Height: 52.8" (134cm)
Maximum Height w/o Column Extended: 44.5" (113cm)
Minimum Height: 6.9" (17.5cm)
Folded Length: 16.1" (41cm)
Head Attachment Fitting: 1/4"-20 & 3/8"-16 (reversible stud)
Weight: 2.1 lbs (970g)
Material: 6 layer carbon fiber
Leg Stages/Sections: 3/4
Leg Lock Type: Twist
Independent Leg Spread: Yes
Spiked/Retractable Feet: No
Center Brace: No
Center Column Type: Rapid (sliding)
Center Column Sections: 1
Markins Q3T Traveler Edition Ballhead
Markins LINK, Markins Price: $289.99
- Patented ergonomic design
- Custom designed for Gitzo traveler tripods with smaller panning base and shaftless quickshoe knob.
- Custom design allows the Gitzo traveler tripods to fold more compact.
- Comes with a custom designed shaftless QR-48.
- All-in-one type ballhead with a quick release clamp compatible with dovetail style plates from other major manufacturers such as Arca-Swiss, Kirk, Wimberley.
- Ideal ballhead for a small SLR camera with midsize zoom lens.
- Light weight, amazing support, smooth operation.
- Bi-axial progressive locking mechanism supporting up to 65 lbs of weight (130 lbf·in of torque).
- Amazing 78 load/weight ratio (weighs only 0.84 lbs).
- Patented fluid style main knob for smooth and easy control.
- Simple and intuitive single knob tension control.
- Drop notch for vertical photographs.
- Panning base with laser engraved index at every 10 degrees.
- Tough and beautiful hard-anodized finish.
- Fits all standard monopods and tripods with a 3/8" bolt (Tripods with 1/4" bolt require an adapter bushing which is not provided).
- Clamp "Loctited" for safe operation and durability.
- Built-in spirit level.
- Patented spring loaded detent pin to prevent from costly accidental drops.
- Safety stop relief.
- Captive knob with smooth silicone rubber sleeve.
- Completely enclosed moving mechanism to keep the dust out.
- Rounded corners and edges for safety and ergonomics.
Camera Connection: Quick Shoe (Quick Release Clamp)
Maximum Load: 65 lbs (30 kg)
Maximum Torque: 130 lbf·in (150 kgf·cm)
Weight: 0.84 lbs (385 g) (Including the clamp)
Height: 3.58 in (91 mm) (Including the clamp)
Housing Diameter: 1.89 in (48 mm)
Panning Base Diameter: 2.20 in (56 mm) (Traveler: 1.97" (50 mm))
Ball Diameter: 1.50 in (38 mm)
Friction Control: Bi-Axial Progressive
Panorama Index: Yes
Tripod Lock Hole: 3/8" UNC
Color: Available in black, blue, and red anodized finishes
Really Right Stuff BR LR II Quick Release Clamp
Really Right Stuff LINK, Really Right Stuff Price: $120
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'text/html' | Byte size: ZERO
Description Lever-Release Quick-Release Clamp, 60mm jaws.The B2 LR II has dual mounts: center socket is countersunk on top but also threaded 3/8"-16. Mount by spinning onto an exposed threaded post or with flat head screw from above (accept M6 or 1/4"-20, not 3/8"). These clamps are appropriate for mounting on:
- any head or platform with exposed 3/8"-16 threaded post
- can drop onto a female socket tapped 1/4"-20 (for any RRS head) or metric 6 (for all others)
- any head or platform with exposed 1/4"-20 threaded post - install a reducer bushing into the socket hole of the clamp
- any head or platform with 3/8"-16 female socket - purchase our stainless steel 3/8"-16 stud
- B2 LR II fits Foba Mini SuperBall
- B2 LLR II fits Foba SuperBall (uses two M5 flat head screws)
- B2 LR II fits some Manfrotto heads
- Jaw Length 2.4"/60mm
- Width (includes lever in closed position) 3.4"/87mm
- Height 0.6"/16mm
- Weight 5.6oz/159g
- NOTE: Choose a Lever Release clamp ONLY if you have quick release plates from Really Right Stuff or Wimberley. Lever Release clamp are not user-adjustable, and different manufacturers may follow different standards when producing Arca-Swiss compatible plates. Specifically, our Lever Release clamps do not work with plates from Markins, AcraTech, Arca-Swiss, and some Kirk plates–the dovetails are too shallow. Choose a screw-knob clamp if you have plates OTHER than those from RRS or Wimberley.
Easy Top-Loading: In one quick action, the clamp can go from fully closed to fully open. No more lost shots while fumbling to feed the plates into the end of the clamp. The lever can be stopped in 3 positions: 1) fully closed; 2) half open; and, 3) fully open. The half-open position allows the camera/lens plate to slide within the clamp for minor positioning adjustment.
Low Profile: Lever does not protrude above or below the profile of the clamp; perfect for low-clearance applications.
Close-Fitting Shape: In the closed position, the lever closely hugs the contours of the clamp. This makes it less of a weed catcher in the field and reduces the chance of being damaged in a fall.
Super-Tough: The Stainless Steel lever delivers a lifetime of wear.
HTTP response: 404 | MIME changed to 'text/html' | Byte size: ZERO
Now if you add all that up cost wise, coming in at around $1000 vs. the $300 for the Bogen / Manfrotto 055XPROB w/ 488RC4 combo, this was not an inexpensive route to go. However, it did drop my 7lbs, 30" long tripod support setup down to a mere 3lbs and 17" long! Which is a significant reduction in length and weight. Add to that the fact that carbon fiber dampens vibration a lot better than aluminum, the fact that this setup is rated to hold 17.lbs (vs. 15lbs on the former) and the added bonus of the Really Right Stuff Arca style quick release system you can begin to see why this new setup is so much better and how the added cost is justified.
So first up how about some about the packages and how the products looked right out of the box? I was very impressed with not only the retail packaging of the tripod and ballhead, but also the included tools with the tripod as well as the included dust case. Right out of the box on both of these products, the first time you hold them in your hand you can tell immediately the high quality of them. They are extremely precise in their machining and very aesthetically pleasing. Attached to this post are a couple shot of everything right out of the box and before assembling. You can also see from the first image the difference in size between the RRS quick release clamp and the Markins one. While the RRS one is a little larger in the end I found that made little difference.