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Thread started 21 Aug 2008 (Thursday) 18:52
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Review: Gitzo GM2541 Monopod, RRS High Capacity Monopod Head w/ RRS B2 Pro II Clamp

 
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Aug 21, 2008 18:52 |  #1

As promised here is my review of the Gitzo GM2541 Monopod and the Really Right Stuff High Capacity Monopod Head with the Really Right Stuff B2 Pro II Quick Release Clamp.

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. With that being my goal please feel free to ask any additional questions on anything I might have missed or not covered and also feel free to ask 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 others have helped them!

I also want to add to this an apology... For some reason that is unknown to me, with all the thousands of dollars of equipment I own I still reach for my cheesy $200 point shoot camera to snap quick shots for web use stuff like this. I apologize if the images are sub par, but its just the first thing I grab when I know I'm not looking to win a contest or make any money and just want to emphasize a point with web posted images.

Okay, with those little disclaimers out of the way, on to the good stuff!

After doing a shoot in a very dimly lit art gallery where I was not allowed to use a tripod on account that it was too wide for the amount of people present I rediscovered the need for a monopod. So I began traversing the usual channels of research and landed on the Gitzo GM2541 for its moderately short collapsed length and more than enough extended length, its weight, its max load capacity, its carbon fiber build material and of course the Gtizo brand quality. In case youre wondering, it was mostly the Gitzo quality and carbon fiber that made me chose the GM2541 over something a fraction of the cost like say the Bogen 680B (which I used to own at one point). The selection of the monopod part was fairly easy to decided as the largest lens I have is the 100-400L focal length wise and the 70-200 2.8 IS weight wise, so there would be no need for one of the larger 5 series Gitzo monopods, and the smaller monopods did not offer a high enough max load capacity to make me comfortable enough to trust them with my gear. Here is the info on the monopod from B&H:

Gitzo GM2541 6X Carbon Fiber Monopod - Supports 26.4 lbs (12kg)
B&H LINK (external link), B&H Price: $239.95

IMAGE: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/largeimages/553781.jpg

The Gitzo GM2541 Mountaineer 6X Carbon Fiber Monopod is 4 leg-section model that weighs less than one pound, but can still support cameras up to 26.4 lbs. This monopod also incorporates Gitzo's revolutionary 6X technology tube, which reduces overall monopods weight up to 25% without sacrificing strength or stability.

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.
Key Features

• 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.

• Anti-Rotation Leg (ALR) System
The Anti-Rotation Leg (ALR) system makes it quick and easy to open and close the monopod. Simply turn all of the locking rings at once and the whole leg can be pulled out in seconds.

• Wrist Strap with Belt Clip
Connected to the top plate is a wrist strap, with a handy wide belt clip incorporated. This makes it possible to hang the monopod directly from a belt, strap, or pocket.


Specifications

Maximum Height: 63" (160cm)

Folded Length: 20.9" (53cm)

Load Capacity: 26.4 lbs (12kg)

Leg Sections: 4

Leg Lock Type: Twist

Male Thread Size: 1/4"-20 & 3/8"-16 (reversible stud)

Weight: 1.1 lb (500g)

That same max load capacity issue came up when choosing the right monopod head as well. The way I saw it there are really only two compact and logical types of monopod heads; a ballhead, or a tilt head. I had tried the ballhead on a monopod before in the past and found that once I had loosened the ball head, setting the right angle was a bit awkward and clumsy without three legs to keep the base study like on a tripod. There was simply too much of a range of motion to keep the whole thing study enough for me. With one hand holding the monopod and one hand holding the camera I found it somewhat difficult to tighten the ballhead. Plus a good ballhead would probably cost a bit more than a good tilt head I thought at the time.

So that left me ruling out the ballhead and move towards the tilt head. Now, most know that the most popular out there is the Bogen 3232 (now called the 234) Swivel Tilt Monopod Head or if you are an RC2 quick release user the Bogen 3229 (now call the 234RC) Swivel Tilt Monopod Head.

Heres the info on those two models respectively:

Bogen / Manfrotto 234 Swivel Tilt Monopod Head - Supports 5.5 lbs (2.5kg)
B&H LINK (external link), B&H Price: $20.00

IMAGE: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/largeimages/554096.jpg

The Bogen/Manfrotto 234 Swivel Tilt Monopod Head is a lightweight and compact head specifically designed for monopods. The swivel tilt head features one-axis movement, which allows the positioning of the camera for a 90° vertical format with the monopod in the upright stance. Includes a 1/4-20" camera screw.

Replaces part number 3232.


Specifications:

Load Capacity: 5.5 lbs (2.5kg)

Height: 2.4" (6.1cm)

Quick Release: No

Spirit Level: No

Tension Control: No

Tripod Mount Thread Size: 3/8"-16

Weight: 9.5 oz (270g)



Bogen / Manfrotto 234RC Swivel/Tilt Head for Monopods, with Quick Release
B&H LINK (external link), B&H Price: $34.95

IMAGE: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/images/largeimages/554098.jpg

The Bogen/Manfrotto 234RC Swivel/Tilt Head was specifically designed for monopods. The swivel/tilt head features a one-axis movement which allows the positioning of the camera for a vertical format with the monopod in the upright stance.

Replaces old #3229.

Key Features

• Specifically designed for monopods

• With quick release


Specifications

Load Capacity: 6 lbs (2.7kg)

Height: 2.4" (6.1cm)

Quick Release: Yes

Spirit Level: No

Tension Control: No

Tripod Mount Thread Size: 3/8"-16

Weight: 9.5 oz (270g)



Now I know that many of you here use, have used and trust the Bogen tilt monpod heads with even more expensive gear than what I use. I am by no means knocking your choice in gear nor am I talking it down. What I am going to say though is that for my comfort level I simply did not trust the <6lbs max load capacity for my gear. I also didnt like the idea of putting up to almost $4000 worth of gear on a $20-$35 head. That just deeply bothered me. So long story short I ruled out the Bogen tilt head and didnt know what to try after that.

Then I found out that my good buddy Really Right Stuff made a super expensive but highest available quality solution and thought oh boy here we go again. Super high quality construction, compatibility with my existing quick release system, extremely strong, AND light weight? Oh I knew it was going to cost me big bucks! What I found was the Really Right Stuff High Capacity Monopod Head. Here's the info from Really Right Stuff:

The High Capacity Monopod Solution

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Don't install some sort of fussy ballhead on your monopod—there's a better answer. You need two parts: a RRS MH-01High Capacity Monopod Head and our B2-Pro clamp (see other clamp options below). Unlike a ballhead, this compact swivel head tilts on only one axis so it's faster to use; less fussy to control.

For a number of years, we’ve been recommending and selling the Manfrotto 234 monopod head combined with our B2-Pro clamp as the “Monopod Solution”. This is still a great economical combination, but with a rated capacity of only 5.6 pounds, it is limited to relatively lighter-weight gear. Many of our customers begged us to develop a more robust, well machined and smooth operating product to use with their largest telephoto lenses.

The MH-01 High Capacity Monopod Head is the answer.

•We conservatively rate this monopod head at 75 pounds; more than you will ever possibly require. Yet the MH-01 is only 8.8 ounces and compact enough to fit in a smaller lens compartment in your camera bag.
•It features an RRS-compatible dovetail on the foot to add versatility. For example, see the photos on the right. Carry it along for use with your gimbal head when you need to switch to a non-tripod-collared lens without having to completely remove (and then subsequently replace) the gimbal head from/to the tripod. The MH-01 allows you to conveniently tilt the camera left/right while using the gimbal head for up down tilting.
•B2-Pro II and B2 AS II clamps are easily oriented either parallel or perpendicular to the tilt. The “+” groove on the bottom of the clamp nests securely with bosses on the MH-01. The following clamps can also be mounted on the MH-01, but can only be oriented parallel to the tilt:
B2-Pro, B2-Pro/L, B2 LR II, B2 LLR II.
•Large tilt-lock knob is easy to grip, even with gloves on.

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Now here was a head I could trust my gear on! As you can see from the images the RRS High Capacity Monopod Head comes in three flavors:

MH-01 Really Right Stuff High Capacity Monopod Head
RRS LINK (external link), RRS Price: $150

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Hi-Capacity Monopod Head with B2 AS II
RRS LINK (external link), RRS Price: $260

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IMAGE IS A REDIRECT OR MISSING!
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Hi-Capacity Monopod Head with B2-Pro II
RRS LINK (external link), RRS Price: $226

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Let's talk about the monopod first though and Ill get to the RRS monopod head afterwards.

First thing I thought after opening the box and removing the monopod from the dust sleeve was "wow, its like 1/3 of a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod"! It literally felt like I was holding onto one leg of a 2 series Gitzo tripod. Same high quality feel, light weight carbon fiber and awesome twist locks. With my love for their tripods fresh in thought, I was instantly in love with the GM2541! And just when you might have thought everything that could be done to improve a monopod has been done and/or tried before, Gitzo comes up with a few cool new features that Ill cover in this review.

The first image shows the whole contents laid out to show all that the monopod comes with. Included in the plastic bag (which you might not be able to see) was a couple allen wrenches for adjusting the various bolts, the usual Gitzo "screen" cleaner and some instructions.

The second image shows one of the new features offered by the GM2541 that was not in the GM2540 model. The integration of a belt clip into the strap. Personally I never leave the straps on my monopods, but if you like the extra security of having the strap on there, now you get both that and the ability to clip the whole rig onto your belt for when its not in use. Kinda of a cool idea I thought, just not something I didnt think I would use. While the whole strap/belt clip is removable, there is no way to just remove the belt clip part and have only the strap in case you were thinking that might be an option.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:52 |  #2

Heres a couple closer shots of the base plate. Its newly designed and one of the features I mentioned earlier when referring to "just when you thought youd seen it all in a monpod". This base plate (like most of the newer Gitzo tripods) is designed to make removing whatever you have screwed onto it very easy. The whole plate rotates to unscrew the center bolt removing both the both and whatever head you have attached.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:52 |  #3

Once you have the base plate removed you can see how the bolt/plate relationship works. The center hole in the base plate is actually the same shape as the hex nut in the center of the mount bolt. So when you turn the plate you turn the bolt making everything unscrew nice and easy. The "Safe Lock" is Gitzo's name for the easy removal of the plate and mounted head I was referring to earlier. You can also see in the second image that the bolt is two sided and offers both the 1/4" and 3/8" bolt pattern to increase mounting options. You can also see the set screws (which I will go over later) in the base plate. This whole mount system is ingenious and makes mounting and un-mounting anything incredibly easy.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:53 |  #4

Once the base plate is removed (shown in image 1) you can easily remove the whole belt clip/hand strap assembly by pushing up on the attachment ring. It just slides right off.

Once the base plate is back on (shown in image 2), the base plate can be locked down onto the monopod itself so that it cant be unscrewed un-mounting anything you might not want to unmount. This is what the inner lock screw is used for.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:53 |  #5

TO give you an idea of size, image 1 shows the length of the monopod fully extended from the very tip of the foot, while image 2 shows the monopod fully collapsed from the same point.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:54 |  #6

Now onto the head. Like everything else I have purchased from Really Right Stuff, I was equally impressed just upon opening and holding this head in my hands. Immediately you get the feeling of quality and security that your gear is going to be very safe with this piece of equipment. In fact you may even question whether or not your gear is WORTH of such a finely machined item! Just kidding.

I chose to go with the head with the B2-Pro II screw clamp because it was a little cheaper and I thought it might be a safer idea to have the extra security of a screw clamp with a monopod as I kept having a scary image of the monopod falling and the lever clamp catching on something and opening and me catching the monopod only to watch the camera fall anyway. Perhaps I'm just being paranoid, but I was raised to think you can never be too safe.

Now, weighing in at over 13oz this head is not exactly super super light. However it wasnt designed to be the lightest head available. It was designed to be the strongest head available. And that it excels in! The screws operate super smooth and once a camera/body is mounted on the head it swivels very smoothly. Without the weight of a camera mounted to it however, the swivel motion is a little stiff. Not that it really matters as I didnt buy it to rock it back and forth with no camera on it.

In the second image you can see the bottom of the head as well as the 3/8" mount hole and the fact that the base plate is dovetailed to fit in any Arca-Swiss compatible mount you may want to fit it in. RRS shows this as an example:

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Aug 21, 2008 18:54 |  #7

Here are another couple of shots of the side and rear (knob side) of the head. In image 1 you can see the difference in lengths between the clamp screw and swivel screw. Honestly if I did it again I would have paid the little extra and ordered the head with the lever clamp. There really is no way to beat the convenience of the RRS lever clamps. They are plenty secure enough and I think I was just being overly paranoid to have gone this route.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:55 |  #8

With these two images I wanted to show the complete range of motion the tilt head can offer. Pretty much a full 180 degrees of swivel.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:55 |  #9

The first image shows a close up of what the head looks like mounted on the monopod. Extremely solid mounting! There is no way any of this is going anywhere but where you move it! There is zero give anywhere. And to further ensure that the second image shows what the second locking screw on the monopod base plate is for. To lock the head onto the base plate. Once thats tightened down, whatever head you chose wont accidentally twist off.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:55 |  #10

To give a better idea of that youre working with, here some dimensions and specs. The collapsed length of the monopod and head together is just under 24" as shown in image 1. In image 2 the weight is shown in the combo. My postal scale shows just a hair under 2lbs for the total weight of monopod/head/clamp combo.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:56 |  #11

Here's a couple of shots of the rig with a camera mounted on it. The first one is youre typical telephoto lens mounted by the tripod ring mount with an RRS lens plate on it.

The second image however reveals something a little special though when using this setup with a lens that doesnt have a tripod ring mount and when mounting the camera body directly to the head via an L plate. You can see that due to the perpendicular orientation of the L plate to the lens plate on the tripod ring mount, when you mount the camera body itself to the head you lose the ability to tilt forward and backward and instead can only tilt side to side. Well here is the biggest and IMO only problem with this setup. If you have an L plate then there is literally no need for you need to tilt 90 degrees left or right as you can just unmount the body and remount it in the portrait orientation or vice versa. What you'd really rather have is the ability to retain the tilt forward and backward.

In the orientation shown in image 2 you can also see that the screw knobs are now either going to be facing front under the lens, or facing back toward the user. Neither are ideal.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:56 |  #12

Image 1 is a shot of what the user would be seeing at this point, and image 2 shows the only tilt offered by the head in this mounting orientation.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:57 |  #13

So how do we remedy this issue? Well, using an allen wrench as showing in image 2 the clamp has to be removed and rotated 90 degrees (also shown in image 2) so when the camera body is mounted to the head it retains the proper orientation.

Image 1 shows the whole head disassembled. It really is pretty easy to disassemble and reassemble, you just have to remember to keep an allen wrench with you or plan ahead and know what lens you will be shooting with when using the monopod and stick with that.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:57 |  #14

Once the rotation has been done you can see in image 1 what the whole setup now looks like and in image two what the user now sees with the camera body remounted.


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Aug 21, 2008 18:57 |  #15

And from the side it can be seen that the forward and backward tilt feature has now been retained after the clamp was rotated.


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Review: Gitzo GM2541 Monopod, RRS High Capacity Monopod Head w/ RRS B2 Pro II Clamp
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Photography-on-the.net Digital Photography Forums is the website for photographers and all who love great photos, camera and post processing techniques, gear talk, discussion and sharing. Professionals, hobbyists, newbies and those who don't even own a camera -- all are welcome regardless of skill, favourite brand, gear, gender or age. Registering and usage is free.