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Thread started 04 Jan 2011 (Tuesday) 21:14
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Choosing my last tripod

 
CJSmith
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Jan 04, 2011 21:14 |  #1

Two years ago when I started this hobby I bought a cheaper tripod with ballhead combo. It shakes and the ballhead creeps with any lens. Now I want to buy the last tripod I will buy. I plan to use it for landscapes, day-hiking, wildlife/birds, long exposures, occasional video (maybe). Currently my longest lens is a 100-400mm. Eventually, I hope to use it for a Canon 300mm 2.8 or 500mm F4. I am 6'0". I'm hoping that I can get some advice and I just want to make sure I'm not overlooking something obvious. Or making a big mistake. I wouldn't say that the budget is unlimited, but I plan to just keep saving until I get the right one.

I originally was looking at the Induro CT214 with B-2 Ballhead. I don't mind buying an "off" brand, if it does what I need it to. But I'm not sure it is tall enough and I really want a tripod that I can lower almost to the ground. With the center column I would need to turn the column upside down or buy the shorter center column making the overall height even shorter.

Now I'm thinking that I'll get a Gitzo GT3541LS or Gitzo GT3541XLS. With this setup, I should be set for life (right?). I think I'll go with the XLS for working on hills and over heads.

For a ballhead, I'm looking at the BH-55, Arca-Swiss Z1, and Markins M-10 or M-20. I'd like to keep the setup light enough for day hikes yet sturdy enough for that possible 500mm. At the moment I'm thinking the Markins M-20 will be the best combination of weight and support.

I plan to buy RRS L-Plates and a plate for the 100-400mm.

If you read this far, thanks!


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sangyup
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Jan 04, 2011 21:59 |  #2

Smthrz wrote in post #11575273 (external link)
... I should be set for life (right?).

Famous last words...:D Anyway, the gitzo 3541LS with either the bh-55 or m20 should be good. I bought a gitzo 3530lsv with bh-55 and was thinking it would be my last tripod, but I ended up buying another one just couple years later. This is a never ending addiction.:D Anyway, good luck with your decision.


Sean
Fuji X100S | Nikon D500 | Nikon D800 | Nikon D300 w/MB-D10 | Tokina 12-24 f/4 | 17-55 f/2.8DX | 20 f/1.8G | 24-70 f/2.8 | 35 f/1.8DX | 50 f/1.8D | 85 1.8G | 70-200 f/2.8VRII | 70-210 f/4 | 70-300VR | 105VR | 105 1.4E | 200-500 f/5.6E | SB-800 | YN 560III x 2 | Gitzo 3541LS w/ RRS BH-55 | Gitzo 1541T w/ Markins Q3TRED

  
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ChristopherMadison
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Jan 04, 2011 22:28 as a reply to  @ sangyup's post |  #3

Well, if this helps your decision making process any, the Gitzo GT3541LS can be had until Jan 16th from Amazon for about $465 with their 25% off promotion. If you add the $80 rebate on top of that, it seems like it might be a pretty good deal. However, I can not speak for or against this tripod, as I have had no experience with it. _


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MCAsan
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Jan 04, 2011 22:29 as a reply to  @ sangyup's post |  #4

Get a GT-3531S, or GT-3531LS if you are over 5'8", plus an RRS BH-55. Great combo!


Gitzo has a rebate through January as I remember for $40 off.




  
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KRUSH
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Jan 04, 2011 22:32 |  #5

I'm chiming in because I'm in the market. I have the RRS BH-55 & an L-Plate on the 1D, but I was wondering about legs. I'm thinking definitely Gitzo, but which one is gonna be the hard part.


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CJSmith
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Jan 04, 2011 22:44 |  #6

I'm glad I posted this. I did not know that the 25% off could be used for the GT3541LS. What a deal.

Famous last words...

Oh man. This was actually the reason I was going to put this money into a tripod instead of a new lens. My lenses have been coming and going. I thought with a tripod that I wouldn't need to worry about that.

I think I'll get the GT3541LS, but I'm worried that I'll always wonder if I should have gotten the XLS. Any thoughts on that? I really do want the 4 section because I plan to use it more often hiking than with a real long lens. Thanks for the help guys.


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KRUSH
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Jan 04, 2011 22:50 |  #7

That's the very same one that I am seriously considering. GT3541 LS.

The difference between the LS and the XLS is about $300 at least by Amazon's standards.


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peter_n
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Jan 05, 2011 10:56 |  #8

I was all set for a Benro equivalent of the 3-series Gitzo when these sales came up, B&H and Adorama are also selling some Gitzo tripods at steep discounts until the middle of the month. I bought a 3541LS about three weeks ago and I've used it in a blizzard in very high winds, 12 seconds long night exposures with me nowhere near the tripod. The pics are sharp as a tack, it's just really solid. :)

It sounds like you really want the XLS version. You're 6' tall, I'm 5' 8" and the 3541LS at full height gives me an exact eye-level VF. You will stoop slightly. I think you may need the XLS, yes it's more expensive but you want to be set for life, right? You would probably be able to use the XLS as a three leg-section tripod too. I've used the 3541LS as a three-section and it's a bit of a stoop but incredibly solid! Also strongly consider getting the NatureScapes Safety Plate for your 3-series Gitzo; highly recommended.

WRT the ballhead and looking at your gear and maybe future acquisitions, I would take a serious look at the Arca-Swiss Z1. Big diameter ball and the only one that's elliptical; it will never creep. Since you like RRS plates you can get an RRS clamp, either screw or lever for the Z1.


~Peter

  
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MCAsan
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Jan 05, 2011 11:52 as a reply to  @ peter_n's post |  #9

I think you have three decision points on the Gitzo

What height do you need? I am 5'8" and the wife is a little shorter. The GT-3531S is perfect for us. If taller...get the GT-3530LS which is around 8" taller as I remember. I think in the 5 series there are even taller tripods.

How many leg sections do you need...3 or 4? Personally we go for 3 sections as we feel it is a stronger design. We do not have a problem with carrying or packing the GT-3531S.

Do you want a columnless tripod? One thing I learned from listening to pros...you likely don't want to be using a center column on a tripod. It may add height...but also instability. Go for longer legs instead. ;) So we got Systematic tripods (they have S in their product number) that are columnless. You can always add/remove a column later if wanted.




  
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Gurkkk
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Jan 05, 2011 12:12 |  #10

Not doubting Gitzo one bit but I would look at Feisols. I'm on the market for a tripod and for the first time in my life I didn't just buy with impulse and go for "the best." That's when I read about Feisol's and I'm completely sold on them. I'll order me one of their travelers as soon as I get back home from overseas.

I'm sure Gitzo would kick butt. I'm just looking to save some money for lighting equipment :)




  
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M1ke_a
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Jan 05, 2011 13:22 |  #11

As I said on this thread I've recently stumped for a Gitzo - Arca combo.

I went with the Mountaineer as my store had them in stock at the time. I did look at the Long version and the height was very impressive. Unfortunately the extra cost of the centre column / bowl put me off (£500 GBP was quite enough for the legs).

As for the ball head, I do have to say I've been a bit disappointed with the finish of the Arca Z1.

I have no doubt about the ratings but I've already picked up some small wear marks on the clamp. The Quickset knob isn't captive, the spirit level is in line with the head and thus gets obscured when there's a lens / body fitted and underside of the clamp and column of the ball are machined in such a way that you can't easily fit A N Other clamp instead. - I was going to put my 3" Kirk clamp on but that idea was soon kiboshed.

I also have an Acratech Ultimate ballhead and imo the finish is much better. Granted that doesn't have the same capacities but I'd look at another Acratech head again. Their design is a bit quirky so you might not like them.

Following on from Gurkk, I've also got a set of Feisol Tournament CT3442 legs. Granted they're not as nice as Gitzo but they have a comprehensive range and are much better value than the Gitzos. - Were anyone on a more 'sensible' budget to ask me for CF leg recommendations, I'd point them to Feisol straight away.


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peter_n
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Jan 05, 2011 15:26 |  #12

M1ke_a wrote in post #11578989 (external link)
underside of the clamp and column of the ball are machined in such a way that you can't easily fit A N Other clamp instead.

It sounds like your issues are with the clamp rather than the ballhead itself. I'm thinking about getting one but without the clamp. The top of the ball stem has a unique locking shape and the following two 3rd party clamps are designed expressly for the Arca-Swiss:

Kirk SQRC-Arca Arca Swiss Quick Release Clamp (external link)

RRS B2-Pro II with Metric 6 screw (external link)

It looks like RRS also make a couple of lever clamps that will also work with the Z1.


~Peter

  
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M1ke_a
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Jan 06, 2011 01:16 |  #13

peter_n wrote in post #11579850 (external link)
It sounds like your issues are with the clamp rather than the ballhead itself. I'm thinking about getting one but without the clamp. The top of the ball stem has a unique locking shape and the following two 3rd party clamps are designed expressly for the Arca-Swiss:

Kirk SQRC-Arca Arca Swiss Quick Release Clamp (external link)

RRS B2-Pro II with Metric 6 screw (external link)

It looks like RRS also make a couple of lever clamps that will also work with the Z1.

Thanks for that Peter, I'll have a look at the Kirk clamp.:-)

Don't get me wrong, I can't see myself getting another head as the smoothness is very impressive and I don't doubt the rated load for a second. It's just that having paid quite a considerable sum, I wasn't anticipating these little niggles.


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Headshotzx
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Jan 06, 2011 01:27 |  #14

Agree with many comments above, but I would also like to chime in that if you'll regularly use the 300 2.8 and 500 4 lenses in the future, you might want to get a wimberley or some other brand's gimbal head then.


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M1ke_a
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Jan 06, 2011 01:38 |  #15

Sorry, some further connected thoughts.

On someone's recommendation, I got a Lowepro Lens Case 1W for the Arca head and it fits perfectly.

I also initially got a Think Tank Bazooka tripod case but it wasn't wide enough for the spider of either my Feisol or Gitzo legs. No one had the Big Bazooka in stock so I ended up with the Humongous Bazooka. That's actually too wide but I'm not that bothered.

I suspect a Big Bazooka case would be the perfect size for most high end leg sets but I'd definitely double check the dimensions if you were thinking of buying one.

Quality wise they're an excellent product and the sliding length extension is a simple but effective idea. :cool:


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