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Thread: Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

    For reference, this is a continuation of my search for a wildlife rig tripod which began here, if you care to get a recap: Super easy / basic question about tripod load

    And now the new:

    For anyone interested, I'd like to report back on the tripod...this is probably going to get pretty lengthy...

    Just received the Gitzo GT2541 legs today. Have not mounted a head or rig on them, but below I have listed my first impressions. Keep in mind, for many years up until now I have been using the same old sturdy aluminum, 3 section, heavy tank, the Bogen 3221WN. So this carbon fiber, 4 section, etc are all new to me. That said, let me continue....

    The rig I am planning to mount would be: wimberly gh2 + 7D body + max 500mm f4.5 which is about 13 lbs if I recall, plus then I could still add weight to dampen vibrations and add stability. That in mind...

    First Impressions of GT2541:

    - Overall size is much smaller than expected. (Despite reviewing the specs before purchase, I didn't bring out a tape measure beforehand to see the size) Compact folded size is nice. Height is probably ok when a head is mounted

    - Leg diameter is much smaller than expected. (not much on the web about leg diameter for various models) The 4th leg section is astoundingly skinny. Not good.

    - When extended all the way, overall feeling is flimsy and like a toy. Unfortunately in my mind I had higher expectations for the sturdiness than what I got with these legs.

    - Removed center column and changed tripod into the "ground set" configuration. Did not like the way the head mounting part and bottom screw mounted together and mated with the tripod top/frame. I don't trust it as far as security is concerned, nor do I feel that it has as much vibration resistance compared to the way it is default mounted with center column.

    - Twist locks for legs: Like them a lot, I think they will be great for what I want to do. 1/4 turn to loosen and tighten, super solid and easy lock, feels secure. Overall a win for the locks.

    - Quality: Excellent. Feels great in hand, workmanship is definitely there.

    - Weight: Ridiculously light weight, especially without center column. Annihilates my Bogen in the weight department. Much smaller as well.

    Final thoughts (without having tried it with a rig)

    - "On paper" these legs seemed to be just right for me; the specs looked about right as far as max load of 27 lbs.....

    ...But in reality, in hand, just with a "gut instinct" I don't think the legs are sufficient. There's a difference between theory and actuality, and in actuality I don't trust them for the rig listed above. Could it work? Probably. Am I overreacting? Maybe. But if I have learned anything in my life, it's that I should always trust my instincts when they say not to do something. And as noted by other people in this thread, there are other factors at work besides the max load; the lens length/mm, turning force / torsion, etc etc (technical stuff I don't fully grasp). I think Gitzo was actually pretty accurate when they mentioned "up to" a specific lens mm for each tripod leg model. What they were saying actually makes more sense now that I've held these legs in my hands.

    And so I think I am going to keep looking for a better tripod, one that I really like and feel comfortable with. I think I am more willing to go beefier in terms of weight and size now. Unfortunately I bought these legs and now the Gitzo rebate promo is over, so another set will not be eligible. I am considering keeping these legs for backpacking and/or landscape / macro use, since for that type of setup they would probably be perfect.

    The search is on, and now some sturdier models are on the list, particularly I am looking at the Gitzo systematic series GT3542LS which can bear 55lbs and has slightly larger diameter tubes. I've heard/read that that model is pretty good for decent wildlife rigs with up to 600mm lenses even. I like the systematic series features, overall a better tripod and feature set; among others I like the lack of a center column with just a wide flat center plate, also it is a quick release plate so I could buy an extra and swap tripod heads quickly.

    I also looked at Really Right Stuff tripods this time, whereas before I did not. RRS TVC-33 or TVC-33s might be good.The price of RRS is probably comparable to the Gitzos I'm now looking at. Features look ok, but lacking some that I like in the Gitzo.

    Will probably ponder this for a while, keep researching, and then update the thread again later... Hope this is helpful to someone.

    If anyone wants to weigh in with their thoughts, that would be cool.

  2. #2

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    Re: Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

    Have no idea how different manufacturers rate them for weight. The Feisol CT-3472 is rated for 27lbs but nothing flimsy about it. Solid as a rock.

  3. #3

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    Re: Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

    I have the CT-3472LV and you are right nothing flimsy about it at all. Put it up and it is like you are anchored to the bed rock.

    Cheers:

    Allan

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    Glenn NK's Avatar
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    Re: Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

    Matt:

    I have the GT2540EX (EX as in Explorer); likely same leg size as your tripod but the column is offset (outside of legs) and the legs don't pull out without unlocking and re-locking. This type of column will point sideways or even down - for macro photography of small low-lying flowers.

    Sturdiness is seldom a problem - if the wind is strong enough to be a problem, then everything is moving too much for photography.

    However for the gimbal head and 500 lens, you might want to consider the 3541 - the "three series" have bigger diameter legs and will be stiffer (strength will never be the problem).

    Interesting post here:

    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/threa...-post-50169257

    Glenn

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    Re: Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

    I remember the time I picked my tripod was went to the shop, set up all the equipment on it, give is some tap and observe the movement........
    May be it is not possible in your area to try out one, but why not try out a tripod before you buy it while you probably try out the camera body or lens before you pay for it.
    I used to use Manfrotto video strong tripod, heavy, thick tube like a water pipe, I can sit on it!!
    But don't look down on the lightness, and the miracle of the carbon fiber...... try it out indoor and feel it first, please.
    Take some pictures and see any shaking from the tripod.
    7D, flash bracket, flash, ball head, 70-200mm. .... to me, this tripod is more than capable. This also is the same impression when I tried it out in the shop.
    Use it first and let us know how is your REAL experience , and the picture quality from it.

  6. #6

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    Re: Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

    I remember the time I picked my tripod was went to the shop, set up all the equipment on it, give is some tap and observe the movement........
    May be it is not possible in your area to try out one, but why not try out a tripod before you buy it while you probably try out the camera body or lens before you pay for it.
    I used to use Manfrotto video strong tripod, heavy, thick tube like a water pipe, I can sit on it!!
    But don't look down on the lightness, and the miracle of the carbon fiber...... try it out indoor and feel it first, please.
    Take some pictures and see any shaking from the tripod.
    7D, flash bracket, flash, ball head, 70-200mm. .... to me, this tripod is more than capable. This also is the same impression when I tried it out in the shop.
    Use it first and let us know how is your REAL experience , and the picture quality from it.

  7. #7
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

    Thank you all, guys, for responding with very helpful info / experience / suggestions. I started a spreadsheet to make it easier to compare brands/models/specs, and I added the Feisol ct-3472 as a legitimate contender.

    In hopes that it will help someone else now or in the future, I have included the spreadsheet data below for the models I am looking at (in list format, since I don't think I can paste a table format in here) as well as a link I found for finding Gitzo models.

    I put my CURRENT wildlife rig on the new GT2541 and tested it indoors (on a solid tile floor). The rig is 7D + 400mm 5.6 + Opteka gimbal head. This rig is quite a bit smaller and lighter than the wimberly gh2 and 500mm 4.5 I will be using sometime soon (hopefully ). Findings are, using same shooting techniques as I did with the Bogen 3221WN, the new Gitzo seems to be slightly stiffer and overall better. However I have not used it in real wildlife/outdoor conditions so I can't report on that yet. I think in real world conditions with the future bigger heavier rig, a beefier leg set would be a good idea. Just a feeling; can't know unless I have the gear to test it. I know that doesn't help anyone though.

    I would love to try various tripods, but I don't have a camera shop anywhere even remotely close that carries anything but Gitzo, plus various crappy brands. Nothing around here has Feisol, etc. On that note, there is a very close shop that appears to have the next step up in Gitzo model I am strongly considering, so I will stop by there asap and see how that feels to me.

    A quick note that is worth pointing out: Notice in the data below, the Gitzo 2541 that I just got, and the Feisol CT3472 are both rated for 27 lb load, yet the Feisol has a top leg diameter that is 32% wider!...which could account for Dan and Allan's experience with the Feisol vs my feeling of the Gitzo. However, to be fair, the Feisol is about 7" taller (and weighs more). But I find it interesting that the bargain priced Feisol is significantly beefier for the same load rating as the "premium" Gitzo brand. Just saying.

    That said, the Gitzo GT3542LS systematic tripod I am strongly considering (or maybe even the 4542) has a bit wider leg diameter than my new 2541, almost all other specs and features are way better to me, and I found several comments throughout the internet about the differences between the 2541 I now have vs the GT3542LS I really like, and the case for the 3542LS is a strong one.

    I'm sure I've droned on far more than anyone wants to hear or read about, so with that I will list out that data that I mentioned, really hoping it will help someone else searching for a similar leg set.

    Thanks again to all you guys for your help. I'll report back again after I try the other Gitzos at the local shop.

    A Gitzo online tool for finding tripod models based on needs/specs, which I found semi-useful, except it appears not to include some newer models so keep that in mind:
    Gitzo Tripod Configurator

    Spreadsheet data as of 6-25-13 in list format. First section is a key to the specs listed for each model:

    load
    min height
    max height w/o center
    closed length
    weight
    sections
    top leg diameter (approx)
    price US $ as of 6-25-13 at most popular online stores


    Gitzo 2541
    27 lb
    6.7"
    50"
    21.85"
    3 lbs
    4
    1.1" (28mm)
    760

    Gitzo 3541
    39.68
    6.3"
    51.97"
    21.65"
    4.37 lbs
    4
    1.25" (32mm)
    900


    Gitzo GT2542LS
    55 lb
    3.74"
    59"
    23.66"
    3.92 lbs
    4
    1.1" (28mm)
    950


    Gitzo GT3542LS
    55 lb
    3.7"
    57.67"
    22.64"
    4.32 lbs
    4
    1.25" (32mm)
    950

    Gitzo GT4542LS
    55 lb
    3.81"
    61.61"
    24.53"
    5.09 lbs
    4
    1.46" (37mm)
    1049

    RRS TVC-33
    50 lb
    4.5"
    58"
    26"
    4.25 lbs
    3
    1.44" (36.57mm)
    925

    RRS TVC-33S
    50 lb
    4"
    49.75"
    23"
    4 lbs
    4
    1.44" (36.57mm)
    895

    FEISOL CT-3472
    27 lb
    2.8"
    57.1"
    20.5"
    3.92 lb
    4
    1.46" (37mm)
    570

  8. #8
    PhotomanJohn's Avatar
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    Re: Update on wildlife tripod search / first impressions Gitzo GT2541

    I guess if one is looking for the ultimate rigid tripod, the list should include RRS's new Series 4 tripods that are rated at a whopping 85 lb camera load. They should be available in a couple of months. Now that should be quite a tripod.

    John

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