I did some research on the Gitzo and this is what I found. The G1548 is still out there in a few places but has been replaced with the GT5530S. The price then changed from $699 (G1548) to $825 (GT5530S). The reviews were great -- all five stars. The price is workable but higher than I would really like.
Also the load capacity has increased from aprox. 33 lbs to 55 Lbs. while at the same time dropping just slightly in tripod weight..
The Gitzo G1548 Carbon Fiber Tripod extends to 58 3/4" and can be positioned as low as 5 3/4" (no, I didn't miss a digit). Retracted, the G1548 measures 23.25". Total weight is 6.75 lbs. The Gitzo G1548 Carbon Fiber Tripod has 4 sections and rubber feet.
Note: The Gitzo G1548 Carbon Fiber Tripod has been replaced by the Gitzo GT-5530S Systematic 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod. It looks like its capacity is aprox. 33 lbs
Specifications of Gitzo Series 5 Carbon 6x Systematic Tripod - 3 Section G-lock GT5530S:
ALR (Anti Leg Rotation): yes
attachment: 3/8'' screw attachment type
bubble spirit level (no.): 1 number
center column: no center column
closed length: 24.80 in
leg angles: 24į. 55į
leg sections: 3 number
load capacity: 55.11 lbs
material: carbon fiber 6X
maximum height: 52.36 in
minimum height: 6.30 in
weight: 5.93 lbs
My first tripod was a 3001BPRO which is shorter and lighter than the one I now use. I struggled with that for some time and then changed to my current tripod. That definitely helped but I still have those moments when I would like to scream because of the results. I now use a manfrotto3021BPRO and will come home after a shoot and be completely disappointed some times. Itís almost as if the camera didnít focus correctly some times. I struggled with that and finally decided it has to be the tripod.
The chinese tripod sounds like a good possibility but this is probably the last one I want to buy so I find myself uncertain as to the correct direction to go.
I might take a look at the Chinese tripod. Do you think it would compete with the Gitzo. My goal is to have an extremely sturdy tripod that will work for night photography and time exposures. I really like HDR photography and want to systematically eliminate anything that will keep me from getting as sharp a photo as possible.
Thanks for your input on this question