They say a picture is worth a thousand words however in this case it need only be worth two, “Absolute Perfection”. I don’t want to positively bias this tripod review right out of the gate but with Gitzo series tripods let’s face it they are the best tripod money can buy. The biggest mistake I see out in the field is when folks buy an expensive piece of big glass and then buy a flimsy, cheap tripod to support it and wonder why their new $10,000 lens doesn’t take sharp pictures. Besides you’ll eventually be being the best tripod through trial and error so you may as well shell out the coin once and do it right rather then having three garbage tripods in your closet collecting dust.
I’ve been shooting with the 3 series and 5 series Gitzo carbon fibre tripods for many years and they have never let me down, not even once so I decided to pass along my experience through this tripod review. My first Gitzo tripod was the equivalent of today’s Gitzo GT3542 XLS, a 4 section light weight tripod that extends to almost 79 inches. I use it primarily for landscapes however as I moved into wildlife photography it also became my heavy lens tripod for mounting my Nikon 200-400mm. As soon as I purchased the Nikon 600mm which is significantly heavier than the Nikon 200-400mm it became readily apparent that I needed to move to a 5 series and I chose the Gitzo GT5542 LS.
As I mentioned earlier Gitzo makes one of the most expensive tripods on the market so there better more than one good reason to shell out all that coin. Below are eight reasons I think Gitzo makes the best tripod:
- Rigidity and stability is the number one reason why this is the best tripod. With big glass you need a stable platform to eliminate vibration that render images out of focus
- The carbon fibre design makes it extremely light weight so if you hike to locations this is a must. It also does not get cold in winter like metal so you don’t freeze your hands off
- modular, with a top casting element that opens and closes to allow each tripod to be configured with a flat disk, geared or sliding centre column, leveling unit or other specialized center component.
- Built-in hook allows you to hang a stabilizing weight (e.g. a full camera bag or a sand/water bag) from the bottom of the tripod. Useful with long/heavy lenses and keeping your camera bag off the wet ground
- G-Lock is the new Gitzo leg locking system. The locking mechanism achieves a 20% increase in rigidity, faster operation and stronger, safer locking. If you’ve ever dropped a lens you’ll know this is big.
- ALR Anti Leg Rotation system means the tripod can be opened in less than 15 seconds. Simply loosen all the twist locks on each leg at the same time, then pull the leg down and tighten the locks individually.
- Built-in one-piece spiked feet provide a secure footing and fast set-up on all surfaces. Protective rubber caps are fitted for everyday usage.
Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced amateur your tripod is one of the most important pieces of gear you’ll ever buy and unlike camera bodies that you trade up every two to three years your tripod will serve you well for countless years so be smart and by the best you will not regret the decision.
You can purchase the complete Gitzo line of tripods through NatureScapes.