Tripod Comparison Test: Gitzo GT2531 vs Benro Tripster

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Jimmy K.
Jimmy K. Senior Member • Posts: 1,002
Tripod Comparison Test: Gitzo GT2531 vs Benro Tripster

Summary

I compared a used Gitzo GT2531 tripod versus Benro Tripster Series 1 travel tripod. I look at slow shutter speed photos from 1/10 - 1/2 second exposures. I’m so flabbergasted that Benro travel tripod performs equal or slightly better than Gitzo.

I cannot explain the result. I did the test in my backyard, which is quite small and enclosed by 6’ fence. On some days there can be slight breeze, but not much. It is close to ideal condition. Maybe I’m testing close to ideal condition, so what I’m seeing is 2nd or 3rd order effect? Maybe in more extreme conditions (larger/heavier camera/lens, high wind), then Gitzo will be clear winner?

I guess the good news is that Benro Tripster Series 1 feels very solid.

Details below

Gitzo GT2531: Series 2 (Mountaineer), 3-section, carbon fiber, weighs 3.0 lbs, max load 26 lbs. Folds down to 25.6 inches. Has center column set (can be used without center column).

Benro Tripster Series 1 (FTR19AB0GTTN titanium color, equivalent to FTR19AB0GBLK in black). 5-section, aluminum, weighs 3.4 lbs, max load 18 lbs. Folds down to 14 inches. Quite small tripod.

On the tripod itself, I can physically feel that Gitzo is more solid. If I knock, tap, and shake the Gitzo, it barely vibrates. On Benro, I can feel and see the vibrations as I tap the tripod. This is not surprising as Gitzo is a much larger tripod.

Only unusual thing with Gitzo is this. With the legs extended and set at angle, if I press down on the tripod with quite a bit of force force, Gitzo legs has more flex. Benro doesn’t have this vertical flex. I suspect Gitzo leg sections are much longer and can flex more, whereas Benro Tripster legs sections are much shorter and probably less prong to this type of flex. The weird thing is that if I tilt the tripod (2 legs on ground and 1 leg up) and try to flex that 1 leg upward with my hand, or if I just pick up the tripod and try to bend the leg up, Gitzo has less flex (or less freeplay).

I have done the long exposure test 6 times on different days. The resulting images using these 2 tripods are very close. If I do 100% crop and look very closely, then there is ever so slight difference. In probably 50-75% of photos, I cannot tell any difference. But in <25% of photos, Benro is ever so slightly sharper than Gitzo.

When I got the Gitzo GT2531, cleaned it, inspected all the parts, lubed it, and re-assembled it. Only minor issue I see is 1 washer for leg hinge is different than the rest. 5 of them are copper color; 1 is aluminum color.

Gitzo disassembled and cleaned

Ball Head:

  • Benro V1E with Gitzo tripod : ball diameter 1.44” (36mm), weighs 0.9 lb, max load 22 lb.
  • Benro Tripster comes with a small ball head B0G: ball diameter around 1”.

Camera Settings for Test:

  • Camera + Lens: Around 1 to 1.2 lb. Very light setup. My Sony a6400 APS-C mirrorless a6400 weighs 0.8 lb. I used 2 lenses: Sony E 16-50mm kit lens (0.25 lb) and Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS (weighs 0.35 lb). 16-50mm is the longest focal length lens I have. I find result to be most apparent when I use 16-50mm, because I can use 50mm and this lens has smaller aperture (F36) and allow me to go down to much slower shutter speed.
  • Camera settings: I take reference photo at 1/100 sec. Then I do tests from 1/10 to 1/2 sec, depending on available light. When comparing tripods, I make sure I use same aperture and shutter speed pairs.
  • Camera timer: I use either 2, 5, or 10 second delay. I don’t see any difference between these 2 delays.
  • OSS: I try to turn off OSS. But there are times I forgot, so OSS is on. Makes no difference.

Tripod Settings for Test:

  • Tripod + Head: I changed the ball heads to make sure it is not due to the head. So I put Benro Tripster's small B0G head on Gitzo, and Benro V1E head on Benro Tripster tripod. Sharpness is not due to ball head.
  • Tripod legs: fully extended.
  • Center column: always down. For Gitzo, I tried it with and without center column. Seems slightly better without center column, but still worse than Benro.
  • Sometimes I added weight to the hook at bottom of center column, sometimes no weight. Makes no difference.

Below are couple examples of the results.  I picked the ones that show Benro being better than Gitzo.  There are also other comparisons where they are similar.

1. Gitzo is in top row and Benro Tripster is bottom row. The left most photo is reference at 1/100 sec. Then 2 photos are taken at 1/3 sec. I put a green check for Benro to note that these 2 are sharper.

2. Gitzo with center column down isin top row, Gitzo with center column removed (using the ground level set feature) is in middle row and Benro trimester is bottom row.  All photos are 0.4 sec.  I noted the best sharpness by green check, medium sharpness with yellow equal sign, and poor sharpness by red X.

Anyways, I'm done with controlled testing.  I'm just surprised by the result.

I will test out in real use conditions in the future.  The difficulty is that it is hard to do apple-to-apple comparison in real use because there will be so many other variables.

 Jimmy K.'s gear list:Jimmy K.'s gear list
Sony a6400 Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS Sony E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS +3 more
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