Travel Tripod advise: Gitzo or other?

Started 2 months ago | Questions thread
3dwag Veteran Member • Posts: 4,467
Re: Travel Tripod advise: Gitzo or other?

Colin Creevey wrote:

Hello all,

I currently own a nice large Manfrotto tripod (folded length 24") but now that I am restricted to a wheelchair it is very cumbersome to transport it when I want to shoot outside. For this reason I am now looking at getting a small light travel tripod.

I was looking at the Gitzo GIGT1555T Traveler Series 1 Carbon Fiber Tripod

If you are OK with slightly longer folded length, the Gitzo GT1545T (4 sections instead of 5 sections) is a sturdier and more convenient travel tripod, IMO the best compromise you can get right now for all the considerations for portability/ extended height/ , stiffness, vibration damping, and deployment. The Gitzo GT1545T extends a few inches taller than its GT1555T sibling, and has higher stiffness and damping; in my case I can simultaneously loosen all three twist locks on a leg at once, can't do that with the GT1555T.

and a Gitzo 3-Way Fluid Head

That seems like a poorly matched head for a travel tripod. It weighs nearly as much as the tripod itself, making your rig very top heavy, and will be bulky for packing.

What kind of shooting do you plan to do this this travel rig? A much more appropriate general purpose travel head would be the ball head type. The two heads I mostly use on my Gitzo GT1545T are

1) RRS BH-25 (the lightest, most compact but very sturdy)

and 2) FLM CP-32F (adds separate horizontal panning feature, a bit heavier duty with tension adjustment and fine, precision lock down).

The Center Column is an excellent resource who do empirical stiffness and damping tests; I have now or have owed in the past several tripods on their full range list, and their relative stiffness measurements (sort the summary table by the stiffness column) pretty much fall in line with my own personal subjective/ crude testing experience in terms of relative stiffness ranking and damping measurements.

Here is the summary ranking table for the travel tripods which he has tested:

Be sure and select the "stiffness" column to see relative performance. He has in-depth write ups of many of these, and excellent explanations of test setups and what the data actually means.

Also has quite a few tripod heads tested as well -- the stiffness of the head coupled with the stiffness of the tripod creates a system with less overall stiffness than the strongest component (he shows how to calculate that, and how to determine good matches of heads to tripods).

but I have a few concerns about it. My first concern was that the centre column does not appear to have a hook to add extra weight. After a little research it looks like you have to purchase this hook separately (Gitzo D104214 Hook).

You could purchase that hook, not expensive and bearing in mind that these Gitzo travel tripods have come down a good bit in price compared to a few years ago, so that is a small extra price to pay for the quality of tripod you get.

I personally don't use these hooks much, finding the tripod "hammocks" do a better job of stiffening up and improving the vibration damping of your rig:

The other concern I have doesn't just apply to this Gitzo but from the looks of things, many travel tripods. With my current tripod there is a little screw that I can tighten which prevents the tripod head from becoming loose. Is this common with all travel tripods or is there some other way they prevent the heads from becoming loose/unscrewing?

I don't consider the lack of these screws necessarily a big deal. In fact, in some usage cases tightening these screws bypass some of the benefit of damping pads which some tripod head platforms have, coupling more of the tripod vibration into the head. There are two different schools of thought on this, as it is a complex vibration/ damping system formed by the sum of the parts and depending on exact setup and usage one might prefer having such set screws, or not.

Some of my tripods have these, and sometimes I use them, depending. I prefer that my travel tripod does not, so don't miss them on the Gitzo. I just occasionally double-check that the head is firmly attached as I am setting up or folding down.

Anyone have any other recommendations for tripods I should consider? My requirements (below) are pretty minimal but I wish to get one that folds down compact and is lightweight.
Has a removable head
Supports at least 6lb load
Would be good if centre column is reversible but not required.

-- hide signature --

-Dennis W.
Austin, Texas

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