What's worse tripod evil - 3 more inches or half a pound heavier
I'm looking at two Gitzo models: one is a 4 section that is three inches shorter (closed down) but half a pound heavier. Which will I regret more... lugging the extra weight of the shorter one or dealing with the inflexibility of a twenty fine inch folded one (but it's half a pound lighter)? And perhaps it's more than inflexibility. Can I carry a 25 inch closed down tripod easily in a Lowepro backpack that has the outer holder to transport the tripod, or are those really made for shorter setups? I suppose I might find that the shorter setup allows me to move and transport with ballhead on. But then again, the shorter one is half a pound heavier!
I'm looking at two Gitzo models: one is a 4 section that is three inches shorter but half a pound heavier. Which will I regret more... lugging the extra weight of the shorter one or dealing with the inflexibility of a twenty fine inch folded one (but it's half a pound lighter)? And perhaps it's more than inflexibility. Can I carry a 25 inch closed down tripod easily in a Lowepro backpack that has the outer holder to transport the tripod, or are those really made for shorter setups? I suppose I might find that the shorter setup allows me to move and transport with ballhead on. But then again, the shorter one is half a pound heavier!
It is worse than this. Gitzo is a wonderful choice, but the extra section in the 4-section tripod will be slightly less stable and take more time to set up than a 3-section. Also, will there be a problem storing the tripod in a bag when traveling by air? (I have this headache with a light stand.) Half a pound isn't too bad, but I assume you have considered the pricey carbon fiber tripods, too.
I used to simply bungee cord my Gitzo across the top of my backpack when hiking. Worked for me, anyway!
Thank you. Your insight is making me lean toward the longer, lighter three section model. I want ultimate stability, and I would like quicker setup. Trade-offs!
I would consider stability to over ride either weight or length in this case.
Can you try both tripods with your intended camera and largest lens? If one feels clearly more stable than the other, that's where I'd go no matter the weight or length penalty (given the 3 inch and half pound parameters you've stated, at least).
Even a very light tripod isn't worth the hassle of packing and carrying if it won't provide stability for you when you truly need it.
I think I have to disagree on that. I faced the same dilemma a few years ago when I was looking for a Gitzo Series 1. I was able to compare the four and three section version of the first Series 1 Mountaineer carbon fiber tripod that Gitzo made. There was actually no difference between the stability of the two tripods because Gitzo uses a patented leg lock mechanism that doesn't allow movement. I understand it's even better with their new G-Lock system (only requires a 1/2 turn from lock to unlock). If you are going back packing, I would go for the weight especially if your transport method doesn't require a 21" closed length. I also have a three sectioned Gitzo Series 2 and 3. I've never taken out the Series 3 but the Series 2 fits very well in my ThinkTank Shape Shifter with the straps they provided. I taken my Series 1 on trips to Europe and Central America and I just throw it in my checked luggage and it's just fine when I get to my destination. I sometimes take off the AS P0 head when traveling by air and place it in my ThinkTank Airport International roll-aboard bag. I like the Airport International and the Shape Shifter because I can put my Microsoft Surface Pro tablet inside the bag to prevent damage.
Yes, I believe all else being equal, fewer sections equates to more stability. Each joint has a certain amount of 'give' and flexibility, no matter how secure and solid it may 'feel', or how well it is designed and constructed.
In wind, or under a load, these are just little things which can cumulatively contribute to slight movement and instability.
I've had the chance to use both four and three sectioned tripods when shooting fireworks. When you shoot fireworks, you expose for 15 seconds or more. The smoky contrails caused by the sky explosions will look wiggly if the tripod moves during a wind. With the Series 1, I have shot many fireworks shows, in wind and no wind. I could not see any difference between the three and four section Series 1. Of course, I shot them with a D800 which is pretty heavy and the weight adds stability. The D800 with the lens I use weighs five pounds, the Gitzo Series 1 will support 17lbs. The P0 head that I use will support 42lbs of static and dynamic loads.
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