A Site for Photographers by Photographers

The invisible tripod

Yakim Peled , Nov 07, 2007; 06:44 a.m.

Hi Photo Nutters, :-)

I used that title because all my searches came up with nothing. Thus, it is invisible to me... :-(

Background: After many years with a monopod I decided I need a tripod. It is going to serve me for many years and be my only one so quality, longevity and versatility is very important.


  • Light weight is very important so material must be CF.
  • Maximum height without extension: 160cm.
  • Center pole must be able to move in all directions.
  • Leg section number: 3 is preferable. 4 is also an option.
  • Leg lockers: The clips in my monopod are very convenient but other types are not ruled out.
  • Company: Must be a familiar one like Gitzo, Manfrotto or alike.

Main uses foreseen: Macro and super telephoto stuff.

Current gear: 40D, 1D, 17-40/4, 24-105/4, 70-200/2.8, 1000/11, 580EX.

Max weight on tripod: Not more than 3 Kg. Future max weight will not exceed 5 Kg.

Price: Not relevant. Following the BTBACOO and YGWYPF acronyms I am going to get the best.

Head: Will be decided later but it will be a good ball head from RRS, Kirk, Acratech, or Acra Swiss. Again, it should be as light as possible but without compromising quality and rigidity. Gimbel and Sidekick types are out of the question.

Current search result: Zero (hence the title). Requirements #2 and #3 seem to contradict each other. The closest I got was the Gitzo GT-2530EX Explorer 6X. However, it is a 2-series (I'd rather have a 3-series) and it is only 141cm without extension.

An article that taught me a lot was http://www.bythom.com/support.htm

One last thing. I will be trying in the store before purchasing but I want your advice in trimming down my options.


Happy shooting,


    1   |   2   |   3     Next    Last

Bruce C , Nov 07, 2007; 06:53 a.m.


I wonder if you should include the new basalt fiber designs:


in your search? Or maybe you feel like me that its too new to try yet :-)

Good luck!

Yakim Peled , Nov 07, 2007; 07:39 a.m.

Unfortunately basalt is heavier than CF so this rules it out for me.

Happy shooting, Yakim.

Marc Lawrence , Nov 07, 2007; 08:34 a.m.

Ha ha... just like me... ive done this search within the last three weeks. So here are some simple answers... depends upon price break.

Option 1: 4 figure price tag ;-) Gitzo GT 3530LS series tripod. It can take a centre column and weighs in around 2kg You can also look at the 4 leg (3540) version; the last leg diameter >20mm and should be stable. Gitzo GS5120LVL levelling head. Allows the centre column to move +-15 degrees. Gitzo horiztonal adapter bar. Putting this all together comes to around 2.4kg ex head.

Option 2: nearly 4 figures Gitzo GT2530LVL (same idea again with +-15 degree head). 3 legs; weighs in around 1.6kg (approx). However it does not have the height. The GT2941 does have the height; but is bassalt (1.9kg) with 4 legs :(. A super telephoto >300mm might push the 2 series too much.

Option 3: Manfrotto have the vertical / horizontal center column but not much in-betweeen. Not much height and not directly CF.

Option 4: Induro. A gitzo competitor mentioned in other threads. has got the height; is carbon fibre and also has a traveller like CX (Carbon Flex) series. Not sure on prices though. Their 2xx series is equivalent to Gitzo 2xxx; 3xx is same as 3xxx etc.

Option 5: Sliks and Velbon Sherpa pros do have models which might work for cheaper prices; e.g. 813CF II or Sherpa Pro 630 / 635. However not much for a height of 160 without center column.

Personal suggestion. If price is not a problem either 3xxx series Gitzo which is modular and allows you to add / remove elements as you wish; or an Induro CX31x. E.g. if you know you are hiking and taking panoramics then Gitzo + Levelling head. If taking macro; Gitzo + center columns. If using long telephoto Gitzo + whatever. If doing all this in the mountains; I believe there will soon be a Gitzo Remote Controlled Helicopter for delivering the components as needed; along with young assistant.

Enjoy your happy shooting.

Ps Ive also checked some of the wooden tripods; and they should not be discounted.

Yakim Peled , Nov 07, 2007; 08:47 a.m.

My greatest concern is the 1000/11. It is very light (2 Kg.) but very long. If the 2530 will steady it well then I'll probably go for it. If not, I guess that the 3530 is my best option.

The wooded tripods are heavy and that makes them irrelevant for me.

Happy shooting, Yakim.

Marc Lawrence , Nov 07, 2007; 09:21 a.m.

Hmm I first thought 1000/11 was a typo. Whoa a big beast... something like the Reflex 1000/11 no doubt.

To be honest for such a big one I would suggest a tripod with a wide footprint at the base (feet) and also head (stability). The 3xxx series can take a 75mm ball head; and is wide. Coming in at around 2kg it is probably the best overall. Worth checking the GT3540XLS (2kg; 4 section; 198cm without center column) or GT3530LSV (1.8kg; 3 section; 148cm without center column). Or Induro have the 313 and 314 which might be suitable.

Wooden tripods like Berlebach do not tend to be that heavy (~2.2kg) or expensive; but are overall larger carrying size. And with the 1000/11 it is a great talking piece ;-)

Yakim Peled , Nov 07, 2007; 09:54 a.m.

The 1000/11 is not that big. Even my son can manage it without a problem.... :-)

Happy shooting, Yakim.

Who said 1000mm lens is not handholdable?

Bruce C , Nov 07, 2007; 10:34 a.m.

"My greatest concern is the 1000/11"

If that's the Nikon, I've gotten good results shooting it on a monopod -- although I only use about 20"-24" extension.

Edward Ingold , Nov 07, 2007; 10:53 a.m.

For a lens 400mm or longer, you need a Gitzo series 5 (or equivalent) for consistent results. Except for the 1000/11, a Gitzo series 2 would suffice, but a series 3 would be more consistent and flexible.

A maximum height of 160cm (62 inches) without column extension is a "tall order" but available in Gitzo, in a GT3540XLS (68"), GT5540 (59") or GT5560 (99"). Unless you are doing industrial work or aiming straight up a lot, something shorter is probably adequate. Remember that the camera and mount adds 6 to 8 inches to the stack height.

A fully tilting column is a rather boutique feature, not particularly stable or light. The ultimate in flexibility is probably a Benbo, which range up to 96" in height. Take my word, Benbos are neither light, compact or easy to set up. Mine sits in a closet. I suggest a Gitzo "systematic" tripod with a G-1321 leveling platform in place of a column. I have three (including video) Gitzos with this configuration. This gives you a 15 degree range of vertical tilt in a very stiff platform.

The new Gitzo "G-Locks" look like the old collars, but are much stronger. They have an aggressive tapered locking bushing that literally jams into place with more weight, yet is easy to loosen. The bushing is locked to the collar and forcibly extracted. It takes a quarter-turn to lock or unlock, and the legs are internally keyed to prevent rotation. Unlike Manfrotto clamps, the Gitzo locks are completely self-adjusting and silent.

I have a GT3540LS, which weighs 3.8 pounds without the head. I recently carried it around China for 3 weeks, mainly for video. I'm 5'10", and have to use it with one section partially collapsed (or use a ladder). It performed flawlessly. I am considering the GT5560 to replace my G-1504, which weighs over 20 pounds with a video head. A tall tripod is useful to shoot over people's heads, even when they walk in front of the camera, and for on-site work without a boom mount.

Four-section legs are not significantly less stiff than three-section legs in Gitzo. The reason is the construction - Gitzo legs have a bushing at the top of each section with a 0.003" clearance. There is very little wobble when loose and none when locked down. This is far superior to any Manfrotto tripod.

Induro tripods are a knock-off on Gitzo. There have been significant quality issues reported.

JDM von Weinberg , Nov 07, 2007; 11:03 a.m.

Shucks, and I had hoped that the title was something new being announced. I need that invisible tripod for art museums and the like ;-)

    1   |   2   |   3     Next    Last

Back to top

Notify me of Responses