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Gitzo Systematic Tripods?

Lisa B , May 30, 2008; 08:14 p.m.

I'm considering getting a new set of legs--was wondering what other's experiences have been with the Gitzo systematic series, particularly the 3530 and 3540.

I've seen a few people express their opinion that the systematic tripods aren't as robust and/or are more subject to vibration because of the fact that the spider isn't cast for a center column and therefore is weaker. I never use a center column myself--so the lack of one isn't a big deal and the systematics tend to be a little taller and lighter as a result.....any opinions on this?

Thanks,

Lisa

Responses

James Symington , May 30, 2008; 08:39 p.m.

I use a 3540XLS ( I am tall ) and it is the best by far of the several tripods I own and is utterly rigid. Of course it depends what you want to put on your tripod but this tripod is easily robust enough to take a big DSLR and a huge lens like a 500mm. I also have a levelling base on it which is occasionally useful too.

Along with a good ballhead (I use the Kirk BH-1) I can't imagine anyone finding such a setup wanting unless they have very particular needs.

eric waller , May 30, 2008; 10:55 p.m.

I just got a 3530LS to replace my old 1325 legs. I find it identical to the legendary 1325 with 2 improvements.

First, it is about 1/2 lb lighter than the 1325 and second, the leg locks are a joy to use. I sold my 1325 legs and got the 3530LS because the legs are so much faster to deploy with the 3530.

Needed the extra speed because I missed too many opportunities while struggling to extend the legs on the 1325 before critter flew away.

The 3530 easily supports my D3, a 400/2.8 with 1.4 TC and an SB800, mounted in a Sidekick on an Arca Swiss B1 head - rock solid.

Absolutely as strong as my 1325 and those of you have used that set of legs know that the 1325 was (and still is) about the best out there in that weight bearing class. The lack of a center column is the main reason I use this particular series legs. Far more rigid without elevating a column, less weight and it goes almost flat to the ground. Suits my style of shooting perfectly.

Actually - there are a few more advantage over the 1325. The new one has a hook under the flat plate from which you can hang your camera bag or other weight on a windy day to add even more stability. And - the feet are replaceable and can accept spikes. The 1325 did not.

By the way - if you are buying, buy soon. Gitzo currently has a $40 rebate on the the new ones. And, while I have bought about 95% of my gear from B&H, I discovered Naturescapes and the owner Chris.

Pricing there is excellent and they are a joy to deal with. Terrific customer service. Going forward, if Naturescapes sells what I need, I will certainly go back for more.

http://www.naturescapes.net/store/product.php?productid=347

Edward Ingold , May 31, 2008; 08:01 a.m.

The center section clamps securely in the spider. A Systematic tripod is as solid as any other. This is my experience and I have never even read anything to the contrary. You should be careful of your sources.

I bought the 3540LS because it is easier to pack in a suitcase. With a Gitzo Series 3 there is no stiffness penalty for 4 sections vs 3. the XLS might have been a better choice for video (to get over people's heads), but the standard (57.5") height is adequate for still photography.

Lisa B , May 31, 2008; 02:21 p.m.

Hi Edward,

Thanks for your comments. I came across this website (http://www.nikonians.org/tripods/G1327_detail.html) when I googled "Gitzo 3530 reviews."

I've never participated at that website but in looking around there do seem to be some people there who's opinions I would trust.....in looking at the pic you can see where the plate on the systematic does not look as strong-robust as the version with the center column--but I don't know how that pans out in real-world use.

Gitzo offers a lifetime warranty that would in theory cover damage to the spider if it snapped at some point--but then again most warranties don't cover abuse or neglect and it would be tough to explain to Gitzo that it snapped under normal use and not while being jammed into the snow.....has anyone here ever dealt with Gitzo on a warranty claim? Anyone ever had a spider crack/fail on a systematic?

I really wish Gitzo offered the ability to buy one of the rapid column models without actually getting the rapid column--as they charge a pretty penny for them ($130) if you want to add one later to a systematic tripod......

eric waller , May 31, 2008; 09:12 p.m.

Lisa - you seem quite settled in your opinion (based on a photograph) that the 3530 is more prone to vibration and cracking than the 1325.

Maybe if you put your Hummer H2 on the Gitzo 3530, the spider may fail, but it will handle pretty much any photography gear that you might mount on it.

Why don't you order one, have a hands on evaluation and decide for yourself. You apparently want to believe that it is less "robust" as you put it.

You are not going to be happy soliciting opinions from others since you will always second guess the source. Notwithstanding what Edward and I have assured you, our voice is only our personal opinion. You may hear pro and con on the subject (actually the only negative comment that I have seen is the one that you refered to).

Just order one, mount your gear, kick the legs and see if you are happy.

Edward Ingold , Jun 01, 2008; 10:25 a.m.

At DPReview.com (and PNET), complaints outnumber praises 10 to 1. I do not baby my tripods, and at this point own 3 Gitzo Systematic tripods and as many Series 2 versions (non-Systematic). They are all built like tanks. The castings are made under pressure in steel molds, and are both lighter and stronger than Bogen/Manfrotto core-box castings. I have broken Manfrotto fittings several times accidently dropping the tripod. Gitzo tripods are nearly indestructible, and nothing sticks out to be vulnerable.

All of the Systematic inserts are compatible with the GT-35xx tripods. You can use an aluminum column assembly for about 1/2 the price of the CF version. I use the G-1321 Leveling Platform or a 75mm Video ball on my tripods, but have a column if needed (seldom carried). If you go that route, be sure to buy a short/stub column at the same time so you can get down low if needed.

Oskar Ojala , Jun 01, 2008; 02:47 p.m.

The "Vibration studies" link behind the link that you posted doesn't work, so it makes it kind of hard to verify the validity of the claim. I would not recommend making assumption from the picture, the tripod has a complex shape and real-life vibration patterns are complex too, so any actual benchmark should be designed very carefully. I do have a hard time believing that robustness is a problem in normal use.

David Feindel , Jun 01, 2008; 04:47 p.m.

I, too, just finished analyzing this to death...and wound up placing an order for the GT-3540 Mountaineer. Many good points in this string, including that vibration studies are extremely difficult to replicate, given the huge influence from environmental conditions. The link to a study is one done by the owner/designer of the Markins ball heads, and does indeed appear to be well done, with scientific grade equipment and procedures. It showed the Mountaineers to be more rigid than the corresponding Systematic. So under at least some reasonable conditions, I believe his conclusion to be true. But the difference between them can easily be swamped by your technique, procedures, and environment. You really can't go wrong with either; choose your model based on the feature set you need. 3-section and 4-section are equally as sturdy; the Mountaineers will go down ~ as low as Systematics (but requires the removal of the column, which takes time). The biggest issue may be to get a 3xx0 model now while the rebates are on; the new models coming out now to replace them (the GT-3xx1) are $50-$75 higher in price, with only minor improvements (a way to raise prices in America due to the euro/dollar exchange rate changes???). Good luck with your decision.

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