Gitzo Mountaineer basalt tripod is super light weight

This is a tripod made for carrying out in the field. Yes, you can use this in the studio, but it is a field tripod for out on location. It is so lightweight that I bet my ancient Arca-Swiss monoball head weighs as much if not more than the entire Gitzo tripod. This is a 6X carbon-fiber technology.

Gitzo makes tripods in many different sizes, shapes, and materials

The Gitzo GT3541L is a member of the Mountaineer Basalt series. The model we have is a Series 3. We also have a Series 1 from past years: I like this for putting into my suitcase and using it at trade shows to take photos of the products that we write about. Since at a trade show I have to carry my tripod all day long, it helps when it does not weigh much. But for out in the field, photographing plants, animals, birds, or Maya architecture, I need a tripod which is as high as this four section model.

For photographing flowers that are really high up in the tops of huge tropical trees, for that we need a super tall Systematic CF tripod from Gitzo, with a Gitzo Systematic ballhead GH5380S atop a GS5510XLS Telescopic center column. But for the several staff photographers who work with us out on location, most of them are students and they prefer a tripod more their size, so the Gitzo GT3541L is perfect: we will take this tripod out for testing when I get back from lecturing in Dubai.

Warranty is defined by the laws of your country

This is because the EU has warranty laws more strict than most other parts of the world. Normal product warranty is one year. Their warranty appears to be minimum of 2 years, or whatever the EU warranty is (if you live in that part of the world). But, you can obtain a limited 5 year extension warranty by registering the tripod. So the warranty period is about 7 years for most parts of the world, or a minimum of 6. For Europe probably more. All my Gitzo tripods have lasted over ten years; the only Gitzo that had a hiccup was the clasp part of 2257. The Gitzo G2257 tripod itself holds up fine for many many years. It also had innovative center column options. But the long leg-top clasp is confusing to students and beginners. They donít realize that you ought to lift up the clasp every time you change the leg angle. So they force the leg angle (which is easy to do without lifting up the clasp). Maybe itís because I have been using the other traditional click-lock system of all the pro-level Gitzo tripods for more than three decades.

All Gitzo tripods with clamp-stop legs are easy to use

This is a tripod for serious photography, yet it is easy enough to use for a student or beginner.  I especially like the legs, because you can move a leg into any angle. This is especially useful when you are on a steep hill, or anywhere there are obstacles to where you can place a leg of your tripod.

I especially like the pull-out-push-in clamps with two click-stops. I simply pull out the clamps at the beginning of the day and use the tripod legs in any position that I feel is most useful for where I am situated and the relative height of what I am photographing.

Pros and cons of a center column

Remember, you want your tripod to be high enough so you donít have to use the center column (as I explained earlier). Most people opt for a smaller tripod and then they always have to raise the entire center column. But on a cheap tripod, the center column system tends to wobble. So on serious studio tripods you rarely see any center column at all. Yet a center column does allow extra height, which means you can capture some scenes with a tall tripod that you would miss with a shorter tripod. So if you feel a center column is beneficial, at least be sure it is sturdy enough so that it does not wobble. I would classify the center column on the GT3541L as sturdy.

 
 

 

The center column of a Gitzo Mountainer series can be turned upside down

Since this is a serious tripod for multi-use photography, you can take the center column out, and turn it upside down, and photograph from the bottom of the unit.

The Gitzo GT3541L comes with tools

You get three Allen wrenches, what looks like a mini-tube of lubricant, and another item in a sealed plastic bag that I have not yet opened up.

I have never had to use a tool on any Gitzo tripod but it’s nice to have Allen wrenches when you are in a remote area and out in the field.

The Gitzo GT3541L tripod was well packed in a sturdy box, plus was in a nice carry bag

It was a pleasant surprise to see the Gitzo GT3541L tripod in a nice carry bag. Naturally you would eventually want to get a carrying bag from Manfrotto or KATA Bags. But the tripod came with its own woven bag, which will be useful when we have to stuff lots of equipment into the 4WD vehicle for photographing out on location in remote jungle areas of Guatemala.

We will first use this tripod with a Manfrotto MH055M8-Q5 tripod head

After discussing tripod heads with Jodi Palm in the Manfrotto booth at CES portion of PMA@CES, we decided that because so many photographers are moving to digital HDSLR video, that a video-style head would be good to evaluate.

Plus, many people who use a high definition DSLR camera for video are using the same camera for still photography. So we wanted to try the switch-over mechanism. This Manfrotto MH055M8-Q5 tripod head is a hybrid: for video and for stills (and in theory for movies as well).


If you need more information about Manfrotto or Gitzo please contact:

Manfrotto Distribution, 565 E. Crescent Ave. Ramsey, NJ 07446 USA
Tel: (201) 818-9500
Fax: (201) 818-9177
Email address: .....

 

 

 

 

 


First posted January 27, 2012

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