And Another Equipment Issue. . .

Tripods! Is carbon fiber really worth the extra $?

Currently, I use a Bogen-Manfrotto tripod (I think it's model 3021B). It's fine--tall, and relatively sturdy--but it's HEAVY. Hauling it around when I already have a camera body or two in hand is a hassle. I'm not super happy with the ball head, either (also Bogen-Manfrotto). It works, but it's not all that easy to adjust, especially with a heavy camera/lens combo.

I've been checking out the Gitzo Mountaineer tripods, and even tinkered with them at B&H one day. They are amazingly light, and supposedly extremely sturdy. On the other hand, they're a good chunk of change: over $1,000 for tripod and ballhead.

So, my second equipment question is: Is a really good tripod worth it? Has anyone here moved from a good, but not great, setup to a Gitzo? If so, did you find yourself using it more? And was there any discernible impact on the quality of your images?

© Broker

Photo credits: Broker.

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January 30, 2008


Thanks for the comments. For what it's worth, I ordered the Gitzo 2530 just before I read your post. To help offset the pain a little, a semi-miraculous event occurred: I happened to be shooting down on the Mall in DC, and struck up a conversation with a guy who was in the market for a good tripod. A trip to Starbucks later, he had my Bogen, I had a check, and we were all happy.

January 29, 2008


IMHO, carbon fiber provides a small weight savings with a much bigger price that just isn't worth it.
I have six tripods: three Gitzos and three Bogens. Despite the price difference they're about equal in durability. My largest Gitzo extends to 12', and doesn't leave the studio anymore. All "sets of sticks" are crowned with Bogen ball-heads: all with the RC2 quick release system. My two biggest pods have the Bogen ProBall 468's with adjustable drag and I LOVE them, even with an EOS 1Ds MkII and a 70-200. They lock down without any troublesome "shift".
Are they all worth it? To me, my mortgage, and my kids braces... YES.
Impact on image quality? Compared to hand-held... YES. Compared to a lesser tripod... NOT REALLY.
Then why are they worth it? Because they do their job predictably and reliably, and have done it for many years, with many more years to come. They can be adjusted for hillsides, staircases, table edges, and sandy beaches. They've survived being tossed in trunks, wedged into checked baggage, and with more to come.
I hope those ramblings were helpful. Best of luck with your decision...

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