Gitzo Systematic for one third the price!
I’ve been meaning to write a review or at least some thoughts about my super bargain Tripod. Doing lots of landscape photography, i found early on that a tripod was an essential bit of kit for really good quality photos, especially when doing bracketed exposures.
I started out with a Travel tripod, which i still use, especially when hiking far from the car, but whilst this is a more convenient size, its thin legs and center post don’t make this the most stable of platforms to use. I wont go into details of that tripod here, but i do want to talk about my main tripod and the research and decision making process for getting it, together with the absolute bargain head from Amazon.
I’d read much about various tripods, what i was looking for was a tripod without a center column for absolute stability. This means something with pretty long legs, especially as i’m 6ft 4″ – finding any tripod that doesnt mean i’m hunching over is pretty tricky. The gold standard for this type of Tripod appeared to be the Gitzo Sytematic, it is of carbon construction, has a height of 150cm and 3 leg sections (also available as 4 sections) and weighs in at 2.95kg – the only drawback is the price, which in the UK is currently retailing at £799 !!! As an ex Triathlete and Cyclist spending £799 on a bike frame wouldn’t phase me, but essentially asking that kind of money for 9 carbon poles with telescopic clamps seemed a bit overpriced.
I’d almost got to the stage of contacting various Chinese distributors and trying to make my own Tripod with Carbon poles, but after much research on various forums i saw another name being mentioned a lot – Feisol. The forums indicated that Feisol made very sturdy good quality tripods os i check out their website – this is the link to the UK website
Being on a bit of a tight budget and needing a tall tripod, i opted for their “large” range – amazingly this was very similar in specification to the Gitzo. Here are the specs – Height 155cm, Weight 2.2Kg in 3 carbon sections and for a price of £269!!! Thats a saving of 0.75kg and £530 !!!!!!!!!
I have to admit at this stage to never using a Gitzo and frankly for an extra £530 i dont hink i want to. What i can do is give an honest opinion on the Feisol tripod. I frequently use this tripod on Dartmoor and by the coast, in both these locations it can get pretty windy to say the least. I’ve used the Feisol in winds of up to 50mph in fact in a couple of storms that have come over from USA hurricanes, on top i’ve had quite a heavy Canon 1D or 5D series camera and this platform has never once seems like moving – its rock solid.
I guess only difference in specification between the Feisol and the Gitzo is the weight they claim they can hold on their respective sites/specifications The Feisol is rated up to a maximum of 12kg, whilst the Gitzo a whopping can carry a safe payload of 40kg. But lets just thing about that for a second, my Canon 1dsIII weighs in at 1.5KG and the biggest monster lens i have is the Canon 500mm f4 which weighs in at 4KG, if i’m mounting the 500mm f4 lens i’m probably using a heavier than normal tripod gimbal type head which is 1.5kg – that’s a total of 7KG for a pretty extreme setup.
I my conclusion is if you want a really good tripod for a very sensible price then the Feisol is a really really good buy, however if you want to pay through the nose for a main stream brand that you could mount the Hubble telescope on then the Gitzo is a sensible choice.
Ok so the story isn’t quite complete, to mount my DSLR on the Feisol, i needed to also get a Tripod Head, i suspect there are better heads on the market, however seeing them range in price from £70 to £300 just for a head, i was very happy to find an absolute bargain on Amazon – the Andoer® Camera Tripod Ball Head Ballhead with Quick Release Plate 1/4″ Screw – it costs just £14.79!! and does what it says on the tin! If i had one gripe, turning the camera to portrait on this head is pretty tricky and probably best achieved with a longer plate or type that wraps the camera base and one side like a 1/2 cage.