You'll recall that we previously followed our hero (me) over hill, over dale, and through the woods on a search for the perfectly adequate tripod, in a series of posts called "Tripod Technology."
In Part I, back in June of 2010, I profiled my now 32-year-old Gitzo Studex, surely one of the most stalwart items of photographic accoutrement I have ever purchased, and stated the quest: "am I really just not a tripod guy, or would I use a tripod more often if I had one that wasn't so heavy to carry and slow to use? I decided to find out."
In Part II, I compared inexpensive and expensive carbon fiber tripods—the ProMaster PRO SystemPRO [sic] T325P, ($240) and the Gitzo GT1531 Mountaineer ($580). I concluded that "if it were my money, especially given my only occasional use of tripods, I'd have no trouble picking the ProMaster; it doesn't really have anything to apologize for...given its cost."
In Part III (it was December 2010 by then) I enumerated in detail all of the many errors in Parts I and II...including, um, the conclusion of Part II. I had used the Gitzo 1521 for several more weeks by that point, before sending it back to B&H Photo (thanks again to them for the equipment loan), and its bountiful and undeniable goodness had won me over. I said, "if I were a tripod guy, I would save up for the Gitzo. It's plain better. And not only better, but really good...I ended up loving it."
So anyway, here's the upshot, the dénouement, the conclusion: I finally relented and bought myself a Gitzo GT2531 (on sale for $466 for three more days, until January 15th. That's more than a hundred and ten dollars cheaper than the smaller, less sturdy GT1531 I tested. Can't beat that with a carbon fiber stick). The old Gitzo served me very well for 31 years before being coaxed into retirement. I'll expect to use the new one as a cane one day.
And here's what I think of the new one: incredible to think I'd ever say this of a tripod, but I really love it. Incredible, too, to say a piece of photo gear is "perfect," but this is close enough for me. It's very light, very sturdy, very easy on the hands during setup and knock-down, and it holds my biggest camera (the whole plate view camera) with ease and aplomb. I'm well pleased with the purchase. I will await patiently the day when I no longer feel the sting of its cost.
So, this concludes the saga (except I may write one more post about the head and my quick release setup). Anyone want the ProMaster Pro Pro? A good light-duty small tripod for occasional use with small cameras. Half price. Virtually unused. Email me.
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Bryce Lee: "Tripods—they're all too short in height, every last one of them!
"I stand close to seven feet tall and am a physically big person. To use a tripod means bending over at almost a 90 degree angle (give or take). My back hurts, my neck hurts...you get the idea.
"My photography is mostly get out of the car on a run, get the pictures, race back to the car and hightail it to the next location...chasing and photographing trains, usually steam locomotives.
"That was then; now am lucky to shoot ten frames of film or less in digital at a time. Yes, I have a tripod, a home-built jobbie which when extends itself to well over seven feet high. I made my own extension tubes out of rolled aluminum. And the tripod lives in the car so it's there if and when I require it, which is not too bloody often."
Featured Comment by Diego: "Like others here, my switch to a carbon fiber tripod came after I realized that they don't get so COLD in the winter—no more freezing hands carrying an aluminum tripod around. Unlike a decade ago, there are plenty of great non-Gitzo carbon fiber tripods for a lot less money these days, but ultimately, you get what you pay for in the tripod department."