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Old Saturday 3rd June 2017, 17:20   #1
johnhub
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Carbon fibre tripod recommendation

Hi all

I have the following scopes: Swarovski ATS 65 HD (most used), Nikon EDIIIA and Nikon ED82A. I've recently got a Manfrotto 128RC head, which I quite like. I wanted to try a fluid head and one that would take the Swaro scope with no adapter plates. I was using a Velbon PH-157Q, which I'd say isn't quite up to the ED82A's weight.

I'm looking for a carbon fibre tripod that will be compatible with the 128RC head (and suitable for all three scopes). I'm looking at Gitzo and Manfrotto in the main, but am absolutely baffled by the choice available!

Any wisdom/recommendations gratefully received!

Cheers
John
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Old Saturday 3rd June 2017, 18:42   #2
Hermann
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Gitzo Mountaineer GT2532 or GT2542.

Hermann
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Old Saturday 3rd June 2017, 19:10   #3
johnhub
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Gitzo Mountaineer GT2532 or GT2542.

Hermann
Thanks very much, Hermann. I do like the idea and look of the 3-section one better. Is it the Series 2 I need? I see there's also one called "6X Systematic" - is that different?

Do you know if I could use my Velbon HC-25/28 hide clamp with it?

Cheers
John
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Old Saturday 3rd June 2017, 23:40   #4
johnf3f
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The "6X" simply refers to the construction of the Carbon Fiber leg tubes - they are some of the finest available!

I often use an older model (Gitzo GT2531) with my 77mm Kowa and it is fully up to the job. Hermann's recommendations are spot on in my experience.

You could also consider a 3 series Gitzo? Until recently I had a Gitzo GT3530LS and, in my opinion, it gave the ultimate combination of stability and reasonable weight. This is a "Systematic" tripod so it has no center column. Takes longer to set up but is significantly stiffer, unfortunately no longer made! You might find a nice used one though? The newer Gitzo Systematics are heavier and that may put you off - they are well worth a look but remember how far you will be carrying them!

Frankly we are splitting hairs here as any Gitzo 2/3 series Mountaineer/Systematic tripod will be an excellent choice (probably the best available) - it is really down to which model suits you and your needs.

Gitzo tripods are expensive! However I hope you live long enough to wear one out! They LAST so are well worth the money. Having said that a decent used Gitzo should have several decades left in it, I have had some real bargains, so don't forget the used market.
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Old Sunday 4th June 2017, 09:30   #5
johnhub
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Originally Posted by johnf3f View Post
The "6X" simply refers to the construction of the Carbon Fiber leg tubes - they are some of the finest available!

I often use an older model (Gitzo GT2531) with my 77mm Kowa and it is fully up to the job. Hermann's recommendations are spot on in my experience.

You could also consider a 3 series Gitzo? Until recently I had a Gitzo GT3530LS and, in my opinion, it gave the ultimate combination of stability and reasonable weight. This is a "Systematic" tripod so it has no center column. Takes longer to set up but is significantly stiffer, unfortunately no longer made! You might find a nice used one though? The newer Gitzo Systematics are heavier and that may put you off - they are well worth a look but remember how far you will be carrying them!

Frankly we are splitting hairs here as any Gitzo 2/3 series Mountaineer/Systematic tripod will be an excellent choice (probably the best available) - it is really down to which model suits you and your needs.

Gitzo tripods are expensive! However I hope you live long enough to wear one out! They LAST so are well worth the money. Having said that a decent used Gitzo should have several decades left in it, I have had some real bargains, so don't forget the used market.
Thanks John, this is very useful. I don't think the systematic would suit me, as I'd like to have a centre column so I can use my hide clamp. Is the centre column made of carbon fibre? Would the diameter permit me to use my Velbon hide clamp?

What are the differences between the 2 series and the 3 series?

Cheers
John
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Old Sunday 4th June 2017, 22:22   #6
johnf3f
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The difference between 2 and 3 series is the thickness of the top leg section and center column - if fitted. A 3 series is about 32mm and 2 series is about 28mm. My 2 and 3 series center columns are 28 and 32mm as well. Within reasonable limits bigger is better - but heavier!

I am not familiar with the Velbon clamp - however I would be very cautious about using other brand clamps on carbon fiber tubing. So long as the clamp exerts even pressure around the full circumference of the tube there should be no problem - if there is a pressure point then carbon fiber tubing is easy to damage. I don't know how the Velbon locks up so I cannot say if it would be a good idea or not.
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Old Monday 5th June 2017, 12:50   #7
johnhub
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Originally Posted by johnf3f View Post
The difference between 2 and 3 series is the thickness of the top leg section and center column - if fitted. A 3 series is about 32mm and 2 series is about 28mm. My 2 and 3 series center columns are 28 and 32mm as well. Within reasonable limits bigger is better - but heavier!

I am not familiar with the Velbon clamp - however I would be very cautious about using other brand clamps on carbon fiber tubing. So long as the clamp exerts even pressure around the full circumference of the tube there should be no problem - if there is a pressure point then carbon fiber tubing is easy to damage. I don't know how the Velbon locks up so I cannot say if it would be a good idea or not.
Thanks again, John.

If I google 'gitzo hide clamp' I get the following result:

http://bit.ly/2svq6hR

The locking mechanism appears to be a screw, and doesn't appear too different from that of the Velbon clamp:

http://bit.ly/2s8WYzD

I take your point about carbon fibre being easily damaged, but don't these effectively have the same mechanism?

Cheers
John
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Old Monday 5th June 2017, 18:03   #8
johnhub
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Simon King says he has two tripods: a Gitzo 2542 for travel, and a Manfrotto 055CX3 when weight isn't so important. He says the Gitzo is so light that there's some flex in a strong wind, and he often prefers the Manfrotto. That has been discontinued, and this is its replacement:

http://bit.ly/2qYEPjq

It's a good bit cheaper than the Gitzo - a good choice?

Link to Simon's video for information:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbSo7QnMDfg

I'm even more confused now, looking at the two different heads he's using!

Cheers
John
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Old Tuesday 6th June 2017, 00:40   #9
johnf3f
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Originally Posted by johnhub View Post
Thanks again, John.

If I google 'gitzo hide clamp' I get the following result:

http://bit.ly/2svq6hR

The locking mechanism appears to be a screw, and doesn't appear too different from that of the Velbon clamp:

http://bit.ly/2s8WYzD

I take your point about carbon fibre being easily damaged, but don't these effectively have the same mechanism?

Cheers
John
I am VERY far from an expert on Hide Clamps! What I was concerned about was whether your Velbon uses a single pressure point to lock or has a clamping mechanism. In other words does it lock by putting pressure on a single point or does it constrict around the whole circumference? As I don't have the Velbon clamp I simply don't know - I was just wanting you to check before you spent out on a tripod.

Hope that makes sense!
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Old Thursday 8th June 2017, 16:13   #10
johnhub
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OK, Iíve made a decision and bought the GT3532 Mountaineer. Itís heavier than the GT2532, but Iím loving the thick legs and lovely build quality. Also like the twist-lock legs Ė much nicer than the levers on the Manfrotto tripods Iíve looked at. Simon King referred to the GT2532 moving in strong winds Ė Iím guessing the GT3532 wonít be so prone to that.

Has anyone any opinions/experience about the Gitzo GH2720QR head? I havenít had one in my hand, but it looks nice. However, itís pricey and reviews seem variable Ė would it be an improvement on the Manfrotto 128RC?

Cheers
John
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Old Saturday 10th June 2017, 01:26   #11
johnf3f
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnhub View Post
OK, I’ve made a decision and bought the GT3532 Mountaineer. It’s heavier than the GT2532, but I’m loving the thick legs and lovely build quality. Also like the twist-lock legs – much nicer than the levers on the Manfrotto tripods I’ve looked at. Simon King referred to the GT2532 moving in strong winds – I’m guessing the GT3532 won’t be so prone to that.

Has anyone any opinions/experience about the Gitzo GH2720QR head? I haven’t had one in my hand, but it looks nice. However, it’s pricey and reviews seem variable – would it be an improvement on the Manfrotto 128RC?

Cheers
John
OOH. You will be a happy bunny!

The GT3532 is not quite the ultimate in stability - but for it's weight and versatility I don't think you will find a better tripod! Don't worry if it gets windy - you can hang on to your (very nice) new tripod
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Old Wednesday 21st June 2017, 17:41   #12
johnhub
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Originally Posted by johnf3f View Post
OOH. You will be a happy bunny!

The GT3532 is not quite the ultimate in stability - but for it's weight and versatility I don't think you will find a better tripod! Don't worry if it gets windy - you can hang on to your (very nice) new tripod
Hi John

Thanks for your nice comments. Iím very happy indeed with the tripod. Very light and rigid, and looks great as well.

Iíve a few developments to report with hide clamps. They all seem to use a mechanism of an inner plastic sleeve, which compresses around the tripod column when the screw is tightened. As the screw acts on the plastic liner, and not directly on the tripod column, I think you could (carefully) safely use any clamp with any tripod material.

I checked with Manfrotto, and they tell me their 349 clamp is OK for both aluminium and carbon centre columns.

Iíve ordered the 349, and itís a VERY tight fit Ė almost having to force it, which I donít want to do. Iíve emailed Manfrotto customer service again to ask for their advice, and also the retailer, but no replies yet. I expressed my frustration that Gitzo donít make a hide clamp, and that youíd think thereíd be some synergy as Manfrotto and Gitzo are part of the same group.

The Velbon clamp I have fits nicely, but is somewhat flimsy compared with the chunky Manfrotto. Both clamps are supposedly rated for 28mm, so I canít see why thereís such a difference in fit.

Cheers
John
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Old Wednesday 21st June 2017, 22:29   #13
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Glad to hear you are happy with then GT3532! When I said it is not the ultimate in stability I was thinking of the 4 and 5 series Gitzo tripods. Yes they are better - but bigger and heavier!

There is always a compromise between stability and portability and only you can decide which is best. For me a Gitzo 3 series is about the best overall compromise for serious scope use. The 2 series tripods are lighter, but not as stiff, the 4 and 5 series tripods are stiffer but heavier. Yours should be a very happy middle giving reasonable weight and excellent stability. I used to have an earlier version of your tripod and it was up to pretty much anything. It was great with my scope and VERY far from shabby with Canon 600 F4 and (later) 800 F5.6 camera lenses. So, basically, if you decide to get into the longest lenses currently made then you won't need a new tripod!

Happy new toy (again)!
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