Gitzo 1541T, the legendary lightweight tripod

To most photographers, the word “Gitzo” is often associated with carbon fiber lightweight and sturdy premium tripod. Having to use a Slik DX330 tripod with its default Pan head as my first and only tripod, I never understood why people would swear over the Gitzo 1541T tripod for travel over the rest of the tripod till I was given a chance to try it out in the field.

I was fortunate enough to try out this legendary lightweight tripod on my 5 days hike to Annapurna (Poon Hill) trek with my dad. While my dad happily take on the Velbon Ultra Rexi L tripod for a ride.

Weight

As I was climbing up the 5000 flight of steps, I was cursing and swearing why did I brought my 15” mac book pro and Hassleblad up into the hills, I should have just carried a small netbook or lots of compact flash card. Every little ounce feels like a pound as I escalate up the hill.

On the other hand, I was praising myself for having to carry this lightweight champion. In fact the tripod was such a joy to carry that I had it attached to my camera while trekking, while my dad keeps his tripod with the Sherpa.

I never did appreciate so much a lightweight tripod till this 5 days trek on climbing up and down the hill to have a glimpse of the majestic Himalayan range. This tripod when comes down to the weight-load ratio is amazing. I had no problem trying to mount my heavy hasselblad camera on this tripod.

Weighing in at 1.14 kg (legs). + 0.35kg (GH1781QR ball head) = 1.49kg (total setup)

Sturdy

Do not let the lightweight fool you into thinking that the Gitzo 1541T is not a sturdy tripod. This tripod is rock solid when it step up nicely. The locking mechanism of the Gitzo to release its sections of each section of the leg not only is a fantastic weight saver design compare to the snapping mechanism use by the Manfrotto and Slik Tripod, it keeps the dust and sand from entering those joints.

The hook at the center column is especially useful when you hook it with your camera bag filled with other lens to effectively lower down the center of gravity of the tripod. That way you do not need carry such a heavy tripod and yet enjoys the same sturdiness of the heavy tripods! I wonder why didn’t I have that for my Slik tripod.

Price

I guess most photographers would agree that the buying golden rule for tripod would be Weight, Sturdiness and price. Most of the time you could only pick 2 out of the 3 factors when comes to choosing a tripod. As I have said earlier this is a definitive tripod for traveling and lightweight, therefore it doesn’t come cheap. You could probably get 3-6 normal tripods. I leave the price hunting to you since the prices varies from region to region and sometimes even when you have the cash ready, there is a long waiting list to people waiting to get their hands on this. Much like buying a Lamborghini =S. Well maybe not =)

Conclusion

If you are looking for the ultimate light weight travel tripod, look no further! This tripod really shines in this category.

The one problem I had was that their ball head does not have additional screws to stop the ball head from spinning off the tripod. Normally you would seldom encounter this problem, but when you are travelling the rocky and jungle terrains of the Himalayan the ball head get loosen. I guess Gitzo engineers might have save that to reduce the complexity and weight of the ball head. But that result in several time for me to tighten the ball head to the tripod. It can be really annoying when you miss the moment due to this issue! I have yet to try the Markins ballhead and the arca swiss ballhead to give you any recommendation, but from what I hear they are pleasant in that area. But those ballhead weighs more than the tripod leg! So it comes back to whether which is the most important aspect; price, sturdiness or weight. Sometimes life is abit unfair ya?

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