Gitzo Traveler GT0545T Tripod Review
Over a year ago I purchased a Gitzo Traveler tripod and have used it extensively as my main tripod on multiple trips and all conditions, so I thought this would be a good time to write a review, now that it's been tried and tested.
Why I needed a new tripod
Before buying the Gitzo Traveler I had 2 tripods. One was a chunky aluminium Manfrotto, it was strong and had good height, but wasn't ideal for strapping onto my backpack or bringing with me on long trips. The other was a cheap Giotto, which I used with a Manfrotto ball head, I actually used this the most as it was light and compact enough to carry everywhere, coming with me on all my trips, including a 10 day hike in the Himalayas.
Both tripods were beginning to suffer from wear and tear, so I felt it was time to upgrade. The ethos of always wanting lightweight, compact gear stayed with me and I started looking for a compact, carbon fibre tripod. Eventually I came across the Gitzo Traveler series, which had a bunch of features and attributes that I found really appealing. From looking at the marketing photos on their website, you would be mistaken for thinking this range is only designed for smaller cameras, and not full frame digitals, but after looking at the product specs you can see they will actually support 10/12kg, so I decided to take the plunge and ordered one online.
Why I chose this one
There were a few features that drew me to this tripod. The model I chose was the GT0545T which weighed in at a very light 1.29kg (2.8lbs). This was a good 2kg less than my beefy Manfrotto. It also folded up in a unique way, the head is actually slim enough to fit between the legs, meaning that there is no head protruding from the top when folded down. This results in a very compact collapsed length of only 36.5cms (14.4"). It also has the twist ring style locks on the legs, which save space and are also very quick to work with, I don't think I could ever use a tripod without these now.
Initially when I got the tripod, I did think it was a bit on the slim side, with the legs being quite thin and the head very compact compared with what I was used to, and I did have some reservations about it. However, over a year later I have no problems with it's stability and ability to support a heavy load. I actually use a ridiculously beefy Pentax 645Z with the 28-45mm lens which weighs over 3kg and I've never had any issues with stability. The one thing I will say is that the Pentax has an extra tripod mount fixture on the side, allowing me to position it in portrait without setting the tripod head to a 90 degree angle. If your camera doesn't have a portrait mount, I highly recommend getting a bracket (I wrote a post about this here).
The head takes Arca-Swiss plates, you just need to remove a small safety screw to allow you to slide your camera on and off without having to unscrew the clamp fully. The ball head is very rigid, it's quick to tighten and loosen, and I've never found it to be a problem in strong winds. There is also a bubble spirit level built into the head, but as the head is so compact it always gets covered up by my camera. I haven't found this to be a major loss as most digital cameras these days have inbuilt electronic levels.
The one main issue I had with the head is that the 2 pins started to show signs of rusting. I know that this is due to heavy use by the coast, and the constant exposure to salty sea spray being highly corrosive. I've since replaced the 2 pins and now take the precaution of oiling them to prevent further corrosion. I can't really fault Gitzo for this as it's not sold as an all weather tripod and Gitzo do also supply one that is resistant to sea spray. Saying that, my gear doesn't get mollycoddled, and so far it has withstood everything that I've thrown at it, but it's always a good idea to clean your tripod after a trip to remove dirt and sea salt.
Over the year my style of shooting has changed slightly, and as I've moved towards film photography I've also wanted a tripod with a bit more height. The GT0545T that I bought has a maximum height of 133cm/52.42, which I now find a little short, so I've recently upgraded to the GT1545T which is a foot taller. It's nearly identical but the legs are a bit thicker to provide more support for the extra height.
There is no getting away from the price tag, at the time I paid £700 and it is a big investment. But as the rule goes with tripods, you can have strong and cheap or lightweight and cheap, but if you want strong and lightweight, you will have to pay for it. The good thing about Manfrotto/Gitzo is that they are great for spare parts, it was very easy to look the parts up that I needed and get them within 24hrs. This will greatly extend the life of your investment as you will always be able to fix it if it gets damaged.
Overall I find these a great range of tripods, exceptionally compact and light for the stability that they provide. If you are going to use by the coast a lot, just remember to oil the 2 pins and to clean your tripod after a trip.
I would love to hear from you if you have any experience of these tripods, or have any questions you'd like to ask if you're thinking of getting one.