Sunday, 27 May 2007
After posting a review of the Gitzo 3540LS that I just bought, here's the promised field report.
How I used it
I made a determined effort to always carry it with me when I was in the Lake District recently. That didn't prove to be much of a burden and allowed me to take opportunities as they preesnted themselves (as with the picture at the top). It's light enough to not really notice.
I carried it strapped to the side of my rucksack, using the comrepssion straps. It was always in a waterproof (sort of) bag - actually designed for a sleepng mat; the head was protected inside that by a lens pouch. That did lead to a slight delay in getting the tripod deployed, as I wrestled it out of the protection.
It was a windy few days and so i used it in two main ways. Firstly low to the ground in more exposed spots. This was typically with 2 legs splayed and me sat down with my legs under the tripod. When sat on the side of a hill with 20-25mph winds blowing, this makes a lot of sense. the other way was traditional tall height, with me stood up to it.
In a couple of cases I used the panning action of the head to make multi-shot panoramics for stitching. No nodel device, I couldn't be bothered carrying it.
How did it perform
In a word, flawless. Well, nearly.
Setting up the legs is as easy as I had anticipated from the practice at home. Sometimes they are a little stiff when erecting, which can make fine tuning level a bit fiddly. As I use a levelling base, however, this is no major impediment to me. That is probably the only glitch.
Locking the joints is very easy and very fast. Handling the tripod in a stiff breeze is no problem, it is light enough to move around but doesn't have enough profile to be blown away.
It sits well on uncertain terrain, even with the stock feet. In muddier conditions I might be tempted by spike feet or wide base feet, just to stop a heavy camera sinking it. That would have to be really soft conditions, though.
Once set, it stays put, even when the ground is a bit soft (e.g. when mounting on mossy ground). As the wind has no effect on it, it just stays put. even when panning and fiddling the head around, I had no problem with the tripod moving about.
Setting the LF camera on it (heaviest set-up i took) it was just as good. as I initially though, it was the cameras themselves that were the least stiff element in the whole set-up.
I can have it erected in about 90s (including fiddling it out of the carry bags) and down in about 30s. fast enough to capture a good shot in highly changeable conditions.
The Gitzo 3540LS is a lightweight, sturdy, stiff tripod that ticks all the boxes. It performs so well, you don't notice it in action: just the way it should be. I can recommend it to pretty much anyone unless they are unfeasibly tall (get the larger model).