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Gitzo GT5541LS Review

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  #1  
Old 16-07-09, 10:14
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Default Gitzo GT5541LS Review

Gitzo GT5541LS Supplied courtesy of Bogen Imaging.
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http://www.bogenimaging.co.uk/bfcontest


Having been a user of the Gitzo G1548 for several years, I did wonder just what the new changes were like on the replacements that have appeared over the last couple of years. Initially the G1548 was replaced by the GT5540LS but this has now been replaced by the GT5541LS.
Gitzofolded.jpg

For those unfamiliar with any of these legsets, they are the number one choice for supporting 600/4 lenses, capable of supporting 50lbs+. They are big, heavy and expensive, and if you use one, you will never lose sleep wondering if you are getting poor shots through tripod instability.

Upon opening the rather nice Gitzo box I see that Gitzo are now supplying their legsets in rather nice cloth bags... in reality your legset probably won't see it again for a long time, a bit like the case your 600/4 came in. Along with the legset in it's 'sleeping bag', there's a plastic bag which has instructions and a few Allen key tools for maintenance and a tube of, presumably, moly grease. Oh and there's a little fabric pad for cleaning the legs of debris.

Anyway, time to get the legset up and running and I'm awestruck by the leg locks compared to the older series... the new short travel twists locks are a breeze to use, no rotation of the leg above if you don't tighten right up. But another bonus was the total lack of vacuum when extending the legs. Previously, the leg sections were practically airtight, so you were pulling (or pushing if you were closing the legs) against a vacuum, if you let go of the leg, it would often shoot back in!! Now there is none of this tomfoolery and time is saved, which is worth a lot when you're out and about with unpredictable nature in front of you. So, it may seem like a minor change, but wow does it make a difference!!
Gitzoleglocks.jpg

A slightly interesting but minor change is that the new legset is about an inch and a half higher than my G1548... which means that, fully extended, with Wimberley atop, the viewfinder of my camera is absolutely perfectly level with my eye (I'm 6ft 4 by the way). It's not going to mean much to anyone, but I found it quite pleasing.

The base plate of the tripod has been changed, and I believe this is the main difference between the GT5540LS and this new GT5541LS. It is excitingly named the 'Power Disc', unfortunately it's not quite as exciting as it sounds and seems to be a separate disc (black in colour) on top of the original but with a grub screw lock that goes through the plate to prevent head rotation... a bit like you have seen on most Manfrotto legsets for years.

As this 'safety lock' is located too far off centre to fit under the base of my Wimberley, it hasn't got much appeal to me...besides, I have never had my Wimberley rotate without my permission. Having said that, I wouldn't be surprised if this new disc provides better mechanical coupling between head and legset to dissipate vibration, a base plate with a hammered metal finish never seemed ideal to me.
Gitzopowerdisc.jpg

Another welcome feature, which is fairly commonplace today, is the hook on the underside of the base plate, allowing you to hang something heavy for extra stability.
The feet of the new legset can be unscrewed and replaced when damaged or changed for specialised feet.

These are the main points that I noticed. Other changes are not so visible or that noticeable in use, such as the statements from Gitzo claiming 20% increase in rigidity from the new leg locks, and the Carbon 6X ALR tube being stiffer, lighter and helping vibration damping. You can see visible difference in the carbon wrap between older models and the new one, with a far tighter weave in the new ones.
It seems as if 200g has been knocked off in the weight of the GT5540LS compared to the older G1548.... which can only be good, but I couldn't really detect the 200g benefit in my trials.

In use with my Canon 600/4, teleconverters, 1Ds MkII and Wimberley MkII I couldn't honestly say I noticed any difference in stability/vibration suppression compared to my G1548. So from stability aspect I haven't noticed the difference between one amazing legset and the newer one....but those new leg locks (and the lack of leg vacuum) are amazing and have a big impact on real world use.
Gitzofull.jpg
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Old 16-07-09, 13:11
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Great review Andy, & sounds a fabulous peice of kit ... but at 665 I don't think I will be investing
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Old 16-07-09, 13:48
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Excellent review Andy, but at that price - I think I will stick with my Manfrotto collection.
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