Tuesday, May 10, 2011

REVIEW: Gitzo GT1541–The PERFECT Hiking and Travel Tripod

Gitzo GT1541 with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 is a great choice
Gitzo GT1541 – a wonderful lightweight tripod that is perfect
for hiking. Shown with a Really Right Stuff
BH-55 ball head

Of the tripods that I was fortunate enough to review for this mini-series, this is the one that I lust for the most. The reason why is simple – the best tripod is the one you have with you, and this one is so wonderfully lightweight, yet sturdy, that you have no excuse not bring it with you for any trip where tripods are allowed.

Here’s an example of it attached to my favorite backpack, the Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro:

Gitzo GT1541 on Think Tank Photo Streetwalker Pro Backpack
It easily attaches to small backpacks like my favorite
the Think Tank Photo
Streetwalker Pro

Now the problem with some hiking tripods is that they are just light, but they aren’t very good tripods. I’m happy to say that in practical use this tripod proved to be rock solid. I as also very pleased at how high I could raise this tripod given its extremely compact size. Here’s a shot of this tripod in its maximum height position next to me (I’m 6’ 1”) which puts it at the perfect height for normal shooting conditions:

Gitzo GT1541 reaches up to 62.6" tall (159cm)
GT1541 reaches up to 62.6" tall (159cm)

The center column extends high, but it can also be removed as shown below:

Gitzo GT1541 center column is easily removable
Center Column Removed

This allows this tripod to get super low. The specifications at B&H say this tripod will go to a low of 6.7” (17cm), but according to my ruler with this center column removed I got it down to 4 inches (10cm) – that’s low!

Gitzo GT1541 shown at minimum height of 4 inches
The Gitzo GT1541 ground level set feature in action

Of course it’s cool that this tripod can go low, but what if that still isn’t enough? Well this baby can go lower than your mamma’s ever seen it in her lifetime when you reverse the center column (with or without the extension) as shown here with my Canon 1D Mark IV pro body and 100mm macro lens:

Gitzo GT1514 Reversible Center Column with a Canon 1D Mark IV Pro Body
In Reverse Mode and a ball head, you can even get big pro bodies
within inches from the ground - much lower than shown above

That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. And this is all for a tripod that is a fraction of the size and weight of your average tripods as you can see below:


The Gitzo GT1541 shown on the right is
quite a bit smaller than your typical tripod!

Conclusion

I will buy this tripod. Not today for financial reasons, but sometime in the very near future. I absolutely love it and I am amazed that something so fragile looking is so rock solid. Its strength comes from carbon fiber, so this gives incredible strength (supports 17.6lbs/8KG) at a light weight (2.5lbs / 1.1kg).  This tripod also features a stabilizing counterweight hook for added stability. However, what’s really great is that thanks to Gitzo’s Anti-Rotation Leg (ALR) system, you can unlock all of the rings at once for a 15 second setup and the super strong G-Lock design offers maximum rigidity that improves the more you add weight to the legs.

I’ll admit that the optimal stability should probably include the fourth segment of legs retracted, but given the way I use tripods that’s fine by me. I also have had it suggested that the BH-40 head by Really Right Stuff or others might be a better choice as the BH-55 weighs as much as the tripod itself, but its my preferred head.

Is it the perfect tripod? No. I wish it had a built-in level and an angle adjustable rapid column option like the GT2531EX, and it’ll never be as rock solid as the larger tripods like the GT3530LS. That said my lust meter for this tripod is off the charts because it’s small enough to carry just about anywhere. If Hershel & Yechiel of B&H lost the paperwork on this tripod and I was forced to keep it, I wouldn’t complain one big (not gonna happen, but hey wishful thinking right?).

For more info on other tripods, visit my tripod recommendations article. To learn more about the GT1541 please visit B&H or Gitzo. To purchase the GT1541, click here.

For a cheaper alternative, consider the Induro CT014.

Disclaimer

B&H has provided me with the tripods featured in this series on a loaner basis. I do not get to keep them and will be returning them back to B&H if I choose not to buy them.

Gitzo had nothing to do with this article and as of the time of this writing, time I’ve never spoken to anyone from Gitzo. I do not have a relationship with Really Right Stuff (RRS) and I DO NOT make a commission if you purchase any RRS products.

If you purchase using the links in the article from B&H, I may get a commission. Thank you for supporting this blog by using my links when you make your purchase.

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6 comments:

Mark Olwick said...

I compared this extensively to the Induro CT014 and the Induro came out the clear winner. It has all the features that you mention,has the same or better specs, folds even smaller and costs half as much. I know that Gitzo is the "cool" name to have, but if you compare them side by side like I did you'll see that the Induro is simply better, no matter what the name plate says. And yes, it's rock solid stable too.

Ron Martinsen said...

Thanks Mark, I'll have to check that out for myself at a future date. In the meantime, I'm pretty impressed with this one. I will see if I can get one from B&H at some point to do a comparison.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron. Do you know if this GT1541 has been superseded, or whether the numbers and/or names vary in Australia? Emily

Ron Martinsen said...

Hi Emily,

Not that I'm aware of. It's showing up as still being available, and uses the same model designation in the UK

Anonymous said...

Hi Ron!
Just bought this tripod in Hong Kong! And you are completly right. Its a great tripod and the I like it alot. In HK it was supplied with an excellent Gitzo ball head that swivels 360 for a bargain price. My only small complaint is when shooting vertical the plate becomes loose so I have replaced it with a long manfrotto 501 plate. Its very stable and lightweight. I looked at the smaller Gitzo traveller tripods but they were not sturdy or tall enough. Thanks again for your review.
John

Ron Martinsen said...

Hi John,

Cool, I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I do! I still have zero regrets buying this one for my own personal use!

I'm sorry to hear about your ball head issue. I'm not a big fan of the Gitzo ball heads, but if you've found something that works for you then great!