A Gitzo Traveler Tripod: Is It Worth the Money?

A Gitzo Traveler Tripod: Is It Worth the Money?

I have a large and relatively heavy Gitzo tripod that can carry as much as a small elephant. But I also bought an expensive Gitzo traveler tripod because sometimes I want to travel light. The question is, was it worth the money?

I love using a tripod. It brings a lot of fun and makes photography relaxed and flexible. I can take time to look at the landscape and wait for the right light situation. I can use any shutter time I like, without worrying about camera movement. There are a ton of reasons why a tripod is a good investment. That is why I have a large and relatively heavy Gitzo Systematic Series 3 GT3542LS tripod, fitted with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head. It is a combination that will last a life time.

My work horse: the Gitzo Systematic Series 3 tripod. It is a sturdy tripod, perfect for rough situations. I find it a tripod to rely on. But it is heavy and large, something to take into account when hiking.

My work horse: the Gitzo Systematic Series 3 tripod. It is a sturdy tripod, perfect for rough situations. I find it a tripod to rely on. But it is heavy and large, something to take into account when hiking.

Sometimes I like to go out light weight. For that I have a small Fujifilm X100t camera, which I find a wonderful camera. It is very versatile and easy to take with me. I use this small camera also for landscape photography. The build in three stop neutral density filter allows me to take long exposure photos. But I need a tripod for that. Fitting the X100t onto the large Gitzo is possible, but it looks a bit weird. More important, taking that large tripod on a hike is far from traveling light, even with the X100t.

When I like to travel light, I take my Fujifilm X100t camera. The It looks a bit funny when I mount it onto the Gitzo Systematic Series 3. Although I don't have to worry about stability, the Gitzo is really oversized for this small camera.

When I like to travel light, I take my Fujifilm X100t camera. The It looks a bit funny when I mount it onto the Gitzo Systematic Series 3. Although I don't have to worry about stability, the Gitzo is really oversized for this small camera. That is why I bought a small travel tripod.

That is the moment I decided to buy a small and cheap traveler tripod. A friend of mine was very positive about 3 Legged Thing, and after looking into it I bought a 3LT aluminum traveler tripod from the PUNKS series, called VYV (I do like the names of the 3LT tripods). It is small and light. It can carry about 12 kilograms of equipment, and it has a lot of features that makes it fun to use. Now I had a perfect combination when traveling light.

My first choice was the 3LT VYV from the PUNK series. An aluminium tripod, small and light weight. Perfect for the Fujifilm X100t. But also my large dslr can be used with this tripod. Perfect, isn't?

My first choice was the 3LT VYV from the PUNK series. An aluminium tripod, small and light weight. Perfect for the Fujifilm X100t. But also my large dslr can be used with this tripod. Perfect, isn't?

The 3LT VYV can carry a large DSLR, even with a 100-400mm lens. I must admit, it is far from ideal, but it is possible. I also started to use the 3LT more often as a second tripod for my astrophotography. At the same time I got more and more irritated by the downsides of this tripod. The nuts and bolts are of a lesser quality, the twist locks have to be tightened very firm to lock the legs, and the overall quality is not what I wanted in a tripod. These are small things that doesn’t make the 3LT a bad one, and you can live with it. Nevertheless it became too annoying. That is when I started to look for an alternative. Since I really like the quality of the Gitzo Systematic Series 3, I decided to invest in an expensive Gitzo GT1555T traveler tripod.

After careful consideration I decided to buy another Gitzo tripod; the GT1555T. It is expensive, but the quality is so much better compared to the 3LT. The question is; is it worth the money. I used it for over a year now, and it is time to make a judgeme

After careful consideration I decided to buy another Gitzo tripod; the GT1555T. It is expensive, but the quality is so much better compared to the 3LT. The question is; is it worth the money. I used it for over a year now, and it is time to make a judgement.

When I say it is expensive, I really mean expensive. It costs more than my large Gitzo, although it comes with a tripod head. But it is also five times as expensive as the 3LT VYV. Comparing these two traveler tripods is not really fair; you cannot expect a € 200 tripod has the same quality as a € 1000 tripod. But the difference is very large and you may wonder if its worth the extra money.

An impression of the Gitzo GT1555T. It is versatile, but not as much as the 3LT. Nevertheless, the build quality is so much better, especially the twist lock mechanism; you only need a twist to lock it, or unlock it.

An impression of the Gitzo GT1555T. It is versatile, but not as much as the 3LT. Nevertheless, the build quality is so much better, especially the twist lock mechanism; you only need a twist to lock it, or unlock it.

First of all, it is made from carbon, which has its effect on the prize. The overall quality is almost perfect, and everything works very smooth. It can carry a lot of weight and the stiffness of the carbon makes it possible to use my large dslr with 100-400mm lens with less problems than on the 3LT. But most of all, the twist locks have the quality for which the Gitzo is famous about. A simple twist is enough to lock or unlock the legs. I don't need to use force. It is a world of difference compared to the 3LT.

The real life; hiking and using the Gitzo. On the left: the tripod connected on a D-ring with a carabiner, for easy access. In the middle: the Gitzo attached to my daypack, with the Fujifilm X100t attached to the belt. On the right: setting up the tripod.

The real life; hiking and using the Gitzo. On the left: the tripod connected on a D-ring with a carabiner, for easy access. In the middle: the Gitzo attached to my daypack, with the Fujifilm X100t attached to the belt. On the right: setting up the tripod. (pictures by Hetwie - www.hetwie.nl)

These benefits do not completely justify the prize difference, I think. And you don’t get a nice carrying bag with the Gitzo for that prize either, which is a shame if you ask me. I would almost say the Gitzo is not worth the extra money, until you start using it. That is when the real difference becomes clear. It is very lightweight. It is easy to set up. You don’t have to worry about nuts and bolts becoming loose over time. The twist locks only need a twist to lock or unlock the legs, and they can be dismantled very easy for cleaning. It is fun to use with the small Fujifilm X100t, and very useable for a large DSLR with a tele lens. After one year of use, during different photo trips, vacations, and masterclasses, I definitely can say it was one of the best investments I made for a tripod. Next to the large Gitzo of course, which I find unbeatable.

A couple of impressions, most of them from our trip to the Faroe Islands in 2018, and one from the last trip to Germany. The tripod is very versatile because it can be uses for my lightweight camera, and my dslr as well.

A couple of impressions, most of them from our trip to the Faroe Islands in 2018, and one from the last trip to Germany. The tripod is very versatile because it can be uses for my lightweight camera, and my dslr as well.

Looking back on this story, I think I fell into the tripod trap of buying a cheap tripod, because I thought it was for only a few occasions. I could have saved the money, to invest it directly in a tripod that would fit my needs. I am sure this Gitzo will also last a life time.

Of course there are alternatives available on the market. Other manufactures also have wonderful traveler tripods, like the Manfrotto BeFree GT and the new Peak Design Travel Tripod. Although these are also expensive, they are not as expensive as the Gitzo. But I choose the latter because I have a good experience with it. And I think it was worth the investment. 

What do you think? Do you find the quality of a tripod more important than its prize, or would you have kept the cheaper version and saved the money for other purposes? I love to hear your opinion in the comments below.

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91 Comments

Good choice of tripod. Camera? Not so much. ;-)

I have tripods from Miller, 3LT and Manfrotto. What I pack depends on multiple factors but weight is always a major one. So carbon used to be the priority for travel but not any more.

My 3 Legged Thing Corey is lighter than most carbon legs of that height and folds up really small. Yes it takes about 10 seconds longer to set up but I can buy a pretty decent lens for the amount I save. Oh and 3LT service is great.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Did you need service for your 3LT. What happened?

El Dooderino's picture

I just bought a 3LT Leo Eclipse Pro for a travel tripod. I'll be putting it to the test in a few weeks when I head out west on vacation. $1000 just seems like an awful lot for a travel tripod.

Nando Harmsen's picture

I looking forward to your experience with it. And yes, $1000 is a lot :)

C. Broken's picture

Thank you for this and it proves I'll never be able to afford any of the Gitzo tripods. Why not do a review on a "poor mans" tripod. Duct tap and three sticks

Nando Harmsen's picture

Perhaps that is a good idea. I will look into it

Got the exact same last year and have not regretted the decision one bit.

$1k!!? Wow

Nando Harmsen's picture

It got me scared at first also. :D

Gitzo tripods are expensive but absolutely worth it. I have had a 3 series for 6 years now and it is still the best tripod I have ever owned.

You keep saying "prize" when you mean price.

Nando Harmsen's picture

You are correct. Or perhaps.... ;)

Can you remove the center column for ground-level work? That is essential for me. I can do that with my Gitzo GT0531. And it only weighs 2 lbs including a RRS ball head.

By the way, you keep saying "prize" when you mean price.

Peter Nestler's picture

Yes, it comes with a piece that let's you use the tripod without the center column. I can never seem to get my head detached from the column so I never end up using it. Just flip the column upside down and you can put your camera in the dirt if needed.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Prize, price... Yes, I noticed. My mistake.
And yes, the centre column can be removed, or placed upside down.

Logan Cressler's picture

"First of all, it is made from carbon, which has its effect on the prize."

"These benefits do not completely justify the prize difference"

"And you don’t get a nice carrying bag with the Gitzo for that prize"

"Do you find the quality of a tripod more important than its prize"

You cant be serious... Price. Prize and price are two entirely different words for a reason.

It gets on my nerves when I find spelling and punctuation errors in professionally published work, and I find a lot of it. In blogs, those same errors don't bother me at all. You know what he meant. :-/

You (and others) should be directing your comments at the editors of FStoppers. It's a shame and an embarrassment that the editors don't correct such mistakes. But then they don't seem to catch the grammatical errors of their English speaking writers either. I'd call that either sloppy or lazy. Or maybe their understanding of proper English is is limited as well.

The main purpose of language is to convey an idea. In professional publications, correct grammar is to be expected but even then, not always and at times, proper grammar gets in the way of conveying connotative intent. In a blog, or any other informal writing, I really don't care.
In the past, I've berated a colleague's lazy emails, given the fact he was a technical writer by profession. He asked if I misunderstood his intent to which I had to truthfully admit, I hadn't. He then asked if he should forward his future emails to me for editing. Point taken.

Logan Cressler's picture

The last time I directed my comments at the "Editor in Chief" of this site, he went on a tirade about how I just dont like him, because I pointed out his incredibly sloppy journalism (see the article about the photographer knocking out the pilot).

He has no professionalism, and I would argue, has likely never had any job in journalism before, but I dont know his qualifications, if he has any.

Arguments about journalism and grammar are different and I agree with you on that one. Some of these folks literally cut-and-paste anything!

Nando Harmsen's picture

Yes, yes... I made that mistake. Sorry.

Julian Ray's picture

An old saying that I find very salient in my work is.... "A poor man can afford nothing but the best"
I think we all know someone that will buy, buy again and again something just because they are intent on saving money. In the long run they actually spend more, both in terms of time AND money, than if they had just sucked it up and went the the right kit in the first place.
One thing about great gear that does not get mentioned much is just how forgettable it can be. It works, it always works, it works easily and quickly, and it lets you put your attention on crafting the image. Not on fussing around with the kit.
Just for the sake of perspective...
Assuming you use the Gitzo 100 times a year and you keep it for 5 years (I have an old Gitzo tripod that is over 20 years old and still works perfectly!) the "cost" per use is only € 2.
Now what price is your time worth when factoring in all the fiddling, fussing, missed images due to the poor performance of a less than great (insert any bit of kit here) worth?
I am not saying that 3LT makes inferior tripods. Not at all!
What I am saying applies to any tool needed to craft images.
How much are you really "saving"?
It all comes down to.... where do you want to "save" your money. In crafting images or in fiddling with kit.
Long long after you've forgotten about the price, good equipement just keeps on delivering.
Good article Nando.

"In the long run they actually spend more, both in terms of time AND money, than if they had just sucked it up and went the the right kit in the first place."

Tried telling my co worker this when she was trying to buy some video lights. I told her several times not to go cheap on the lights as you will absolutely get what you pay for. She got 2 cow boy studio lights for like $150. We got them in and guess what. they sucked. They really are only useful for tight shots and vlogging. She acted like she had no idea who ordered them. " Who ordered these?" is what she said word for word. I said "ooohhh i dunnoooooo i wonder". buy it right the first time. I learned that the hard way.

C Fisher's picture

I was going to link to an old Cracked article by John Cheese about exactly that subject, but apparently he's been accused of sexual harrasment and all his articles have been pulled from the site. 4 years after he sent a crude text message. Wow.

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