The Ultimate Travel Tripod – Fstoppers' Initial Impression of the Gitzo Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod

The Ultimate Travel Tripod – Fstoppers' Initial Impression of the Gitzo Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent hours browsing sites like B&H Photo Video comparing different tripods, tripod heads, and their features. You may also take it a step further by watching reviews until your eyes burn before you decide to finally make that decisive click and add one to your shopping cart. It’s an understandable practice if you ask me. Perhaps you’re in the market for the best travel tripod money can buy. If that’s the case, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than the Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod.

I received the Traveler a few weeks ago and would like to take moment to share with you my initial impressions of this fine piece of photographic equipment. Be forewarned, I really like this tripod.

History

Let me be candid for a moment. Gitzo is one of the companies I hadn’t spent much time reviewing or comparing online. Gitzo, a leading manufacturer of photographic supports, accessories, and bags has long been regarded for building some of the industry’s best tripod’s. I’ll confess that the main reason for not researching their products further had been their elevated price point, which I now feel silly for doing and I’ll touch on a little further here in just a moment. 

Product Specs

  • Load Capacity: 22 pounds
  • Maximum Height: 64.4 inches
  • Minimum Height: 12.6 inches
  • Folded Length: 16.7 inches
  • Leg Sections: 4
  • Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Reverse-folding Legs
  • Short center column
  • Arca-type compatible ball head
  • Shoulder strap
  • Handmade in Italy

Who Is It For?

As the name might suggest, the Traveler is best suited for, well, travelers. Adventure types making a living from photography and those who can benefit from having a lightweight yet durable base for their camera will appreciate this travel tripod. If you’re just getting into photography, the nearly $1,000 price tag may come as a bit of a surprise. No worries here. As you advance, your appreciation for a steady base will increase.

What I Like

Build Quality

Since I’m discussing my initial impressions of the Traveler, now would be a good time to bring up the incredible build quality. Everything about the tripod (right down to the packaging) says high end. From the beautiful Carbon eXact tubing used for the legs to the finely machined metal components used throughout, the more I handle and use the tripod the more the retail cost dissolves into less important parts of my mind. I’ve used roughly a half-dozen other brands and have no problem saying that Gitzo’s build quality is second to none.

Gitzo tripods are handmade in Italy.

Carbon Fiber

Not only does carbon fiber look cool, it's also structurally very rigid and lightweight. It's commonly used in Formula 1 racing and on aircrafts due to that very fact. Gitzo says that the tripod employs Carbon eXact tubing for added strength and stiffness compared to the Carbon 6X tubes. Extending and collapsing the tripod is a pleasant experience thanks to the Traveler’s “G-lock,” a downsized version of Gitzo's G-lock, specifically designed for the Traveler tripods to reduce overall size. Helping provide grip, the tripod’s rubber feet can be easily replaced if they are worn out.

Folding and Unfolding

Folding and unfolding the legs is also an enjoyable experience thanks to their unique and innovative system.

Ball Head

The Traveler kit comes with the Gitzo GH1382TQD Series 1 Traveler Center Ball Head. The beautifully machined head has a separate lock for the 360-degree panning and another to control the movement of the ball which is coated with a tungsten disulfide coating. Gitzo claims that the coating helps keep the ball movement smooth and minimizes irritating “stick-slip.” I can vouch that the head is silky smooth and possibly the best of its size that I’ve ever felt. The head also includes a useful bubble level to help you maintain straight horizons.

What I Dislike

Initially, the retail price of the Traveler left a bad taste in my mouth. That was before I had the tripod in my possession, and before I was able to witness the extremely thoughtful design and impeccable build quality. It’s simply a case of getting what you pay for. 

There really isn’t much that I don’t like, other than the fact that I don’t have more than one. This is the best travel tripod I’ve ever used.

Conclusion

The Traveler is the best travel tripod I’ve ever used. I'm not easy on reviews and don't speak lightly of anything (just ask my friends). Gitzo truly makes a product that I’d be proud to use anywhere in the world and would do so with confidence that the product will last.

The Traveler series are sold as legs only or as kits. The kits are paired with Gitzo’s extremely balanced and versatile Center Ball Heads which I’d highly recommend.

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31 Comments

Dan Howell's picture

I always sound like a shill for them but I honestly believe that Feisol has a leg (or 3) up on Gitzo when it comes to lightweight tripods. As far as legs go, the Feisol end up being lighter, even their lightweight Traveler series has a higher load capacity. I prefer the Tournament series which has a wider base, but allows you to also select your center column. Selecting a Traveler series legs and a mid-size ball head from Feisol is still $400 less than the Gitzo. I have been using Foba heads (with Arca-style quick release) for years now and consider them the best. Also costly, but Feisol has an economical alternative that is designed closely to the original Arca-Swiss Monoball.

I have small, medium and large aluminum Gitzo legs and till use the occasionally, but for travel I rely on my Feisol Tournament 3342 and Foba Mini-Ball. Or if I'm really running light I just use the Feisol Monopod with legs 1473 and Feisol head.

Photo Kaz's picture

Once I used the stellar Really Right Stuff ball heads, all other ball heads are an afterthought. I might get a compact tripod for travel, but will definitely stick a RRS head on it.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

RRS makes really nice products

Jay Jay's picture

They do, but holy jesus they ain't cheap. I still get a small jolt of electricity every time i hold my Gitzo in my hands. :)

Dan Howell's picture

I'll stick w/ the Foba. I have both the Superball and the Mini-Superball. I actually like the original Arca-Swiss which I also have more that RRS as well.

Anonymous's picture

I have the RRS TVC-33 as my full-size tripod and love it, but for travel, I picked up the Feisol Tournament Tripod CT-3442 Rapid. It's not quite as fancy as the RRS, but it is so light and well made, it's hard to believe how cheap it was compared to RRS' smaller tripods. I picked up on of their monopods as well.

As for heads, the RRS heads are really nice, but the little dip after tightening always bothered me compared to my hydraulic Manfrotto head. I have ended up with UniqBall heads on both tripods - the amazing UBH 45XC with X-cross clamp on the big 'pod and the good, but not as great UBH 35X. They have some compromises, but the strengths far outweigh the disadvantages.

The new TFC-14 tripod from RRS looks like it might be the ultimate travel tripod if you can afford it.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

I believe the TFC-14 lacks a center column and the extended height suffers due to that

Photo Kaz's picture

TQC-14 has a center column. There is also a $55 kit to convert from one to the other (with/without center column).

Photo Kaz's picture

What RRS head gave you a little dip? My BH-55 is solid as soon as I tighten it. It could probably double as an engine hoist :)

Anonymous's picture

It was the BH-55 and it's definitely a solid head, there was always a very slight drop. Nothing big for landscapes, but for critical work like products and architecture, it was irritating. Plus, my Manfrotto 468MGRC2 hydraulic head (with Arca clamp retrofit) was just as, if not more solid and cost far less. I also found the two small knobs to be too close together causing confusion at times and the tension knob seemed rather worthless in terms of being too tight or not really doing anything.

Don't get me wrong - I have thousands of dollars of RRS gear and love their stuff, I just didn't care for the head.

Right now, I use Uniqball heads (UBH 45XC with X-clamp on my RRS 'pod & UBH 35X on my Feisol travel 'pod). They have their own compromises, but lock tight as hell and the built in leveling and panning function and other features make them so versatile. The big one is quite a bit better than the smaller one if anyone is interested in them.

The cost seems high but right now I use a Manfrotto 055CX and it is horrible. I may need to upgrade. Nice article.

I can't comment on the CF version but I have the aluminum version of the 055X series along with the 401 Junior Geared Head and I love it. Heavy? Yes, but quite solid for the price.

Denis Trudeau's picture

Felix C what is horrible with your 055?

Marius Pettersen's picture

This is me off topic or whatnot.. could you please add every relevant number in metric also? So you know, everyone else in the world can read them with an understanding. Excellent otherwise.

Michael Aubrey's picture

"Gitzo says that the tripod employs Carbon [INSERT MADE UP MARKETING ADJECTIVE] tubing for added strength and stiffness compared to the Carbon 6X tubes."

Just so you know, Carbon eXact tubing isn't a real thing.

E Port's picture

But Carbon eXact's got what tripods crave!

Jon Wolding's picture

And now there's fresh coffee on my keyboard... :D

I've had one for over a year and I must say it's a great tripod. I have a Manfrotto 055 XPROB Aluminium with a 310 geared head as well and the weight difference is incredible. It means I take it everywhere. I find it very rigid and secure. I have an Acratech Ballhead on it and its a perfect companion to the legs. Expensive yes but I've been very happy with it. The twist lock is much better than I expected. I had it on a Giotto Vetruvian but didn't like it and preferred the clip locks of the 055. The twist lock is better implemented in the Gitzo.

I'd add: Gitzo stands by their product. If a G-Lock break (you can maintain them, clean them and put them back together without any tools, in the field!) you can always buy individual parts from Gitzo even if the tripod is 15-20 years old.

Gitzo and Manfrotto are the only ones that I know and have seen do this.

Buy once, buy right!

Jay Jay's picture

I've used a MeFoto, and Manfrotto 190 PROB, but if you're comparing tripods to cars, those are Toyota Tercel's vs the high end Mercedes of a Gitzo.

Everything about my Gitzo 1544t is top notch and SOLID- there is absolutely no flex or torque whatsoever, even when fully extended to its maximum height (The Manfrotto flexes like crazy). I got mine during Black Friday 2 years ago when they offered a $150 or $200 rebate (can't remember), which is the only reason i bought it. I read their ball heads aren't the greatest, so i paired it with a Markins ball head, which is incredibly fluid and solid as well. Would i have gone for a Really Right Stuff ball head if i was just full of money- of course i would, but after a lot of user reviews, the Markins is a fantastic pair with the Gitzo.

Jonathan Reid's picture

Buying a tripod is a tricky ordeal. I want to put mine in sea water, climb mountains with it on my side whilst smashing it a little and then fold up the legs whilst it is still dirty. I can do that with a $150 tripod because it can be replaced every year. A $1000 tripod will have me treating it like a child.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

I'm not confident that a $150 tripod would hold up to the type of abuse you're describing, but I get what you're saying. It seems silly to me to replace a tripod every year though.

Tom Darling's picture

The Older Gitzo Ocean Traveler did all the things you want but it was even more money. It was titanium and stainless steel made to withstand sea water.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Great to see you on Fstoppers Tom!

Jonathan Reid's picture

My example was just a silly one to illustrate that I need to feel I can abuse my tripod. At 1K, I'll want to wrap mine in cotton wool. My previous three (they've managed to last more than 1 year) were two Manfrottos and a MeFoto. They're all broken now, but gave me a good few years each and didn't cost too much to abuse.

Joe Black's picture

It is almost a decade since I started using Gitzo series 1 tripods. Bought my first one in 2007. (Had to buy another because one got stolen)

I have used/owned several tripods in over the years, 3 Legged Thing, Manfrotto, SIRUI, Benro, RRS. oh and (!!Berlebach!!) :D

I can say that one thing that sets Gitzo apart from the rest (except RRS which are amazing tripods!) is that its stable. I don't know how to explain it, it simply feels less wobbly than the others. Not in a quality of build sense but more how it carries the weight without moving. I can only think that the angles that Gitzo puts the legs to the ground from the base of the tripod are just perfect. All the other tripods need my bag on the counter weight hook to keep the tripod stable.

I have seriously taken this tripod to hell and back and it came back smiling. If you are wondering its the 1541T tripod only without the head. The ball head is a Acratech GPSS.

Johnny Burbano's picture

The Gitzo GT 1555T has all those features but it folds down to an amazing 14 inches, this allows me to easily put it in my Think Tank Hard Drive, the Ona Leather Brixton and my Think Tank Photo Airport Roller Derby. My main use is for Real Estate Photography along with the Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head, this tripod is the best I've ever worked with. Constantly moving from room to room the tripod is extremely light at 2.3 lbs which makes my job very easy and more productive. I traveled to Europe this past summer with this tripod and it was almost invisible, totally worth the money

Considering price the best I have found so far is Sirui T-1205X . It's a great tripod - light, good price, folds small and good weight rating. The best thing about this tripod is that it fits inside my Lowepro Flipside 300 (which is a pretty small backpack) along with my D750 and couple of lenses.

Henry Lam's picture

Great Post, I am in the market for the exact tripod so I am glad and appreciative that you took the time and effort to write this up.

I agree with you on all points especially with the +'s being the build quality and attention to detail with design and practicality. The price is a bit of a bank'sore.

The only small nit-pick I can come up with, is that the tripod lacks the hook on the bottom of the column for attachment of camera-bag for stability, I realized that the mountaineering series has this, I couldn't think of why they couldn't incorporate a simple yet very practical piece to this traveller design.

Dusty Wooddell's picture

Glad you found the article useful