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Broken Gitzo Tripod

Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
Some of you may remember a thread I started about a year ago regarding tripod options. I went through the usual process of buying a series of cheap tripods and finally listened to the insistence of people in that thread that I should invest in a "real" one.

So I bought a new Gitzo and was quite disappointed to discover upon taking receipt of it that one of its legs came all the way out (in my hand, separate from the tripod) when extended. So I sent it back to the store, and they very quickly sent me a new one (kudos to Mike's Camera in Colorado for the great service).

Fastforward to a year later. This time the darned thing failed on me in the field. I was reframing a shot (with a very light kit mounted on the tripod) and heard a strange crack of a sound. I was applying no more pressure than was necessary to move the ballhead a bit, so I didn't think much of it. Then 15 minutes later, I see this chunk of material fall right off of the top of the tripod. Photo:

(click to enlarge)



You can see how the black plastic stopper tab pushed clear through the porous material of the tripod's bottommost angle shelf.

Woe is me. This is a "real" tripod? Alas, there was much I liked about the tripod, so I'm not giving up on Gitzo just yet. I had already been thinking of getting the next model up (a Series 2 carbon fiber model), so I just went ahead and ordered one and will give the repaired Gitzo to my husband to use. That is assuming that Gitzo honors the warranty and does the repair. We'll see how good they are with handling my warranty claim.

That's it. Just looking for a little commiseration, I guess. Anyone else had a Gitzo fail on them? Is this a common problem or am I just unlucky?
 

compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
4,717
2
Northern/Central VA
That's it. Just looking for a little commiseration, I guess. Anyone else had a Gitzo fail on them? Is this a common problem or am I just unlucky?

I feel your pain, a tripod that costs this much shouldn't fail due to materials. My Gitzo has been banging around in the back of my truck or hanging off my pack down a trail for 5+ years and is still together.

Paul
 
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emorydunn

macrumors 6502
Jun 5, 2006
457
0
Austin Texas
Tripods failing is never a good thing. And at least it didn't fail catastrophically where your camera actually fell off (I've had this happen on a monopod and it busted my camera and lens).

I'm guessing it's out of warranty? I would think Gitzo would have a pretty reasonable warranty.
 
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Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
I feel your pain, a tripod that costs this much shouldn't fail due to materials. My Gitzo has been banging around in the back of my truck or hanging off my pack down a trail for 5+ years and is still together.

Paul

Thanks, Paul. I hope I can say that about my new tripod in five years. Heck, I want to be able to say that after ten or more years!

Tripods failing is never a good thing. And at least it didn't fail catastrophically where your camera actually fell off (I've had this happen on a monopod and it busted my camera and lens).

I'm guessing it's out of warranty? I would think Gitzo would have a pretty reasonable warranty.

It's definitely still under warranty. Gitzo has a lifetime warranty. I bought this tripod on January 20, 2010. It failed exactly 1 year and three days later.

Of course, the warranty says that damage due to 'normal use' or abuse is not covered, but this is clearly a material failure. If they don't do a warranty repair, I will be shocked.
 
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wonderspark

macrumors 68040
Feb 4, 2010
3,048
101
Oregon
That's a drag, but my money is on Gitzo replacing it under warranty. I've used Bogen, Manfrotto, SLIK and Gitzo for many years, and none have had any problems like that. On the other hand, cheap-o tripods don't last long at all, even when treated like glass.
 
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pdxflint

macrumors 68020
Aug 25, 2006
2,407
14
Oregon coast
I've always given consideration to getting a newer, more high-tech tripod, but haven't pulled the trigger yet because my 15 yr. old Bogen 3001 tripod (aluminum) with a 3030 three-way head and quick release has never let me down. It's been in all kinds of weather, tossed in the truck of a car, been in a flowing creek and on beaches, and still works like new, and has no corrosion at all. It might be bit heavier than I'd prefer for hiking, but it's been reliable.

It does seem a bit disconcerting to have two failures in a year with a Gitzo... so will look forward to future feedback on your new one.
 
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TheReef

macrumors 68000
Sep 30, 2007
1,888
166
NSW, Australia.
Sorry to hear your misfortune, hope they don't let yous down anymore.

I was shooting a year ago and a big wave came and swept one of my tripod legs away (during a shot), I hadn't realised it was gone until a few moments later.

So I never trust them, I always wear my neck strap (I was at that time).
It's ironic because the only time I've sustained (substantial :( ) gear damage is when my own two legs have let me down :rolleyes:

PS is it just me or does your husband always seem to end up with the short end of the stick when it comes to photography :p ;) Kidding... :)
 
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Cliff3

macrumors 68000
Nov 2, 2007
1,525
116
SF Bay Area
My Gitzo Mountaineer is still hanging tough after 8 or so years of use. I hope your experience is an aberration as I'd like to pick up a Series 3 at some point.
 
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Designer Dale

macrumors 68040
Mar 25, 2009
3,950
100
Folding space
Scott Kelby uses Gitzo supports. He shot the Packers/Bears game and the Green Bay quarterback snapped his monopod in half. Does not bode well for Gitzo...

I have a huge, ugly Manfrotto aluminum tripod. I keep thinking about CF, and then something like this comes up.

Dale

The story is here..Aaron Rogers owes me a new monopod! The Nikon and 400mm 2.8 survived.
 

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Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
Sorry to hear your misfortune, hope they don't let yous down anymore.

I was shooting a year ago and a big wave came and swept one of my tripod legs away (during a shot), I hadn't realised it was gone until a few moments later.

So I never trust them, I always wear my neck strap (I was at that time).
It's ironic because the only time I've sustained (substantial :( ) gear damage is when my own two legs have let me down :rolleyes:

I too wore my neck strap like that for a while, but now I tend to move around too much to have the strap remain on the camera. I'm often fussing around with lights or just standing away from the tripod (I use a radio-signal shutter release), and I don't want the strap swinging around beneath the camera and causing vibrations. So I have a strap that unhooks from the camera, and it goes into the bag when I use my tripod.

PS is it just me or does your husband always seem to end up with the short end of the stick when it comes to photography :p ;) Kidding... :)

Well, let's see...he's the voice-activated light stand, pack mule, sensor cleaner, and cash cow. But I'm his Photoshop mistress, Lightroom advisor, and gear researcher. That's an even deal, no? :cool: I always smirk when I hear a guy complain that his wife protests his gear purchases or gets impatient when he wants to stop and take photos on vacation; having a shutterbug wife comes with a whole other bag of perils! :D ;)
 
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fcortese

macrumors demi-god
Apr 3, 2010
2,137
3,419
Big Sky country
I too wore my neck strap like that for a while, but now I tend to move around too much to have the strap remain on the camera. I'm often fussing around with lights or just standing away from the tripod (I use a radio-signal shutter release), and I don't want the strap swinging around beneath the camera and causing vibrations. So I have a strap that unhooks from the camera, and it goes into the bag when I use my tripod.



Well, let's see...he's the voice-activated light stand, pack mule, sensor cleaner, and cash cow. But I'm his Photoshop mistress, Lightroom advisor, and gear researcher. That's an even deal, no? :cool: I always smirk when I hear a guy complain that his wife protests his gear purchases or gets impatient when he wants to stop and take photos on vacation; having a shutterbug wife comes with a whole other bag of perils! :D ;)




Actually, he sounds like a lucky guy. good luck with the new tripod. I haven't put my Manfrotto through as much action as you or The Reef or others, so I am in no position to analyze just yet. Good luck with the new Gitzo.
 
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Ruahrc

macrumors 65816
Jun 9, 2009
1,345
0
Sad to hear about the Gitzo failure, although I know it comes as no comfort I guess every manufacturer no matter how reputable is going to have some number of failures. On another forum I recall a few incidents relating to their systematic series tripods, where the set-screw that holds the top mounting plate to the legs eventually worked loose and resulted in people's cameras dropping off the tripod and dropping into streams, smashing on rocks, etc. as they had their tripods slung over their shoulders.

I'd like to hear about how the warranty process goes too. One of the reasons I picked Gitzo for my tripod was the lifetime warranty. Who do you contact about warranty work? The retailer from where you bought the tripod, or direct to Gitzo (Bogen)?

Ruahrc
 
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Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
On another forum I recall a few incidents relating to their systematic series tripods, where the set-screw that holds the top mounting plate to the legs eventually worked loose and resulted in people's cameras dropping off the tripod and dropping into streams, smashing on rocks, etc. as they had their tripods slung over their shoulders.

Eek!!! I'll consider myself very lucky, then. My camera didn't fall, or if it did, it fell into my hands. I actually don't remember that part. I just remember being stunned that part of the tripod had fallen off and being really bummed that I was then without a functioning tripod.

I'd like to hear about how the warranty process goes too. One of the reasons I picked Gitzo for my tripod was the lifetime warranty. Who do you contact about warranty work? The retailer from where you bought the tripod, or direct to Gitzo (Bogen)?

Ruahrc

OK, I'll keep this thread posted on the progress of my warranty claim. I emailed Gitzo yesterday, and today I got a reply from Bogen (someone in Italy forwarded my message to them). It was a totally canned reply that ignored the photo I sent. I have to ship the tripod to them in New Jersey (at my expense) for them to evaluate.
 
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compuwar

macrumors 601
Oct 5, 2006
4,717
2
Northern/Central VA
Scott Kelby uses Gitzo supports. He shot the Packers/Bears game and the Green Bay quarterback snapped his monopod in half. Does not bode well for Gitzo...

Do you honestly believe any other material wouldn't have broken under the same circumstances? Do you also believe that if it didn't, it'd be preferable to have to file the injury insurance claim? An extended aluminum monopod would likely have bent.

Anyway:

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=4229

I also have a Gitzo aluminum pod, but an inattentive sideline VIP stepped on it during a football game and managed to warp one of the tubes.

I have a huge, ugly Manfrotto aluminum tripod. I keep thinking about CF, and then something like this comes up.

Most tripods are going to fail at the joint given enough impact- I'm not sure it makes much difference what it's made from.

I've owned wooden, aluminum and CF tripods, and I'd much rather have CF. On cold days aluminum is not fun.

Paul
 
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mtbdudex

macrumors 68000
Aug 28, 2007
1,882
516
SE Michigan
I work in the Auto business as OE, one of our biggest headached is tier 2 and 3 suppliers quality. The Tier 1 who we buy from has QA systems, but their supply chain seems to be always in flux. material spec changed w/o test/validation. Machine operation changed w/o ppap samples re-submitted. Etc..It's becoming more and more and issue, lots of "noise" in the QA food chain.

Looking at what happened, looks like Gitzo sub-supplier issue, still you as end owner don't care excuse just expect top quality.

Hopefully they'll give you replacement.

fwiw, my FEISOL is holding up good.
 
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Kronie

macrumors 6502a
Dec 4, 2008
929
0
I have a Gitzo Explorer that I thoroughly love but the bolts that lock the legs are just regular bolts and not hardened in any way. That's why I have snapped them twice now in a few years. Gitzo replaces it for free but its still a pain to send it in.
 
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Consultant

macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
13,312
32
Maybe you didn't buy one according to carrying capacity (note tripod head is weight too).

My heavy duty Bogen / Manfrotto Tripod is still working strong after 15 years. Used 35MM, medium format, large format on it. Shoot weddings / architecture / etc.

I think it's called the "475 Digital Pro Geared Tripod" now.
http://www.manfrotto.com/product/475B
 
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Designer Dale

macrumors 68040
Mar 25, 2009
3,950
100
Folding space
Do you honestly believe any other material wouldn't have broken under the same circumstances? Do you also believe that if it didn't, it'd be preferable to have to file the injury insurance claim? An extended aluminum monopod would likely have bent.
Of course not.

Anyway:

http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=4229

//snip//.

I've owned wooden, aluminum and CF tripods, and I'd much rather have CF. On cold days aluminum is not fun.

Paul
No it isn't. I have to wear fingerless wool gloves when I shoot outside with my Al Manfrotto. It's the 055 something or other.

You take me too seriously. Or I don't communicate very well. That happens sometimes.

I simply found it funny that the story about Kelby and his monopod was current with Phrasaikia's gear failure.

Dale
 
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Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
Maybe you didn't buy one according to carrying capacity (note tripod head is weight too).

Carry capacity on mine is low, but my gear weighs in much lower. The head is a Markins Q3 Emille (a mere 375 grams in weight). I don't own a single lens over 100mm in focal length, so nothing I have is heavy. The camera I use on it most often is an ungripped 5D Mark II plus a Kirk L-bracket. My heaviest camera is a gripped 7D. Even the tiniest tripod Gitzo makes should be able to support anything I've got to put on it.
 
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jabbott

macrumors 6502
Nov 23, 2009
326
7
Here's another story to mention... I used my grandfather's 30 year old SLIK U-212 tripod over the holidays for photographing my grandmother's quilts, and unfortunately the tripod fell apart as I was using it. First, one of the leg locking tabs broke off (it was plastic), preventing one of the legs from locking into place. A little duct tape fixed that. Then the center column adjuster crank snapped (also plastic). Thankfully I was able to photograph all of her quilts anyway, despite the tripod issues. If I get a new tripod, I am looking to avoid plastic as much as possible. I was thinking about the Gitzo GT2531 series 2 tripod but I can't tell from the photos if the leg locks are made of plastic or metal. That and I'm starting to wonder about their quality control after seeing this forum topic!
 
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Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
I was thinking about the Gitzo GT2531 series 2 tripod but I can't tell from the photos if the leg locks are made of plastic or metal. That and I'm starting to wonder about their quality control after seeing this forum topic!

That tripod (GT2531) is exactly the one I just ordered. I'll receive it on Tuesday. The outer grips on the locks are rubber, but the parts that screw in beneath the rubber are plastic.
 
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John.B

macrumors 601
Jan 15, 2008
4,151
667
Holocene Epoch
Fastforward to a year later. This time the darned thing failed on me in the field. I was reframing a shot (with a very light kit mounted on the tripod) and heard a strange crack of a sound. I was applying no more pressure than was necessary to move the ballhead a bit, so I didn't think much of it. Then 15 minutes later, I see this chunk of material fall right off of the top of the tripod. Photo:

(click to enlarge)



You can see how the black plastic stopper tab pushed clear through the porous material of the tripod's bottommost angle shelf.
Which series 1 model is that? I have the GT1541T and where yours failed was the last place I would've expected to see that happen...

Woe is me. This is a "real" tripod? Alas, there was much I liked about the tripod, so I'm not giving up on Gitzo just yet. I had already been thinking of getting the next model up (a Series 2 carbon fiber model), so I just went ahead and ordered one and will give the repaired Gitzo to my husband to use. That is assuming that Gitzo honors the warranty and does the repair. We'll see how good they are with handling my warranty claim.
As a Gitzo owner, I'll be interested to see how they handle your warranty claim, though the parent company came through for me on a carbon fiber Manfrotto tripod replacement (long story).

That's it. Just looking for a little commiseration, I guess. Anyone else had a Gitzo fail on them? Is this a common problem or am I just unlucky?
Speaking of unlucky, Amazon just had the larger GT3541LS on sale for $450 ($600 - 25% off) not counting the current $80 rebate, as well as a similar deal on the GT1541T. It ended about a week or so ago. :(
 
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Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
Which series 1 model is that? I have the GT1541T and where yours failed was the last place I would've expected to see that happen...

GT1932

As a Gitzo owner, I'll be interested to see how they handle your warranty claim, though the parent company came through for me on a carbon fiber Manfrotto tripod replacement (long story).

I'll definitely keep the thread posted. This to me is a textbook case of material failure, so I expect them to honor the warranty.

Speaking of unlucky, Amazon just had the larger GT3541LS on sale for $450 ($600 - 25% off) not counting the current $80 rebate, as well as a similar deal on the GT1541T. It ended about a week or so ago. :(

Actually, I wasn't so unlucky as far as the new one went. The GT2531 was listing for $650 the last time I was in the market and is now on sale for $499, with a current $80 rebate bringing it down to $420. That made the decision to get a new Series 2 much easier for me. :)
 
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Ruahrc

macrumors 65816
Jun 9, 2009
1,345
0
That tripod (GT2531) is exactly the one I just ordered. I'll receive it on Tuesday. The outer grips on the locks are rubber, but the parts that screw in beneath the rubber are plastic.

I use the GT2531 too. Yes the leg locks are plastic (w/rubber grips) although I think the threaded portion on the leg section that the lock screws in to is metal. At least it feels a little cold like metal when I touch it. I have not fully disassembled my tripod for cleaning in about a year though so I don't recall 100%.

IIRC, there was a specific reason they used plastic on the CF tripods as opposed to metallic leg locks, which they have on their alloy or basalt tripods. Something to do with not being able to securely adhere the metal leg locks to the CF tubes, whereas there was no such problem with the other materials. Suffice it to say I have not had a quality problem with the leg locks being plastic. Technically it's probably superior in terms of weight. Why pay $$$ for CF leg tubes when you waste that advantage with heavy metal fittings, etc?

I do favor the increased speed/convenience of the 3-section legs but many like the 2541 for travel as it folds up a little shorter.

Phrasikleia, did you ever seriously consider the 3-series tripods? Especially given your two-tripod setup, you'll have your (well hopefully a replacement) 1-series when you want to go light, and a 3-series when you need better support. I have considered in one fantasy future that if I ever get a bazooka lens, I'd sell my 2-series and go with a 2-tripod system. One lighter set (prob. a 1-series) for hiking and a sturdier set (3-series) for better support.

Although I guess it would also depend on your current/future lens arsenal and how you use it. I would not really consider taking a 3-series on a hike as a serious possibility, unless it was very short and/or easy terrain.
 
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Phrasikleia

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 24, 2008
4,077
400
Over there------->
Suffice it to say I have not had a quality problem with the leg locks being plastic. Technically it's probably superior in terms of weight. Why pay $$$ for CF leg tubes when you waste that advantage with heavy metal fittings, etc?

I'm willing to bet that the plastic Gitzo is using for its locks is a better grade than what was on the 30-year-old Slik tripod that self-destructed during jabbott's shoot.

I do favor the increased speed/convenience of the 3-section legs but many like the 2541 for travel as it folds up a little shorter.

I do a lot of traveling and hiking, but I have found no need for anything more compact than the 2531. My 1932 is exactly the same length as the 2531 when collapsed. I carry it around in a padded bag with a shoulder strap:



That's the bag in the foreground. Totally works for me. I've hiked all through the Alps with it. It's easy to carry cross-body (even while wearing the backpack) and nicely protects the tripod. When I fly, the whole thing goes in my checked luggage.

As you noted, the longer tripods have only two locks per leg to fuss with. So if I am really on the move (like during a hike), it's no big deal to open and close the tripod a lot.

Also, those travel tripods with more leg sections tend to be shorter when extended. I really dislike having to hunch over while taking photos merely because my tripod is a few inches too short. Going low to get a certain angle is one thing (then it's for a cause), but I don't want to be forced to hunch over if it's not really necessary.

Phrasikleia, did you ever seriously consider the 3-series tripods? Especially given your two-tripod setup, you'll have your (well hopefully a replacement) 1-series when you want to go light, and a 3-series when you need better support. I have considered in one fantasy future that if I ever get a bazooka lens, I'd sell my 2-series and go with a 2-tripod system. One lighter set (prob. a 1-series) for hiking and a sturdier set (3-series) for better support.

Although I guess it would also depend on your current/future lens arsenal and how you use it. I would not really consider taking a 3-series on a hike as a serious possibility, unless it was very short and/or easy terrain.

No, I didn't because weight is still an issue for me. Weight matters on the trail and on the plane, so I need to keep it down as much as possible. The 2531 is carbon fiber and therefore weighs the same as my 1932, which is basalt fiber, even though the latter has thinner legs.

If I ever have a need to buy a really heavy lens, then I will be forced to get a more substantial tripod, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.
 
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