View Full Version : Carbon fiber Tripods

Barry Peterson
21-Jul-2005, 09:57
I recently acquired a Deardorff 4X5 with an additional 5X7 back. I am looking for a lighter tripod, probably carbon fiber, to use with this combination. My camera and lenses fit well into a Lowe Pro Nature Trekker back pac which has a fitting on the back to take a tripod. Most times I use 4X5 and then carry 3 lenses and 8-10 holders. When I use 5X7, the lenses are heavier and so are the holders, so I take only 2 lenses and 8 holders. The bac pac loaded for 5X7 is much heavier. The Lowe pro pac is great but its still hard on my back especially when carrying a heavier tripod, which I have been carrying it on my shoulder. So I need some help in selecting a carbon fiber tripod, to ease my back. I have been using an older aluminum non-performance Gitzo with a 1377 Gitzo mag. head. I have been debating the following Gitzo models: 1227--3 section, 3.4 lbs, 25.6 folded: 1228--4section, 3.4 lb., 21.3 folded; 2227--3 section, 4.4 lb., 26.0 folded; 2228--4 section, 4.4, 22.0 folded. Can't make up my mind on the more versatile 2227/2228 models, taking up and taking down 3 vs. 4 sections, and which is more rigid the 3 or 4 section models using a 4X5/5X7 camera. Any thoughts and ideas would be greatly appreciated. Barry

paul owen
21-Jul-2005, 10:00
Take a look at the Gitzo CF1325 - 3 section. No centre column but plenty sturdy (I've used it with a 10x8 Deardorff) and light too!

Barry Peterson
21-Jul-2005, 10:06
So do you use a column, and do you have buy this extra,? How do you attach the camera? Tahnsk Barry

Steve Hamley
21-Jul-2005, 10:13

Or try the Gitz0 1348 - same as the one Paul mentioned but 4 section, no center column. These tripods have a center plate with a 3/16 -18 screw to which you attach your tripod head. Then you attach the camera to the head in whatever manner you like. I use Arca-style clamps and plates.


Donald Hutton
21-Jul-2005, 10:15
There is no doubt that a center column detracts from the tripods rigidity. However, I have never personally lost an exposure which I think I could attribute to this. The *2* series (i.e. 1227 and 1228) cannot be used without a center column unless you (a) buy a pretty expensive little device from markins.com which replaces the column but is reversible should you ever want to go back to the column or (b) you modify you tripod which is not reversible. Personally, I had a 1227 for a couple of years and sold it when I bought a 1325 - I then replaced the 1227 with a 1228 - ultra compact and light for airtravel. I am sure that a 1227 or 1228 will do just fine for you purposes - I have used my Deardorff 8X10 on a 1228 in emergencies and had no problems. The 1325 is quite a bit bulkier than the 1227/1228 - but is a very sturdybeast with the option to replace the flat plate with a center column down the line, should you wish to. I just used it yesterday with a 12x20 Korona (just under 20lbs) - no problems... Probably not ideal, but these are very strong tripods.

Herb Cunningham
21-Jul-2005, 10:25
I have been intrigued with the Dutch Hill cf tripod. They normally make tripods for surveyors, but they have one that is for photogs, it will hold up a lot and doesn not weigh much My Gitzo 1338 retails at B&H for $650, while the Dutch Hill will sell in the middle 400s.

Call them and they will give you the name of a dealer that sells for below list.

John Cook
21-Jul-2005, 10:30
I agree that a center column adds a lot of weight and is useful only under fussy studio conditions. Hardly worth the bother for landscapes.

Carbon fiber tripods tend to flex, which could add to the already whippy nature of a Deardorff.

Coming from a cinematography background, I have always borrowed from that line of equipment for my still work, when appropriate.

I therefore prefer the Manfroto unit listed below. It comes with a 75mm half ball and plate which acts like a built-in levelling device, obviating the need for a heavy tripod head.


Wilbur Wong
21-Jul-2005, 10:44
I purchased a Gitzo 2227 3 years ago which I used with a Sinar F then a Linhof Technica 2000. The explorer series works well for me because I often find myself in awkward positions to set up a tripod. I have sometimes found myself setting one of the tripod legs against a rock wall for example instead of on the ground when I can't otherwise get the view point I want. My previous tripod was a Ries which also allows unlimited (and locked!) leg angles. My current tripod and head weighs just under 6 pounds versus 11 for the Ries.

I personally prefer the 3 section legs of the 2227 (1227). The extra couple of inches of stowed length don't make up for 1. one more section to pull out. 2. the longer sections allow me to place the legs into deeper water without worrying about getting water inside the leg. 3. possibly a little more stability.

My last note is that I started with a Gitzo "offset" ball head on this leg set and hated it. It often slipped (only a couple of degrees due to manufacturing tolerance of the socket housing to an vertical axle for pan) and was terribly frustrated. I replaced it with a $$ Linhof profi II and am totally happy with the combined performance in rigidity, weight and ease of use.

I totally appreciate getting my load lighter! I've been using 4 x 5 for a quarter of a century and I'm not getting any younger

jose angel
21-Jul-2005, 11:07
Being owner of both 1227 and 1325 Gitzo CF tripods, my experience is that I always take the 1227 for field use (backpacking), with 4x5" (Technika&DLC) cameras. I use it in the field even with a heavy 5x7" metal folding, but I know it is on the limit. I cannot scorn the center column ( I really doesn´t like them) because I am using it lately to have a little bit higher point of view.

I also prefer 3 section legs. I would advice 4 section only if a smaller packing size is essential.

Bruce Watson
21-Jul-2005, 11:32
Somebody has to say it: center columns are good things, especially in the field.

I use a Gitzo 1227 with my 5x4 Toho (very light weight), mostly for landscape photography. I have often found that the ideal position for my tripod is not on level ground. More often than not, the tripod ends up on lower ground than my feet. For example, I set up on a big sloped rock in the middle of a river a few weeks ago. The tripod was down-slope from my feet. When this happens I use the center column to pull the camera back to head height.

Without that center column, I'd be trying to use the camera 15cm or so below eye height, which is either bad for my back, or bad for my knees, or both. Trying to use a view camera in the field is challenge enough without adding contortions to the equation.

As to ease of use, I debated the three vs. four section designs myself. I picked on three sections simply because there are three fewer actions to take for every set up and tear down. It takes me long enough to make a setup as it is; I didn't want to add to that time. The difference between the three and four section models is only about 10cm when folded; this isn't much of a gain for the extra trouble of four sections, IMHO. That, and fewer joints means slightly more rigidity.

You have a fairly heavy camera, I suspect that you'd be happier with the slightly heavier 2227. Of course, YMMV.

Mike Lewis
21-Jul-2005, 20:41
I have the Gitzo 1228 which I use with a Linhof Technika V. I can fit the tripod inside a Kelty Redwing 3100 backpack along with the camera, three extra lenses, a box of Quickloads, a Quickload film holder, and other stuff. This works pretty well for me. However, I agree that with the Deardorff you might want to try a heavier tripod: I've noticed that the Gitzo/Technika combination seems a bit top-heavy when the camera's bellows is extended for use with my 300mm lens.

Lloyd Lim
22-Jul-2005, 01:26
Feisol (http://www.feisol.com/english/enconnect-n.htm) sells a line of tripods that are similar to the 1227/1228. You can try looking there too. No connection with them other than as a satisfied customer.

Compared to the Gitzo, the center column can be shortened to almost nothing, while still keeping the hook.

The only weakness I see is the centre locking column, which is not like the new Gitzo's.

I use Mine with an A/S B1 ball head and a Pentax 67/200mm lens and an Arca Swiss B1/240mm. seems to be stable for me, in less windy conditions.

Barry Peterson
22-Jul-2005, 16:15
Thank you all for your excellent advice. You certainly helped me focus (no pun intended) on why I need the tripod. I started looking at the Gitzo 2227 and 2228 because I thought I could use it for all types of photography, including 4X5 and 5X7. But they come at a compromise and probably aren't as sturdy as I would like. I never considered the series 3 CF tripods as I thought they would be too large and heavy. But I seem to be leaning toward the Gitzo 1325 with no column which weighes only slightly more than the Gitzo 2227. In an ideal world I would probably like to have both the 2227 and the 1325 at home to choose from when I go out shooting but my wife and family will probably not approve that decision in my lifetime. Thanks again for your time in helping me arrive at a good decision.

Kevin Crisp
22-Jul-2005, 16:25
Barry: I use the 1325 with no center column for 4X5 through 8X10. It is expensive but the quality and performance are impressive. I am 6' 4" and if I fully extend the legs on level ground the ground glass will be a little too high for me. If you go without the center column you may never again give it a thought. I have made it a habit of pulling the last section of leg out, then putting it back about the width of my hand which gets it at eye level. For a head I tried the accratech ball head (wt=1 lb) and even though I hated ballheads in general I would never switch back to anything else after trying this combination. I hated them mostly because they never really seemed to hold. This one does. The head is more than capable enough for a DD Special, and I've used it with a Canham JMC with some heavy lenses and it has handled those with no issues. Hiking with the cameras in a pack and the 1325 and ballhead in the hand is comfortable. I have no experience with the other models you mention.

Barry Peterson
4-Aug-2005, 14:04
Thanks to everyones input I finally took a leap of faith and ordered a Gitzo 1325. It is fantastic! After using it a few days I wondered how I ever got along without it. I also ordered a Arca Swiss ball head with QR and again I wonder how I ever got along without it! I also ordered camera plates from Really Right Stuff--great company and even better product!!! Now to help pay for all this I will sell my Manfrotto 055, Gitzo Studex, Tiltall, Giotto head, Gitzo head..I think you get the picture. This is now my main tripod and head. I will keep my smaller Gitzo for smaller cameras.
Thanks again for everybodys opinions. It really pays to consult the experts!