View Full Version : Advantages to using a Gitzo tripod without a centerpost

9-Apr-2012, 03:04
Hi everyone. I use a 4-series tripod. It has a geared center post but I'm thinking of removing it and putting a plate instead. I'll put a G1570 head on the plate.

If my memory is correct, the tripod will be more stable without the centerpost. Also, it will be much lighter so it'll be easier to carry around in the field.

What else do you think are advantages to using it without a centerpost?

David A. Goldfarb
9-Apr-2012, 04:01
Those are the advantages--lighter weight, more stability, and of course you can go closer to the ground. The disadvantage is that it's harder to make small adjustments in camera height. No mysteries there.

Frank Petronio
9-Apr-2012, 04:59
I don't understand how it could be any more stable without the centerpost if you don't use the centerpost. It's just extra weight but having a centerpost installed doesn't weaken the tripod in any significant way that I can imagine.... And those times that you need that extra height, albeit with somewhat less stability, having a centerpost is nice.

9-Apr-2012, 05:40
Without a column in place you're more likely to be able to hang your bag off the hook and it still be off the ground. Granted this is not a dealbreaker for most people.

10-Apr-2012, 02:09
Thank you, David. I forgot that I could go closer to the ground without the centerpost.

Helen Bach
10-Apr-2012, 05:50
I use a Gitzo with a Burzynsky ball head, and my answer to Frank's good question is that the shorter distance between the leg hinges and the bottom of the camera reduces, however slightly, the moment arm between the load and a potential source of movement (the hinge joints) - ie it sits the camera as close as possible to the main joint (unless you use a head with even less angular movement, and hence an even lower profile, like a levelling head). Does that make sense?


Noah A
10-Apr-2012, 06:21
Thank you, David. I forgot that I could go closer to the ground without the centerpost.

True, but with the center column you can go higher off of the ground!

There may be some stability advantage to not using a center column, and your tripod may be lighter (especially if you have the heavier geared column). But the differences will be minor. Are you using a huge and heavy camera where you need every last bit of rigidity? Do you ever work in circumstances where you need to go higher, or make fine adjustments to the camera height?

The nice thing about the Systematic tripods is you can switch depending on your needs. Personally I like the center column and I think it comes in handy. But my Technika isn't that heavy and I rarely shoot with anything over 210mm.

Frank Petronio
10-Apr-2012, 07:52
I am happy with my RRS tripod without the center column but if I went back to an 8x10 "heavy metal" set up, the geared column on a #5 Gitzo is really helpful for making smaller adjustments. Fooling with the legs with a 20 pound camera mounted is not only slow and painful, but it exposes you to more risk of knocking the camera over, etc.

The best of the smaller #3 Gitzo RAPID (not geared) center columns reverse so you can shoot lower and have good control too.

The Gitzo (and other brands) of leveling bases is really nice as well, great for heavier cameras and also nice and compact. Very solid.

David A. Goldfarb
10-Apr-2012, 17:45
As far as less stability with the centerpost not extended than with a flat plate, I suppose it depends on the particular combination of equipment, and I wouldn't expect a geared column to be a source of instability.

On another tripod that I have (not Gitzo), there is definitely potential for movement in the center column joint. That tripod had a telescoping column, which I modified to remove the telescoping section, which was a source of further instability and unintended panning even when not extended, and it is unquestionably more stable with the one-piece column.

I don't notice any movement in my Gitzo rapid column, but on the other hand, the platform on top of the column is smaller than the base on my Arca-Swiss B2, while the flat plate is the same size as the base of the head, so it seems more solid with the flat plate and probably is, though in practice, it may not matter much if I'm not, say, using a yard of bellows.

Struan Gray
11-Apr-2012, 01:48
I have an older Gitzo 3-series CF. I use the rapid column in MF and 35 mm, but not for LF. In my testing (eyeballing the screen, and with an accelerometer) the center column was noticeably less stable once I had more than about 12" of extension. Since I usually work with longer lenses and 18" of rail it made sense to eliminate the flex. I use a Sinar pan-tilt head on a second, flat plate, and swap out out the whole top plate for the original with a center column when I want to use the tripod for MF/35mm/video.

The 'problem' is that a LF camera generates large torques even with small forces like wind pressure or manipulating a dark slide. The long lever arm magnifies those forces so they have a greater effect than with the more compact smaller format cameras. On my tripod, the packing material that clamps the center column in place was clearly flexing, allowing the column to rotate away from the vertical.