Copyright Notice

Information for Photographers

Equipment Reviews
Field How-to
Picturesque Locations

Gitzo G01 Weekend tripod with Rational R.0 head

This was the very first tripod I ever used. Back when I first got interested in photography I knew it would probably help to use a tripod, but I didn't know if I wanted to buy one yet. My dad had a Gitzo G01 sitting around, so I asked him about it (back then I knew nothing about tripods). I remember when I was younger he would bring it hiking with us sometimes, and I always thought it was a piece of junk, because it was so small. When I asked him about it and he showed it to me he said, "Now be careful! That thing costs over $100 now!" I thought, "Are you joking?!? Look at how small it is! I thought it would cost about $20."

After playing with it for a bit, it did seem kind of neat, but I still didn't think it was worth $100. But the only thing that matters is how it performs in the field, right? Well, I started out not really knowing what I wanted to photograph. I walked around parks trying to find interesting things with my camera mounted on the tripod. At the time I didn't know whether it was true or not, but whenever I set the tripod up for a picture I never wanted to fully extend the legs because it didn't feel stable. As a result, I would only extend the the first leg sections about half way, and kneel for all of my pictures. This severely limited my shooting position, not to mention being very uncomfortable. I simply didn't feel comfortable extending the legs all the way, not to mention raising the center column.

A few months after I got my N70, I wanted a longer lens. I had decided on either the Nikon AF 75-300mm f4.5-5.6 or the newer Nikon AF ED 70-300mm f4.0-5.6. I liked the tripod collar and build quality of the older zoom better, but the ED glass of the newer lens. When a good deal came up on the 75-300, I bought it. Then I went to my local camera store to compare it with the 70-300, which they had. I mounted each lens on my Gitzo G01 tripod and took a series of pictures at f4.5, f16, and f32 at 75, 135 and 300mm. When I got them back every single one of them was blurry. After looking at it through a high power loupe I saw all the blur was in the vertical direction. What caused this? Mirror slap! All the exposures were in the 1/8th of a second to 1/60th second range, prime lengths for noticing the effects of mirror slap. Now while this may be a complaint about my Nikon N70, the tripod certainly didn't help. I had the legs extended all the way in order to see over a railing, which makes this tripod very unstable. After setting up my camera, I waited at least 10 seconds before taking the pictures to try and reduce vibration. I could tell though that even when you barely touched this tripod it would shake a lot. When that mirror slaps up, I'm sure the whole tripod amplifies the vibration, increasing the blur.

How about the head? Well, maybe it's because this particular specimen is 25 years old (though I doubt it), but none of the controls seem very precise. It's very hard to lock each knob down all the way. If you push hard enough on the head the thing will still move. Also, pan & tilt heads just aren't the right thing for landscape photography. A ballhead is the way to go.

So, would I recommend this tripod? What do you think? Well, for its size I'm sure it's one of the best tripods on the market, but is it worth it to pay for the Gitzo name? I don't think so. If I were to spend $129.99 on a tripod it would not be this one. You can get a much sturdier and larger Bogen for the same price. If you actually want something this small, I would recommend one of the small Slick's . They seem reasonabley priced, and I hear they are good tripods.

For the work I want to do though, a tripod this small will never really cut it. It's just too difficult to work with, and not nearly rigid enough. If you want to get serious about landscape photography, you need a larger tripod. You don't need to go totally overboard like I did, but do yourself a favor and save a bit for one of the larger Gitzos, or if you must, get a medium sized Bogen. You will have a more enjoyable time operating it than you will constantly thinking about how unstable the G01 is, and I'm sure your pictures will turn out better as well.

Valid HTML 4.0!
David Paris
Last modified: Wed Aug 11 21:14:26 PDT 1999