This was the first thing I knew I wanted to get for the New Zealand trip and the first thing I bought. I’ve happily and successfully used one of those 6 inch plastic ‘camera supports’ for many years. But to be honest the amount of times there isn’t a convenient rock to put it on, or the grass is too long (without ripping up half a meadow..) means that it rarely gets pulled out.
That’s a real shame, because when I get back home and edit the footage the tripod shots are always my favourite. Partly because they’re steady and maybe a bit more thought has gone into the composition, but mainly because when there’s only two people walking together it can get a bit samey looking at one person all the time. It’s a joint experience and it’s a good idea to get a few shots of you both together from time to time!
So I knew I wanted to get a ‘proper’ tripod, and I knew I wanted to get the lightest one I could find, so with a bit of googling I eventually ended up on the Gitzo website. Turns out the make a range of tripods called Mountaineer, like the sound of that :) They were the first ever carbon fibre tripods and they look like they were built by a F1 team mechanic. Lightest one they make is the Gitzo Mountaineer GT0531, £299 from Cliftom Cameras, weighs in at 0.72kg! it’s a bit short for a ‘proper’ tripod, but to be honest by the time there’s a head and camera on top, even a 6 foot chap like myself hardly has to bend down at all.
Tripod & Head, just over 1kg:
I have zero experience of tripods so don’t have anything to compare it too. But I did spend my formative years training as an industrial designer, so I can tell you this is bloody well made. I mean there’s hardly anything too it, but what there is oozes quality. Quarter twist a leg lock and and out it pops, quick flick of the wrist and then it’s locked hard, none of that straining to get a tight fit. It was a no-brainer decision for me to get this tripod and now that I’ve had it a couple of weeks I can safely say that I think I made the right decision.
For the head I was less convinced, I could of gone down several different routes, but in the end I was won over by the Gitzo brand, so just stuck with them. I was umm-ing and ahh-ing whether I should get a ball head or a fluid head (for filming). In the end I thought the un-even terrain I’d be setting up on would make the ball head more practical rather than fannying around with leg lengths. I decided on the Gitzo GH1780QR Centre Ball Head, £175 from Clifton Cameras. It’s pretty light – 300g, has spirit levels to help me get a straight shoot and a panoramic base which is smooth and light enough for me to use while filming.
With the head it’s about 2 foot (60cm) long collapsed, and I can almost rap my fingers around the diameter. By the way, that boot is a Zamberlan Ultra Lite GT, couldn’t recommend it enough, can’t quite understand why a tiny little shop in Camden is the only store in the whole of London that stocks them?!