Gitzo GT3542XLS Series 3 6X Systematic + GH3780QD head £1115, $1530
The ‘systematic’ approach enables you to configure this modular tripod to suit your exact requirements Gitzo is a favourite with many pro photographers, and the ‘Systematic’ range is its most exotic product line. The idea is that the large aperture at the centre of the tripod collar can be configured with a geared or sliding centre column, a levelling base, a video half-ball adaptor or, as supplied here, a flat disk. You fit the components that best suit your requirements.
The GT3542XLS (extra long) tripod has four-section carbon fibre legs. When folded with the GH3780QD ball head attached, the 80cm carrying height is the joint-longest in the group, along with the Slik 700DX. However, with all leg sections extended, the Gitzo reaches 212cm, dwarfing everything else in the group. That’s quite something, considering it doesn’t have a centre column. The lack of a centre column enables ultra-low shooting down to 20cm.
As you’d expect from a tripod of this price, the build quality is fabulous. The load rating of the legs and head are 25kg and 21kg respectively, and the Gitzo feels solid even when supporting the heaviest D-SLRs and lenses. All adjustments are quick, easy and effective, and the ball head locking mechanism works well. Even so, performance of some competitors comes close, at a fraction of the price.