By Curtis Joe Walker
Gitzo's new Traveler Series 2 tripod kit (GK2580TQR) aims to please shooters who weren't satisfied with the stability of the original Traveler series. Though undoubtedly rigid, the original had limited capacity, a modest ball head and relatively skinny legs.
This new model aims to accommodate larger cameras, while remaining exceptionally portable and light. When folded, the 4-pound tripod with head measure just under 17 inches, but opens to 60 inches and is built to support DSLRs with up to 300mm lenses. The sturdiness lends itself well to medium-format cameras as well.
The tripod has four section legs that lock solidly with Gitzo's twisting G-Lock joints. Unlike the previous design, this improved engineering actually makes the legs lock firmer when weight is applied, eliminating the need for a herculean grip to open and close the locks. They require only about 1/4 turn to open and close and are designed to resist the elements. When closed, all three of the locks fall within a one-handed grip and you can unlock them simultaneously with a single motion. The tripod can go from fully closed to fully set up in about 2 seconds with practice. At the end of each leg is a removable rubber foot. These can be replaced with spikes or snowshoes if desired.
The neck of the tripod is newly designed to reduce weight and accommodate the tripod legs when folded while remaining strong. As a result, it has some interesting holes and curves on it. As in the previous models, the neck tube is removable, allowing for the head to bolt directly to the neck for added clearance when needed. The switch only takes about a minute, and requires no tools so long as the set screw on the head isn't engaged.
The included ball head (GH2781TQR) is completely new for this tripod and can be purchased separately. Ball movement is controlled by a spring-assisted dual lock system that applies pressure equally to the face of the ball, ensuring rock solid positioning with a minimal amount of tightening. The Teflon coating of the ball delivers smooth operation and doesn't interfere with its stability at all. The head has a total of four replaceable bubble levels, one in the neck, two for x-axis and one for y-axis. The only real downside to the head is the quick release plate that slides into place, rather than clipping into. It can be a little cumbersome to work with using a larger camera. Also, the screw mount requires a coin to tighten securely.
Overall build quality is outstanding, as one would expect from Gitzo. Each tripod is hand assembled in a factory in Feltre, Italy, next door to the Manfrotto tripod works. Materials used are carbon fiber for the legs, with magnesium castings and stainless steel hardware. This ensures a long life free of corrosion. The legs can take abuse without showing their scars and the magnesium parts are finished in a way that tends to obscure scrapes and dings. Because of the material choices and the design of the lock joints, the tripod is well suited to use on the beach or in the water. It's the perfect tripod for "trash the dress" wedding shoots.
Gitzo isn't a bargain brand, and this $950 tripod isn't going to buck that trend. On the other hand, it's practically an heirloom piece that should work well for generations to come. Tripods don't have forced obsolescence. Many photographers have undoubtedly missed perfect opportunities for amazing photos simply because they didn't bother to bring a tripod with them. If having one that is small, light and sturdy doesn't solve that problem, the added incentive of getting your money's worth certainly will.
Gitzo Series 2 Carbon Fiber 6X Traveler Tripod Kit
Images ©Curtis Joe Walker