Gitzo GT5562GTS Tripod Review

Half way through my review of the Gitzo GT5541LS a few weeks ago I was looking for the current prices and couldn’t find any of the usual suppliers with any stock, hmmm I thought, must be something a foot, maybe they will release an updated range soon?

Sure enough in early February Gitzo announced the new Systematic tripod range and you can download the brochure here.

New Systematic Range

A quick look through the downloaded Systematic catalogue had me excited when I saw this paragraph:-

“Each Systematic Series has 3-section, standard 4-section and long 4-section tripods, with Series 3 and 5 also offering an extra-long 4-section model… “

with the exciting part, for me, being the inclusion of an extra long 4-section version of the legendary 5 series tripod. The only complaint that I had with my GT5541LS was that I wanted some extra height for comfort when shooting high subjects, so this sounded ideal and with a trip coming up to Focus on Imaging I wanted to ask why I couldn’t see a GT5542XLS listed in the catalogue.

Where is the GT5542XLS?..

As it turned out there was an error in the catalogue and there was not going to be a GT5542XLS at all, so I gave my feedback to the European Product Manager who was at the show and he promised to take the suggestion back to Italy and if we are lucky it may be released at a later date!

As I wasn’t in a position to buy one anyway, my disappointment wasn’t as great as it could have been but I was persuaded to have a look at the Giant instead and my initial reaction of “I’m not spending over £1,000 on a tripod” saw me being led over to Speed Graphic. They had arranged some special show prices and with £899 being only slightly more expensive than the new price of the GT5542LS it was tempting!

The only problem here was, I couldn’t afford it, could I? Some frantic googling confirmed that the show price was great (£150 cheaper than anywhere else) and that I should expect a good price for my GT5541LS.

So here I am a few days later with a new ‘Giant’ Gitzo GT5562GTS, old tripod has been sold and has a new home, my unused Manfrotto video head has been sold and with other ‘excess’ kit up for sale, almost paid for too!

The Review..

So, the review! I’m sure if you have found your way here that you know what you are looking for so the standard review I was half way through for the GT5541LS has been scrapped and I will concentrate on the new features and differences between the two tripods instead. For an excellent review of the GT5541LS and the reasons why you should buy a Gitzo 5 series tripod I highly recommend Richard Peters’ review which can be found here.

Some of the new features and main differences:-

  • New top casting with triangular design
  • New ratchet lever to tighten top casting
  • Secondary safety catch to prevent top plate from falling out
  • Spiked feet with rubber caps as standard
  • Snow shoes supplied as standard
  • New leg angle selectors
  • Significant strength, rigidity and stability improvements
  • Load rating increased from 25KG to 40KG.
  • Can go as low as only 11cm.

New Design..

The first thing you will notice about the new Systematic range of tripods is the striking new design, if ever a tripod could be described as sexy, this would be it! It really does make my old GT5541LS look old and out of date!

The triangular look to the new top casting looks fantastic and the way it joins up  the middle leg position points, not only looks striking but helps provide extra strength and rigidity helping to increase the maximum load from 25kg to 40kg on the 5 series, an impressive 60% increase. Other increases lower in the range are equally impressive with the 3 series getting bumped from 18kg to 25kg.

The top plate includes the familiar spirit level on the top but I have wondered if they should have also put one underneath as this Giant does extend to 2.77m tall! Also new here is the ratchet lever. This allows you to remove and tighten the top plate or optional centre columns, without having to search for the allen key, helpful touch.

A much requested new feature finds it’s way into the new range and that is the secondary safety catch which has been added to prevent accidental removal (or falling out) of the top plate. This is not something that has concerned me much in the past as if I need to carry the full setup quickly from one spot to another I have always done this as vertically as possible.

Some photographers have invested in a safety plate for their Gitzos but with the new range this as an optional extra that you shouldn’t need to invest in.

The price for this plate and the optional spiked feet that are not standard on earlier models do add around £100 to the price to spec it up to the new one, and with free snow shoes also included too, this is well  worth considering when budgeting.

To work with the new safety catch, the top plate has been redesigned. It is a few mm taller than the previous model and has a groove on the side that lines up with the catch. This does make removing the plate a touch more fiddly perhaps but it is of no concern due to the extra safety it provides.

The top plate itself is completely covered now with the safe lock feature that adds a layer of material between the metal top of the plate and the metal bottoms of most heads.

This helps to reduce vibrations between the two as there is no ‘metal on metal’ and also makes it easier when removing heads.

My Wimberely head does come off of this plate easier than the previous model, that may be just because it is brand new, but it does look and feel like an improvement over the GT5541LS.

The metal castings at the top of the legs have also been redesigned both to compliment the design of the top plate (they do look more ‘streamlined’ than ‘chunky’) and to accommodate new recesses for the wider leg angle selectors.

These allow you to grip the selector with thumb and fore finger with ease which is better from the front, but as I used to push it  from the rear, as it was longer at the back, this is just more aesthetically pleasing for me!

As before there is a detachable hook underneath the top plate to hang a bag or weight from to increase stability.

I’m sure there would have to be pretty severe weather conditions for this hook to be used though!

In use I have never found a need to use it and with the weight rating going up considerably due to the extra stability the new design provides, I’m sure it will never get used!

New feet!

Whilst the feet of the tripod haven’t had as many updates as the top end of the tripod, the changes here are most welcome.

First and most obvious is the now standard inclusion of spiked feet.

On the previous models these were an optional extra costing around £40 so to now have them as standard is good to see.

They have a thick, tight and very tough rubber cap to them so I have no concerns with them falling off and losing them!

To remove the spikes you will need to use one of the allen keys provided.

Top tip: As these rubber caps are very tough to remove, if you do want to use the spikes, remove the caps first before you put your camera and lens on top to help prevent an expensive mistake!

So ‘why would you remove the spikes’ I hear you ask?

Apart from regular cleaning and maintenance, you need to remove the spikes to add the snow shoes.

These are now supplied with the tripod free of charge and come supplied  in their own cloth bag.

Also included in the bag is a full set of spare plastic leg bushings which are used inside the legs to prevent them rotating.

These bushings also prevent the legs from coming out further than they should. It was an unexpected bonus to find these included and will come in handy for future maintenance.

To fit the snow shoes you need to completely remove the spikes, add the supplied adapter into them and then screw them back on to the legs.

The adapters are made of metal and are threaded which explains why there is a long thread on the end of the spikes.

When attached these do feel very solid so that adapter is definately doing it’s job. Attention to detail is a standard feature of Gitzos!

In Use!

So, now we know all the new features in the new Systematic range, the main question is, what is it like compared to my old GT5541LS out in the field? Simply, better and taller is the answer!

On the left here you can see me with the GT5541LS at full height. This is not something that I would normally do with this tripod as you are limited in range, for example I would not be able to shoot anything on the ground as it would be too high.

It would normally be set around 6-8 inches lower so that the viewfinder is at eye level when the lens is horizontal. This would allow me to shoot lower if i stood on tip toes a bit, or shoot higher if I bent down a bit.

This normal setting is best for subjects such as when shooting red kites from a hillside,  and was the best setting if I needed to be moving around as it was the right height to avoid me kicking it when carrying it extended! With the GT5562GTS I only need 3 sections extended for normal shooting height which increases stability even more.

As you can see here, the main disadvantage of having my older tripod fully extended is that if I want to shoot vertically it can very quickly become uncomfortable. Just posing for this shot alone was awkward!

This was the main trade off of not buying the GT3541XLS, height. When I went shopping last year for my tripod I did try out both models and chose the 5 series over the 3 due to the extra stability it provided when using a heavier, longer lens setup.

So, the idea of a GT5542XLS was appealing, stability with the extra height! The GT5541LS tops out at 153cm with the GT3541XLS hitting 198cm which would be more than enough but alas was not to be.

The image on the right show the full height of my old tripod versus 4 sections extended of the new one. Not quite the height of the 3 series but more than enough for what I needed.

So out with the old and in with the new and the first problem you encounter with the new height is getting the heavy kit up there! This can be a bit daunting the first time and with modern top end kit, with camera and lens hitting upwards of £15k, this can be a heart in mouth moment!

Once fully attached though, all worries go away as the strength and stability of this tripod with over 8kg of head, camera and lens, even at this height, is astonishing!

With only 4 legs extended this is around 180cm tall which ended up being an inch or two higher than I actually wanted so ended up lowering it a tad to get it at the perfect height.

Whilst I may never use it in anger at it’s tallest it’s good to know it’s there should the opportunity arise and if you need even more height there is an optional extending centre column that can add an extra 172cm! I’m sure some adventurous wedding photographers might be tempted in that!

With the addition of the GS2300 reduction kit in the future I will be able to completely remove the bottom 2 sections to both save weight and get the GT5542XLS that I wanted in the first place.

Now with the full kit setup you can see that shooting upwards is a lot easier and a lot more comfortable! Whilst my wallet isn’t thanking me for this, my back certainly is!

It really is a delight to be able to stand underneath the camera and just look up and makes shooting subjects such as the Peregrine Falcons in the County Offices tower that much easier.

With spring well and truly upon us, I’m hopeful that I will be able to put it to good use shooting nesting birds over the coming months and will be looking for extra shooting opportunities that the extra height will allow

There are already ideas floating around in my head of getting over higher hedgerows by opening the large sunroof in the car and placing two legs outside and one leg inside to gain extra height, might be awkward to do but will definately try it!

This tripod is known as the Giant and at 277cm fully extended it is 17cm taller than the previous model and makes the GT5541LS at ‘only’ 153cm look tiny! You would need a step ladder to get up there though!

One more thing..

Last of all, strangely enough with all of this talk of extra height, is one feature that will probably get used more often and that is how low it can go! The old Giant got down to 17cm, the GT5541LS was better at 14cm but the new one gets down to 11cm. Might not sound like much but is much more comfortable to use when lying down as I don’t have to stretch up to look throughout the viewfinder.

Hopefully that should cover everything that the new Systematic range has to offer, at least for the 5 series range but should you have any questions or suggestions / ideas, please do fire away in the comments.

Specifications:

Weight: 3.6kg (7.9lbs)
Max load: 40kg (88lbs)
Min height: 11cm (4.3″)
Max height: 277cm (109.1″)
Min closed height: 74.9cm (29.5″)
Leg Sections: 6

RRP: £1,119.95

Official Gitzo Website.

See also:-
Wimberley WH-200 Review
Tamrac Evolution 9 Review