Review - Gitzo eXact GT0532 Mountaineer tripod and Gitzo GH1780QD centre ball head

Introduction

With several members of the Malvern business community engouraging me to provide landscape images of the area, it was time to purchase a suitable tripod and head. I have been using a Gitzo Series 3 with levelling base but this is much too heavy for wandering around the Malvern Hills and surrounding countryside. Smaller tripods are also much easier to attach to a rucksack.

For size comparison the image to the right shows the tripod attached to the head, next to a Canon 1D Series camera, attached 16-35mm lens and Lee filter accesories.

Initial thoughts after examination were that both items have very high levels of design, quality, engineering and manufacture. They are built to last a long time and this is very important because most photographers carry spare batteries, camera bodies and lenses we generally only take the one tripod and head.

Both items are supplied with two allen keys, full user instructions and warranty information.

The only downside is that I do not believe it is possible to remove the rubber feet and attach metal spikes.

GH1780QD centre ball head

 

The Gitzo GH1780QD centre ball head has a hybrid quick release system that allows either a Gitzo C-profile plate or a Swiss-Arca plate to be attached. It was delivered set up for use with a Swiss-Arca plate which is included in the box.

The plate clamps very securely to the head with no movement at all.

The head has three built in spirit levels and these give vertical and horizontal indications for landscape and portrait orientations.

A single large black knob is provided for setting the ball tension. The knob and ball operate very smoothly which makes is easy to set the head to the desired angles.

The pan control base is marked in increments of 45 degres with short lines every 5 degrees and longer lines every 15 degrees. The locking lever can be pulled away from the head and rotated to a more convenient position.

Overall this is a really excellent head for landscape, macro and studio work. This should be expected as at the time of writing (April 2014) it has a price around £295.

 

eXact GT0532 Mountaineer tripod

 

After being used to using a Series 3 tripod the Series 0 is a true revelation in terms of size and weight. I can attach the small tripod to a bag and not really notice the change in weight or balance. The image opposite show the two with heads attached.

After the weight the next suprising thing is the rigidity, it easliy supports my landscape setup whilst remaining rock solid. A hook and bottom of the centre column is provided for when it is necessary to attach more weight in windy/gusty conditions.

All leg securing collars and the hook are protected agaist water/sand ingress with rubber seals.

The tripod has an extendble centre column and although this seems stable it may not provide the required stability for long exposures.

The centre colum can be removed from the tripod to enable ground level use. With a bit of practise this is a 30 second procedure. Full instructions are provided in the user manual.

This level of engineering quality comes at a price which at the time of writing is around £479.

     
Centre column hook Leg seal Centre column fully extended
Ground level setup

Conclusion

 

I am abolutely delighted with these items. Together they provide all of the tripod/head requirements I need for my landscape, macro and indoor work. I may have been better off getting a tripod that gives a little extra height but that really is a minor concern especially as I am only 5ft 4 in tall.

Specifications

 

GH1780QD centre ball head

Weight: 500 g

Height: 10.5 cm

Max load: 10 kg

Manufacturers link

eXact GT0532 Mountaineer tripod

Weight: 1070 g

Closed length: 53 cm

Max load: 8 kg

Manufacturers link