Gitzo GT3543LS Tripod Review
The tripod is one of the most important items of kit that the landscape photographer can own, its the very foundations of your pictures and a good picture needs good foundations.
Over the past 13 years I've owned many tripods and they have been a constant source of annoyance as I seemed to go through one in a year or two at the best.
Like many of you I started off with Manfrotto tripods which were mid range and even though I spent good money on them and got carbon fibre versions etc they always seemed to suffer with the catches getting brittle and breaking.
Seascape photography was the main culprit, salt water is the arch enemy of the tripod and no matter how often I cleaned mine they always seemed to fail after a year of hard use.
That was until I bit the bullet and invested in a Gitzo tripod around 7 years ago, Now lets be clear these are seriously expensive tripods and I didn't take the decision lightly to buy one at around £600 seven years ago (Gitzo GT3532LS Series 3 6X Systematic Tripod)
This tripod has been absolutely faultless no matter what I threw at it and hasn't needed anything replacing on it for the whole duration of the time I have owned it.
That alone justified the initial heavy price tag on it, after all I would have gone through at least three Manfrotto's during this time which would have cost over £600 easily.
Couple that with the fact that it was simply SO good and I was a Gitzo customer for life.
So why have I decided to buy another one when in truth my original Gitzo is still functioning just fine, well after 7 years it has a few minor issues with it and I do mean minor and I bought an extra long version with three extensions on the legs so its a bit of a beast to have strapped to the rucksack.
I started looking at the Gitzo range again and the direct replacement for the one I had was the Gitzo GT3543XLS which is a whopping £926 RRP but can be found for around £700 if you searched around, This was the logical choice as it was I already had but I looked at the others just in case.
This is when I spied the Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Series 3 Carbon eXact Long Tripod, which was basically the same thing but not quite as tall and had 4 leg sections instead of the three I was used too, This meant it would be more compact than my existing one but would still extend to the same height, it was also cheaper with an RRP of £823 but could be found on offer at £499, a substantial saving,
I mulled over the decision about which to get, I knew where I stood with the more expensive one but the lure of saving £200 was strong, I'm not made of money and either one was a big purchase.
Not one to rush a decision I sat on it for a while and weighed up the options, then it happened. Wex photo video put an offer on of 20% off selected tripods, and the Gitzo GT3543LS just happened to be one of them, that would bring it down to £399 which I just couldn't ignore and bought it on the spot !
When buying a tripod you have to look at it as a long term investment, sure its a huge outlay at first but if it lasts you a lot of years then it suddenly becomes very viable and cheaper than replacing mid range tripods multiple times, including when they are at full RRP of around £800, I was fully prepared to pay that because I knew it would pay for itself over time but to get it for a steal of £399 was frankly the bargain of the century.
So down to the review, when the Gitzo GT3543LS arrived it was exactly as I had suspected, Gitzo quality through & through.
The carbon fibre was a beautiful deep weave which Gitzo refers to a Carbon eXact 6x carbon on the legs and the crown was made of aluminium which was good to help keep the weight down.
It had been updated in a few ways with new G lock twist locks which reduced the amount of dirt and grit that could get into the tubes and it had a new foot system which pivots to match the terrain and give suitable levelling grip.
Overall impressions were very good, it was basically the same as what I had but with the extra leg sections and a more compact overall size, perfect.
The Gitzo GT3543LS is part of the Systematic range which Gitzo say is their most stable of all their tripods which is exactly what you want.
They do a series 3,4 & 5 and the difference is the size of the tubes and the crown piece each getting bigger as the number does.
Series 3 was plenty big enough for my requirements and I use the Gitzo panning base so it meant I could slot it straight in rather than having to buy a larger collar to fit the series 5 for example.