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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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Scruffy
super member


Reged: 01/23/10

Loc: Arkansas
Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar?
      #3586166 - 01/26/10 10:58 PM

I am looking to select a tripod for my TV 85. I want a lite, easy to handle, grab and go alt/az set up. I ordered the quarter hitch mount. Now I need a set of legs.

Near the top of my list of candidates is the Gitzo GT3531S. I would appreciate knowing your experience with this or similar carbon fiber tripods. I don't have a store where I can go and put my hands on one.

I am interested in opinions on how stable, how much vibration, how easy to set up take down, any accessories desirable, etc.

Thanks for any feed back!
Jack


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MacRoberts
sage


Reged: 08/25/05

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3586405 - 01/27/10 03:19 AM

Jack-

I have a G1548 as well as a GT5541LS, the latter model the current replacement for the outdated former. Both are 4-section Series 5 Gitzo Systematic carbon fiber tripods. Pricey but superb mounts if you are seeking maximum stability/stiffness and minimum collapsed lengths, which is their claim to fame.

I have a TV-85 atop a Gibralter mounted on the G1548. The max load published for this tripod is 33 lbs. It has been an excellent performer from just about any aspect you might care to discuss. Damping times just under a second when the OTA is properly balanced. Build quality is excellent - robust, tight tolerances - and everything one should expect for the premium price you're going to pay. I screwed the mount onto the tripod's top plate 3/8ths stud and it just worked.

Set up is simple. Leg extension couldn't be much easier than mine, but - actually - your updated model has G-Lock collars that DO make it easier than mine. Takes a minute to get it set up, more if you want to level it up real nicely with the built in bubble level.

Get a case, preferably a padded unit long enough to accomodate the collapsed length of the tripod with the quarter hitch attached: might as well make set-up and take-down even easier. I don't know the length of the quarter hitch, but PM me if you want some recommendations once you know the mount length.

Your tripod has a number of feet options for different terrain. If you haven't already, download the 2009 Gitzo catalog from their site and take a look. You may find one to suit if you have special terrain problems at your usual observing sites. I'm plenty happy with the supplied feet at present but may eventually try the short spiked feet.

Gitzo also offers rapid and geared center columns. I have one of each, necessary for convenient height adjustment use with binoculars. The columns are surprisingly well engineered but best to stay away from them in conjunction with telescope-only use, especially at high mags when you will most want to eliminate any unavoidable slop or vibration necessarily induced by the column mechanism (not noticeable at binoc mags, but increasingly problematic above 100x).

Your post's title mentions the GT3531LS. There is no such beast. There is a GT3541LS, the four section variant of this model. The body of your post specifies the GT3531S and this does exist. This is a 3-section systematic carbon fiber tripod weighing just 3.7 lbs with a max extended height of 52.4", collapsed length of 24", and max load of 39.6 lbs.

My only concern for you would be the max height of 4' 5" - is the additional length of the mount enough to get the EP up to a comfortable viewing height for you at high altitude angles? If chancey, consider the 4 section models. Gitzos are so well engineered and fabricated that the stability trade off for adding a section is virtually nil at the loads and moment arm you are considering.

Despite previous posters' general concerns about 3-section tripods having more stability than 4-section units, I have been extremely pleased with the 4-section Gitzos I own. It's great to be able to put the EP at any height I desire and even press the tripods into use with binoculars at standing heights. At these price points, multiple use is something to consider.

Also worth considering is the additional stability/stiffness afforded by the Series 5 offerings. A bit heavier, a bit more leg diameter, a bit more load capability - can all go a long way toward making your observing experience the best it can be. You'll likely experience somewhat better stability in windy conditions with a Series 5 vs. Series 3 tripod.

Advice: don't overtighten the leg collars. Yours won't need it, and you can screw up the tensioning mechanism if you man-handle it to make it as tight as possible. It just isn't necessary with the G-Lock. Turn till it stops, perhaps a tad more, and that's all. You're good to go. I have not had a problem with mine and have read about very few such problems in the field. If you do accidentally gorilla-tighten it too far and mess it up, replacement collar mechanisms can be obtained easily and installed at home.

I like these tripods enough to be considering a third one, a 3541L, for dedicated binocular use.

I think there's a couple of handfuls of CN'ers who regularly use a Gitzo. Hopefully they'll chime in with even better insight.

Hope this helps.

Edit: Looks like Optics Planet has a sale going on Gitzo stuff right now. I've had good success dealing with Canoga Camera - good selection and return policy, and I've actually been to their store. Can't say how their prices compare at the moment, though. I'm not affiliated with Gitzo or any of its dealers, BTW.

Edited by MacRoberts (01/27/10 03:35 AM)


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galacticphoto
super member


Reged: 11/12/09

Loc: Huntsville, AL and Atlanta, Ga
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3586624 - 01/27/10 08:38 AM

If you decide to pass on the CF tripod, take a look at the Gitzo 1410 (or 410) metal tripods. Two section legs (less potential for motion), and high mass (good for the telescope, bad for you). Mine works well with a heavy gimbal head (Kirk or Jobu) carrying 500mm or 600mm Tele, plus cam bodies (a lot more load than the small telescope).

Robert


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Scruffy
super member


Reged: 01/23/10

Loc: Arkansas
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: MacRoberts]
      #3586699 - 01/27/10 09:39 AM

Thanks Jim.

Understanding the Gitzo naming codes, I assumed that they had a series 5, three section, LS.

The only scope I have now is the TV 85. I use the 90 deg diag, so the height of the GT 5531 S is no problem today. Not knowing what I might evolve to I was just covering the possibilities. I really appreciate the info.

The listed max load for the 3530 LS is about 39# so I hope/assume that it would be as stable and damp as well as your 1548. (A retired aerospace engineer and prone to over spec my needs.)

I really like refractors and right now believe any upgrade will be to a 100 to 120 class for more light. Who knows. Doug has convinced me that I will probably end up with more than one T'pod, so.... Just need one to make this current scope/mount configuration one that I will use to the max.

Jack


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highwood
member


Reged: 03/29/07

Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3587395 - 01/27/10 02:59 PM

Jack:

For a couple of years I've had great success with a GT5531, on which I've used my AP Travler mounted on a Lapides-modified Teegul. Very light, very stable, very easy to pack, set up, and dismantle. It's also very expensive, but it's a fantastically engineered piece of equipment that gets the job done simply and effectively. I have a Gitzo padded bag that's also very nice (and also expensive). I'd recommend some sort of protection: you don't want to bash this baby and then have to replace it any time soon.

Good luck.

Jim


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MacRoberts
sage


Reged: 08/25/05

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3587954 - 01/27/10 07:03 PM

Jack-

Sounds like you've got it licked! I think the tripod you're considering will work just fine for the intended purpose. Just skimming though the user photos and testimonials at the mfr. website I see at least two users who chose to mount their half-hitch on a Gitzo series 2. One of them has a SV-105 atop a half-hitch on a 2531 carbon fiber, and I think this OTA/mount outweighs your intended load. So . . .

Any doubts left, why not call the number on the site and talk to the one guy who has probably seen your intended setup and can authoritatively settle all pro and con issues you might have.

Best of luck (but with a Gitzo luck shouldn't be a factor)!


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Scruffy
super member


Reged: 01/23/10

Loc: Arkansas
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: MacRoberts]
      #3589158 - 01/28/10 10:39 AM

Thank to all for the feed back and benefit you your experience. I have reduced my search to two Gitzo models: The GT 3530 LS and the GT 5531 S. The 5531 only extends to 52 inches but is a bit beefier and is rated at 55 pounds by Gitzo. The 3530 extends to 58 inches and is rated for 39 #. The difference in price is only $75 at OP. I am leaning toward the 5 series for stability reasons but it is hard to claim that the 3 series is not very stable with the top end I am going to mount on it.

The TV and QH together should come in under 20 pounds including eye pieces and star finder.

As an engineer I am naturally anal about trying to get as much data as possible before making a purchase and am frustrated that I cannot find a showroom or star party within hundreds of miles so I can put hands on. The help offered here is greatly appreciated.


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Doug D.
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/23/05

Loc: Virginia
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3589225 - 01/28/10 11:18 AM

Maybe you should just make sure whoever you buy it from has a return policy - shouldn't take much to test out the 3530 and see if you think it is up to the task. The 5530/1, Jim's 1548, etc., are still pretty big tripods - if the 3 series is up to it, it would be more portable and as you point out, might be better for height. I tend to sit on an observing chair so height isn't that big of a deal for me. I made a mistake in the other thread (since corrected) about my smaller Gitzo - it is a 2 series. I'm very happy with that for my small refractors with HH so I think your combo on the 3 might be just right. But I share your over-engineering philosophy when it coms to leg support and can see the appeal of going a bit larger.

In my experience, the other good thing about Gitzo CFs is that they are in very high demand by photographers and will sell easily on places like eBay, Astromart and Nikonians while holding value better than other tripods. The Gitzo 3-series is especially highly valued by photographers (the dSLR tripod of choice, I'd say).

Good luck Jack - let us know how it works out in the end.


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highwood
member


Reged: 03/29/07

Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Doug D.]
      #3589754 - 01/28/10 03:49 PM

Another two cents. I'm not familiar with the 3 series so can't comment on its possible advantages, but I've never had a height problem with my 5531 set-up (see post above). I suppose, as Doug says, a 3 might be more portable, but unless you're planning to backpack with the tripod, it's hard to imagine the 5531 being too burdensome. I believe it's something like 5 lbs. and has a stated capacity of 55 lbs. That strikes me as a pretty good ratio.

Jim


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MacRoberts
sage


Reged: 08/25/05

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: highwood]
      #3590771 - 01/29/10 03:14 AM Attachment (45 downloads)

Agree with Doug and Jim in principle.

Actually, the 3530LS' collapsed length is 26.4" while the 5531S has a shorter collapsed length of just 24.8" and weighs just 1.2 lbs. more than the 3530 (see attachment). Those two inches might translate into being able to safely pack the tripod into suitcases you own instead of buying the next size up . . .

Either should serve you well and calling OP to see if they'll let you swap if your first choice is wrong is the way to go.


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MacRoberts
sage


Reged: 08/25/05

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: MacRoberts]
      #3590784 - 01/29/10 03:35 AM Attachment (50 downloads)

VIsitor Center, Mauna Kea. Couldn't resist

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Doug D.
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/23/05

Loc: Virginia
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: MacRoberts]
      #3590929 - 01/29/10 07:46 AM

I didn't check the specs, my bad. I was inferring that the 3-series might be "just right" given that I own a 2 and 5 and have heard nothing but great things from the photo guys who use 3-series. Everything is a compromise I guess (the 2 series really is backpack portable) but given the folded length specs that Jim points out - it might be hard to pass up the 5531. The girth of the 5 series is impressive, if not the length - not sure how the 3 would compare in this regard. But if your plan is to stick it in a tripod bag anyway (BTW, the padded Manfrotto bags are great), you aren't going to notice much of a difference between the two when traveling.

Way to rub it in Jim - Hawaii, LOL !! But excellent point - I wouldn't be carrying a Berlebach on a plane to such great skies but you'd have no problem with a 5 series.

As for the height, I was out last night with the 5530 fully extended, HH with 4" refractor. It had more than enough height for me and I am 5'10. In fact, I would have had to shorten up on the legs to see anything at around 45 degrees or less.


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MacRoberts
sage


Reged: 08/25/05

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Doug D.]
      #3592228 - 01/29/10 07:12 PM

Quote:

It had more than enough height for me and I am 5'10. In fact, I would have had to shorten up on the legs to see anything at around 45 degrees or less.




Most impressive - and using the legs at less than full extension is marginally better for stability anyhow (but you know that).


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Scruffy
super member


Reged: 01/23/10

Loc: Arkansas
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: MacRoberts]
      #3598155 - 02/01/10 04:27 PM

Well I bit the bullet. It was a hard decision and of course some of the decision was technical and some was just plain human.

I ordered the Gitzo GT 5531 S. Technically it is probably the best CF tri available for anything in the 20-35 pound load class. I am convinced it is not as stable as a good wooden tripod; UNI14 or such. But for my current needs; grab and go, quick set up/take down, portability, with no photo desire, it wil be just fine. (Some of the feedback I received was from a camera only gal who swears by the GT 3 series.)

I have learned a lot and believe that in less than 2 years I'll have a 2nr, larger scope, with a solid wooden tripod and possibly a new mount.

My sincere thanks to all who contributed to my search and promise photos as soon as all the parts arrive.

PS; I even treated myself to a TeleVue 24 mm Panoptic. Now I am like a kid waiting for Santa to come. Now to get rid of my Vixen.


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Paul G
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/08/03

Loc: Freedonia
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3598208 - 02/01/10 04:45 PM

Quote:

Well I bit the bullet. It was a hard decision and of course some of the decision was technical and some was just plain human.

I ordered the Gitzo GT 5531 S. Technically it is probably the best CF tri available for anything in the 20-35 pound load class. I am convinced it is not as stable as a good wooden tripod; UNI14 or such. But for my current needs; grab and go, quick set up/take down, portability, with no photo desire, it wil be just fine. (Some of the feedback I received was from a camera only gal who swears by the GT 3 series.)

I have learned a lot and believe that in less than 2 years I'll have a 2nr, larger scope, with a solid wooden tripod and possibly a new mount.

My sincere thanks to all who contributed to my search and promise photos as soon as all the parts arrive.

PS; I even treated myself to a TeleVue 24 mm Panoptic. Now I am like a kid waiting for Santa to come. Now to get rid of my Vixen.




I have a 3 series and a 5 series. You made a good decision.


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Scruffy
super member


Reged: 01/23/10

Loc: Arkansas
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3598299 - 02/01/10 05:17 PM

Good news, Bad news, Good news

Good news: I ordered the GT 5531 S! Yeah!

Bad News: Well I just got an email and the GT 5531 S is on back order and isn't expected for 1 - 2 weeks. Sigh.

Good News: Then gave me a discount on my entire order! So I added a TV 12 mm Nagler to the order! YEAH! Some things are worth the wait! No word on the Quarter Hitch yet so it is all coming out in the wash time wise.


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Scruffy
super member


Reged: 01/23/10

Loc: Arkansas
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3598308 - 02/01/10 05:22 PM

What do you put on top of those Git'z Gus?

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MacRoberts
sage


Reged: 08/25/05

Loc: Redlands, CA
Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Scruffy]
      #3599264 - 02/02/10 03:13 AM

Congrats are due on your decision and on your bonus EPs, Jack! Woo-hoo!

Thanks in advance for the photos, too.

BTW, newcomers to CN are frequently unaware of the TOS about new purchases: " . . . the member is obligated to post photos within 4 days of receipt of such goods," and " . . . must take steps to notify other members living in the same region, by post or otherwise, of receipt of same or impending receipt of same so as to timely warn others of likely undue weather consequences arising out of such acquisition."

Just thought you'd want to know.

(big wink!)

Quote:

I am convinced it is not as stable as a good wooden tripod; UNI14 or such.




True, but not by much. I truly dislike focusing jitters after experiencing zero settle times with a TV-85 mounted on a 17lb. Gibralter tripod. I think you'll find your rig is pretty close to zero settle times - expect in the vicinity of a half to 3/4 of a second with a balanced OTA absent wind.


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Wes James
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/12/06

Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: MacRoberts]
      #3599425 - 02/02/10 07:57 AM

Scruffy-
I think you made a great choice in the Gitzo GT-5531S! I think it'll be sweet with the Quarter Hitch and your TV scope. A marriage made in heaven!
I've been strongly eyeing the same tripod- ever since I foolishly let one go buy on eBay for a very good price. I should have bid on it. At that time, I wasn't certain about C/F tripods- or should I say, adequately familarized- but now I know the Gitzo is pretty much the best choice, in that- as a 3-section tripod it's more stable that, say a 4 or 5 section leg, and that it's pretty much at the top of the heap payload-wise also... for a C/F.
I have a Half Hitch myself, and think it'll be a perfect match. You should have many years of enjoyment- do us all a favor- post your comments/reviews/pictures when you get it in a separate thread??? I'd love to hear your impressions, as I'm sure would many others. Don't see much written up on this particular tripod. Good luck!


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Wes James
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 04/12/06

Re: Have or had a Gitzo GT 3531 LS or similar? new [Re: Wes James]
      #3599433 - 02/02/10 08:02 AM

BTW, in re-reading this post, I saw comments recommending a good padded bag for the tripod/mount... and I totally agree. I have had some padded bags made to my dimensions by a company called Case Technology, and have been very pleased with them. One for an Orion 120ST- and one for my Nikon D90 w/85-200mm zoom lens. I order double-quilted. Very high quality worksmanship, and reasonably priced considering you're getting it custom made to your specs. I will use them again if I get this tripod!
Wes
EDIT: Whoops! Case Technology is who I use for hard cases... please see later post next page for correct soft bag supplier! Sorry

Edited by Wes James (02/02/10 12:46 PM)


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