Giottos tripods - whats wrong with them

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Anupam Basu, Jan 6, 2006.

  1. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    I recently saw a Giottos MT-9160 tripod in my local store and was totally blown away by it. Innovative and rock solid!

    If you don't know it, it's kind of a Gitzo explorer knockoff in its implementation of the lateral arm, but only better - because when you don't need it, it goes straight thru the center like a normal center column. It's a trifle heavy at 6.2 lbs but is rated to support 22!

    I was seriously taken by it and am considering it as I do some macro photography and the Explorer at $250 is out of my range right now. I get by with the Bogen 3001, but at about $140 the Giottos is in the same ballpark.

    Which brings me to the question, if this company is making such an attractive product why don't I ever hear about it or find a review. Is there a flaw I should know about - will the legs fall off in six month, will the screws come loose. If you have any experience with or information about Giottos tripods, please share them with me.

    Thanks,
    -Anupam

    PS: Here is a link at B&H's website .
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I have one that I have been using for about 3 years now, still as sturdy as the day I bought it, I also sold them alot when I worked in the photo stores, I have never heard anything bad about them at all, in fact most mags, and photogs have reviewed them very favorably.

    Just cause you have not heard of something don't mean its bad, less than 2 years ago, no one had heard of my product and its number one in the world now.

    Almost ever major magazine in the world has at one time reviewed them and run ad's for them, if I remember right HP marketing is the company that handles them.

    Dave
     
  3. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Do you have the same model or a different one? I would like to hear your experiences with it regarding ease of use especially at near ground level with a ballhead like, say, a Bogen 486.

    -A
     
  4. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    Well here's my take. I bought a Giottos MT 9170 about a year and a half ago and after about 4 months of steady use, the twist lock leg clamps became a living nightmare. The little plastic shims on the inside became worn and extending the legs sometimes became an exercise in futility and required a great deal of physical determination to succeed. After the shims wore out completely, the legs would come out easy, but when extended all the way they would fall out. Either way I consider it a major design flaw and I wouldn't consider a twist-lock tripod design unless it is a Gitzo. I guess there's a reason they cost a small fortune. The Giottos is rock solid and the lateral arm is a neat feature, but the leg extending issues are a major pain IMO. I replaced it with a Bogen 3021 BPRO which is about the same amount of money but a better design in terms of durability.
     
  5. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I don't remember the model number of the one that I have, and it is lent out to a friend right now, most of my ground level work I do with my Bogen 3001 or my 3021. But I don't recall any problems with me Giotto in low level work. There not that uncommon in the various stores, in fact I think Wolf/Ritz camera carries them, if you get a chance you ought to look at one in person and see how it adjusts and works for your type of shooting.

    Dave
     
  6. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I had a Giottos ballhead, the MH-1000 and I loved it. It wasn't sturdy enough for 4X5 so I got rid of it in favor of a Bogen 3047. For my medium format and 35mm work, it was wonderful and seemed to be very well built. I thought it was a great value. I haven't had any experience with their tripods, but would be happy to have one based on that experience.

    As for the reputation issue, I got the same impression. It seemed to me that folks didn't think much of Goittos and pretty kuch scoffed at them. Of course, that might be because they were Arca B1 types who have decided that you can't get a decent ballhead for less than $300.
     
  7. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I've got the 9180. It's the 4 section model.

    The first one I got in the mail looked like it might have been used in the shop. Nothing major but it seemed that way. A couple of days later a knob popped off -( I drove across town to the distributor and they gave me a new one under warranty [10 years I think?] The new one has held up to everything I can throw at it. Up to and including 8x10 cameras. I actually think my Manfrotto head [329RC4] is more of a limit right now then the tripod.

    OTOH I'm not thrilled with the leg locks. They work just fine but it took me some time to get used to them. I just couldn't get my wooly head around them.

    Like anything else it's a money issue. I know better tripods can be bought. OTOH better tripods cost quite a bit more money.
     
  8. erickson

    erickson Member

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    I have the MT-9170 (aluminum, 3-section legs, 26 lb load) tripod and love it! The arm is very steady with any of my Pentax 35mm equipment, but not very steady when extended more than a few inches with my heavy Mamiya MF equipment (C330S, RB67). Normally, I use the arm as the center column, in which case the tripod is very steady with all of my equipment. The padded arms and strap make the tripod a pleasure to hike with.

    The one thing I don't like is the twist-style leg extension locks. While I'm very gentle with my equipment, I can see how they may become an issue for many people.

    I, too, was suspicious of the price at first ($145 @ B&H). However, the tripod has performed very well for me.
     
  9. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Well, you can't, at least not new.
     
  10. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Well I beg to differ with your opinion of the situation, I have two ballheads that I got for less than $300 that after 12 years and 5 years repspectivly work great...

    Price does not always equate quality....Good quality Low priced items can be found in this business, thank god or I would be pumping gas at the local quick stop!

    I have a Canon Ball head I purchased about 7 years ago, for $100 that has held everything from my shortest macro lens to a 600mm f/4 and my LF gear that is still going strong and will for a long time to come, one of the real un-sung heros of the camera industry.

    LOL

    Dave
     
  11. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I am not saying that a $100 ballhead is as good as a $300 ballhead, but rather that there is a silly belief that you need the latter to be a photographer and anything less, even if it supports your equipment just fine, is unacceptable. Of course the B1 is better, but I am not about to spend as much on a ballhead as I did on any one of my cameras.
     
  12. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I agree with you Paul, I hate to say it, call me cheap, but I am going to get the equipment that will do the job for me, name identification don't me nother to me..

    I looked at that thread the other day on the $1500 tripod head and about died laughing and was wondering who was going to buy it? my god, I talked to my Dads Girlfriends Son the other day who runs a very successful machine shop and he just emailed me and said he could produce the same head for about $200 wholesale, man oh man, thats alot of profit!

    Dave
     
  13. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I believe that the operative word was "decent" and we'll have to agree to disagree as to what meets that goal. Btw., it really has nothing do with something having to cost more in order to be good. I regularly use the cheapest bogen three way head (about $25 dollars) when I want to travel light, and I'm only using a 35mm or my Rollei TLR. I also have the 3055 bogen ball head, which I dislike, but it can hold a fair load. I used it for a few years. When you consider the unequalled quick release system of the Arca, especially with Really Right Stuff plates, the smoothness, the strength, the tension setting system, and the asymetric ball which increases drag off axis, none of the cheaper ball heads that I've used come close. I haven't used the new RRS ball head, or there's one other new one that I haven't tried. So, while I respect those who disagree, I'll stick to the belief that one can't buy a decent ball head for under $300.

    Btw., I never said that one couldn't be a photographer with anything less, and I don't think that my belief is "silly", as I've given reasons based on 15 years of experience with camera supports. I could be wrong in my opinion, but that's a different matter.
     
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  15. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    ..
     
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  16. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Hi Dave, I respect your opinion, and I'm glad that you found less expensive options that work better for you. I like that too. In fact sometime soon I'll try one of your screens. I hope that it's better than my very expensive Sinar. On the other hand, though, I've often bought cheaper alternatives to the consensus best tool, and regretted it. In particular, I wish that I'd bought a Milwaukee sawzall instead of my black and decker. Sure, mine will still cut through just about anything, but the vibration. Yikes! Likewise, that Kowa 66 system I bought was inexpensive, but I wish that I had never wasted my time with it.

    Another photographic example would be the Bogen tripod that I bought in 1990 for $100. I forget which model. (I still have it, but it's in the basement.) While it can be made to work ok, it's a pain. I had to epoxy the center column because no matter how hard one tightened it down it would still rotate. The tubes and leg locks need to be regularly cleaned, or they'd bind up. ... Still, it could be made to work, but I wouldn't call it "decent" since for me that implies not only being able to do the job, but also being able to do it without regular annoyances.

    Getting back to tripod heads, the best thing to do is try them out for yourself with the equipment you'll be using, as I'm sure Dave will agree. Matching the support system to the camera and intended use are crucially important. For example, if I'm using my Kodak D2 8x10, I'd much rather use my Gitzo Rational Series 5 head than the Arca; and if I'm using my Sinar P, I prefer my Sinar head to anthing else that I've used.

    Dave, just out of curiosity, which less expensive ball heads are just as good of heads as the Arca? I know you only say "support", but that by itself is not enough, or an anvil with a 1/4" screw threaded into it would take the cake. The support, man, the support! If I ever destroy or lose my Arca, I'd like to know what to look into. (I've tried Linhof, Gitzo, Silk, bogen, canon, ries, Sinar, Marshall, and no doubt a few others.)
     
  17. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Certainy there is room to disagree about what constitutes "decent." I believe that I do not have to have a head that will hold what a B1 holds when I am shooting what I shoot. I also found that when I started shooting 4X5 I needed more support than a moderately priced ballhead would provide so I got a Bogen 3047, a very basic but sturdy three way head that does the trick and cost me about $30 used. Certainly it would have been nice to have something more, but I prioritized the purchase of the camera and film and I have been happy with the tripod head. When I was only shooting 35mm and 645, I found a $100 Giottos head to work extremely well.

    You may take exception to my statement that there are folks who are silly in their belief about expensive equipment, in this case ballheads, being necessary, but your original response of "Well, you can't, at least not new" didn't add to the discussion of why one item works better than another or what your particular needs are. I saw that response as a simple statment that reinforced exactly what I was stating. I was responding to what you actually said in your first statement, not the more reasoned and fair statement that you made after I had responded. We do disagree about the definition of decent, but I have no problem with that.
     
  18. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Preference is a key word here Peter, as it is alway in conversations such as this.

    I have a Canon ball head as I stated, that has all the studiness and adjustments that the Arca has, but because of people not wanting to purchase the model, canon discontinued, not because of quality, but due to low sales based on name identification.

    Really no need to continue this conversation, as it is going to turn out like the infamous digital vs. film threads or the brand vs brand threads..opinions are rampent in the photography industry and you know, every single person THINKS they are right..

    Shoot what you shoot and be happy and I will shoot what I shoot and be happy.

    Talk to you later..

    Dave
     
  19. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    And my original statement was responding to you where you said:

    "As for the reputation issue, I got the same impression. It seemed to me that folks didn't think much of Goittos and pretty kuch scoffed at them. Of course, that might be because they were Arca B1 types who have decided that you can't get a decent ballhead for less than $300."

    The impression you give here is that people who think that you can't get a decent ball head for less than $300 are elitist snobs. I suppose that could be the case, but I've not run into. The people I know who use the Arca use it because it works better for them than other heads they've tried. All of them started with something else and got the Arca out of frustration with their original purchase. My original statement was made as a counter to your dismissive statement. It was meant as a challenge: Name a decent under $300 head. I've not seen someone in this thread give an example of a ball head that one can buy new for less than three hundred dollars that's decent. I'd be happy if someone could. Dave's Canon might've met the bill, but it's no longer made. He can blame snobs for this demise, or maybe Canon did a poor job of marketing. The Canon ball heads that I looked at in the early 90's weren't anywhere near as good as the Arca.

    Btw., I think that I've given some useful info in this thread. I've talked about the pluses and minuses of various heads. And yet for some reason you feel the need to be rude.
     
  20. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Peter,

    When did you ever hear me make the statement about snobs? Are you Trying to get a disagreement going where we will all come out mad...

    Please in the future if you respond to my message, don't be so crass as to assume you can put words in my mouth, I spoke of brand/name identification, never once did I say anything about anybody being a snob, you run into the same problem with other gear as well, I can't tell you the number of times I have been told my $8000.00 Minolta 600mm f/4 lens is junk when I am standing next to a Canon or a Nikon shooter, but my sales figures on stock, magazine as well as gallery images will prove them wrong every single time, I sell just as many images as the next guy..and this with a lens that has been called junk!

    So don't presume, assume or even think you have the right to put words in my mouth.

    Now if you want to, we can in private get into a pissing match about what I think constitutes a photography snob, not that it would solve anything, but at least we would not be boring the rest of the membership with our rhetoric..

    Dave
     
  21. Bradfordclimber

    Bradfordclimber Member

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    Was looking for Giotto, now it's GITZO!!!!!!!!!!!

    FOR SOMEONE WHO'S SHOPPING FOR A GREAT OUTDOOR TRIPOD MY SUGGESTION IS TO GO GITZO OVER GIOTTO IN SPITE OF ADDITIONAL $$$$$
    HERE'S A LINK WHY--http://www.nextag.com/Giotto-MT-8180-Carbon--zz60695153z0z0z3z1zgiotto_tripodzBa6z1--READ-REVIEWS-html

    ALSO I'VE NEVER HEARD OF A GITZO USER HAVING THESE MAJOR TYPE PROBLEMS.

    A LOT OF THE MANUFACTURING GOODS THAT EVOLVE FROM THE FRENCH ARE SUBPAR IN MY EXPERIENCE--RENAULT, GIOTTO ETC. ALTHOUGH IN FAIRNESS I MUST SAY THAT PETZL (FRENCH) CLIMBING GEAR IS VERY GOOD..... LOOKING FOR SOMETHING WELL MADE? GENERALLY ITALIANS AND BRITS MAKE GOOD STUFF. AS BEST I KNOW VELBON IS A U.K. BRAND AND BOGEN/MANFROTTO AND GITZO ARE ITALIAN. PLEASE CORRECT ME IF I'M WRONG.
     
  22. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Turn you caps key off and stop YELLING, your first post here and your going to YELL at people and cause an argument? As far as Gitzo, they are good, but I have had two seperate tripods over the years made by them, that have had to go back to the factory to be fixed, one that was less than 2 months old and it collapsed with my 600 f/4 lens on it, so it happens to everybodies products.

    Geeze..

    Dave
     
  23. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    My only experience with Giotto has been with a very small ballhead I bought to use on a monopod. I have not used it much but it's a smoother and better little head than a Bogen/Manfrotto head I originally was using.

    I've not heard anything bad about Giotto tripods as a whole. I would take anything said with a grain of salt. Personal experience varies and people have different expectations from the things they buy and use. I know Honda autos have wonderful reputations but I had lousy luck with my one experience with a Honda. Don't expect me to say anything good about a Honda even though my experience is not typical.

    As for ballheads--Arca Swiss has a devoted following that rivals religious zealotry. I tend to avoid anything praised in those terms. I have a Gitzo 1377M (I think) ballhead that I've used for about 5 years and still find to be outstanding. I think it's still around $200.
     
  24. naaldvoerder

    naaldvoerder Member

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    Anupam,

    It is a shame to see the thread you started, evolve into a common mudfight about brandfavourisme and snobbery. This is, I like to believe, very un Apug-like. I'm double sorry, because myself, like you was interested by the Giottoz tripod offerings. It would have been nice to read about some real hands-0n experiences, instead un-asked-for statements regarding the minimum spending sum of ballheads.

    But we can still hope, or start another thread, if need be on another website.......

    Jaap Jan
     
  25. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    If you read the whole thread, you will find that many of us, did in fact post our hands on experiance with the Giotto brand, the one I have still keeps on keeping on, and I have not had a problem with it.

    Dave
     
  26. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Mine was also very good, I no longer use it because I am now doing large format and it was not appropriate for that use. I apologise for my role in the argument. I certainly was not intending to start anything and I suspect that the folks who have dealt with me here know that I don't go around trying to start fights.