Greetings,

I am fortunate to be able to purchase a new tripod and head this month. My current combination is mediocre, at best: a Bogen 3021 tripod and a Giotto ball head with a RRS quick release plate and RRS L-brackets.

So, I am looking at Gitzo carbon-fiber tripods. As I am over six feet tall, I have been telling myself for years that my one good tripod should be as tall as possible without a center post extension. My Bogen is 53.5 inches tall without the center post extended, and with the ball head and a camera mounted, the eyepiece is at 63.5 inches. I do need to bend over a bit to see through the viewfinder.

Gitzo makes a tall-ish tripod, and a very tall tripod. The 3540LS is a 4-section tripod that is 57.5 inches tall (no column) for $650, and the 3540XLS which is 78 inches tall, also with no column, for $750.

For a lot less money I could purchase a tripod more like the Bogen -- a Gitzo 1257, which is 53 inches tall and has a 10-inch leveling column which would provide the extension when really necessary.

So, you taller photographers: what would you do? The 3540-LS, with a ballhead and camera, would put the camera almost exactly at eye level at the tallest setting -- is this good enough? Have you wished for that extra foot of height? Is the 3540-XLS so large that it's unwieldy to pack and carry? I want this tripod to be something I have with me most of the time.

(I do have a truly giant metal Bogen tripod for times when I might need to set up on a ladder. It's not something I could carry around with me, though.)

Thanks in advance.

--Ken