By the way... I looked up the specs on the now-discontinued Giottos MT-8180 that you mentioned as compared to the GT-2540. They are comparable because of a similar load rating: ~26 pounds. However, as yesterday's technology, the MT-8180 weigh(ed) 5.7 pounds, almost twice the current-model GT-2540's weight. The trick is to achieve greater stability at lesser weight. The technology appears to be slowly evolving to make this happen. It is not surprising to me that this progress is slow, because the laws of physics relate these two quantities directly and not inversely.
Hey Bruce, you raise some great observations about weight and capacity-to-weight ratios, but unfortunately none of those apply to my particular circumstance.
First of all, the model I am getting is the Giottos MT-8361 MT III (not the 8180), and the Mt-8361 is only 5 lb. True, the 2540 is only 3.1 lb and that is almost a 2-lb difference, and from strictly a weight standpoint that is significant. Yet for me, 2 lb isn't going to make me or break me, and when considering that the Gitzo 2540 is $589 compared to the Giottos Mt-8361's $339, that is a $250 difference in price ... or $125 a pound.
But there is more to this than a mere savings of 2 lb (at a cost of $125/lb), and that is versatility
Let us examine what $589 gets you in a Gitzo 2540 versus what $339 gets you with a Giottos MT-8361 MT III:
* The Gitzo 2540 only raises to 52.4" in height (column down).
* The Giottos MT-8361 MT III raises to 58" in height (column down).
* The Gitzo 2540 only raises to 61.4" in height (column raised).
* The Giottos MT-8361 MT III raises to 64.5" in height (column raised).
* The lowest height in the field
the Gitzo 2540 can reach is 11.4" in height.
* The lowest height in the field
the Giottos MT-8361 can reach is 10.2" in height.
* The only extra feature the Gitzo adds is a warranty.
* The Giottos MT-8361 MT III also comes with a tool kit, a tripod strap, and a padded
carrying case, in addition to a warranty.
**** Finally, the Giottos MT-8361 MT III center column acts as "a lateral arm with angle adjustment, which makes it especially ideal for nature and micro photography. It allows for 360° horizontal and 180° vertical adjustment, and the column can be positioned and set quickly with the locking knobs. The column can also be used upside down and reversed," all of which are features the Gitzo is completely lacking
So while the Gitzo may be "2 lb lighter," the fact of the matter is this product is also quite a bit lighter on features
, and benefits
to my macrophotography ... while at the same time it has the affront to be $250 more expensive.
The "bang for the buck" award is clearly with the Giottos MT-8361 MT III ... at least for my purposes.
Honestly, if I was going to get a Gitzo, I wouldn't even waste my time with the 2540, because it skimps almost everywhere. What I would do is dig a little deeper in my pocket and get the Gitzo GT-3540L, which at least offers me some tangible benefits in height and load capacity, if I were going to shoot landscapes or something like that. But yet it is still twice as expensive as the Giottos ... and I am not sure it is any sturdier than the Giottos for macro nature photography. It certainly isn't as versatile for my purposes.
If I were a serious landscape photographer who wanted absolute stability for a long-exposure shot, I would probably select the Gitzo 3540. But as a fellow who wants tremendous versatility for macro shots taken in the nature I find myself surrounded by on 27 acres in TN, the Giottos MT-8361 MT III is simply a better and more versatile tool for me, at half the price.
And when I couple that with an Arca-Swiss ballhead, I think my tripod needs will have been perfectly addressed.
I thank you very much Bruce for your posted articles, because they opened my eyes to what is most important, for me. If I were hiking all over and wanting low weight with reasonable stability, I might make one choice. If I were doing landscapes and wanting prolonged exposures at dawn, I might make another choice.
But for macro work on my own acreage, that offers amazing contortionist versatility and
stability ... it's not a 2-lb weight difference I am looking for ... it's the added features found only in the Giottos. So really, I am more confident than ever that the Giottos MT-8361 MT III is the best choice for me. However, if I ever hit the road and try to broaden my photography to involve landscapes, I will probably pick up a second tripod for that purpose, which at this poing looks to be the Gitzo GT-3540L.