The new setup finally arrived Wednesday, and from the first moment I’ve been wowed by the quality and overall excellence of both the Gitzo 2531 and the RRS-BH40. A full review with some photos and maybe even a video is coming, but I’ll net it out: Awesome.
It is more stable, it feels…right…and the L-bracket make portrait shooting easier. Unlikely I’ll ever out-grow this setup, and that is a good thing. There are too many things in the world of photography where you’re always looking at the next-generation. No more of that here. Unless I wind up winning the lottery and decide to invest in big, long glass (bigger than a 300mm prime lens), I’m done.
Done feels good.
My advice to you, if you’re starting out and serious about photography as a hobby: Think about your tripod as seriously as you did the camera itself. You might want to check out some of my thoughts on tripods and heads gathered while I was hunting for this setup.
Visit your local camera shop (and when I say camera shop, I don’t mean the retail store at the mall where the teenagers work, I mean the one staffed with a bunch of real photography geeks where the pros in your area get their stuff) and find a deal on a used tripod. It might be old and heavy, but it will probably work better than the cheapie stuff. Or grab the Manfrotto 055XPROB. If you can afford it, the Sirui N-2204 is an amazing tripod for $400. Not chump change by any means, but it is a solid, travel-ready carbon fiber tripod that comes with a nice case, seems very sturdy and even has a trick monopod capability. I checked it out at my local shop yesterday. I’m not sure I can say it is equal to the Gitzo, but it is certainly up to the needs of the Enthusiast Photographer, and it definitely isn’t junk. If I hadn’t lucked out with the Gitzo, I’d probably be raving about how nice the Sirui is for the money.
I just noticed that B&H and Amazon prices on the Gitzo 2531 have gone down quite a bit – less than $500 after a rebate. I can only guess they are getting ready to come out with a 2532 since the list price on this at Gitzo.com is $778!
My complete thoughts on tripods and heads, the review of my new setup are in the works, and I just got a notice that my new, custom-made Timbuk2 bag is on the way, so lots to do this holiday season! Maybe even a few photos!