When it comes to camera tripods, it’s usually the set and forget mentality. That is, buy a sturdy, high-quality version which should last you many years. These units may not be cheap, but they are made of the best materials and the build quality is second to none. This can be easily applied to the Gitzo Systematic Series 3 GT3543LS, which is in the middle of the range.
The Systematic range comes in different heights and for different applications, such as monopods and carrying solutions. Something for all the family, but are these better than the rest and worth the asking price?
As these tripods are aimed at the top end of the spectrum, they are lavished with top-end materials. That’s lightweight carbon fiber, which has a multilayer design. High-quality twist locks, huge flat top plate, and rock-solid stability.
On initial impressions, the only thing missing is a center column, which can be found on the Gitzo Mountaineer Series. The lack of one on the GT3543LS keeps the weight down and the central column doesn’t have to be removed to reach ground level at a height of 3.5 inches.
The Gitzo Systematic Series 3 GT3543LS as well as being roughly the mid-priced offering, it’s also the mid-height version. Fully extended, the tripod comes in at 57.5 inches and 22.4 inches folded down. Other versions being slightly taller or smaller.
The tripod is capable of holding 55lb, which should be enough for the most heavyweight of telephoto lenses and a few loaded sandbags for stability. A high carry weight load also means more stability and fewer vibrations.
The legs of the tripod are arranged in a spider design, fully extending in and out and can be locked. Independent movement means that the tripod can be used on the roughest of terrains. So useful in practice when you have the peace of mind that this tripod can be set up literally anywhere.
Other useful features include the ratchet locking lever which holds the top plate in place. This is useful if you want to swap out the top plate for other options such as a levelling base or even an extra center column to extend the height. The top plate also has a small bubble level, surrounded by a mottled metal structure, tough enough to last a lifetime.
There is also a very useful side attachment point on the top plate, which can allow a camera to be mounted sideways. Attaching a high-quality ballhead to the side of the tripod head allows a full size DSLR and a good sized medium telephoto zoom(e.g a 24-70mm) to be held steadily in place. But, you wouldn’t want to go much heavier.
Moving on to the legs, each one features ‘G-Lock’ leg locks. Basically, twisty release mechanisms, which only need a small turn to release and each incorporate an O-ring to keep out dust and moisture.
There are two schools of thought concerning twist lock or snap lock mechanisms on a tripod. This is usually personal preference, but on this unit, the twist locks are very user-friendly and allow you to feel the pressure to keep the legs locked in place.
The rubberised feet can be unscrewed, with the options of non-pivoting feet being installed if you do mostly outdoor shooting. A nice addition having both included.
Gitzo Systematic Series 3 GT3543LS in Use
It’s advised by Gitzo to not go above a 400mm lens on this tripod, due to susceptibility to vibrations, but you can go to a 600mm if you’re feeling confident enough or in ideal conditions. Using lighter weight lenses, the tripod is generally rock solid with only small vibrations been evident in very strong winds or hard tapping on the tripod legs.
In the studio, the tripod is rock solid as expected, and while going out into the wilds, the tripod was easy to set up and break down and with fully adjustable legs could be basically set up anywhere. The sealed leg locks do a wonderful job of reducing maintenance, as it’s far too easy to let grime enter the mechanisms.
Overall, the carbon fiber construction does a wonderful job of soaking up vibrations. Once the tripod is locked in place, it’s as solid as a rock, leaving you to get on with the job in hand, instead of worrying if your tripod is picking up the merest of wobbles.
The tripod is light enough to carry around, while being heavy enough to feel sturdy. All the mechanisms and attachment points feel very well constructed and in no way give the impression that they will wear out soon or start to stick in place with continual use.
How Does It Compare?
The Gitzo Systematic range has a number of options at different price points. Mainly with the same attributes, but with some key differences. For example, the Gitzo GT3533S has a slightly shorter maximum height of 51.2 inches, while the GT3543LS is 57.5 inches. The bulk of the same load capacity, minimum height, while the GT3543LS folds down slightly shorter. The GT3533S also has two locking leg sections, while the GT3543LS has three.
Yes, there are cheaper tripods on the market, but here you are buying into the highest build quality and something that should easily last you a lifetime. In this regard, that extra level of quality is worth the price.
|Gitzo GT3543LS||Gitzo GT3533S|
|Min. Height||3.5 inches||3.5 inches|
|Folded Length||22.4 inches||22.4 inches|
The Gitzo Systematic Series 3 GT3543LS has overall great vibration dampening and a clear rock solid build quality. The form factor and functional uses seem to cover all bases and there are plenty of add-ons which can be purchased to further extend the functionality.
Obviously, this isn’t the cheapest tripod on the market, but as a unit that will take the rigors of all conditions, with extremely good vibration dampening, it’s worth every penny. Basically, owning one of these will mean your tripod needs can be sorted in one fell swoop.