Gitzo GT3532 LS Review

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That’s me up in Katmai National Park with my Canon 500mm f/4L EF IS II USM Lens on the GT3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod with the Mongoose M3.6 atop it. The image is courtesy of and copyright 2012/Clemens van der Werf.

Clemens used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the unfortunately discontinued EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 1000. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/8 set manually.

Having an intermediate telephoto lens on your shoulder via a Black Rapid RS-7 strap opens up all sorts of photographic opportunities.

Gitzo GT3532 LS Review

The GT3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod is the latest in Gitzo’s long line of “best-ever,” “one-size fits all–except for the really tall folks,” “will last you a lifetime-as long as you keep it out of saltwater” tripods. As usual, the accolades are well-deserved. I grabbed one out of stock about six months ago (BTW, that means that I paid for it) and have loved using it.

Here is the party line: “All Systematic tripods have been refined with significant improvements in strength, stability and rigidity; safety and security; set-up speed, ease of use and ergonomics. New construction and bonding techniques have almost doubled maximum payloads by distributing weight more efficiently to the 6X carbon fiber legs, which also feature the G-Lock system for greater power and ease of leg section locking. In addition, design details on the distinctive new triangular top casting make changing center components even faster and safer.”

Here is my translation: the new 3532LS (that replaces the 3530 LS) is very strong, very stable, and very rigid. I use it with the Mongoose M3.6 atop it with both my Canon 500mm f/4L EF IS II USM Lens and with my Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS USM Autofocus Lens and routinely make sharp images at shutter speeds down to as low as 1/20 sec. Even 1/6 sec. is possible if the subject remains stock still.

The vastly improved (triangular) design of what I call the tripod platform prevents it from ever coming lose and causing your big expensive lens to go crashing to the ground. For 3530 and older 35 series tripods the addition of the Gitzo Safety Plate prevents such accidents at the cost of a few additional ounces. I never had that problem but know of other who did. The previously introduced G-locks continue to make lengthening and shortening the legs far easier than in the old days. I never add a center post (geared or otherwise), a video half-ball adapter, or the leveling base so the ease of changing center components does not help me at all. Though I do not use or recommend the Gitzo GS5121LVL Leveling Base it is one of the very few items that I do not use that we carry as a convenience to those who see things differently.

Here’s the best part, none of my competitors, all of whom will be glad to sell you cheap junk, have ever mentioned the very best feature of the GT3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod. Back to that in a minute. Why do my competitors want to sell you cheap junk? Because they carry nearly 100 different types of tripods of all brands; they do not care if you wind up with the best gear as long as they make some money. Heck, the mark-up on the off-brand tripods is usually much greater than on the Gitzo stuff. At BAA we carry exactly five tripods, all from Gitzo and all of the highest quality. We will not sell you junk. Before you plunk your money down on an off-brand tripod take a look at what professional nature photographers are using: 99% Gitzo all the way. And believe me, I have gotten my hands on many of the off brand models and found all of them lacking.

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Note the curved flange on the side of the leg tab and the adjacent beveling that makes tripod handling far more efficient than it was with the 3530 LS.

Best Feature?

So what is the very best new feature on the GT3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod? The re-designed leg tabs. Each of the three leg-tabs has a curved flange that makes it easier to pull them out, something that a good photographer does dozens of times each day when they are in the field. In addition to these great new flanges, the leg-mount on the side of each flange is beveled; this makes it even easier to pull the leg tabs out. You can even do it while wearing heavy winter gloves. If you never have the need to pull the leg tabs out you will surely not want to miss “Tripod Tips” coming soon right here on the BAA Blog.

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That’s me again up in Katmai National Park with my Canon 500mm f/4L EF IS II USM Lens on the GT3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod with the Mongoose M3.6 atop it. The image is again courtesy of and copyright 2012/Clemens van der Werf.

Clemens used the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens, the Canon 2x EF Extender III (Teleconverter), and the unfortunately discontinued EOS-1D Mark IV. ISO 1000. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/500 sec. at f/8 set manually.

Saltwater and Vest

And yes, as you can see above, I routinely use my GT3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod in salt water, often a lot deeper than in the image above, often up to about three feet deep. I make sure to rinse it well with fresh water after each use and then, when I get home, I have Jim take it apart, give it a good bath, grease the threads with lithium grease, and re-assemble it.

My Xtrahand Vest from Vested Interest makes carrying extra gear, extra clothing, water, and a snack an easy chore as the weight is well-distributed. It will be a Godsend on my upcoming Southern Oceans trip with Cheesemans’ Ecology Safaris.

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Note the lever on the left side of the image.

Two Very, Very Insignificant Negatives

The lever that you see above is another new feature on the GT3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod and on the other new Systematic tripods. For those who use one of the other center-post options, the new lever makes it easy to remove and replace the platform. Everyone should try to remember to tighten it a bit every month or so. At times, the new lever gets in the way of my Mongoose M3.6 so I try to remember to twist it downwards to prevent that.

My only complaint about the GT3532 LS Carbon Fiber tripod is a very minor one. The new rubber feet are not as stable on wet boardwalks as the rubber feet on the 3530 LS; when I used the new tripod at Gatorland on a drizzly morning I had to place each leg in a crack on the boardwalk to keep from skating all over the place. As I said, a very minor complaint.

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NYC Weekend Nature Photography Seminar

Presented by Denise Ippolito/A Creative Adventure and Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART
Hilton Garden Inn, Staten Island, New York. December 8-9, 2012 from 9am-4:30pm.
Weekend: $169. SAT or SUN: $99. Lodging available for out of town guests.
Saturday: Image Capture Sunday: Image Evaluation and Processing

Click here for complete details including the Saturday and Sunday schedules, club and group discount info, and registration incentives and for more info on the In-the-Field Seminar Follow-up Workshop.

Artie, the grizzled veteran, is widely noted as one of the premier bird photographers, tour leaders, and educators on the planet. Denise, who specializes in flowers, is the mega-creative up-and-comer, a popular lecturer, a skilled field instructor, and an amazing Photoshop wizard who will share her tips and tricks with you. Both artie and denise are full time professional nature photographers.

BIRDS AS ART Instructional Photo-Tours

Click here for complete IPT information including the current schedule and links to general IPT info, deposit and cancellation policies. and the required registration and release forms.

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22 comments to Gitzo GT3532 LS Review

  • avatar e2313213412

    the legs have spikes.. why dont you use the spikes? i mean… the new 42 series has spikes inlcuded.. no need to buy them.. at least my 4542ls has them.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I’ve never felt the need for spikes. Do you find them helpful? If yes, in what situations?

      Did you purchase your tripod from the BAA Store?

  • avatar Gregory Douglass

    Art,

    Love your work, and kit. Could you please tell me the exact module “extrahand” vest your are using in Katmai, and also the color? Their site shows to browns or tans, but only listed as tan.

    Cheers,
    Greg

  • Thanks Artie for the review/tips on this GT3532LS but I guess your review was from the time when there was no GT3542LS. Now, GT3542LS is already in the market. How do you compare the GT3532LS against GT3542LS? Just being curious. I am having difficulty on which one to buy.

  • Artie, maybe you could have Jim write a “guest blog” on how to disassemble and clean the Gitzo. My ability to read the parts diagram I found online only confirms for me the wisdom of Mark Twain’s comment that “all of us are ignorant, only in different subjects.” :-) I find it baffling. I’ll bet a lot of readers would benefit.

  • avatar Travis Dewys

    Hey Arthur,

    Just ran across your BH video last night and have been reading everything on your site since. I am in the market for a new tripod and want to buy the best now. Not buy an ok tripod and have to/want to get a new one in a year or two. Have you used Really Right Stuff, and if so, could you give me your opinion on them in comparison to Gitzo?

    Thank you,
    Travis

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      I have handled several of the larger model RRS tripods and I do not like any of them, especially those with various RRS component heads. I use the 3532LS; it is lightweight, performs perfectly with my Mongoose M3.6 head, and meets all my needs. Click here to learn which Gitzo CF tripod would be best for you.

  • avatar Bill Tyler

    Art wrote, “I do not use or recommend the Gitzo GS5121LVL Leveling Base ” I wanted to comment on why some photographers with different needs find a leveling base useful. This isn’t a disagreement, just an explanation, because the tripod needs for video don’t match those for still photography. The main difference is that it’s a royal pain to attempt to “fix” video footage that’s not level to the horizon. So the thing with video is to use a pan/tilt head that’s mounted to a level base. That way you get to move left and right, up and down, and the horizon stays level. You can get a level base by fiddling with tripod leg lengths, but it takes a lot of time, and is a nuisance. The video half-ball leveler lefts you get the tripod approximately level with leg lengths, finish the job with the leveler, and then shoot video without worrying that the horizon line angle is going to shift. None of this is a real problem for still photographers, so the leveling base is not really needed for stills, and if coupled to a ball head it’s useless. But if someone is primarily shooting video it’s a real help.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Bill. You are 100% correct. The lever makes switching the posts/accessories a snap without the need for a tool. Do you ever use a pan-tilt head for video?

      • avatar Bill Tyler

        I used to shoot a lot of video of my kids’ sports activities. I had an aluminum Manfrotto tripod with leveling base and fluid pan/tilt video head. I got the leveling base after about three tries at leveling the tripod without it. It was possible to level the tripod, but the leg adjustments were very finicky. The leveling base made it easy.

  • avatar Nancy Phillips

    Holy Batman! You do realize that you turned your back on a bear?

  • avatar Nick Sharp

    I do see your point. Yes it would be inconvenient when the mud gets into the hole where the spike retracts. Since I expose the spike most of the time, the mud doesn’t present much problem to me. Well, nothing is perfect. I am sure everyone comes up with his/her own system that works best for them.

  • avatar Gail bisson

    Artie,

    I do exactly as you do – wash my 3532LS, rinse it, take legs apart,clean sand out of threads with ultrasoft toothbrush, rinse inside of legs and grease it with lithium grease.But despite all this, I have rust on the 3 screw heads that sit under the platform. I contacted Gitzo Canada and they suggested replacement parts at a cost of $120.00 (on a new 5 month old tripod.)No way! I thought this was absurd, so painstakingly removed the rust with a Qtip and vinegar.Also, the lever has never worked but I never use the a center column so not a big deal for me. Gitzo Canada also quickly told me that any warranty on the Gitzo was null and void because
    I use it in saltwater.I think buyers need to be aware of this. I knew, so was not upset by this. Having said all this, I still love the tripod for it’s sturdiness and lightweight. Gail

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Gail. You are of course correct: if they detect salt water use your guarantee is voided. With the old steel tripods I once sent five of them to Gitzo for repair. After a year, I called them. They said, “We tossed them in the trash….” The situation with the CF tripods is much improved. They will provide several years of great service even with heavy use in salt water. I have noticed tiny bits of rust on the screw heads that sit under the platform. I do not worry about it. To work, you need to jiggle the lever so that it slides down on top of the stud (for lack of a better word) below it. Once the lever seats, it will work.

      And yes, it is light in weight and amazingly strong, sturdy, and rigid.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  • avatar Nick Sharp

    Everyone has his/her preference. I find the spiked feet very versatile. I can extend the rubber all the way down to make it a rubber feet. Retracting them will make it spiked feet. I am happy with it.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do appreciate varying points of view. Do you ever have a problem with mud and muck getting up into the holes where the spikes retract?

  • avatar Ron

    Art, thanks for the review. It helped me finalize my decision. Looking forward to the “Tripod Tips”. Is Nick Sharp’s suggestion for the spiked feet the solution to the “wet and slippery surfaces” situation? Maybe you could cover the maintenance you (or Jim) do on the tripod when it has been in salt water as one of the first “tips”. How do you “take it apart, grease it and re-assemble it” so it works like new or close to new. I have always wondered about that sort of thing.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      YAW. Whatever you purchase, I hope that you use the BAA Store. We have the 3532 LS in stock. The spiked feet would work well for me on a wet boardwalk but they are not for me: they are not suitable for various surfaces for a variety of reasons. In addition, switching them out is a bit hassle and increases the likelihood of loosing a rubber foot here and there.

  • avatar Nick Sharp

    I use Gitzo’s spiked feet (GS5030VSF Retractable Spiked Feeet Adapter Set) most of the time, especially on wet and slippery surface. Hope that may solve the rubber feet issue you experienced with the new GT3532 LS.

    • avatar Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      The spiked feet would work well on a wet boardwalk but using them opens up many cans of worms that I would rather avoid….

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