Giottos Product Reviews
Tom Mackie reviews the Giotto's MTL 8361B Carbon Fibre TripodReviewed by - Tom Mackie
In these digital days, most discussions amongst photographers tend to be about mega-pixels, sensors, histograms, etc., but there seems to be little regard or expense put into their tripods. I find this to be the case with many photographers that attend my workshops. They will have the latest DSLR only to mount it to an inferior tripod and spend most of the time fighting with stability issues instead of making pictures.
As a travel and landscape photographer, there are several key factors that I require in a tripod to carry out my work effectively. For me, a good tripod is one that acts as a catalyst in making great pictures and doesn?t interfere with the photographic experience.
I know this probably sounds a bit geekish, but I actually enjoy taking my Giotto's carbon fibre tripod on shoots. It?s quick and simple to use and best of all I don?t feel like I?ve had a workout at the gym as it so light compared to my previous tripod.
First and foremost, I look for quality in the making and machining of parts. A good tripod has to withstand diverse shooting conditions and Giotto's delivers this quality. I?ve been a Manfrotto user for years and have seen the refinements of features such as the leg levers change from plastic to cast metal, but they were never ideal.
I prefer the design of the Giotto's leg levers as they don't stick out and the attention to detail is good with the inset dip next to the wrap around leg levers.
In the past, I've never put much importance on the weight of a tripod. However heavy it was I would persevere and carry it up mountains and across deserts because that?s what landscape photographers do. Times have changed and so has my back!
Also, with tighter airplane restrictions I had to do something about the excess weight. This really became evident when I was flying back from Marseilles and noticed everyone taking things out of their luggage rather than get charged for excess weight. So I proceeded to take most of my clothes out and wear them. Not ideal in 35 degree weather! My bag just made it through the weight restrictions with just a Manfrotto tripod and a pair of socks.
All that's changed now, with the arrival of my Giotto's MTL 8361B carbon fibre tripod and the MH1302-652 ball head. Now I have no problems with weight restrictions so I can take more clothes!
Other important factors are sturdiness and ease of use. The Giotto's tripod will take up to 8 kg in weight, which is more than enough for my DSLR or 4x5 view camera. This lightweight tripod does not sacrifice sturdiness though. It is very solid, and there?s also a handy pull out hook on the bottom of the centre column to hang your bag to add extra stability in windy conditions or just to keep your bag out of muddy or wet terrain.
One of the best features is the design of the centre column allowing quick adjustments to shoot at ground level for macro shots. No need to take the column out and reverse it although you can if you want. With a twist of a knob, the centre column flips over to ground level.
Another nice feature that I've never had on any previous tripod is the foam padded leg grips. It's nice to see this built into the tripod instead of a retro fit. I used to buy pipe insulation to fit to the legs, but the Giotto's is more practical and looks better. They really keep your hands from freezing to the legs on those cold winter mornings.
More and more photographers are stitching their digital files together to make panoramics. It is essential to have the tripod perfectly level to achieve this so it's good to see a spirit level located on the tripod neck.
The MH1302-652 ball head complements the carbon fiber tripod. The quick release plate is small and unobtrusive so it doesn't protrude out too much from the base of the camera taking up less room in the bag. The ball has a tension control that can be adjusted to suit the weight of different cameras.
All in all, I highly recommend Giotto's!