Bob Atkins Photography

Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripods - 1325 and 1227

Gitzo have long had a reputation for manufacturing very sturdy, very reliable, fairly expensive tripods. With the intoduction of the carbon fiber tripods they have gained the reputation of also manufacturing very sturdy, fairly reliable, fairly light and very expensive tripods! Prices quoted in this article are from B∓H Photo in November 1998. 

Carbon fiber tripods are lighter (by about 30%) than similar aluminium Gitzo modes. They are also probably more stable and you won't freeze your hand if you touch them in sub-zero temperatures. They are expensive though, about 2-3 times the cost of similar aluminum Gitzo models and 5-6 times the cost of similar Bogen tripods. They all have legs which spread to several different angles for more stability , lower height or better balance on uneven terrain. 

The 1227 and 1228 are the smallest, lightest models. Basically similar except for the fact that the 1227 has 3 section legs, while the 1228 has four section legs. More sections means that the collapsed length is shorter (great for travelling), but it means you have to deal with 9 gitzo leg locks instead of 6. Since the leg locks are the major source of complaint about gitzo tripods, this may be significant! 

The 1325 is part of the "mid-range' tripods, along with the 1338, 1348, 1329 and 1349. All are similar and differ in the number of leg sections and presence or lack of a center column. The 1548 is the "big" gitzo CF tripod. See the Gitzo web site for full technical specs on the carbon fiber tripods. 

The 1227 

I tried out both the 1227 and 1325 models for use with long lenses (500/4.5 and 600/4). The 1227 is a really nice tripod. It's small. light and stable. Compared to a Bogen 3021, it's lighter, just as tall and a little more stable. It's also 6 times the price, but that's another issue. I've seen a lot of reports in magazines of people using a 600/4 on a 1227 or 1228. Well, maybe under perfect conditions it's OK, but my opinion was that it's FAR from ideal. The stability just isn't there in any kind of wind. The center column doesn't help stability much (even if you don't extend it), since it's just another joint to flex - and the lock is plastic, as is the platform on which you mount the tripod head. All of this adds up to a tripod which is great for lenses up to maybe a 400/5.6, but starts to show it's weakness when you mount a 500/4.5 or especially a 600/4. A great tripod for hiking with moderate lenses, but not a great choice for big telephotos. Weight 3.3 lbs (NOT 3 lbs as sometimes stated). Cost is around $530. If you are spending $7000-$9000 on a 600/4, this isn't the place to economize, so cost shouldn't really be a factor in your choice of tripod. If you don't have a big telephoto to support and price isn't too big an issue, the 1227 or 1228 are great tripods. If you really, really need to minimize weight and size, they will support a long telephoto like a 500/4 or 500/4.5 and maybe even a 600/4, but you will be sacrificing a lot of stability, which means you won't be getting all  the sharpness from that $5000-$8000 lens which you have just  bought because it is so sharp. Not a sensible choice for big lenses. 

The 1325 

The 1325 is a BIG improvement. The legs are larger, the center boss is larger and there is no center column. The head screws down on a metal platform about 4" in diameter. The drawback of the 1325 over the 1227/1228 is, of course, that it's significantly bigger and slightly heavier. However the increase in stability is certainly worth it if you want to support a big telephoto lens. The 1348 is similar, but has 4 section legs. This means it extends higher and folds smaller, but gives you 3 more gitzo leg locks to have fun with and costs an extra $140 or so ($660 vs $800). In addition, I can't help but feel that an extra joint in each leg and the smaller diameter of the extra section may slightly reduce overall stability. It's just a feeling and I have no hard data to support this hypothesis. The stability of the 1325 over the 1227/1228 is quite obvious when you try them side-by-side. The 1325 is fully capable of supporting a 600/4. Weight is 4.4 lbs, cost around $660. Of course the 1548 is even more stable, but costs around $900 and weighs an extra 2 lbs. The 1325 (and 1348) can be retrofitted with a center colum later, if you decide you really need one. 


Earlier I said the carbon fiber tripods were "fairly reliable". There have been a number of reports of the CF legs coming lose from the aluminum sleves to which they are bonded at the top. This is said to happen if the tripods are used a lot and subjected to extremes of temperature. Whatever the cause there are enough reports for it to be a matter of some concern. Of course Gitzo will fix the problem (there's a lifetime warranty on all their tripods), but that doesn't help much if you are hiking in the middle of nowhere when it happens. Most concerned users carry a tube of "superglue" for emergency repairs. 

Gitzo Leg Locks

Everyone loves Gitzo tripods, but hates the leg locks. They use a rotating collar lock design with very few parts (so they don't break) and which can be taken apart and cleaned in the field with no tools. There's also nothing sicking out from the legs to catch on branches, cameras straps etc. That's the good part. The bad part is that you have to tighten them in the right order and with the right tension or the legs can be a real pain to extend. If you don't tighten the top one enough and overtighten the lower one, then when you try to losen the lower leg lock, the upper leg rotates, not the lock. You can have endless fun trying to extend all the sections. Evetually you can learn the right tightning sequence and tension, but you will still long for the Bogen "flip" locks which take seconds to operate, not minutes. However the Bogen locks sometimes come loose (requiring a nut driver and scredriver to tighten) and they occasionally break, so they aren't perfect either. 

Are carbon fiber tripods worth their cost? 

Well most people wonder about that before buying one. Most owners however, are very happy. Just about all the "big name" nature pros have switched to carbon fiber tripods. If you have to carry them far in the field, the lower weight is a big advantage. You still can't beat the Bogen 3021 ($100) for value if cost is an issue. There's no doubt that carbon fiber tripods are better in just about every way (stability, weight) than similar aluminum tripods. Only you and your wallet can decide if they are worth the extra cost. 

 Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod Data
Model Number R=rapid colunm 
0=no column
Height Extended 
Mimimum Height 
Length Collapsed (m) Weight 
Load Capacity 
Additional notes

G1227 R 1.61 0.35 0.69 1.52 6.0 3 section

G1228 R 1.56 0.33 0.53 1.52 6.0 4 section

G1338 O 1.56 0.39 0.69 2.10 12.0 Video

G1325 O 1.52 0.52 0.71 2.00 12.0 3 section

G1329 R 1.95 0.56 0.76 2.40 12.0 3 section

G1348 O 1.67 0.39 0.61 2.10 12.0 4 section

G1349 R 2.00 0.43 0.66 2.50 12.0 4 section

G1548 O 1.48 0.38 0.59 2.90 18.0 4 section

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