Gitzo GT4552TS Review

Gitzo GT4552TS on snowfeet in Austria

Acknowledgement

I usually don't do product reviews. Basically because there are more than enough gear-reviews on the internet (probably more than real photography topics), and simply because other people are way better in reviewing products than me. So this review is purely meant for information purposes and not for showing of gear. Therefor this page is not linked on my own website, and can therefor only be found when specifically linked to, or by people searching for a review about this single tripod (using google for example).

Introduction

When looking for a new travel tripod, one of the most impressive tripods i found was the Gitzo GT4552TS. Unfortunately, almost no information or reviews can be found on the internet. Therefor here my short review of this amazing tripod. The good, the bad and the ugly, and the reason i choose this tripod in particular.

Gitzo says

The most compact of all the Systematic tripods when folded, the GT4552TS has all the top-of-the-range Systematic features: it’s modular, with a flat centre disk that can be interchanged for centre columns, levelling bases and other components, and it has the leg angle settings (but no column as standard) that makes it capable of near-groud level shooting. Leg tubes are in 6X carbon fibre with Gitzo’s efficient G-locks. The GT4552TS is a Gitzo Series 4 tripod designed for strength and torsional rigidity under loads of up to 25kg (55lb) and with lenses up to 600mm. It reaches standard-level height with its 5-section legs fully extended, but the short leg sections make it extremely compact when folded.
— http://www.gitzo.com/systematic-series-4-carbon-tripod-super-compact-5-section-gt4552ts

Specs according to Gitzo


A new tripod?

Using my old Gitzo traveler tripod, a slight breeze of wind could already ruïn a picture. On a windy day there was no use in taking my tripod, since I'm not carrying a tripod strictly for windless days, a new tripod reached the top off my wishlist pretty quickly.

Several brands and models made it to my shortlist, but trying all those tripods in a camerastore, never gave me the feeling that the price was reflected in sturdiness. Please note, compactness is very important to me, a tripod should be lightweigth and small when fully closed, but sturdiness is the most important aspect. I'd rather carry a big and heavy tripod that does the job, than having a flimsy one that I rather leave in the car or hotel than taking with me.

When searching the internet I finally found one tripod that I thought could do the job for me. When a local camerashop replied to have one in stock, I immediately went to the store, and left less than an hour later with a new pair of legs.

The Gitzo GT4552TS

Although not one of the most light travelers, the Gitzo GT4552TS folds up to 48.5 cm while still being abled to hold an impressive 25kg. This all is possible due to 5 sections of ultra beefy series 4 carbon fibre tripod legs. Off course there are plenty lighter travel tripods, but this tripod has sturdy as it's middle name.

Folded tripod next to my D3s with AF-s 24-70mm f/2.8 for size comparison.

Paired with a Benro B3 ballhead (with Arca swiss quick release system) this tripod will stand up almost to eyelevel and can hold my heaviest combination; a Nikon D3s pro body with 70-200mm f2.8 lens, without any problems. The tripod itself goes as heigh as 138cm, but with the height of the ballhead (11cm) the viewfinder measures 157cm from the ground. For me, 180cm, that is only a few cm's short for straight-up shooting, so I will probably get myself a rapid centre column (GS3512S) anytime soon.

Fully extended tripod

That may not sound to impressive, but most travel tripods won't go anywhere near eyelevel, and the ones that do, will have a fully extended center column = wobbly.

When you want to go low, the GT4552TS is also a perfect partner. With the legs spread in the most horizontal position, the top of the tripod is no more than 8.5cm above ground level. Most travel tripods won't go that low, and when they do, only after the process of removing the center column. Not my favourite way of spending my time in the field.

GT4552TS in the lowest position

Feet

The GT4552TS has 4 different feet options:

  1. Normal rubber feet
  2. Small rubber feet
  3. Spikes
  4. Snowfeet

The normal rubber feet offer a huge amount of grip and stability. Even on slick grounds. When these feet are pulled of the spikes become visible that seem to work better in less solid grounds. The smaller rubber feet can be screwed in place of the spike feet and might make a difference when taking these legs as hand luggage in an airplane since you lose the highly dangerous spikes. I do not see any other benefit in using these rubbers.

From my personal experience i did not like to use the snowfeet at all. In fresh snow the do not offer any stability, but even seem to add instability since the tripod is floating on the snow. I tried it for a short amount of time (see top image in this article) and the returned to spikes and pushing the tripod down into the snow.

Cleaning

This tripod can get dirty, real dirty, and wet, real wet. Although the Gitzo Ocean series supposed to be better in wet conditions I have never encountered any problems with this tripod after water or dirt getting into the legs and twistlocks. I have no problem in placing the tripod in the flowing water as the next (phone) picture shows. Here still setting up, but for the actual picture the tripod was in the water up to the second twist lock from the bottom.

Still managed to get a solid picture without any camera movement. And when dried up the tripod worked as good as new. After a longer phototrip or holiday I will disect all the legs and twistlocks for a good clean and greas up. But that should be normal behaviour when you want to take good care of your equipment anyway.

Goðafoss

The bad and the ugly

Of course, size and sturdiness come at a price, what brings us to; the bad and the ugly. This for sure is not the most light travel tripod available. Some will even argue it is not even a real travel tripod, but more like a very compact full size tripod due to it's weight of a whooping 2.15kg. Somewhere between 0.5kg and 1kg heavier than the real dedicated Gitzo travelers.

Due to the 5 short leg sections, this tripod is still extremely compact when folded and fits easily in most normal sized airline suitcases, for smaller cases removing the ballhead was the solution for fitting neatly. Hooked on a Click Elite Contrejour 35 backpack, this tripod can still comfortably be taken on cycling trips or during hiking.

Leaves us with the ugly bit. With a price of around $1,100/€800 this tripod does not come cheap. And that is without a ballhead (and center column when desired). But if you want maximum performance at a relative small size when folded down, this Gitzo GT4552TS is probably the best tripod in the world.

GT4552TS on spikes in the snow on a mountain side.

Benro Ballhead

The Benro B3 ballhead is great ballhead for my set-up that does not creep at all. With a 300mm f/2.8 as heaviest lens, the demand for an even stronger ballhead is not present.

Benro B3 ballhead

Example shots

Nikon D3s + Af-s 16-35mm f/4 @ ISO 4000 - 35mm - f/6.3 - 30s

Nikon D3s + Af-s 70-200mm f/2.8 @ ISO 1250 - 200mm - f/18 - 1/320

Nikon D3s + Af-s 16-35mm f/4 @ ISO 800 - 22mm - f/11 - 30'

Kirkjufell, Nikon D3s + Af-s 16-35mm f/4 @ ISO 200 - 16mm - f/11 - 30'

I will update this review occasionally when people want more information. So when you have any questions about this tripod, please feel free to send me a message through my main website. I will answer all messages and relevant information will be added to this page.