What is the difference between the Gitzo SYSTEMATIC and MOUNTAINEER legs?
What Gitzo head is best for birding with a spotting scope?
Due to age and issues - I have to get a lightweight tripod - so it is not so much of an issue carrying it on my shoulder. I currently use a Manfrotto green style tripod with my Zeiss scope. What would you recommend I use?
Thanks for your time and help,
I’m glad to hear you are interested in a Gitzo tripod, and am happy to answer questions about them for you.
There are several differences between the Systematic and Mountaineer legs. The systematic legs have no center column which means you can’t use that to adjust for height like with the mountaineer legs, instead you would have to adjust the legs only. With no center column though you can drop the tripod to a height of 3 inches off the ground rapidly which can be useful when photographing something low to the ground. The systematic legs can hold 15 more pounds than the mountaineer legs, but the systematic legs are quite large, and when fully extended is probably the widest tripod I’ve seen. It’s definitely a sturdy and well-built tripod, and if you are tall I think it would be a great choice. The mountaineer is definitely a more versatile all-purpose tripod however.
When it comes to tripod heads I prefer the GH1720QR Birdwatching Tripod Head. It has a handle for quick and easy adjustments, only weighs 1 pound, and has very smooth almost friction-free movement. Another nice feature is that it only has one fairly large and easy to turn control knob so you can tighten/loosen the head quickly without having to take your eyes away from the scope/camera/binoculars you’re looking through. I think this tripod head is the best that Gitzo makes and one of the overall best tripod heads on the market today.
If the Manfrotto tripod is too heavy to carry around with your scope than you might consider the Gitzo GT2531 Mountaineer Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs with the Gitzo GH1720QR Birdwatching Tripod Head. If you want to have an even lighter tripod than you could go with the Gitzo GT1541 Mountaineer Compact Carbon Fiber Tripod Legs. The only disadvantages with these legs are that they only support 17 pounds as opposed to 25 pounds, and have 4 leg sections as opposed to 3 with the non-compact mountaineer.
I hope this was helpful, and please let us know if you have any other questions.