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| p.1 #1 · Centre column: Geared or Rapid? (Series 3) |
On behalf of epphoto, but also because I have the same question, I’d like to solicit your advice on a centre column for a Gitzo Systematic Series 3 tripod, specifically the GT3531S.
I don’t know what epphoto wants it for, but I’d like to use it for fairly precise height adjustment in a makeshift studio environment.
Upon the centre column will be:
• a Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head (owners will know there’s nothing junior about it! It looks and feels like something you’d connect to a John Deere’s PTO shaft)
• a Hejnar Photo adaptor providing an Arca-Swiss-style clamp for the Manfrotto head
• a macro focusing rail of some sort, possibly a Novoflex Castel-XQ II
• an SLR and lens, sometimes of combined weight over 2 kg
I mention the above because I’ve noticed geared centre columns are sometimes recommended for heavy cameras. Does the above constitute ‘heavy’?
Roger Hicks, in his wide-ranging and highly readable Tripods e-book, recommends geared columns for convenience only for cameras over 5 kg. Any dissenting opinions? (In any case, my setup will be close to 5 kg.)
My questions are numerous:
1. Is a geared column strictly necessary for height adjustment with 1–2 mm precision? With my GT1541T and a light load, I find that by ‘rolling’ one thumb against the nail of another thumb placed as a clamp on the centre column, I can adjust the Rapid-style column with high precision, at the risk of the occasional nip. But I’m not sure how this technique would transfer to a larger and heavier setup (other than more nips, I’m sure!).
2. Do Gitzo’s Geared (or Rapid, for that matter) columns have distance scales on them?
3. Is a Gitzo Geared column as stable as a Rapid column, when locked down?
4. How much backlash is there in the gearbox of a Gitzo Geared column?
5. Are there any compatibility gotchas to worry about, or will any Series 3 centre column work with my 2008-era GT3531S?
Any other comments are more than welcome.