Centre column: Geared or Rapid? (Series 3)
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S Dilworth
Registered: Oct 10, 2011
Total Posts: 484
Country: France

On behalf of epphoto, but also because I have the same question, Id like to solicit your advice on a centre column for a Gitzo Systematic Series 3 tripod, specifically the GT3531S.

I dont know what epphoto wants it for, but Id 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 theres nothing junior about it! It looks and feels like something youd connect to a John Deeres 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 Ive 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 12 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 Im not sure how this technique would transfer to a larger and heavier setup (other than more nips, Im sure!).

2. Do Gitzos 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.



S Dilworth
Registered: Oct 10, 2011
Total Posts: 484
Country: France

Looking at this post again, Im not surprised no-ones answered. The question is longwinded and basically impenetrable, besides dealing with an obscure topic.

To get to the point, though, has anyone got a Geared or Rapid column on a Gitzo? Do you like it or wish youd got an alternative?

Cheers!



vsg28
Registered: May 07, 2012
Total Posts: 1227
Country: United States

I am just not sure many Gitzo series 3 owners even bother with a center column, frankly. I am quite happy with the rapid column on my Induro if that's of any help.



runamuck
Registered: Oct 29, 2006
Total Posts: 6463
Country: United States

I had a geared column. I called it hemorrhoid because it was a pain in the azz.
A plain column is better because movement is much easier. Now I have a tripod with no column and don't miss it one little bit. Doing away with the column removes one more point where movement can occur.

After I reread your question a couple of times, I think you are asking the equivalent of whether your car's transmission should have 6 or 8 speeds.



sjms
Registered: Mar 21, 2003
Total Posts: 18158
Country: United States

Rapid if you choose to need/have one.
Ans:

1- on my larger tripod i don't even use a CP. it is either a leveling platform or a std flat platform

2- geared columns are primarily a preference they are not real precision devices

3- i do not believe so. what would your 0 reference be on uneven ground and varied leg adjustments?

4- the crank assy is a simple rack and pinion gear assy. not real precise all together. but since you are vertical the weight is from above so backlash is essentially nonexistant as there is load on it from above at any given time unless it is locked.

5- the new 2012 models were redesigned, improved against platform seperation/failure and optimized so they would not accept the RRS leveling head which was designed to fit both RRS TVC-33 and the 2011 and earlier systematic Gitzo legs. they don't like to play well with others. they're special

as was mentioned not too many use a geared CP due to its additional weight/bulk and the rapid has worked out just fine.



EB-1
Registered: Jan 09, 2003
Total Posts: 21624
Country: United States

I would use a rapid column, unless you have a very heavy load that really should be on a beefier legset anyway.

I did not realize that Gitzo had destroyed the compatibility of the 2012+ "systematic" models. Boneheads. When/if my 3530LS is ever damaged or goes MIA I'd get a RRS. The Gitzo leveling base is a heavy beast compared to the RRS.

EBH



sjms
Registered: Mar 21, 2003
Total Posts: 18158
Country: United States

they did it before to their cousins (manfrotto) too



S Dilworth
Registered: Oct 10, 2011
Total Posts: 484
Country: France

Thanks very much, all. I think Ill go for a Rapid column.