to my decision to use the Gitzo Explorer G2220 was
a long one. My experiences with tripods thus far led
me to realize that I had to get a better legset to
improve the quality of some of my images. It is very
frustrating to get a roll of long exposure shots back
and having to automatically toss half of them because
of camera shake.
that I wanted to take the plunge and get a better
tripod, but there are many issues with deciding on
which one would work best for me. What anyone will
realize in picking a tripod is that any tripod is
a compromise - none do everything well! You simply
have to prioritize what is most important to you and
narrow your choices.
is easy to start out with a wish list for a new tripod
that goes something like this:
- High loading capacity
- Infinitely adjustable legs
- Ability to set up as tall as you wish
- Ability to set up very low for macro and perspective shots
- Folds down compact for easy travel
- Easy and quick to setup
A great list for sure - unfortunately
you can only have a few of these for any tripod
you select, so you need to narrow your needs carefully.
narrowed my criterion down to a select few. I was
very interested in the Gitzo Explorer line because
of the flexibility of the leg angles. Most other tripods
on the market have legs that have "stops"
that set the legs at hard angles (30, 45, 60 degrees).
The Gitzo Explorer has legs that are able to be set
at any angle by opening and closing the three spoon
shaped levers. This allows you much flexibility in
selecting the height of your tripod as well as helping
to set the tripod around obstacles - great for landscape
or macro photography.
Gitzo G2220 Explorer Tripod - The leg clamps offer a wide range of adjustments.
characteristic of the Explorer line is that the center
column can be set at angles other than straight up.
While not infinitely adjustable (it is "indexed"
with small increments being selected between positions)
photographers are able to cantilever the camera out
horizontal and directly over a subject. This is great
for macro. The center column can even be pointed directly
down with the camera between the legs. I have done
this on a few occasions to take a picture with the
camera very low to the ground (with the image captured
are three models to the Explorer line: the G2220 (aluminum
3 leg sections), G2227 (carbon fiber 3 leg sections),
and the G2228 (carbon fiber 4 leg sections). First
of all, lets look at 3 vs. 4 leg sections. The only
real advantage to having 4 leg sections is that the
tripod will fold up smaller. This would be great if
you have to fit the legset in a small bag.
The disadvantage is in reduced stability. I can put pressure
on the top of my extended tripod and see that the
leg joints are responsible for much of the movement
in a loaded system. Adding 3 other joints to the mix
will only decrease the stability. I believe a bigger
disadvantage, however, would be the increased time
to set up - one more set of twist locks would be a
bit much to handle!
on the subject of twist locks, they are excellent
on Gitzo tripods. I initially wanted leg locks that
snapped shut in a quick-release fashion. It turns
out that the Gitzo twist locks will not slow you down
much. It only takes a partial turn to open and close.
When the tripod is closed you can easily open both
locks on a leg at once with one hand because they
are small. They are generally very solid when assembled
and I think they operate just as well if not better
than snap locks offered by other manufacturers.
decided on the 3 leg section model, I next had to
decide on carbon vs. aluminum. This turned out to
be an easy one. Cost was a major factor in my setup
and I could not justify the added expense. At the
time of writing, the aluminum G2220 cost $275 while
the carbon G2227 cost $490. The carbon model only
drops the weight from 4.9 to 4.1 lbs., a 16% reduction.
Considering the overall weight of a tripod / head
combination, this reduction was not worth the $200
premium. The other often touted advantage to carbon
is that it helps to dissipate vibration. I will agree
that in theory, carbon fiber composites do transmit
less high frequency vibrations. I have yet to see
any hard examples of how this has actually improved
any given picture taking situation. For me, going
with aluminum put the legset into my budget.
are a few steps to dealing with the leg angle
stops quickly. I first extend the legs to
the desired height. Second, I grasp the center
column with the whole assembly raised off
the ground and use my other hand to adjust
the angles of the three legs to about the
right angle. I then lower the legs to the
ground with my hand still on the lower part
of the center column. If the column is not
pointed straight up, I can usually shimmy
it around and (with the angle locks still
loose) the legs will rotate out or in to level
the head. A small bubble level is located
in the top of the unit - a decent guide to
help you level the center column. The bottom
line is that with the adjustability comes
some needed practice to be able to set up
Gitzo G2220 Explorer Tripod shown with camera mounted.
This model features a center column that can be raised for additional height.
I am very happy with the operation of my G2220. The
tradeoff to the flexibility is a slight increase in
the time it takes to set up. I knew this going in
and considered it worth the compromise if the legset
allowed me to get a higher number of usable macro shots, which I feel it has.
highly recommend this legset along with the RRS
BH-40 ball head that I use - together, they are
the perfect setup for a small system with much versatility
for different shooting situations.
UPDATE - It looks like Gitzo has
renamed their models. The former G2227 is now called
the G2257 and the former G2228 is now called the
G2258. Also, a new model with basalt legs is being
sold as the G2930EX. The aluminum G2220 remains