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In-depth tripod review: Gitzo Systematic Series 3 (GT3543LS)

The Gitzo GT3543LS at the beach, with the Gitzo GFHG1 Fluid Gimbal Head on top, holding a 500mm lens and full-frame camera.

Gitzo Systematic Series 3 (GT3543LS)
Gitzo.com | $1000

Gitzo was founded in France as a tripod and camera company by Arsène Gitzhoven in 1917 and has been producing advanced tripods with interchangeable platforms, columns and leveling devices for more than 40 years. Their naming convention of designating sizes by numbered 'series,' and modular platforms as 'systematic' tripods, has been around so long that many other manufacturers use these as a reference point when describing their own wares.

Long ago, Gitzo merged with the Italian tripod maker Manfrotto, and both are now a part of the Vitec Imaging Group of companies. Today, the combined Manfrotto/Gitzo factory in Bassano del Grappa, Italy, produces more tripods than almost every other manufacturer in the world, using a combination of automation and streamlined assembly honed over many decades. The sheer scale of output makes their continued quality all the more impressive.


Jump to:

Compared to others | First impressions | Use in the field | Test results | Conclusion


Key specs and what's included

  • Max. height 146 cm (57.5"), or 148 cm (58.2") with 50mm 'big feet'
  • Minimum height of 9 cm (3.5")
  • Folds to 55 cm (21.6") with 14 cm (5.5") diameter
  • Weighs 1.94 kg (4.27 lbs) with flat platform
  • 25kg (55.1 lbs) load limit
  • Three leg angles (23° / 53° / 86° )
  • Four leg sections (33mm top leg diameter / 29 / 25.3 / 21.8mm)
  • 70mm platform side-clamped with release button
  • Large weight hook under platform
  • Bubble level included on apex
  • Removable 33mm feet on standard 3/8" thread
  • Includes dust bag, tools, instructions and 50mm big feet

Gitzo updated their 'Systematic' tripod line in 2016, with new materials and designs, and still offers many systematic options for their tripods; from video bowls and leveling balls, to sliding carbon-fiber center columns and geared columns. Beyond these, there are a bevy of various feet, ranging from snowshoes to various lengths of spike and mushroom-style rubber feet, all using a common 3/8”-16 threading, so even rock claws or feet from other manufacturers can be used. Given the prevalence and longevity of Gitzo Systematics in the marketplace, original Gitzo accessories are easy to find new at various retailers, as well as on the used market.


Compared to others

This tripod was tested and compared with its modular apex peers. Left to right; ProMediaGear TR344, Really Right Stuff TVC-34, Sirui SR-3204, FLM CP34-L4 II, Leofoto LM-364C, Gitzo GT3543LS.

The Gitzo GT3543LS was tested and compared alongside tripods in the same class of 'Series 3' (33-36mm top leg tube diameter) 'Systematic' (modular apex with removable platform) type, in terms of size and utility, including products from Sirui, Really Right Stuff, ProMediaGear, Leofoto and FLM. We'll be publishing full reviews of those models in the coming days and weeks.

All of these tripods were used in four seasons of sand, snow, mud, rain and saltwater; set up in the bog-like Atlantic salt marshes and the wind-swept Appalachian mountains. They have been loaded with gimbal heads, ball heads, geared and pano-heads, and up to 4kg (8.8lb) lenses attached to cameras ranging from APS-C to medium-format, shooting anything from long-exposure landscapes to extreme telephoto birds-in-flight. The only test they did not go through was being rough-handled at the airport, thanks to pandemic travel restrictions.

Height comparison

Below is a relative height comparison between the Gitzo GT3543LS and a 6 foot (1.83m) photographer.

High

Mid

Low

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First impressions

The wide, but shallow apex with the Gitzo/Manfrotto 3/8" threaded 'Easy Link' accessory port.

At the top of the GT3543LS is the large, cast magnesium systematic apex, finished in the durable 'noir décor' speckle finish common to all Gitzos. Each leg clevis is similarly built and finished, with a spring-loaded, ratcheting leg angle stop. The standard Gitzo 'Safe-Lock' platform is secured in the side-clamping apex with a re-positionable locking lever and a safety release tucked underneath. A generous weight hook is below the platform.

The four-section legs are labeled as using 'Carbon eXact,' which, according to Gitzo, 'optimizes the fiber composition for each tube size, using HM (High Modulus) carbon fiber in the narrower tubes to make them stiffer.' This is a good thing, as the GT3543LS has the thinnest relative leg tubes in this class of 3-series tripods. In addition to this, the leg locks are the 'G-Lock Ultra' type, which means they get tighter as more pressure is applied, and are well sealed against dirt and moisture. Many other manufacturers use similar leg locks, but may not have catchy names for them.

The 50mm 'big feet' that come pre-installed are robust and great for studio work, but require careful positioning for extreme angles and tend to collect debris when used in the field. The included standard 33mm bullet-shaped feet are small compared to the mushroom-head feet on other tripods in this group. Their narrow width means the leg locks can hit the ground before the feet do when the legs are fully splayed out.

The 3/8" threaded 'Easy Link' attachment port for accessories is rather large and atypical, compared to the 1/4” threading seen on most accessories and other tripods. This just requires a reducer bushing (included with most heads these days) to attach that ‘magic arm’ or clamp to hold a phone, battery pack or other small device. Honestly, the number of 'Easy Link' accessories even offered by Gitzo or Manfrotto seems very slim, so the choice to use this is somewhat baffling.

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Use in the field

The Gitzo GT3543LS is a large item to pack into the field, both in apex diameter and the various parts that stick out, and we noticed this a bit more than with the other tripods in this class, despite the Gitzo having the smallest leg thickness. In the studio, the top-heavy size is not a problem, and those 'big feet' can stay installed for impressive stability, but the carbon fiber and robust build ask to be taken out to the wider world. The very wide apex creates a thick-on-one-end package that is not easy to pack away, so it begs for the (optional) strap or padded bag to carry it. For short walks, extending one leg and using the whole thing as a big hiking pole worked pretty well, but again, it was a noticeable difference to the competition.

The leg angle locks are easy to pull out from the front, but hard to push from behind due to their slim internals. The ratcheting action is positive when pulling the leg down, and it is easy to set the angles of each leg. Unfortunately, the legs can be pushed under the apex and just keep going since there is no center column to stop them, resulting in a strange angle that sometimes makes packing up all three legs of the tripod a bit harder than it needs to be. Many other columnless tripods in this class have a hard stop at the stowed position.

The well-tested Gitzo G-locks, which lock and unlock with a reassuring tactile feel, make extending and securing each leg of the tripod a pleasure. Grasping all three locks at once is easy with the rubber grips, even with gloves on, but they do require more rotation than the other leg locks in this group.

The tubes themselves are very precisely mated and need a bit of a pull to fully extend, which means the Gitzo legs will not 'cascade out' on their own when unlocked. However, adjusting each leg length once extended is still fairly easy and controlled, despite this precise fit.

The well-proven Gitzo Safe-Lock platform is the best in its class, with a durable, textured plastic disk over a machined aluminum platform. This provides a better grip and some vibration isolation when compared to an all-metal platform, and the inclusion of a tiny set-screw can insure that any head will stay attached. Removing and replacing it with a video bowl or center column accessory with a 70mm diameter is both easy and secure, thanks to the Safe-Lock recessed safety catch under the apex.

With a gimbal and large lens on top, or a panoramic head and leveling gear, the Gitzo GT3543LS never feels overburdened or unstable. The slightly steeper leg angles, at 23°, provide the required height to be competitive with similar tripods of this size, but theoretically could reduce stability. However, that theory is never validated, and in the field and studio, this tripod handles weight and movement with aplomb. Truly, Gitzo's refinement across generations of this type and size of tripod seems evident in how it all just quietly gets out of the way and lets the camera and scene be the focus.

Maintenance

Cleaning the GT3543LS is fairly straightforward, and leg disassembly is briefly described in the included instructions booklet. The leg locks have obvious gaskets sealing them from the elements, and the one-piece shim makes the whole process easy. However, as with all Gitzo products, spare parts are easy to find if needed (even long into the future).

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Test results

Vibrations can make even the sharpest lens turn out mushy, blurred photos, and can ruin long exposures. In the typical use cases for this class of tripod, reducing the effects of vibration becomes extremely important, since longer focal lengths and higher resolutions magnify the effects of any movement, and environmental vibrations like wind and water will have an increasing effect on larger legs and gear. Camera vibration can be mechanically minimized with mirror lockup, electronic shutters, and a remote shutter release, while adding weight to the bottom of the tripod (with the weight hook or a tripod stone bag) can help stabilize the whole setup. However, not all sources of vibration can be eliminated, so we tested whether the tripod will dampen them or transmit and reflect them to the camera.

The tripod legs were fully extended, and our vibration analyzer for heavy-duty tripods (an iPad on a 3.2 kg (7 lb) cantilevered weight) was mounted directly to the flat platform's 3/8" threaded bolt with a long lens plate. An industrial solenoid valve with a plastic hammer was used as a source of vibration (a knock to the bottom of one leg). The resulting graph of all three accelerometers shows both the resistance of the tripod to the initial shock, as well as the rate of decay for residual vibration within the tripod.

Gitzo GT3543LS vibration resistance test results - click for a larger graph

*Note that this graph is relative only to this class of tripods. The weight and test equipment was adjusted to provide a conclusive result for this size of tripod.

The Gitzo GT3543LS performed extremely well in the vibration test. The initial shock was somewhat transmitted to the camera position, but the carbon fiber legs and magnesium components dampened the vibration quickly and admirably. This performance is among the best of this class of tripods, particularly when factoring in the relatively thinner legs of this Series 3 tripod.

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Conclusion

Gitzo has been the first (and sometimes last) word in high-end and heavy-duty tripods for many decades, and their innovations and influence are clearly seen in every other tripod of this type on the market. The folks in Italy have refined their offerings to such a degree that the whole system this 'systematic' tripod falls under has become a standard in terms of big tripod expectations, and even nomenclature.

It may not be the tallest, lightest, or most compact, but it has very few flaws and
performs admirably

The GT3543LS, or 'Gitzo tripod Systematic, series 3 long, 4 sections', remains competitive within this type of tripod thanks to its performance over many tests and rugged locations. Among similar tripods from ProMediaGear, RRS, FLM, and others, it may not be the tallest, lightest, or most compact, but it has very few flaws and performs admirably in every situation and test. Plus, any Gitzo is usually the most accessible and widely supported tripod of this type worldwide, which makes it a safe bet as a stalwart companion for many years.

What we like

  • Dependable build quality
  • Exceptional vibration resistance
  • Sets the standard for apex insert and foot sizes
  • Worldwide sales and support network
  • Spare parts and repairs easy to obtain

What we don't like

  • Not compact or easily packable
  • Systematic accessories are expensive
  • Fiddly leg angle locks
  • Premium list price

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Sours: https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/in-depth-review-gitzo-systematic-series-3-gt3543ls

Gitzo tripod Systematic, series 3 long, 3 sections

Add to Compare

  • Lightweight, long version, 3-section carbon fiber tripod
  • Ideal for professionals using heavy camera with telephoto lenses
  • G-lock Ultra for secure leg-locks and quick operations
  • Great versatility thanks to the modular accessories range
  • New wider and adaptable feet for unbeatable stability

Specifications

Maximum Height

152 cm

59.84 in

Safety Payload Weight

25 kg

55.12 lbs

Closed Length

67 cm

26.38 in

Maximum Height (with Center Column Down)

152 cm

59.84 in

Bubble Spirit Level (No.)

1

1

Carrying Bag Included

none

none

Center Column

no center column

no center column

Upper Disc Diameter

70 mm

2.76 in

Top Attachment

3/8″ screw

3/8″ screw

Color

Noir Decor

Noir Decor

Leg Angles

23°, 53°, 86°

23°, 53°, 86°

Leg Lock Type

Twist Lock

Twist Lock

Legs Tube Diameter

25.3, 29, 32.9 mm

1- 1.14- 1.3 in

Material

CarbonExact

CarbonExact

Maximum Working Temperature

70 °C

158 °F

Minimum Working Temperature

-30 °C

-22 °F

Safety Payload UNI/PdR 105:2021

28 kg

61.73 lbs

Technical specifications Full list

Description

The Gitzo GT3533LS Series 3 Systematic Tripod is a powerful, 3-section, professional carbon fiber tripod designed to safely hold longer lenses and heavy cameras. The GT3533LS is the perfect combination of minimal weight, durability, and uncompromising stability. Not only are the Gitzo’s strongest and most stable tripods, the Systematic family also set the standard in terms of modularity. The GT3533LS’ top casting element opens and closes, allowing each tripod to be configured with a flat disk, geared or sliding center column, video half-ball adaptor, levelling base or other Systematic accessories.
The GT3533LS weighs only 2.04 Kg and secures an impressive payload of 28 Kg. It reaches from as low as 11 cm up to 152 cm and folds down to 67 cm. A highly reliable, versatile solution that’s easy to take anywhere, this model features Gitzo's Carbon eXact tubes with G-Lock Ultra twist-locks that solidly connect the leg sections and protect them from dirt damage. New, ultra-stable, removable feet make this support even more secure. The Easy Link attachment provides enhanced versatility and ergonomics, enabling users to attach a wide array of optional accessories, such as a Manfrotto arms, LED lighting solutions, monitors, etc.
The GT3533LS replaces the GT3532LS as the taller 3-section Systematic tripod. With a top leg diameter of 32.9 mm, this Series 3 model is the perfect choice for exacting professionals who want to travel light but require the adequate levels of stability for heavier professional equipment with longer lenses

Warranty Select Gitzo Supports, Heads & Kits

Gitzo Traveler, Mountaineer and Systematic Supports, Heads and Kits are covered by a Standard Limited Warranty (six months from date of purchase) and are eligible for a free Standard Limited Warranty Extension, upon online product registration, for an additional six years, six months - thus, up to seven years of coverage from the date of purchase. For more details or to register your product, please visit: warranty.vitecimagingsolutions.com.

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© 1996-2021 Vitec Imaging Solutions Spa
Vitec Imaging Distribution Inc
120 East Main Street, Box # 379, Ramsey, NJ 07446 USA

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Gitzo tripod Systematic, series 3 long, 4 sections

Add to Compare

  • Lightweight, long version, 4-section carbon fiber tripod
  • G-lock Ultra for secure leg-locks and quick operations
  • Great versatility thanks to the modular accessories range
  • Ideal for professionals using heavy camera with telephoto lenses
  • New wider and adaptable feet for unbeatable stability

Specifications

Safety Payload Weight

25 kg

Maximum Height (with Center Column Down)

146 cm

Bubble Spirit Level (No.)

1

Carrying Bag Included

none

Center Column

no centre column

Upper Disc Diameter

70 mm

Top Attachment

3/8″ screw

Legs Tube Diameter

21.7, 25.3, 29, 32.9 mm

Maximum Working Temperature

70 °C

Minimum Working Temperature

-30 °C

Safety Payload UNI/PdR 105:2021

28 kg

Technical specifications Full list

Description

The Gitzo GT3543LS Series 3 Systematic Tripod is a powerful, 4-section, professional carbon fiber tripod designed to securely elevate longer lenses and heavy cameras. It is the perfect combination of elevation, lightness, durability, and uncompromising stability.
Not only are the Gitzo’s strongest and most stable tripods, the Systematic family also set the standard in terms of modularity. The GT3543LS’ top casting element opens and closes, allowing each tripod to be configured with a flat disk, geared or sliding centre column, video half-ball adaptor, levelling base or other Systematic accessories.
The GT3543LS weighs 2.03 Kg and secures an impressive payload of 25 Kg. It reaches as low as 9 cm up to 146 cm and folds down to 57 cm. A highly reliable, versatile solution that’s easy to take anywhere, this model features Gitzo's Carbon eXact tubes with G-Lock Ultra twist-locks that solidly connect the leg sections and protect them from dirt damage. New, ultra-stable, removable feet make this support even more secure. The Easy Link attachment provides enhanced versatility and ergonomics, enabling users to attach a wide array of optional accessories, such as a Manfrotto arms, LED lighting solutions, monitors, etc.
The GT3543LS replaces the GT3542LS as the tallest 4-section Systematic tripod. With a top leg diameter of 32.9 mm, this Series 3 model is the perfect choice for exacting professionals who want to travel light but require the adequate levels of stability for heavier professional equipment with longer lenses.

Warranty Select Gitzo Supports, Heads & Kits

Gitzo Traveler, Mountaineer and Systematic Supports, Heads and Kits are covered by a Standard Limited Warranty (six months from date of purchase) and are eligible for a free Standard Limited Warranty Extension, upon online product registration, for an additional six years, six months - thus, up to seven years of coverage from the date of purchase. For more details or to register your product, please visit: warranty.vitecimagingsolutions.com.

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© 1996-2021 Vitec Imaging Solutions Spa
Via Valsugana, 100
36022 Cassola (VI) Italy
Vitec Imaging Solutions Spa (VAT N° IT02084740246 ) | Vitecgroup Italia Spa (VAT N° IT02886030168)

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Vitec Group

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Sours: https://www.gitzo.com/global/tripod-systematic-series-3-long-4-sections-gt3543ls/
Gitzo tripod product codes explained
Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod

The Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod replaces the Gitzo GT3542LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod. These two tripods are very similar and I'll be using the original review as the basis for this review.

You have probably heard the wise advice suggesting that you "build your house upon the rock". This same advice applies to the support for your camera as well. I have long considered the Gitzo Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripods as the best-available with perhaps no tripod getting as close to the definition of a rock than these models. While not inexpensive, these ultra-reliable and ultra-stable tripods have been my primary choice for over a decade.

Gitzo Systematic Range

While the GT3543LS is my choice for the ultimate tripod out of the latest lineup, its dimension and specs may not make it yours. Fortunately, with the Gitzo Systematic Series, you have a wide range of choices. Even though this is a review of the Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod, most of what I'm talking about applies to the entire Gitzo Systematic line as the similarities among these models are strong.

GT2542S2451.2"(130.0 cm)3.6"(9.2 cm)21.9"(55.7 cm)3.8 lbs(1.71 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT2532S2353.5"(135.9 cm)3.9"(9.9 cm)25.0"(63.4 cm)3.8 lbs(1.71 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT2542LS2459.1"(150.1 cm)3.7"(9.5 cm)23.7"(60.1 cm)3.9 lbs(1.78 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT3533S3351.2"(130.0 cm)3.5"(8.9 cm)24.0"(60.9 cm)4.3 lbs(2.0 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT3543LS3457.5"(146.1 cm)3.5"(8.9 cm)22.4"(57.9 cm)4.5 lbs(2.26 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT3533LS3359.8"(151.9 cm)4.3"(10.9 cm)26.4"(67.0 cm)4.5 lbs(2.26 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT3543XLS3479.5"(201.9 cm)3.9"(9.9 cm)28.0"(71.1 cm)5.0 lbs(2.27 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT4553S4553.5"(135.9 cm)3.5"(8.9 cm)19.9"(48.0 cm)4.9 lbs(2.22 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT4543LS4462.2"(158.0 cm)3.9"(9.9 cm)24.0"(60.9 cm)5.2 lbs(2.36 kg)55 lbs(25 kg)
GT5533S5352.2"(132.5 cm)3.9"(9.9 cm)24.4"(62.0 cm)5.8 lbs(2.63 kg)88 lbs(40 kg)
GT5533LS5357.1"(145.0 cm)3.9"(9.9 cm)26.8"(68.1 cm)6.0 lbs(2.72 kg)88 lbs(40 kg)
GT5543LS5461.4"(156.0 cm)3.9"(9.9 cm)23.6"(59.9 cm)6.2 lbs(2.81 kg)88 lbs(40 kg)
GT5563GS56109.4"(277.9 cm)3.9"(9.9 cm)28.7"(72.9 cm)7.8 lbs(3.54 kg)88 lbs(40 kg)

Breaking down the model names shown in the first column above ... you probably already figured out that the ever-present first letter of "G" refers to "Gitzo". The second character describes the product type: A = Apparel, B = Boom, C = Carry Solution, H = Head, K = Kit, M = Monopod and obviously, T = Tripod.

The first numeric character in the name represents the series number, which is also the primary sort column for the above table. For tripods, the higher the series number, the stronger/more-rigid the model is. I have owned 1, 2, 3 and 5 series Gitzo tripods over the years and can without hesitation say that all are exceptionally well designed and constructed. I appreciate the additional rigidity that the 3 series models offer over the 2 series models, especially when using heavier/longer lenses. Though the 5 series tripods are amazing supports, they are heavier and more expensive than the 3-series tripods. I found that I did not need more rigidity than what the 3-series provided and eventually sold my 5-series tripods due to lack of use.

The second number in the model name refers to the material used to construct the legs: 3 = Aluminum, 5 = Carbon fiber, 7 = Magnesium, 8 = Basalt. Obviously, the models being discussed here are all carbon fiber, 6X cross-weaved carbon fiber referred to as "6X Carbon eXact Tubes" to be more specific.

Carbon fiber tripods are typically lighter than equally-weight-rated aluminum models and at least as important is that carbon fiber better dampens vibrations. Carbon fiber does not transfer heat as easily as aluminum, making carbon fiber much more skin-friendly while photographing in temperature extremes. Aluminum dents and bends, but carbon fiber breaks. Neither is good and the latter is less likely, but dented and/or bent may remain usable. Also for consideration is that aluminum is susceptible to corrosion – especially if used in/around salt water.

According to Gitzo: "Gitzo 6x guarantees structural strength, flexion rigidity, and great vibration absorption properties. The performance of this multilayer design is unique and inimitable thanks to the advanced aerospace production technology and the exclusive inner structure."

The third number in the model name indicates the number of leg sections the model has. Additional leg sections allow more height and/or a more compact retracted size – either folded or in use at not-completely-spread leg angles. Adding leg sections means the lower section tubes have a smaller diameter which can result in less stability. The additional leg locks can increase the cost slightly and can slightly increase extend/retract times.

I have not found the stability of the additional leg section to be an issue on Gitzo's current and most-recent tripods. Gitzo's G-Lock Ultra Twist Locks are very quick to use and having to adjust the extra lock matters little to me during use. The additional cost is $10 for the 3-series model (as of review time) and at the high price point of these tripods, $10 is a non-consideration. I frequently travel with my tripod and the compact travel size far exceeds any negative aspects of the 4th leg section.

The fourth number in the model name is the release number that increments with model line refreshes. Starting with "0", there has not been a bad series of these tripods. I currently have used a 3-series tripod model from each line refresh ("0', "1", "2" and now "3") and appreciate the advancement that each update has brought with it. I'll talk more about what the "3" update brought us later.

The "S" at or near the end of the model name stands for "Systematic". Gitzo Systematic tripods are primarily separated from the Gitzo Mountaineer tripods by the omission of a center column. If you are interested in a center column tripod model, you want to check out the similar and similarly-excellent Gitzo Mountaineer Series. The center column allows fast and precise height adjustment and allows taller heights to be easily reached. With a center column raised, few tripods are as stable as Gitzo's, but I've grown to love the absolute solidness of the flat top plate models (the difference in vibration is noticeable). Gitzo's quick release leg locks make it easy enough to get precise height without the center column and especially valuable to me is that the center column does not need to be removed to go down to ground level.

Model names including an "L" (for "Long") will give most photographers ideal eye-level height. If an "XL" ("Extra Long") or "G" ("Giant") is included, most non-NBA stars will likely be ready for overhead shooting or for shooting at eye level with the tripod positioned below foot level. Most of us will need a step ladder to reach a viewfinder mounted on the GT5563GS at its max height of 109.4" (278cm). The XL and G models weigh and cost more than their counterparts and their folded length is at least modestly longer.

If a model is available with a 75mm video half-bowl, a trailing "V" will be present on the model name.

As I already mentioned, models in the above table are sorted first by series.

Within the series, tripod models in the above table are sorted by height. Some max height variation can often be accommodated, but ... it is nice to have the right amount of height for your need. Following is a Gitzo-provided graphic showing the height of the 3-Series Systematic tripods.

Gitzo 3-Series Systematic Tripod Height Comparison

And, here is another Gitzo-provided graphic showing the previous model versions:

Gitzo Systematic Tripod Height Comparison

While there are times when I would like to have the over-the-head height available, eye level is what I need most frequently and a larger tripod is not worth carrying (or paying for) for the amount of use I would give to overhead shooting. With a standard DSLR camera (no vertical grip) mounted to a 4" (10cm) tall Arca-Swiss Z1 Ball Head (my current favorite), the 57.5" (146cm) gives me ideal eye-level viewfinder height (I'm 6'/1.8m).

I especially like that I can quickly fully extend all legs on the GT3543LS tripod and be at precise eye-level height. Found in the GT3542LS, but missing in the GT3543LS is a laser mark in the first/largest leg extension, permiting faster setup to a standard height of 53" (135cm).

The primary and secondary sort columns in the above table practically arrange the models in order of their own weights. So, the higher the series number you select and the higher you want the tripod to extend within that series, the more weight you are going to carry.

Interesting is that the 2-Series and 3-Series tripods are rated to support the same weight. The 2-series model I've used could hold my own weight and, fully extended on an epoxy-coated concrete floor, the GT3543LS very easily holds my 170 lb (77kg) frame while bouncing under it. The legs flex slightly while doing this, but the leg locks don't budge and the legs do not slide outward. It is very impressive.

I not only need to trust the strength of my tripod legs to hold valuable/important gear and keep it motionless, but often I rely on my tripod legs to support me as I'm navigating off trail terrain. A big benefit to a tripod rated for far more weight than you intend to mount on it is that you will notice less vibration with what you do mount on it.

Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Top View

New with the GT3542LS and once again adopted by the GT3543LS (shown above) is a spider/chassis composed of a triangular structure surrounding a circle. The difference in both strength and appearance is substantial and made especially obvious in the comparison picture below. The GT3542LS is on the left and the previous model GT3541LS is on the right.

Gitzo GT3542LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Compared to GT3541LS

The spider/chassis dimensions increased slightly and the new design came with a significantly increased load rating. It looks more rigid and it is. In side-by-side comparison of these two tripods at full extension with a Canon EF 600 f/4 L IS II USM Lens mounted, I see vibrations brought under control modestly more quickly by the "2" version. At 300mm, differences in vibration become difficult to see.

The new spider design looks heavier and it is. Here is a specifications chart comparing the GT3543LS and the two predecessors.

Load Capacity55 lbs(25kg)55 lbs(25kg)39.6 lbs(18kg)
Maximum Height57.7"(146.5cm)57.7"(146.5cm)57.5"(146cm)
Minimum Height3.7"(9.4cm)3.7"(9.4cm)3.9"(10cm)
Folded Length22.6"(57.5cm)22.6"(57.5cm)21.7"(55cm)
Spec Weight4.5 lbs(2.05kg)4.3 lbs(1.95kg)3.8 lbs(1.72kg)
Actual Weight4.3 lbs(1.95kg)4.3 lbs(1.95kg)4.0 lbs(1.81kg)

The difference in specified weight between each model revision is insubstantial, but the .7 lbs (.33kg) between the version 1 and version 3 is starting to add up modestly. My precise digital scale tells a different story as seen in the bottom row of the chart. The version 2 tripod gained a very small amount of weight and the version 3 gained no weight over the 2.

The diameter of the head mounting section of the top plate is 2.75" (70mm). A wider-diameter head base can be used, but no contact will be made with the plate beyond this dimension.

While we are looking at the top castings and plates, now is a good time to discuss a couple of other carry-over updates from the previously released 3-Series tripod models. The first is the ratchet locking lever as shown below in the version 2 model.

Gitzo GT3542LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Top Plate Lock

The lever is basically a built-in wrench for loosening removing the top plate. A spring-loaded design allows the wrench to freely spin unless pushed into the head of the nut.

The next version 2 feature update was that the top plate will not come out of the spider unless a release button under the spider is pressed. Even if the top plate is loosened by a significant amount, a hook in the side of the spider will hold onto the ring until the release button is pressed. Those carrying tripods over their shoulder with a large camera and lens mounted will know the importance of the top plate remaining attached. The new button and its release can be seen in the machined area at the top-center of this version 2 image:

Gitzo GT3542LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Top Plate Removed

You may ask, why would I want to remove the top plate in the first place? Good question, and the answer lies in the options available for the Gitzo Systematic.

Gitzo Systematic Modular System

Replacing the top plate can be a very low profile Gitzo Systematic Head, a Leveling Base, a Video Bowl Adapter and a range of geared and rapid columns. For example, if the giant 109.1" (277cm) GT5563GS is not tall enough for you, add an Extra Long Rapid Center Column to gain an additional 67.91" (172.5 cm) of height for an amazing 177"/14.75' (450cm) tripod. That example is of course radical, but it shows the great flexibility of this system.

Gitzo GT3542LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Bottom of Top Plate

Pictured above is the machined flat center disk with an also-removable weight hook on its underside.

Beefed up on the release "2" tripods are the angle lock supports on the legs and the version 3 models are similar in this regard. As opposed to the quick diameter reduction just below the angle lock set on the version 1 tripods, the version 2 angle lock supports have a stronger smooth taper down to near-leg diameter and the version 3 design remains unchanged.

The version 2 angle lock sets were enlarged, with a small flare provided for easier finger access to pull the lock sets outward. The version 3 angle locks are larger still and easier to use with gloves on. An additional improvement is a spring-loaded angle lock design. Though it requires a bit more conscious effort to use these locks as quietly as the older design (the only downside I can see), they hold open while leg angles are adjusted and the big benefit is that they provide a ratchet function when the legs are moved toward their folded position. When you are done using the legs spread wide, simply pull the legs inward and the locks will grab onto each next angle stop. This is a nice feature and the angle locks seem higher grade overall.

Each leg can be independently set to 24°, 55° and 90° angles. Pull the lock sets completely out to go right down to the ground level 90° setting. Even the largest of the Systematic tripods will go down to about 4" (10cm). The height of the head must of course be added to the minimum height in this position.

All of the Gitzo Systematic tripods feature fast, laterally rigid and very strong "G-Lock" leg locks. The quality of these locks is one of the features that make these tripods so great. With a short, roughly 1/8 rotation, these twist locks quietly go from locked tight to fully released and vice versa.

With one short turn, one hand can twist all three locks on each leg at once to release or tighten the legs in the retracted position. When extended, a short twist of each leg lock will tighten or release the locks. G-Locks can be tightened and released in any order. If moving quickly, it takes me 15 seconds to take the tripod from folded and retracted to fully extended and ready shoot. Tear-down time is the same.

Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Leg Locks

The version 3 tripod gets upgraded leg locks. Gitzo's G-Lock Ultra twist-locks, shown below the version 2 locks in the above image. An O-ring is included to keep dirt, dust, and moisture from causing joint damage. The downside is that the locks are slightly harder to turn as they are in constant contact with the O-ring. While this difference was obvious when I first started using the GT3543LS, I quickly grew used to it.

One of the Gitzo Systematic tripods' best features has been the overall rigidity facilitated in part by the leg locks and I totally expected this one to at least meet and more likely exceed that of its predecessor. To compare the two tripods, I fully extended them side-by-side on an indoor flagstone-over-concrete floor (rock solid with grip for the feet). With identical Arca-Swiss Z1 Ball Heads installed on each, I locked a Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II USM Lens first onto the GT3543LS. I was immediately surprised at the amount of vibration showing and switched the lens to the older tripod's head. The vibrations dissipated noticeably quicker as I expected to see on the new one. After re-tightening all leg locks, insuring that the legs were properly spread, checked foot tightness and checked head tightness (all adjustments), I continued back and forth testing between the tripods and then swapped tripod heads to insure they were not influencing the difference. It was obvious that vibrations such as a tap mid-tripod-leg or on the camera body lasted at least twice as long on the GT3543LS as they did on the GT3542LS (4 seconds vs 2 seconds for example).

Surprised? Yes. Disappointed? Definitely. But, we must keep in mind that I was exceeding Gitzo's focal length recommendation of the previous version (400mm) by 50% and that the difference between the two is very small. Still, it is hard to see a product that I love and rely on take a step backwards and I use that lens on this tripod with frequency. In the field, vibration sources such as wind are common and any help in dampening them is welcomed.

Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Included Feet

The tripod feet shown above are delivered installed. I use my tripod outdoors a lot and these are not the feet I am interested in using. By inserting the included hex wrench into the center of the feet when aligned as the center foot above is, the foot can be unscrewed and the non-pivoting foot shown in the first image in this review can be installed. Of course, any dirt packed into this hole will make the removal more challenging. The above two foot options are included in the box and there is supposed to be a spiked foot option available, though these were not in the box.

Notice the hole in side of the top casting/spider in the GT3542LS product image below?

Gitzo GT3542LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod

This attachment point is no longer provided, but it has been replaced by a much more useful 3/8"-16 Easy Link threaded attachment insert.

Gitzo Easy Link Attachment

If the accessory has 3/8"-16 male threads, it can probably be used here. The range of options is huge.

Gitzo Easy Link Attachment System

Add a Magic Arm, flex arm, flash adapter shoe, LED light(s), monitors, reflector/diffuser holder. Attach a threaded stud to a Super Clamp and there is practically an unlimited number of functions made possible.

Gitzo Easy Link Attachment with Camera

I've wanted to be able to attach a second camera to a tripod without using a long adapter bar on top. The Easy Link adapter and a double male 3/8"-16 adapter made this easily possible.

Gitzo Easy Link Attachment with Camera – Top View

The Canon EOS 5Ds R and Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens combo represents about the maximum amount of weight that I would want to cantilever out over the tripod as shown, without any other balancing weight provided. The Easy Link adapter is a great new feature.

Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Case

Gitzo tripods come in a very lightly-constructed dust bag that will keep the tripod clean and protect it from minor abrasion. I recommend purchasing a tripod case that affords better protection, including those by Gitzo (perhaps the Gitzo GC3101).

Gitzo's motto is "Focus on Forever". They have been around since 1917, and from my experience, they are designing and constructing to their motto. The Gitzo GT3542LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod is the latest iteration of the no-compromise rock solid support that I've become addicted to over the last decade. The reviewed GT3543LS was acquired retail.

It took a while for me to decide to upgrade to the GT3542LS from the GT3541LS once the version 2 became available, but I came into the GT3543LS review fully expecting to make the immediate jump. I am blessed to be able to use any tripod that I want to use, but I also feel that I owe it to you and the gear I evaluate to ensure that the support system is not a minimum factor in the performance of cameras and lenses being tested. For me, the Gitzo GT3542LS slightly edges out the GT3543LS due to the modestly lower vibration dampening and remains my ultimate tripod choice for that purpose, though the GT3543LS is superior on some other accounts – including its $80.00 lower price tag. The Easy Link adapter is a very useful new feature, the spring-loaded angle locks are nicer and the sealed leg locks promise to reduce maintenance and increase reliability.

I have not yet used a tripod support system that closely compares to the form and function of the Gitzo Systematic Tripod line. These tripods are among the best of the best. For a long time, the best photographers in the world have relied on Gitzo carbon fiber tripods for their careers. These models are not a small investment, but the GT3543LS or one of the other Systematic models could be the last tripod you ever need.

Bringing you this site is my full-time job (typically 60-80 hours per week). Thus, I depend solely on the commissions received from you using the links on this site to make any purchase. I am grateful for your support! - Bryan

My Recommended Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod Retailers Where you buy your gear matters. You expect to get what you ordered, and you want to pay a low price for it. The retailers I recommend below are the ones I trust for my purchases. Get your Gitzo GT3543LS Systematic Carbon Fiber Tripod now!

B&H Photo
Adorama
(Using the links on this site to make any purchase provides support for this site)

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