This month Andrew takes a look at Gitzo's gargantuan GS 5562 GTS 'Giant' tripod, full of new features, some of which he loves, others less so!
The first thing I noticed was the new top casting - the bit all the legs bolt on to. Gitzo have redesigned it and the new triangular shape both looks and feels really good. On a practical note it's also lighter than the older casting.
Anyone who has used a Gitzo will be familiar with the modular system that uses a bolt to pinch the various columns or plates into the top casting and with the classic 10/13mm pressed steel ring spanner Gitzo supply to do the job with. Well not anymore. Perhaps the most useful feature of the new tripods is the integrated ratchet locking lever which you operate with your thumb, no spanner required. I have found though that the spring loaded thumb lever is quick to jam up in dusty or salty conditions and wiggling it loose again can take longer than delving in your bag or case for the good old spanner, so keep your tripod clean and dry.
Another feature that suffers with dust and dirt is the safety catch which now holds the plate or column into the top casting. The catch is released by pressing a spring loaded button in the bottom of the casting and the button can become jammed due to the ingress of dust or grit. Even with the top casting left undone I can't imagine the plate or column falling out unless the tripod was upside down and I feel this safety catch is an unnecessary complication that I could easily live without.
The leg angle selectors work in the same way we're all used to with Gitzos but they've improved and have a more positive action and are quicker and easier to use. The same is true of the "G-lock" leg locking collars which only need a quarter turn before they positively lock the leg at any given point.
There are three options for the tripods feet and I needed all of them on the first job I took the tripod on. The rubber feet, perfect for concrete, hard floors and interiors simply pull off exposing spikes underneath which are good for grass and softer surfaces. I was interested to try the sand feet supplied by Gitzo and the 2nd section of the job was all on beaches - perfect ! Fitting the plastic sand feet involves unscrewing the spike from each leg pushing the sand foot on and screwing the spike back into the leg. A bit more than a two minute job but still quick and simple. More importantly they worked really well and prevented the legs sinking in the sand.
Overall it's a great tripod with good stability and torsional rigidity even at 2.77metres with all 6 leg sections extended. It's easier and quicker to use than the old aluminium versions I've been using for the last twenty years but the way I handle it and the techniques my muscles have learned are the same because it still feels like the same tool.