Some prefer feet, others a good bum, me I like a nice pair of legs. When you can’t have a pair I’ll settle for just one.
Bad jokes aside the Gitzo GM4552L is as good a leg or monopod as you can buy – If you’re into photography.
Firstly a big thanks to Tura Scandinavia and especially Jan for hooking me up with short notice just in time for my trip to Iceland. Some of you might know but for those who don’t Iceland is basically a huge lava rock in the northern region of the Atlantic ocean just below Arctic where the weather can be a harsh and as windy as they come. If there’s a place you need proper support figuratively speaking it’s here. And what better way to support a largish lens than a solid carbon fiber monopod and tripod head.
Ahh yes Gitzo, the brand that every other manufacturer strives to be yet no one to this day haven’t really reached that level of finesse and quality. Some have come close, others have surpassed on some aspects but failed on others. Gitzo is still the de facto go for still photography setting industry standards for the past decades as the number one support brand, bar none.
Gitzo is the equivalent to Ferrari just for comparison in case you haven’t heard of Gitzo before – Chances are, since you are looking at this review they’re probably slim.
Over the years Gitzo has come to be even more expensive than they were just 10 years ago yet their products have also improved. Slowly but surely under the radar updates like new sleeker woven beautiful carbon fiber, not something you can easily see just by looking but more something you’ll notice as soon as you use it. Increased stiffness as a benefit.
Gitzo might not have past times popularity due to increased competition from particular Asian brands that often offer (at least on paper) roughly the same performance. But Gitzo is also their own biggest competitor meaning they have been building tripods and what have you that most wouldn’t change in a heartbeat the next 20 years to come. Customers literally thought they had no reason to replace their expensive high-end Gitzo tripod bought back when D-SLRs was a new thing with another one that looks almost the same. To some extent they’re right at least until they try the updated version, then everything is apparent.
With video being ever more popular and still photography with typical regular D-SLR being on a steady decline other brands looks to please the video market too much more so than I think Gitzo does. The product is prove of that – Geared towards the professional still photographer that want the very best support money can buy.
I’m not too sure the Gitzo GM4552L changes that and thank god for that. This is an old-school, the best of the best type of monopod without super innovative never-seen-before solutions that cater to another crowd other than the one they have been serviced for the last 50 years.
So what is it?
GM4552L just rolls of your tongue doesn’t it. It’s about as sexy a name as a numberplate. Sure you can argue that the name itself actually implies the capabilities of the monopod which it does but no other than Gitzo, retailers and perhaps returning customers know that.
But what it means is that it’s a 4 series monopod (Gitzo characterized their series from 0-5 where the later is the beefiest and most solid), 5 sections (meaning it’ll fold to a relatively short length) and that it Long (meaning ability to go over the head type of shooting). It also tells which generation it is which is less important. Did you figure that out before reading all the way here – Be honest.. I for one wouldn’t if I didn’t already knew.
I looked high and low for the very best, over my head, fold down to fit in a smallish luggage bag yet also support whatever lens I could muster on the tripod
A new thing for Gitzo is to include a pivot foot which makes the footprint larger but also one that in certain situations on flat tarmac and what have you increases your stability as well as movement – Perfect for the professional sports photographer, a hindrance on the molten lava rock. Thankfully Jan got me covered and included the regular rubber foot as well just as well.
Like all monopods and tripods in this segment you can just as easy remove the regular rubber foot and discover a steel spike perfect for where the soil it extremely hard and you really need to dig down in order to gain traction.
Based on my needs!
I knew I needed a hefty monopod but like most of you that travel anywhere with your gear know there’s a certain size and length you can bring along before it becomes a nuisance.
I looked high and low for the very best, over my head, fold down to fit in a smallish luggage bag yet also support whatever lens I could muster on without it bending (I can’t count the number of both tripods and monopods the claim a kilogram number so vastly out of league to what the capabilities actually are).
I brought the Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x which was a perfect fit. Like the monopod not too heavy, not too cumbersome and delivering the very best money can buy (or regular folks can buy at least).
An evening in windy conditions at the coast reminded me why it’s sometimes better to use a monopod than just to go handheld. On this very evening was there was opportunities the whole time reaching into early night. We’re talking at least 5 hours of constantly shooting – Sure I’m not the weakest of the bunch but still 5 hours hand holding 5 kg camera gear in stretched arms would be a hassle at some point or another.
…that certain safety professionals tend to like and rely on
The strong winds reminded me why I brought the Gitzo GM4552L along as the increased support gave me quite more keepers than if I didn’t. Sure the awesome Zenelli CARBON ZC Carbon Fiber Gimbal Head that I converted to a side loader helped quite a bit. This gimbal head by the way, if you can then you must a least try it. Leaves virtually no footprint but still is beyond rock solid and weighs next to nothing. – Now that is a combo!
Another industry best are the quick-lock which are indeed quick. But not only do they require a quarter of a turn they also don’t need to be tightened as much as most of the competition meaning there’s that certain safety professionals tend to like and rely on. There’s no reason to check it twice cause you know it just works, no questions asked.
What more can be said about one of the best if not the very best monopod money can buy. Sure it’s not as cheap as some of the competition, sure it doesn’t cater much to the video crowd and might not be the lightest and smallest on the market. But what it does it does better than everyone else.
A TRUE 30 kg max load rating, quick-locks that work even without you going full bore on the locks, a close to perfect travel length and an over the head max height. What more could you need?