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Gitzo Légende tripod review

This special edition of the Gitzo Series 1 4-section Traveller oozes quality but, as you'd expect, doesn't come cheap.

5 Star Rating
Gitzo Legende tripod
(Image: © Angela Nicholson/Digital Camera World)

Digital Camera World Verdict

The Gitzo Légende tripod stretches the purse strings, but it's an exception travel tripod that is designed to give a lifetime of service. It lacks some of the extras seen on other tripods, but it performs its core function extremely well. It also combines impressively low weight with an unusually tall maximum height for a travel tripod.

Pros

  • +

    Very stable

  • +

    Great build quality

  • +

    Largely user repairable

Cons

  • -

    Expensive

  • -

    Small center column is separate from the long column

  • -

    Doesn't convert into a monopod

The Gitzo Légende tripod kit is a special edition of the Gitzo Series 1, 4-section Traveler. The most notable differences are that the Légende has aluminum leg and center column lock grips rather than rubber-covered locks. Also, the included Arca-Swiss compatible Centre Ball Head has a matte silver aluminum finish to match the locks rather than the usual Gitzo crinkled grey finish. 

Gitzo makes the Légende Traveler from 170 parts, all of them replaceable, and 70% of them can be replaced by the user at home. Moreover, once the tripod is registered, it's covered by a free unlimited warranty.

The Légende's 4-section legs and centre column are constructed from Gitzo's Carbon eXact tubing, which is said to give it superior strength and rigidity while keeping the size down. 

(Image credit: Angela Nicholson/Digital Camera World)

When the legs are collapsed and folded over the column and head, the tripod measures 43cm, making it one of the longer travel tripods. Gitzo supplied a synthetic 'Eco-leather' shoulder strap for carrying the tripod between shots.

With the legs flipped down, ready for action and fully extended, but with the centre column down, the Légende tripod is 141cm in height. Extending the centre column pushes the maximum height to 165cm. 

There are two options for low-level shooting; the first is replacing the centre column with a shorter one supplied in the kit. When this is in place and the legs are splayed to their widest (there are two angles 25° or 70°), the tripod's height is reduced to just under 31cm. Alternatively, the standard centre column can be removed and reversed to enable the camera to hang upside-down underneath the canopy. 

The included Center Ball Head is from Gitzo's professional range and is made from high-resistance steel and aluminum. It features a friction control within the ball lock.

Specifications

(Image credit: Angela Nicholson/Digital Camera World)

Material: Carbon fiber and aluminum

Folded length: 430mm

Maximum height: 165cm

No. leg sections: 4

Weight: 1.45g

Maximum load: 8kg

Build and handling

(Image credit: Angela Nicholson/Digital Camera World)

The Gitzo Légende tripod kit looks great, but if you want something a little less noticeable, the standard Series 1, 4 section Traveler makes a great choice. 

Thankfully, the Légende doesn't just score on the looks front; it also feels very well made. The grips around the leg locks give excellent purchase, and when the legs are collapsed, the locks on each leg are close enough to each other to be undone together. It only takes a quarter turn to loosen and tighten the locks so that the tripod can be deployed quickly. 

The ball lock knob on the tripod head is also large, which means it's easy to tighten. And within it there's a control to adjust the friction of the ball movement. Finding the right balance between the lock and the friction control takes a little while, but it's useful for getting the right freedom of movement with different camera and lens combinations.

Performance

(Image credit: Angela Nicholson/Digital Camera World)

Although the Légende Traveler has a maximum payload of 8Kg, Gitzo recommends that the maximum focal length used with it is around 135-200mm. That's because it's the weight distribution that's really important; it's the same for all tripods.

Sure enough, the tripod makes an impressively stable support for a full-frame camera with a standard zoom mounted. Even with the centre column at its maximum height, the tripod feels very rigid, and with it dropped down, I'd feel confident shooting with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens.

If there's a breeze, it might be an idea to attach the supplied hook to the bottom of the long centre column to hang a weight, but this tripod is more stable than we usually expect a travel tripod to be. A maximum height of 165cm also pushes the boundaries of a travel tripod.

When it's packed down, the Légende Traveler slips fairly easily into the average tripod support on a backpack, but at 43cm in length, it may stick up above the top of smaller bags, and it needs a securing strap to stop it flapping about. I must confess to checking the specifications of the 5-section Series 1 Traveler and enviously noting its 35.5cm closed length.

Verdict

(Image credit: Angela Nicholson/Digital Camera World)

Compared with many other travel tripods, the Gitzo Légende offers a fairly limited range of features. It doesn't have a smartphone holder, it doesn't have a removable leg that converts into a monopod, it can't transform into a mini tripod, and it doesn't have any connection points for mounting accessories. It's also one of the most expensive travel tripods available. However, its build quality is exquisite, and it's designed to be the only travel tripod that you ever buy.

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Angela has been testing camera gear from all the major manufacturers since January 2004 and has been Amateur Photographer’s Technical Editor and Head of Testing for Future Publishing’s photography portfolio (Digital Camera Magazine (opens in new tab)PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine (opens in new tab)N-Photo (opens in new tab)Practical Photoshop (opens in new tab)Photography Week (opens in new tab) and Professional Photography magazines, as well as the Digital Camera World and TechRadar websites).