Birder's Guide

DEC 2015

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Page 15 of 43

14 Birder's Guide to Gear | November 2015 Propping It All Up true, but with Gitzo I think it holds true. Superior durability, phenomenal weight-to- maximum-load ratio, and elegant function- ing are all hallmarks of this tripod line. A grooved center column prevents spinning during adjustment, and, unlike the prior tripods, the column is adjusted with a twist- ing collar instead of a tightening knob. I've used an older, 3-section Gitzo Mountaineer heavily for almost 15 years now, and it just won't die. I almost wish it would so I can upgrade to this sweet 4-section version with the newest G-lock ultra system leg collars. • Gitzo 2542 Mountaineer : $799.99, Car- bon fber, 4-section collar twist locks. 65.7" max. extended height, 22" folded length. Weight 3.7 lbs., maximum load 39.7 lbs. Reviewer comments: This is sturdier and a step heavier in the Mountaineer line. Gitzo series-2 tripods are probably a bit heavy for typical scoping (in fact, series-0 Gitzos can be great for lightweight scoping) but would fnd use for a really serious digiscoping extended height, 19.2" folded length. Weight 3.6 lbs., maximum load 15.4 lbs. Reviewer comments: Essentially the MT190XPRO4 in carbon & without rub- ber leg pads. Adds $90, but shaves off a pound. Have you heard how thru-hikers do stuff like cut off their toothbrush han- dles to save a few grams in their packs? Imagine what they would do for a whole pound off their backs. Well worth the extra cheddar for the weight and vibration ad- justment benefts, in my opinion. • Manfrotto 190GO : $199.99, Aluminum, 4-section collar twist locks. 48" max. ex- tended height, 17.7" folded length. Weight 3.7 lbs., maximum load 15.4 lbs. Review- er comments: This was the most compact (and shortest) tripod I tested, but when ful- ly extended, I still found it usable without center column extension with my angled scope (I'm 5'10" tall.) This model departs from the other Manfrottos with collar twist locks that felt very good to me, solidly locking with minimal effort in a way simi- lar to Gitzo's (more on those next). It lacks a leveling bubble but sports a single foam leg pad, Easy Link connecter, and 90° col- umn features. Really great travel tripod for the money, and if Manfrotto ever comes out with a carbon version, it could be brilliant! • Gitzo 1542 Mountaineer : $699.99, Car- bon fber, 4-section collar twist locks. 62.6" max. extended height, 21.3" folded length. Weight 2.8 lbs., maximum load 22 lbs. Reviewer comments: Well, if you're still reading about this one after seeing the price, you'll realize that Gitzos are the cream of the crop. I know the maxim "you get what you pay for" doesn't always hold on you in the feld. Rubber padding on two legs isn't particularly soft but will help keep you from freezing your fngers to the aluminum in cold conditions. • Manfrotto MT190XPRO4 : $239.99, Alumi- num, 4-section lever locks. 63" max. ex- tended height, 20.6" folded length. Weight 4.6 lbs., maximum load 15.4 lbs. Reviewer comments: Essentially a travel version of the MT190X3, it adds newer, more ergo- nomic leg locks and a 90° column feature which seems really cool for things like macro photography. Probably wouldn't be of much use for scoping, however. The PRO series also adds a leveling bubble on the top of the legs, which can be pretty helpful if you are setting up for a long session of scoping the horizon, such as on a seawatch or looking over mud fats for shorebirds. When your tripod is level, you can track perfectly side to side with just the panning axis and thus keep the tilt snug until needed. • Manfrotto MT190CXPRO4 : $429.99, Car- bon fber, 4-section lever locks. 63" max.

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