Gitzo Explorer 2200 and 1276M Offset Ball Head Discussion

Flower 1
Flower 2

The Tripod and Tripod head are often overlooked, but critical accessories.  Unfortunately, like everything else as the quality gets better the price increases rapidly.  High end tripods do not come with a head.  You must actually purchase the head separately.  Again the price increases sharply as the quality goes up.

I chose the 1276M offset ball head because this is the model recommended for the 2200 on the Gitzo web site.  They recommend an offset ball head to give you greater flexibility in positioning your camera that follows with the incredible flexibility of the 2200 tripod.  I have truly loved my purchase, but to be honest  I do not have experience with any other tripod heads.  According to every professional out there, the best tripod head is the Arca-Swiss B-1 Ball Head.  I looked into purchasing this head, but it is about $400.  This is just for the head, you still need a tripod.  In addition the head is pretty large and heavy.  If you want the best get the Arca-Swiss, but for now I'm satisfied with the Gitzo I purchased.

Now for the tripod itself.  Gitzo tripods are rated among the best.  There are a few factors to check out when purchasing a tripod.  The most important factor is stability.  This is the main reason you will be using the tripod in the first place.  If you buy a cheap tripod it will not be very stable if there is any wind or ground vibration present.  The stability will decrease dramatically as you extend it's legs and/or center column.  There is really no point in lugging a tripod along, if once you set it up you realize that a 7mph breeze is causing it to vibrate.

Second you want to look at the overall weight and fully extended height of the tripod.  The heavier it is the more work to lug it around, but at the same time, it will probably be more stable as it gets heavier.  The more height you can get out of your tripod the more flexibility you have, but as you extend the legs and center column you will decrease the stability of the system.  Most photographers look for a tripod that will extend to at least 6 feet, about eye level.  In addition, the minimum collapsed height of the tripod gives you added flexibility.  The lower to the ground you can get the closer you can get to the picture in many cases.

I choose the 2200 for it's incredible flexibility.  It is not the most stable tripod out there, but for it gives you an incredible amount of flexibility, it's very stable, and it is not all that heavy.  The 2227 versions is the same tripod, but it is made out of carbon fibre.  This version is lighter, stronger (more stable), and is more resistant to vibration.  It also cost a lot more money and was out of my budget range.  The 2200 is made of Aluminum.  There is also another version that has 4 extension points on each leg to give you greater height.  Many photographers feel that this extra joint adds more instability and there is rarely a need for the extra height.  This is why I choose the 3  section version.

The unique aspect of the Explorer line of tripods from Gitzo, is that the center column is off to the side.   It does not run down the middle between the three legs.  This allows for the center column to be rotated 360 degrees, so it can be extended up as in traditional tripods, but it can also point out horizontally or even upside down.  This gives amazing flexibility over other traditional tripod designs.  For anyone who enjoys nature (flower) photos, and enjoys backpacking or hiking into rough terrain, I highly recommend this tripod.

You can check out the review of the Gitzo 2227 at  There is also a nice review of the tripod and Canon 10D at

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Photos by Rob Bukar