My Gitzo Repair Experience (long...)

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I own a Gitzo 3540XLS Systematic 6X Carbon Fiber Tripod. It's about 11 years old and has seen a tremendous amount of use. I've been very pleased with its performance.

About 18 months ago, it became increasingly difficult to tighten the legs. Until then, it took just a gentle quarter turn to tighten the legs. But, things were wearing out--and the legs would slowly start to collapse while I was shooting. So, I sent it in for repair--and Gitzo performed a complete overhaul for about $350. I was without my tripod for a couple of months, but I was told that the tripod was as good as new.

During my recent road trip through Florida, I started having a different issue with my tripod. The legs started just flopping around. Given how much I walk with my tripod, it was frustrating to have the legs so loose. After nearly every photo shoot, I would tighten the legs with the wrench...but they would just loosen again within minutes. I called Gitzo's customer service number, and the representative tried to help me fix it. He said that the washers were worn down and that by bending them slightly it would likely fix the problem. Unfortunately, my Gitzo tripod model is no longer being sold, so in the end we couldn't figure out how to remove the leg. He said that the replacement parts were in stock--but that he would order some more as well from Italy so that once I returned from my trip the tripod could be quickly repaired.

A few weeks later (once I returned from my trip), I sent the tripod to Chandler, Arizona for repair. It took a week for the tripod to go from Chicago to Chandler for $22 via UPS Ground. The tripod arrived at the repair center on the morning of January 3rd. On January 8th, they opened the box. On January 8th, I was provided with a repair estimate and approved the work with my credit card.

I called last week to check on the status. I was told that the parts aren't in stock after all. The parts need to be shipped from Italy via boat...and then across the country by ground. They said it usually takes at least two weeks for the parts to arrive once they are shipped. But, they also pointed out that the parts haven't yet been shipped.

He said that the soonest I could possibly expect to see my tripod would be the end of February...assuming the parts are shipped the next day. Two weeks for parts shipping...a week or two for repair...another week for return shipping. He also pointed out that he had no idea when the parts would be shipped...he said it could be 4-6 weeks...meaning that I would not have my tripod until mid to late March. I shipped it to them on December 26th.

I checked again this morning and the parts (a couple of washers) still haven't left Italy.

As much as I enjoy using my Gitzo tripod, it's unacceptable for an item of this cost (probably $1,200 to replace) to be out of service twice for a total of at least 4 or 5 months within an 18 month time period!

Since I am going to be without my tripod for so long, I had no choice but to buy a back up tripod. Since it is just a backup, I didn't want to spend as much as I did for my Gitzo tripod. So, I started doing some research.

I settled on the Benro TMA38CL Mach3 9X Carbon Fiber Series 3 Long tripod. Despite the low cost ($385), it receives rave reviews. F-stoppers said they preferred it over the Gitzo and RRS tripods that they tested! So, I thought I would give it a try.

I must say that I am super impressed with the Benro. It's solid and light. It has a quality feel to it. It also comes with a number of accessories that other manufacturers would charge for--such as a nice carrying bag, replacement feet, a shorter center column, a tool kit, etc.). The tripod feels comparable to my Gitzo...the only question is how long it will hold up. But, for a backup tripod it is certainly meeting my needs.

I like Gitzo tripods, but given the hassles with the repair service, I'll stay away from them in the future.

Glenn
 
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I've been using Benro gear since before they had representation in the US. All my gear still works like new (and some of it is 10-15 years old).

I think your initial impression of the quality of their product is quite accurate, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it outlasts your gitzo. And BTW, I have found their customer service to be very responsive (the one time I actually availed myself with it).
 

Butlerkid

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There is no way you could be without a tripod for so long! LOL! I have the RRS TVC-24L extra tall (I'm 5'3" :p) and really like it. I am confidant it will last a very long time. With the money you spent on repairing the Gitzo and this time, you've put a lot of money into an 11 year old, constantly used tripod. I would have thought that since Gitzo said that the first repair made it "as good as new" that you would not be charged to fix the legs.
 
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I've been using Benro gear since before they had representation in the US. All my gear still works like new (and some of it is 10-15 years old).

I think your initial impression of the quality of their product is quite accurate, and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it outlasts your gitzo. And BTW, I have found their customer service to be very responsive (the one time I actually availed myself with it).
That's good to hear. So far, I'm very impressed. The tripod just has a quality feel to it. I wasn't expecting it to be of this quality given the price. They say that you get what you pay for, but in this case Benro sure seems to offer a great value for the price.

Glenn
 
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There is no way you could be without a tripod for so long! LOL! I have the RRS TVC-24L extra tall (I'm 5'3" :p) and really like it. I am confidant it will last a very long time. With the money you spent on repairing the Gitzo and this time, you've put a lot of money into an 11 year old, constantly used tripod. I would have thought that since Gitzo said that the first repair made it "as good as new" that you would not be charged to fix the legs.
When I saw that the replacement tripod would run about $1,200 from Gitzo, I figured that the repair cost was worth it. It just doesn't seem like a tripod would require that much work!

I pointed out the "as good as new" to the representative when dealing with this second repair. But, it's true that the parts being repaired are different from the ones repaired last year. In this case, it's the washers that provide resistance to the legs as they spread out--not extend. The cost of this repair ($79)...makes it a no-brainer in my opinion to get the tripod fixed. But, the slow response time is what prompted me to get the Benro.

I must say that the quality of the Benro was a shock. It rivals that of the Gitzo--at least for now.

Glenn
 
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Thanks for relating your experience, Glenn. I'm really surprised at the difficulty you're having getting the Gitzo repaired. My much lighter-weight Gitzo is at least as old as yours but certainly hasn't seen the use yours has. I've noticed the lack of replacement parts for older tripods on their web site.

I will be interested in a follow-up, both on the Gitzo repair and your longer-term experience with the Benro, and I'm sure others here will too.
 
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Thanks for relating your experience, Glenn. I'm really surprised at the difficulty you're having getting the Gitzo repaired. My much lighter-weight Gitzo is at least as old as yours but certainly hasn't seen the use yours has. I've noticed the lack of replacement parts for older tripods on their web site.

I will be interested in a follow-up, both on the Gitzo repair and your longer-term experience with the Benro, and I'm sure others here will too.
I'll update this thread with the status of my Gitzo repair. One thing that I find to be disappointing is that they can't even provide me with an estimate of when the parts will be sent from Italy. You would think they would have better controls over the status of their inventory. The last time that I called, I was told that they have no idea when the parts will be available...and these aren't discontinued parts. They could probably just get replacement washers at the local Ace Hardware.

Glenn
 
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It took me a month of almost daily calls and emails to get a screw out of them. That was when they were in NJ. During this ordeal, I became convinced the parts have be blessed by the Pope, and given he is a busy guy scheduling time with him to get this done can be difficult. I finally got the screw, called RRS, ordered my 34l and sold the Gitzo.
 
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Many years ago, I had my Gitzo 2220 fall over (with any camera on it) into the ocean off the Oregon coast. I cleaned it up the best I could but the shims/leg collars needed replacing. Gitzo (in NJ I believe) got 'em to me in 2 days. I no longer have that 2220; it's been replaced with a 1325 CF that has been bomb and Nick proof.
 

Butlerkid

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That Benro looks nice....but is a bit over 20% heavier. (.8lb heavier than the RRS TVC24L). Of course you are a strong guy and can handle the extra weight! LOL! And as a backup tripod the Benro should be just fine. Good luck with Gitzo. My first tripod was a Gitzo....I "bought once" and used it for over 12 years. Hubby still uses it. But the support stories about Gitzo caused me to look elsewhere when getting a new tripod.
 
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It took me a month of almost daily calls and emails to get a screw out of them. That was when they were in NJ. During this ordeal, I became convinced the parts have be blessed by the Pope, and given he is a busy guy scheduling time with him to get this done can be difficult. I finally got the screw, called RRS, ordered my 34l and sold the Gitzo.
And NJ is far more responsive than Chandler. I've been told that the Chandler facility is much slower...but NJ no longer does the repairs.

Glenn
 
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That Benro looks nice....but is a bit over 20% heavier. (.8lb heavier than the RRS TVC24L). Of course you are a strong guy and can handle the extra weight! LOL! And as a backup tripod the Benro should be just fine. Good luck with Gitzo. My first tripod was a Gitzo....I "bought once" and used it for over 12 years. Hubby still uses it. But the support stories about Gitzo caused me to look elsewhere when getting a new tripod.
The Benro weighs the same as my Gitzo...so I'm accustomed to that weight. But, my Gitzo is much taller...I'm 6'3" and it is at eye level before I even start to extend the third segment of the legs! I like that because the extra length because it allows me to extend the legs on uneven surfaces (trails ) as well as to be able to extend it up to eye level even when I'm standing on a bench for a higher vantage point.

Glenn
 
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Many years ago, I had my Gitzo 2220 fall over (with any camera on it) into the ocean off the Oregon coast. I cleaned it up the best I could but the shims/leg collars needed replacing. Gitzo (in NJ I believe) got 'em to me in 2 days. I no longer have that 2220; it's been replaced with a 1325 CF that has been bomb and Nick proof.
Hopefully it will remain that way or you'll get to experience the service aspect of the Gitzo operation!

My Gitzo tripod is perfect for my needs. In Gitzo's defense, I've opened and closed that tripod tens of thousands of times over the past decade. Nearly every photograph that I take involves setting up and taking down that tripod. It was perfect for the first ten years--and hopefully it will be good for another ten once I get it back.

Glenn
 
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One has to wonder if the original name was Ditzo, but after a typo in the original ad as Gitzo, the less than attentive/caring management decided to let bygones be bygones.
 
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Very true. I had a trying experience trying to get parts for the 1327 about 10 years ago - initially Gitzo told me the part I needed to replace didn't exist because it wasn't on their schematic for that model. o_O

Sean
Maybe my expectations weren't reasonable, but when I purchased the tripod back in 2018, I thought it would be the last tripod that I would ever buy. It never dawned on me that a tripod has parts that simply wear out.

Glenn
 

Butlerkid

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I'm certainly not pleased with the service aspect, but I think Gitzo makes a great tripod.

Glenn
I wonder if that should be "did" make a great tripod! LOL! The market has changed a lot in the intervening years. Gitzo seems to be the "Nikon" of tripods..... Good products, spotty to weak support, etc.
 

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