Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Tripod Kit Review

I am grateful to Manfrotto(Gitzo) & WEX for lending me a couple of Tripods back in November on our workshop visit to Snowdonia (check out the podcast here). In the next couple of blogs we'll be sharing the review of the Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Kit and the Manfrotto Befree Advanced Kit as well. Here's the video with an overview, and the full review of the Gitzo kit is below...

GITZO - Understanding the range

First up is the Gitzo Traveler Series 1 Carbon eXact Kit (currently for sale at £749 through WEX) rather snappily referred to as the GK1545T-82TQD...who'd ever forget that ;) Joking aside the range of Gitzo on offer can at first seem a little bewildering, and with prices at £600+ it's easy to just tune out and lump them all into one big 'expensive' bracket. So, here's a mini breakdown that is hopefully easy to digest:

  • They offer 3 main 'ranges' of Tripods across 'series' 0-5
  • The 3 ranges are: Traveler, Mountaineer, Systematic
  • The models increase in size and weight as you go up the series from 0 to 5 respectively
  • The Traveler is the lightest and packs down the smallest (if comparing like with like across ranges in same series). It is available in Series 0, 1 and 2
  • The Mountaineer range is a little heavier than the Traveler series, thus providing even more support whilst still being portable. They are available in Series 0, 1, 2 and 3
  • The Systematic is the largest and heaviest of the range and are available in Series 3, 4 and 5

This is just an overview, there are of course many spec differences so to get the full run down on the tripods check out

THE SPEC - Traveler Series 1 Kit

This review is looking at a Traveler Series 1 kit, which includes the ball head. The spec and features include:

  • Traveler GT1545T Tripod
  • 82TQD Centre Ball Head
  • Max load: 10kg
  • Maximum height: 163.5cm
  • Minimum height: 140.5cm
  • 1.45kg weight
  • Carbon fibre eXact tubes
  • 180° leg folding system
  • Traveler G-locks
  • Independent pan and ball lock (no friction control)

What Gitzo say...

"The Gitzo GT1545T Series 1 Traveler carbon fiber tripod is an ultra-compact, 4-section support with an 180° leg folding system pioneered by Gitzo, which enables its legs to reverse-fold around the center column and the head, allowing it to fold down to 42.5 cm. It is recommended for use with 135mm lenses (200mm max.). With its leg angles spread and the included short center column inserted, the tripod goes lower for low-angle or macro shots.

The tripod’s legs are made of Carbon eXact tubing for superior strength and stiffness in a slimmer size and feature the “Traveler G-lock” - a travel-size version of Gitzo’s G-lock, specifically designed to ensure security in reduced size. Its specially-designed compact rubber feet can easily be replaced if necessary. It comes with its own shoulder strap for comfortable carrying."

IN ACTION - How we got on

Ok, now that's all the numbers and specs out of the way let's get to how it actually was in action.

First off I should set the scene, I was using this tripod during a long weekend trip to Snowdonia, we were doing a fair amount of walking across undulating terrain and in pretty inclement weather with rather a strong wind most of the time. The lightweight design (1.45kg) helped by the carbon fiber legs, was very much appreciated during the ascents. It's light enough to fit nicely on the back of your camera bag - many tripods suggest this but really I find once you get over 1.5kg or so it just feels like something constantly pulling you backwards and isn't overly practical.

There were no issues with the rain or sleet affecting the performance of the legs and ball-head, both of which are an absolute doddle to operate under any circumstances without clumsy fumbling, even with gloves on. This tripod really does feel like a class act, which it should for the money involved! It was a real pleasure to use, it's easy to say this but you know when you don't get on with a tripod because you just think "oh, sod it, I'll shoot handheld" whereas when you like the tripod you're much more inclined to use it which can help with compositions etc.

 Looks quality...feels quality! The 82TQD ball head comes with the kit.

Looks quality...feels quality! The 82TQD ball head comes with the kit.

Only in one place did I feel like perhaps I could have wanted something a little more robust and that was atop the 'horns of Snowdon' which in part is quite exposed to the wind. That said, I was certainly glad of the lightweight nature of it on the walk up there!! So, you can't have your cake and eat it, you have to get your priorities in order and decide if it's really weight or stability that is most important to you. Or, if you want both (it's pretty much impossible by the way) then you have to be prepared to compromise every now and then in the wind, or perhaps by carrying a bit more weight.

I think it's important to think about when you use a tripod. For example, if you do a lot of long exposure, you may want something a little sturdier, that means you'll have to cope with something a bit heavier (maybe a Series 2). However, if you do walk a lot and love to explore and be out all day (or are trying to take this as hand luggage!) then this Traveler Series 1 could be ideal. On some days, when out exploring, sometimes I debate whether to carry a tripod at all - but there are some common uses which it's invaluable for: when using it to fine tune compositions, or bracketing for a wide dynamic range, doing a long exposure, or shooting with a long lens in low light. This is the kind of scenario that the Traveler Series 1 is ideal for. It's light enough to carry all day without it tiring you out but is sturdy enough when you need it.

I personally prefer quite a lightweight set-up, my usual day-to-day tripod is the Manfrotto 190 XPRO3 which I find is a nice balance of not being too heavy if out walking (1.6kg), but also feeling comfortable with a Canon 6D + 70-200 f2.8 L series or a Hasselblad 500 with various lenses. I also use a Manfrotto 055 for with a geared head for studio or product photography as it's heavier (2.5kg) and as such just stays assembled and ready to go for static shoots. That said, this Gitzo felt appreciably less weighty than my usual set-up which after 4-6 hours on the move really is a great help, the higher quality materials and ball head also made for a nice upgrade.

SUMMARY - Is it worth it??

There are plenty of lightweight options out there, so the Gitzo just being light is not enough to encourage you to part with £700+ for the kit. I also had a Manfrotto Befree for the weekend which was also very light for example and about 1/4 of the price so I've agonised over how to express this point and to really think about the value for money here. I think what it comes down to is quality; reliability, durability and usability. The Gitzo just simply feels high quality. Every smooth movement of the legs and the head just reassures you that it has been expertly engineered and could last for many years. Even with the 70-200 on it felt secure and the ball head can take really fine adjustments easily and when you lock it in, it stays locked in. The 82TQD ball head felt a significant increase in quality compared to my own Manfrotto 496RC2 which is of course cheaper but similarly light if you're on a budget.

One caveat, I would suggest that the Series 1 version of this tripod is excellent if you are really are needing to keep weight of your kit right down and are taking it on some substantial walks/hikes/treks/camps or flying etc. If you are never more than a few hundred feet from your car or even just walking over less demanding (and steep terrain) then the Series 2 version of this might give just a little more stability in higher winds due to the extra weight. Personally I'd give serious thought to looking at a Series 2 before investing for myself, but as I said earlier it's always a pay-off between weight vs stability...and don't believe someone who tells you otherwise!

To answer the question though, YES I think spending this sort of money on a Gitzo is worth it. That is if you shoot a lot, use a tripod a lot, and really want something to last a long time. This is a good example of getting what you pay for and I for one am 'sold' on the Gitzo brand - now it's just to pick the right one for me...

If anyone reading this wants to share their experiences of the Gitzo range do feel free to leave a comment below.

Kase Filters 6 Stop vs Lee Filters 6 Stop in Snowdonia...

There's been a little bit of a buzz around the landscape photography world recently about the new Kase filters so I took their 'Wolverine Series - Entry Level Kit' out to Snowdonia on our recent 'on location' trip with Greg Whitton & Karl Mortimer for episode #30 of the podcast.

I was keen to try out the new Kase filters 'in the field' and preferably against something many people already know and use, including myself, the Lee Filter Kit. Further below (and on the video) you'll get to see direct comparisons of each set of filters (specifically the 6 stop ND) in action with some back to back image comparisons (UN-processed RAW files) of the same scenes. I'm also going to smash through some FAQ's about the pricing, compatability etc at the end of the blog.

First up maybe take a look at the video now, or at the end of the blog. You get to see the locations, the kit in action and an on-screen walk through of the main talking points on the images.

Full disclosure - I am a Lee user as it stands but with some minor gripes, so was open minded to try these Kase models. All our Togcast reviews/blogs are 100% neutral (a filter joke already - oh dear!) and we are never 'given' gear for free, or paid to review any items. It's always just our thoughts based on our own experiences and so hopefully we give a balanced and fair opinion...

 Kase 'Wolverine Series - Entry Level Kit'

Kase 'Wolverine Series - Entry Level Kit'

I figure there are going to be two groups of photographers reading this:

1. You already have a set of filters from brand X,Y,Z but want to see how these compare.

2. You don't have a set of filters yet and would like to know more about the relative merits of the Kase vs the Lee Filters.

Hopefully both readers will glean something from the blog and video which both concentrate primarily on the merits of both the 6 stop ND's (I use the Lee standard Little Stopper - not the new IRND models which are twice the price). So, let's get into it...

First Impressions

The Kase gear looks immediately like a smart bit of kit. Within the 'Entry Level Kit' you get the following:

  1. K100-X holder
  2. Geared adapter rings: 77-86mm & 82-86mm
  3. Step rings: 67-82mm & 72-82mm
  4. 86mm slimline CPL (Polarising filter)
  5. Wolverine 100x150mm soft GND filter GND 0.9 (3 stop Soft Grad)*
  6. Wolverine 100x100mm ND filter ND 64 (6 Stop ND)*
  7. K100 square filter bag

*You can have a choice of strength when buying (i.e 2 stop Soft Grad instead)

The filter bag is a smart leather unit with clasp that also has a shoulder strap. Within the holder itself the slots for the filters are made of a hard plastic material which keeps them from moving about, my only minor criticism per se would be that when slotting the smaller square ND's away (as opposed to the longer grads) you have to remember which slot has the little support base otherwise the square ND just drops right down to the bottom and the only way to remove it is to turn the case upside down - not ideal when you might tip out other glass filters! Whereas on the Lee bag that I tend to use it has a soft material slot for the filter so you can just slide in either the square ND or the longer grads without any issues.

 Lee Filters 'Field Pouch'

Lee Filters 'Field Pouch'

In Action

Let's get into the nitty gritty - the usability, image quality and performance....

First up, it took a few moments to get used to the actual filter holder, it operates in a similar way to the Lee in that you can leave a filter ring on the end of your lens and you hook the filter holder over and into position and then it has a screw on the right hand side that tightens it - as opposed to the possibly quicker release of the Lee system. No issue either way for me, just different.

The Kase filters slide neatly into place, just like the Lee models in their holder on the lens. You can use the Kase filters in the Lee holder with some adaptation - I cover this in the FAQ's at the end of the blog.

One big boast from the Kase team is that there filters can safely take a few drops before snapping into pieces! As someone who has found out to their cost that usually 1 drop is enough it was great fun to drop the test glass multiple times from Kase without any cracking or chipping - this is well worth consideration if you have a tendency for being a bad juggler!

Shot using Kase 3 stop soft ND Grad

Another really useful benefit of the Kase that we had on test is that it wiped dry really easily (as shown in the video). This is a big one for me as I've been so frustrated commonly using other filters at the coast or in light rain and just pushing the water around the filter and it smearing and all sorts. These Kase filters wiped off clean, very easily and I was mightily impressed.

I primarily used the 3 stop soft grad and the 6 stop ND - I can say that both were easy to use and on the soft grad I saw little or no difference in the image quality vs the Lee. The colour looked the same, the amount of grad density looked the same and to be honest I left it there - however, on the 6 stop ND there were some pretty obvious differences...

The Image Comparisons

I shot two main 'back to back' comparison scenes. In both cases I was in overcast light (i.e. stable and consistent) and the images were shot using the exact same settings; ISO, white balance, f-stop, shutter etc and also made within seconds of each other. The idea of these images was not to add to my portfolio but to give good working examples of common scenes where you may want to use a 6 stop ND.

The first location was at Dinorwic quarry where there was a great pool of water alongside some slate which seemed like a great chance to compare the colour cast of the two sets of filters. Most people know the Lee 6 and 10 stop standard filters (Little & Big Stoppers) tend to come up a little on the cool/blue side of things and Kase were keen to point out their neutrality of tone, let's have a look at the individual images and a split comparison:

Kase 6 Stop ND (click for larger view)

Lee 6 Stop ND (click for larger view)

50/50 Vertical Split

Settings: f16 @ 25 secs (ISO400)

As you can see there are some pretty major differences there in the colour cast/hue and even clarity to a degree. I must point out the 'actual' colour, which is quite a magnificent turquoise, of the pool of water on that day (it changes depending on the weather, time of year, chemical reactions within it) was probably somewhere between the two but closer to the Lee.

Similarly the slate on the left side of the pool was again somewhere between the two. Fundamentally it's about which RAW file gives you the best 'starting point' for your final image which in many cases is not just about producing a representational shot of a location. Depending on your style of photography you may be wanting to express a different visual narrative or your own aesthetic but as you'll see in the next example it's probably easier to have a starting point that is closer to 'reality' to build upon.

The second image was a neat little square from a segment of falls near Llyn Ogwen. I knew from experience this would be a great test of the filters as it would really show in the water AND in the rocks if there were any heavy colour casts going on.

Kase 6 Stop ND (click for larger view)

Lee 6 Stop ND (click for larger view)

50/50 Vertical Split

Settings: f11 @ 15 secs (ISO400)

Here the Kase was really impressive. It was early evening and the light was quite dull and fairly cool, the very slight warmth of the Kase helped keep the scene looking very natural and neutral and it made for a RAW file that needed very little adjustments for a natural look. Whereas the Lee really came out quite blue/cool which exacerbated the colour balance/temp issues of that time of day. I've found this is often the case, and here it's not just the water but the actual rocks as well. If you watch the video I go into a bit more detail and when preparing the 50/50 split above it was just like wiping away a blue sheen that had been laid over the image when deleting the Lee layer from above the Kase to produce the split as seen above.

In Summary

I was primarily impressed with the colour balance of the Kase 6 stop ND. As I mentioned earlier, the 3 stop soft Grad performed very similarly to the Lee and as such there was no real news to get into there. However, I can see that the neutrality (or maybe slight warmth) of the Kase would be actually really nice to use when on longer exposures. Commonly the Lee Little & Big Stopper range do give you quite a blue/cool RAW file and it's not as simple as just bumping up the temp slider as that causes other issues (a video on that is coming soon!).

The physical handling of the holder and usability of the Kase kit was good but didn't make me immediately want to sell my Lee gear, I suppose an element of that is familiarity and of course the finances of it. At the time of print (Dec 2017) the Kase kit is £375 which is not totally dis-similar from the equivalent Lee components but it is a little more expensive.

The benefits for me would be colour neutrality (which is v.important) and the fact they can take a tumble or two without smashing. Also the ease of wiping dry when in the field cannot be underestimated, it can be the difference between getting the shot and not getting it if you have smudges etc. So, if you're a Lee user it might be worth considering a Kase 6 + 10 stop ND to add to your kit (with the adaptation as mentioned in FAQ below), and then maybe explore the whole Kase kit at a later date. Or, just go for it in one whole hit!

However, to play devils advocate here you also have to think about the longevity (unknown on any new brand), the availability of spares, will they hold some used value etc etc? All the boring but practical stuff we should think of. There are also the new Lee 'Pro Glass' range which might well solve some of the above issues...maybe we'll get our hands on those soon and go back to back in another comparison.

Kase Filters can be found at and Lee Filters via


Q: Can you use the Kase filters in a Lee Holder?

A: Yes, but Kase recommend you use their adaptor rails that fit into the front of the Lee holder. This is because the Kase filters are slightly thinner and as such may slip through if used in a Lee holder. There are some UK photographers who have been successfully trialing the Kase gear in a Lee holder so it's perfectly possible.

Q: Are they really shatterproof?

A: We were given a test glass that we were encouraged to drop. It survived multiple drops on rock before showing any chipping or breaking. In our experience it only usually takes one drop on rock to smash most filters, so this was very impressive!

Q: Tell us a little bit about the Kase material and surface...

A: All Wolverine filters have 'nano-tech' coatings that help control reflections, repel oil and water and are mold resistant. They simply wipe clean when covered in sea spray, or water with minimal smudging. What does this mean in reality? Well, in our test (as you can see in the video) they wiped clean really easily - this is not something that is always true of other brands and can be really frustrating in the field.

Q: Do you get free kit or paid for these reviews?

A: I wish! We always approach these reviews with an open-mind and are happy to show any gear that we think would be of interest to our audience. We're active photographers and so have a natural interest in keeping up with what is out there and sharing that impartially with you.

Q: What would you recommend for a newcomer to filters?

A: First up, I'd recommend saving up and buying from one of the pro end makers. This includes Lee, Hi-Tech and now Kase. I've seen many people buy cheap filter sets with dubious quality plastic/glass which have awful image quality. Also the holders are often fiddly and all that happens is after 6-12 months you end up buying a better set. It's more cost efficient to just buy the better set in the first place! Trust me...I did it the wrong way round as well.

I'd also say have a think about what you want to use filters for and why. Think about the shooting scenarios you are in and how filters could help you from a technical point of view of making a balanced exposure, and/or from a creative point of view to let you hone your aesthetic vision.

Q: Which filters (in terms of Grads, NDs, Polarisers etc!) would you recommend as 'essential'?

A: Again, it depends a lot on where, when and why. I would say for most people a 1,2,3 stop ND Grad set is great (go for the 2 stop if you can only afford x1) and then a 6 stop full ND for long exposure work. The polariser is also a great bit of kit but needs to be used sparingly and properly to avoid issues. I'd start with the ND grads and 6 stop full ND to begin with and then experiment with a polariser later.

Sam Gregory (co-host of The Togcast - Photography Podcast)

Listen to our latest podcast from Snowdonia featuring Greg Whitton & Karl Mortimer...