Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Gitzo GT2531 Tripod Fails

Formerly a Gitzo tripod, relegated to a monopod.
New Years Day was a glorious day in the Pacific Northwest.  A high pressure trough settled in above us, giving us bluebird skies and reason to get out and enjoy the day.

I spent the day at Mount Rainier National Park, snowshoeing up to Mazama Ridge and photographing the mountain above rolling mounds of snow and snow-covered trees.  It was a fantastic setting in fresh powder snow.

Then it happened.

My tripod sank into the snow with the weight of my 5D MII camera, as one would expect.  What I didn't expect was when I lifted it back out of the snow, again mostly powder, only two legs retracted from the snow.  The third remained in the snow, having broken off of the centerpiece.  There had been very little, if any, resistance when pulling the tripod out of the snow.  This was fresh snow.

Broken hinges on Gitzo tripod.
I was in dismay.  Close examination revealed that the hinge had broke.  The leg itself was still in fine condition.  I first thought that the hinge must have developed stress cracks over time and finally given way.

I was as puzzled as I was disappointed.  Fortunately I still had two legs left and could still compose pictures by sticking them in the snow, and then prop the third independent leg against the centerpiece for sturdiness.

Broken Gitzo GT2531 Mountaineer tripod.
Failed hinges on Gitzo tripod.
 Then it happened again!

Now I was in complete disbelief.  Again, no pressure applied to the legs or hinges to speak of.  Could it be the cold temps?  High for the day was forecast to be 32*F, and it was nearly noon.  I would guess temps were in the mid to upper 20s when the failures happened.

As disappointed as I am in the failure, I am equally puzzled as to why.  This is not the way I would expect a tripod to fail, especially with a trusted name like Gitzo.

I plan to get in touch with Gitzo to get their take on this failure.  I also have arranged for an independent analysis on the breaks for metal fatigue, stress signs, etc.  Why go to this length?  Because it's readily available to me at no cost.  It's just how I'm wired.

I have absolutely loved my Gitzo tripod.  It's the best tripod I have owned to date, this failure aside.

I hope to get valuable input from Gitzo.  Have they seen this before?  Is this an inherent problem with the leg hinge?  Is it a weakness of the material used? (though the centerpiece is of magnesium construction, the hinge bushing is clearly of different material).

I will keep you posted of my findings.  I also encourage anyone else who has experienced similar problems to comment, either publicly or privately.


  1. Well. What happened? I am on the edge of buying a gitzo tripod and have read several accounts of similar incidents in similar temp conditions, in particular on mac rumors. Reading your post is like a suspense thriller. LOVE the photos by the way. Dan (Aust)


    Hope this answers all your questions.