Yes, I know there's a thread about Gitzo vs Really Right Stuff (RRS), but it's from 2013:
I'm wondering if anything has changed since then.
I used to have a Gitzo 1325 with Markins Q-20 ballhead. It was very stable, and secure. Also, BIG, BULKY and heavy. But, for 300mm lenses, (or 420 with teleconverter), and a heavy motor driven Nikon F3 with flashes, it held everything well.
For most everyday chores, I use a Gitzo GT1541 with an Arca Swiss Monoball P0. The legs are from 2012, and the P0 I just bought to replace an OK but not great Vanguard ballhead. I'm very happy with this setup, as it's great for my little Leicas (yes Leica cameras can benefit from tripods too), folding medium format rangefinders, etc.
Well, the Big Gitzo was sold during a period of financial duress, but I kept the little travel tripod. The travel tripod is excellent for its size, but it won't keep a heavy camera and 300mm lens stable.
So, now I'm looking at a 3 series Gitzo, or else the RRS TVC-33.
Specifically the Gitzo GT3533LS Systematic Series 3, which at B&H is $115 less expensive than the RRS legs. Looking at the published specs, I would say that they are very similar. The weight limits to me are fantasies, as my old 1325 was rated only for 24 lbs, yet I never felt that it was "weak" in any way.
I should mention that along the way I purchased a used RSS BH-55 ballhead in excellent condition from another RFFer. So, that's the head I want to use on this large tripod.
Also a confession: I found a used Gitzo GT3532 Mountaineer on B&H. It was rated as 9/10 condition. Since the price was significantly less ($780), I ordered it. I was shocked that B&H's usually fastidious packing people sent the tripod (in its box), in an unpadded box. Naturally the tripod was thrown on its head during shipping. It arrived with the column about 2 degrees off vertical due to metal deformation of the spider. Worse, the metal deformity prevented the column from being raised at all. The column was locked in position. I had to return it.
My feeling is that the major weakness of Gitzo is that they use a light Magnesium alloy in their apex, and cast it. Porosity of the casting or hidden stresses can lead to sudden fracture of the head, leading to leg loss. Also, the Mountaineer showed me that these heads have little to no impact resistance. Worse, on the Sytematic tripods, they cut the apex ring. This is the ring that holds the plate for the ballhead or column. This allows you to change heads / reverse column quickly. But, cutting the ring compromises the integrity of this vital component. Gitzo introduces a structural weakness which they then try to compensate for by adding bulky reinforcement to the spider. I felt that my 1325 was already too bulky.
RRS has a solid apex ring, CNC machined out of a solid billet of aluminum. There won't be the structural weakness at this point. The apex / spider is a lot more compact due to this better design.
Also, there are intangibles. RRS is all American, with all US sourced parts. As an American, this is important to me to support whatever industry the USA has left, that hasn't gone overseas yet. Yes, there is a BIG price premium to pay for being "Made in the USA". A minor consolation is that if I order directly from RRS, the prices are the same as B&H. However, RRS ships for free with UPS ground, while B&H will charge shipping fees.
Primarily based on the unhappy experience with the Mountaineer, I'm leaning towards RRS. Gitzo or RRS - they are both ungodly expensive (but then, so is Leica). I want to just buy one and use it the rest of my life. So, I want to be sure that I have the best one for my anticipated use.