Gitzo Tag

And what better tradition than to cut out pictures of the presents you want and leave them casually around the house for the family to see. Or beside their cereal bowls at breakfast. Or nailed to the door. Try to be subtle. I am going to print out several copies of the pictures you see in this column - I have a Gitzo tripod, you see, and at present it has a lesser maker's adjustable head on top of it. Of course that's working fine but in the face of something as magnificent as this device, I am helpless. The advantages of three-way heads are many fold; they can be quite a bit tougher for a smaller profile than their ball-head alternative. They can also be more precise in movement, as you shift one plane of movement at a time. You can frequently come back to the same position reliably. I was dead pleased with what I saw, desiring it mightily...

And you're darned lucky at that. It's a piece of junk. The legs are thin-wall aluminium tubing with a profile pressed into them - so far so normal. They ride in white plastic bushes that are held in place by cutouts in the tubes - again pretty much what you might see in better tripods, albeit a bit flimsy here. But the whole edifice falls into a heap with the leg clamps - they are cheap plastic clipovers that compress a rubber block onto the next smaller tube. I do not decry clipovers - Manfrotto have used them on some of their new tripods and they are a model of good design. Their clips are metal and they have adjustment bolts to let you take up slack as they wear in. But these flimsy clips are just disasters waiting to happen. One's broken - and has been replaced by the only sensible alternative - a car hose clamp. The other two at the same level of the tripod are showing the same cracks that broke the first one, so it's off to Supercheap...

You don't have to be surreptitious in Camera Electronic when it comes to looking for camera bags - we've had them on the south wall since before the turn of the century - actually it might have been before the turn of several centuries. They've been piled, shelved, hooked, and binned in various combinations and the manufacturers have gone through any number of fads and designs. It is a dangerous section of the shop as you start to think of things that you could do and pretty soon you are buying something to do them with...

I always approach products with the name “ Gitzo “ on them with respect. As much for the engineering and design as for the sales tag. They are never badly made nor cheaply priced. The firm may have undergone a number of administrative changes since the 1950's but they have always had something of a French flair for business and design. The thing that grabbed me when I went past the Gitzo rack was the handle on the top of this Adventury 30L backpack. I thought it was the cleverest thing I've seen all year - making the fold-over closure for the upper compartment double as a quick-grab handle. We've all had to manhandle packs out of confined luggage spaces and any grab like this is a good thing. Note that Gitzo have a smaller strap sewn onto the bottom of the pack for extracting it the other way. The pack has pockets on either side and on the back that are fully weather-sealed. There is a full rain cover secreted under the main compatment. The main compartment is weather sealed. You can...