Among other findings, I reached the conclusion that the tripod used as a support up to now would not be capable of holding the excess offset load. The bending in the center column hub, under full load, indicated that it had reached its limits.
Off we go again for the quest of a new tripod.
I knew the solution was to buy a sturdy flat-top tripod like a Gitzo® GT3542LS Systematic or Benro C3770T Carbon Fiber Combination Tripod (Review) or a Feisol Elite to name a few, but that would have been easy and not so intriguing for my creativity.
Somehow, my research for the Triopo GT-3228X8C Updates led to my communication with one of Triopo resellers, Foto-Morgen GmbH in Germany, who by the way also carry a few models of the latest Generaton 3 Triopo GX line.
The GX line was not of any interest to me in the past, since the tripods were obvious replicas of quite older Gitzo models and of a hybrid nature, as they had 6X layer carbon fiber legs with an Aluminium center column and a lot of functional problems reported.
However, my overall good experience with GT-3228X8C, which despite some details that I had mentioned in the Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Review, urged me to give a second look at Triopo GX-1328 which is equivalent to a "Series 3" tripod with 32 mm upper leg tubes.
The latest generation of GX series tripods has adopted the improved Carbon Fiber tubes and twist leg locks of the Traveler GT series. This and the notably low price inspired me of some ideas. Why not try out the legs with my heavy duty Panorama head and remove permanently the center column if necessary.
To make the long story short, I contacted the very helpful people at Foto-Morgen.de once again, ending up ordering a copy of GX-1328. The whole process and communication were excellent in par to German standards and after 10 days a DHL package arrived at my door. The tripod was very carefully packed in an extra outer recycled-carton box, protecting the retail box during transport.
The Tripod Specification
Needless to say that by now the words "Triopo" and "Contradiction in Specs" have become synonyms in my mind. Therefore, please take care when searching for the specification of the GX-1328 tripod on line. It is very difficult to make clear which specification belongs to which version or generation of the tripod.
Due to the fact that Triopo resellers are required to purchase large quantities there is always old stock around (especially in ebay listings from China) that require caution and detailed inspection before coming to any conclusion.
|Top Leg Section Diameter:||32 mm|
|Center Column Diameter:||-- mm|
|Max Height Center Column Extended:||1800 mm|
|Max Height Center Column Retracted:||1560 mm|
|Folded Transport Height:||590 mm|
|Max Load capacity:||15.00 kg|
The above specification, present at many sites, probably correspond to either an earlier version of the tripod or the calculation includes an extra short center column and a ball head.
Since there is no specific page for GX-1328 in the Triopo.cn official site any more, it is impossible to verify.
|Top Leg Section Diameter:||32 mm|
|Center Column Diameter:||28 mm|
|Max Height Center Column Extended:||1670 mm|
|Max Height Center Column Retracted:||1410 mm|
|Folded Transport Height:||590 mm|
|Max Load capacity:||15.00 kg|
According to my findings listed further down this is the only specification that corresponds to the Generation 3 of GX-1328. Or at least to the tripod I have received.
The Package Contents and Accessories
|Opening the box reveals a very good quality carrying case, which includes the tripod wrapped in a nylon bag, a wide shoulder strap, as well as a smaller zip-closing nylon bag.|
Starting with the Carrying case
The case dimensions are a little larger than the tripod's, able to contain it with a ball head mounted. It is 63 cm (24.80") long and 12,5 cm (4.92") in diameter.
The case is made so it can also stand upright and has both carrying handles and a shoulder strap.
The reflective fabric band on the top side has become a standard on Triopo cases. It is either decorative or maybe quite useful if you intend to hike on a bicycle hanging the tripod on your back, as is usual in China.
|A quality touch with a 3D rubber Triopo brand emblem.|
|As previously mentioned the shoulder strap is equipped with two plastic hooks with spring clasps. Although they seem very light the design is quite elaborate for extra strength. Only time can tell about their endurance.|
Unfolding the Tripod
There is adequate resistance in unfolding the legs, with equal force needed at all stages which means that their retaining screws are properly tightened without any play.
In order to unlock the leg sections, all three twist leg locks can be grabbed with one hand and turned counter clockwise simultaneously. It takes less than half a turn to release the leg locks, quite in par with the manufacturer 1/3 turn statement.
Considering my previous experience with Triopo tripod legs behavior, I felt quite an improvement in the leg sections extension and retraction. Everything seems to work fine without any effort and harsh sounds, but a slight whoosh of the air trapped in the tubes.
This proves that someone at Triopo's has been listening. Good!
Next thing, what else? To measure and verify the tripod specs myself.
|Measured Specification||(w/o ball head)|
|Leg Sections :||4|
|Leg Sections Diameters*:||31, 28, 25, 22 mm|
(1.22, 1.10, 0.98, 0.87 " )
|Leg Angles (degrees):||21.5°, 58.5°, 83.5°|
|Center Column Diameter :||28 mm (01.10")|
|Max Height Center Column Extended :||1670 mm (65.74")|
|Max Height Center Column Retracted :||1410 mm (55.51")|
|Mid Height Center Column Retracted (3 leg sections extended at 21.5°):||1090 mm (42.91")|
|Mid Height Center Column Retracted (2 leg sections extended at 21.5°):||780 mm (30.71")|
|Min Height Center Column Retracted (Legs at 21.5°):||500 mm (19.68")|
|Min Height Center Column Retracted (2 leg sections extended at 58.5°):||475 mm (18.70")|
|Min Height Long Center Column (Legs at 83.5°):||345 mm (13.58")|
|Min Height optional Short Center Column (Legs at 83.5°):||130 mm (05.12")|
|Folded Transport Height :||540 mm (21.25")|
|Weight:||1.52 kg (03.35lb)|
|Max Load capacity** :||15.00 kg (33.00lb)|
*The leg tube diameters have an exemplary tolerance of +/- 0.02 mm between the legs.
** I retained the max load capacity of 15 kg as a measure of precaution. In my opinion the tripod structure can hold a lot more even my 80 kg (176 lb) -Yes I performed the silly test of hanging under the legs as a monkey- but I cannot predict how the tripod will balance and behave with heavy loads on top. There is a great difference between hanging a heavy ballast under a tripod and loading a heavy weight on top. That's why I call it silly and all these tests in Youtube are just meant to make an impression.
Leg sections tubing & Twist leg locks
The Leg tubes are made of 7X layer Carbon Fiber. The Carbon fiber weaving follows a usual twisted cross stripes pattern of two grey shades. As I have also mentioned in other reviews a tripod should not be fancy in anyway, shouting out "here I am", but be well made and support my photo gear sound and steady.
|The last sections are equipped with bell shaped semi-hard rubber feet which seem to hold well on any surface. The rubber feet can be screwed in/out revealing or retracting short steel spikes. (More detailed description follows later).|
The leg sections lock solid with comparatively less tightening force to other legs with twist locks I have used up to now. Somehow, in order to achieve the maximum rigidity possible, a little extra tightening force is required. Then, even fully extended are very stable, without any noticeable flex or movement at the joints when exercising side pressure. A fact that actually signifies that less vibration is going to be transferred.
More on that in a future Triopo GX-1328 Stress Test.
|An explicit drawing of the operation of the latest type twist leg lock adopted by Triopo.|
(Photo by courtesy of Triopo.cn)
Center Column stem & Legs Hub (Spider)
The classic design* hub is made from cast Magnesium alloy. It looks and feels sturdy, with a very good powder coat finishing. There is absolutely no slack in the leg joints and I felt the difference immediately upon unfolding the tripod and running an old simple test. That is to grab two of the legs and try strongly to twist the tripod on its legs. The slightest distortion or movement shows immediately a weak center hub or loose leg joints.
*The hub / spider design is "borrowed" from the Gitzo® Mountaineer GT1228 or newer Gitzo® Mountaineer GT2541 in every detail even the protuberance at one side that encloses the center column anti-twist boss. However the powder coating color is a little darker than Gitzo's but of the same texture.
It is quite obvious in the photo above that the leg hub is proportionally small for the large diameter legs. Actually Triopo GX-1328 shares the same center-column / leg-hub with model GX-1228 which has 28 mm (1.10") largest diameter legs. Putting larger legs on an existing hub is a slick shortcut to increase load capacity, while keeping manufacturing cost down, but if only the center column structure can bear the extra weight. More on this later in the "Center Column" Section.
Leg Angle Locks & Angles
Long Center Column (Standard)
Actually it is different. GX-1328 shares the same center column with GT-3228X8C both in size and 8X layer material. Even if I had some reservations in the beginning about the narrower center column compared to the top leg diameter, finally the 8X "bullet proof" Carbon Fiber materials of GT-3228X8C proved very stable and more rigid than other CF tubes of the same diameter.
Somehow, as I had mentioned in Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Review, at Triopo they outperformed themselves with GT-3228X8's center column stability. Same happens with GX-1328! The fitting between the center column stem and the center column is exemplary. No slack, no wobbling, no vibration whatsoever. Although I would prefer a large single locking ring in the center column stem (as with GT-3228X8) even with the older type 3 rings, GX-1328's center column locks firmly and still feels far more more rigid than many center columns I have happened to use or test up to now.
|Total Center Column assembled length (height) is 330 mm (12.99") and total effective height added to the tripod height when fully extended is 260 mm (10.24").|
|Lowest position with the long center column is 345 mm (13.58") without ball head and with the legs locked on the intermediate stop at 58.5 degrees.|
Short Center Column (Optional)
There is not any short center column included in the GX-1328 package. However, there is a ∅28 mm optional short center column available from Triopo but not available from any re-sellers I have contacted.
Therefore, my only option was to get in contact with Triopo headquarters in China seeking information about more tripod Spare Parts and Accessories. That was an astonishingly pleasant experience with me ending up ordering a bunch of spares, on which you may find more details in Triopo Tripod Spare Parts & Accessories Reference article.
|Short center column with rubber rings and spring hook attached.|
|Adding the aluminium top-mounting plate the total weight of the assembly reaches 144gr (5.07oz).|
|Triopo GX-1328 with the short center column fitted. Saving 58gr (2.04oz) of weight by using the short center column is not a big difference but the ability to go really down low is!|
|Lowest possible height with optional Short Center Column and legs spread at 83.5 degrees is 130 mm (5.12").|
Leg Rubber / Spiked Feet
In their latest release of Tripods and Monopods, Triopo have replaced the rubber feet caps with more solid semi-hard rubber feet with integrated screw-in spikes.
The new rubber feet are more durable for outdoor use. The spikes are not very long but will be useful on rocky and/or icy terrain while they also reinforce the last leg section tip.
At first trial the spikes are not easy to remove. They are very well fixed in place by a white compound, as they should be, since they carry all the load. Anyhow, the screw threads are not compatible with the 3/8"-16 thread found on most long steel-spikes sold as accessories from Gitzo or Benro among others, so they cannot be interchanged at will. Long spikes are more suitable for muddy terrain or soil covered with leaves as they can penetrate a little deeper and nail the tripod down.
Nevertheless, I came up to a shortcut if someone intends to use the tripod mainly outdoors. The foot assembly may be unscrewed, the rubber part removed and keep only the metal spikes on. But since the spikes are not designed to operate like that by default, I am a little hesitant to recommend the idea before an endurance test is performed.
Attaching a Ball Head
The task of choosing an appropriate ball head to match well with your tripod is quite hard. There are many parameters involved, however it is most important to find a head that will complement or even enhance the tripod characteristics. If you would like to stay within the tripod legs budget, then there are plenty of choices for a low to mid budget ball head.
However, I consider this tripod of greater value than the price it sells for. So, as I had mentioned in the beginning, my intention was to test its behaviour and find a better match for the Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head as well as my Heavy Duty Multi Row Panorama Head which is still under development and final testing.
|Even with center column raised, the patented Carbon Fiber structure of the center column combined with a very good locking mechanism, proves very rigid while the Carbon Fiber extra density suppresses the diffusion of vibrations.|
Attaching a Heavy Duty Panorama Head
A Multi Row Panorama Head intended for use with long telephoto lenses, apart from it own heavier structure is very demanding from the tripod it will stand on. The heavy loads hanging quite away from the center vertical axis of the tripod, generate a tremendous torque exercised on the center column / leg hub and cannot be compared even with a very heavy camera/lens combination balanced on top of a ball head.
I should confess that when I ordered the GX-1328 I had bad intentions. I was almost convinced that the center column / hub would be inferior to the task of holding my Heavy Duty Panorama Head under development, so I had planned to remove the center column and transform the tripod into a flat top.
Plans changed or better say postponed for a while :-) , a little after I got the tripod in my hands and tested its rigidity and stability under various loads.
|Building up and testing step by step the Panorama head structure with Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base and Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator.|
|Hejnar PHOTO G20-10 Rail (horizontal) and Hejnar PHOTO G15-80 Rail (vertical) plus Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator were added, while testing for any flex or vibrations induced from the center column / leg hub, exercising pressure in different angles.|
The center column + leg hub behaved and proved far sturdier than I had expected so GX-1328's integrity is saved for the time being. Extensive details and information about the HDR/Gigapixel Panorama Head will be available in the upcoming Create a Heavy Duty Multi Row Panorama Head article.
Working with the Tripod
Large diameter leg tubes combined with good twist locks and a steady center column structure proved more than adequate. The combination of Triopo GX-1328 and Sunwayfoto XB-44 is excellent. Although the ball head is quite more expensive than the tripod they complement and enhance each others characteristics.
During the XB-44 evaluation I had reached the limits of the Benro A-298 EX Versatile Tranforner Tripod (Review). Now, coupled with Triopo GX-1328, the XB-44 performed even better at long shots. (If I find the time I will post some photo samples for comparison).
Packing the Tripod
The tripod can be carried either packed in the supplied carrying case, or directly strapped on your bag, where in the later case you can save about 0,5kg (~1 Lb) of carrying weight.
Just for the information, Triopo has also an optional tripod Carrying Shoulder Strap available. The optional strap has two loops that attach on the tripod enabling the transportation without a bag.
|GX-1328 due to its narrow leg-hub (spider) is quite slim when folded with a maximum width of 12.5 cm (4.92").|
|The carrying case is large (long) enough to contain the tripod with a ball head mounted, in this case the Sunwayfoto XB-44 without having to park the XB-44 quick release clamp in the drop notch.|
|The tripod fits in the carrying case with no problem...|
|...even leaving space for a taller ball head.|
The factory adjustment on the leg hings, although even on all legs, was a little loose in my opinion. It was quite easy for a leg to unfold when having the tripod loaded with gear and trying to carry it by one leg. Therefore I increased the tension on all legs.
Very low price for the category/size.
Very low weight for the class.
Very solid and stable leg hub and center column.
Very rigid leg locking and leg stability.
Very nice carrying bag included.
Center column hook although partially improved should be more sturdy for the tripod bearing weight capacity.
Availability only at specific resellers.
Despite some unfavorable comments I made in the past about some of Triopo products, I have always considered Triopo one of the most honest manufacturers pricewise, and now I do more. Taking into account the material quality and manufacturing cost of their products, they charge quite less than other manufacturers.
Another fact that justifies lower prices is that Triopo does not have to face the large overhead costs of head offices and personnel in other parts of the world, since they only export directly to resellers.
For sure, as described in the review, the manufacturer has taken some slick shortcuts in order to minimize costs, but it proved out that these shortcuts do not affect the tripod stability and rigidity. This time I have no complains about the functionality either.
Triopo GX-1328 is addressed to the photography enthusiast or a beginner professional with a limited budget. If you are after a rigid classic tripod, taller than a traveler but still very transportable, then this tripod may prove a very stable, vibration free and long lasting solution for you. You may consider this tripod a real bargain with excellent value for money.
This review and test was run on a single product sample, using the specifically described methods. Although the findings are good and overcame the expectations for the product, it can not be used as a rule, unless more samples of the same product are tested. Furthermore, similar comparison tests should be run with comparative capabilities products so as to reach a solid conclusion.
I hope you found the review and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2012 S.C.Vlachos
Price & Availability:
Current Price of the GX-1328 CF Tripod is EUR 179,00 (+Shipping where applicable)
The Triopo GX-1328 is available from/bei Amazon.de or from eBay.com
If you are interested in the above product(s) or any other product please consider using the relevant link(s) to make your purchase and help support this site. Your support is needed and greatly appreciated.
Triopo Tripod Spare Parts & Accessories Reference
Sunwayfoto XB-44 Low Profile Ball Head Review
Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling Base Review
Sunwayfoto DDP-64MX+DDY-64 Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review
Sunwayfoto DDP-64SX Panoramic Indexing Rotator Review
Hejnar PHOTO G15-80, G16-80 and G15-60 Multi Purpose Rails
Hejnar PHOTO G20-10 5/8 Multi Purpose Rail Review
Create a Heavy Duty Multi Row Panorama Head
Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Review
Triopo GT-3228X8C Carbon Fiber Traveler Tripod Update