November 2, 2012

Triopo GX-1328 Carbon Fiber Classic Tripod Review

Triopo GX-1328 Carbon Fiber Classic Tripod overview
For the past six months, I have been engaged in the process of preparing and testing the structure of a new Heavy Duty Panorama Head.
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.

Manufacturer Specification:
Leg Sections:4
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
Weight:1.70 kg
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.

Foto-Morgen Specification:  
Leg Sections:4
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
Weight:1.52 kg
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

Triopo GX-1328 CF Tripod box
Triopo GX-1328 comes in a glossy-black, heavy-carton box with illustrations of Triopo tripod characteristics and the enumeration of Triopo tripods' advantageous attributes. The box is generic for many models and only a small sticker on one of the box flaps has the model name and relevant bar-code.
Triopo GX-1328 CF Tripod unpacked
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.
Triopo GX-1328 CF Tripod box contents layout
The small bag contains a simple instruction manual (in both Chinese and English), and an Allen Hex key for the leg tension adjustment. After unwrapping the tripod from its nylon bag, we face a product with a very good finish which feels quite light for the size. Nothing seemed to be missing as with other Triopo products in the past. Excellent first impression.

Starting with the Carrying case
Once again, I will stay a little on the nylon-fabric padded carrying case, because it is surprisingly well made and elaborately designed for the price of the tripod. It follows the same design of the GT-32287X8C carrying case, a little narrower though, but quite longer.

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.




Triopo GX-1328 carry-bag budge
A quality touch with a 3D rubber Triopo brand emblem.
Triopo GX-1328 CF Tripod carry-bag+strap horizontal
The nylon fabric is of good quality and strong enough to withstand a lot of hardships. The inner foam padding is quite stiff and thicker than most other carrying cases I have encountered, insuring the protection of the contents. The carrying handles are comprised by two wide fabric bands which run around the circumference of the case, joined with a padded strap on top, designed to carry far more weight than a carbon tripod.
This is a well built carrying case which seems that is made to last.
The wide shoulder strap is also well made with a padded anti slip shoulder piece and two spring-closing pivot hooks.
The case zipper is also of strong plastic running from the "base" all the way around the "top"...
...Giving a wide opening for inserting or removing the tripod effortlessly.
The internal lining is of a softer nylon fabric as usual with all cases. However, once again, what I find missing here is a small zipped pocket to store the Allen hex key and, a center column or any other tripod accessory. That would be a nice to have option.
Triopo GX-1328 carry-strap pivot hooks detail
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.
Triopo GX-1328 carry-strap on bag buckles
On the opposite side of the case's opening there are two buckles at either end, for hooking the shoulder strap. Once again the design of the buckles is quite elaborate by not permitting the hooks to slide around freely, minimizing the play of the case when on your shoulder. Total weight of case with strap 415gr (0.91 lb).

Unfolding the Tripod

Triopo GX-1328 unfolded
Opening up the tripod some of its characteristics stand out immediately. The large diameter top leg sections, ending up in a comparatively narrow leg-hub/spider for the tripod size. Two of the top leg sections are covered by a thick and 25,5 cm (10") long Foam Grip. In turn the leg-hub holds a narrower than the top leg section center column, which has a different Carbon Fiber pattern and two orange-colored soft-rubber rings at each end. (More about the peculiarities of the center column in the "Long Center Column" section further down).

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!

Triopo GX-1328 brand-model label
Triopo GX-1328 is free from stickers all around with the exception of a discreet small sticker on the naked leg with the Triopo logo and model number. Searching harder you may also find two tiny stickers with model and serial number hidden inside the legs.

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.

Triopo GX-1328 leg sections diameter layout
The diameter of the four sections is 31,28,25 and 22 mm respectively, showing a 3 mm difference in each leg. Following the latest Triopo design, introduced with the GT series of tripods, new and improved materials permit a decreased leg tube thickness to 3 mm so each lower section diameter is in turn increased for better stability and load bearing.
Triopo GX-1328 leg sections w/ rubber-spiked feet
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.

Triopo GX-1328 twist leg lock unscrewed
By unscrewing the new type aluminum leg lock reveals the quite coarse thread. This time Triopo shows an improvement as a thin coat of thick silicone-grease is applied on the threads in order to make locking and unlocking smoother. No harsh sounds, all twist locks worked evenly and smoothly. However, I have to mention that a little running-in is required for the twist locks, since they seem to lock with less effort after a few operations as the plastic inserts fit better into place.
Triopo GX-1328 twist leg lock thread & leg tube alignment/friction inserts
By pulling out the leg section completely two 3 cm long Teflon inserts are revealed, which are supposed to keep the tubes from twisting and make the extension/retraction of the legs smooth. The cut between the Teflon inserts match two longitudinal bosses in the inner surface of each previous section so twisting the legs is impossible. Nothing special in this design as it is adopted by all manufacturers nowadays.
Triopo GX-1328 leg lock disassembled
What is actually quite special is the design of the oval shaped holes that keep the Teflon inserts in place, compared to the round or rectangular holes utilized by other manufacturers. This oval shape prevents the Teflon inserts from moving keeping them snugly in place. As we can see there are not any extra rings locking and insulating the leg sections from dust and dirt, but the new (for Triopo) wide locking ring attached in a groove inside the leg lock nut. This new design ring exercises a lot more force than the older three ring design. When the external nut is screwed the ring gets between the two leg sections, while still firmly attached to the outer lock nut.
Triopo twist leg lock operation drawing
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.

Triopo GX-1328 leg hub and center column wing nut overview
The leg joints screws are all treated with blue "Loctite" or an equivalent bonding compound in order to avoid unscrewing . There are also double washers inside and outside to ensure a long frictionless operation.
The center column stem is 65 mm (2.56") tall with a almost half of it above the leg joints and half under the leg joints which adds-up a lot to the center column stability.
Triopo GX-1328 leg hub / spider detail
*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.
Triopo GX-1328 center column stem w/o wing nut & bubble level detail
By unscrewing and removing the wing nut, the center column stem is fully revealed. This time an adequate quantity of thick silicone-grease is present, which makes the unscrewing / screwing of the wing nut smooth without any harsh metal sounds. Good job!
Another detail in the photo above is the 12 mm (0.47") bubble spirit-level which proves handy for a rough leveling of the tripod or even a more thorough leveling since it was found very accurate compared to an electronic inclinometer.
Triopo GX-1328 center column wing nut & lock rings detail
Influenced by the existence of new type single conical rings in the twist leg locks, which are also used on GT-3228X8C, I was expecting the same type but larger conical ring to be found in the center column. Instead, the three old type constricting rings came out when I removed the wing nut. The rings are equally capable of constricting, immobilizing and stabilizing the center column as we shall see later, but theoretically the "gravity effect"* of the single conical ring is lost.
*The term "Gravity effect" originating from Gitzo defines the property of conical lock rings to tighten more, the more weight is loaded.
Triopo GX-1328 center column stem interior details
The interior of the center column stem (tube) is very well finished. The top diameter is slightly larger in order to accommodate the constricting rings. By the insertion of the rings the diameter becomes even from top to bottom and leaves little tolerance for the center column. At the bottom of the tube we can see the 5 mm wide anti-twist island which fits perfectly to the center column's anti-twist groove, another well done feature, since there is not any, even the slightest twisting of the center column whatsoever.

Leg Angle Locks & Angles

Triopo GX-1328 leg angle locks
The legs can be set at three preset angles of 21.5, 58.5, 83.5 degrees as measured by an electronic inclinometer, since there is not any information about this from the manufacturer. Another selection of peculiar angles I would say, compared to the choice of angles by other manufacturers. The angle locks with the laser engraved Triopo logo are of the pull-push type without any spring but with a friction plate underneath. Although they work fine I find them a little thin for the purpose and would prefer them more thick and sturdy.
Triopo GX-1328 leg angle lock closeup
However, a closer inspection, shows that the angle locks are CNC machined from solid Aluminium and not cast as the rest of the leg hub (spider), which makes them quite more dense and sturdy than cast leg locks used by other manufacturers. They are identical to the ones found on the GT-3228X8C by the way, in the review of which I made the same comment, but had no problem whatsoever with them, for quite a long time now.



Long Center Column (Standard)

Triopo GX-1328 center column and leg CF tube comparison
As mentioned in the beginning the center column is 28 mm (1.10") in diameter, which is the same Carbon fiber tube diameter as the second leg section tubes but with two exceptions. One exception is the 5 mm wide longitudinal groove that prevents it from twisting in the tripod stem tube and the second yet more important is that center column seems to be made from a different pattern carbon fiber.

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.

Triopo GX-1328 long center column fully extended
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").
Triopo GX-1328 long center column assembly
The center column is 325mm (12.79") long, weighs 124gr (4,37oz) and has metal taps at each end, with 3/8"-16 threaded holes. The taps are identical at both sides so there is not any orientation problem when disassembling or assembling it.
A rubberized aluminium top mounting plate is attached at one end while a spring loaded hook intended for hanging extra low-balancing weight is attached at the other end. Total weight of assembly 202 gr (7.12 oz).
Triopo GX-1328 center column spring hook and rubber washer
The spring loaded hook is fixed on a quite thin in my opinion plastic disk with a 3/8"-16 thread so it can be removed easily from the center column, in order to reverse the later for low level macro shooting or remove it completely, exchanging it with a short column. However, the plastic part of the hook assembly was found to be fragile, not when hanging weights as one might think, but when banged against the leg hub, especially with reverse leg folding tripods in the folding process. Therefore, all newer Triopo models have an orange colored soft-rubber disk inserted between the hook and the center column. This disk has a dual bumper role, one for protecting the hook assembly from banging on the center column stem / leg hub and one for protecting the legs from banging on the center column when folded for transport.

Having in mind the very low self weigh against the high load-bearing capacity of this tripod, then this hook is a crucial part. Any heavy camera/lens combination or gear mounted on top of this tripod should be balanced with a low hanging weight, as your camera bag for example, otherwise a rip of air could trip the tripod down with all the sad results which I don't want even to think about.
Triopo GX-1328 center column top mounting plate
The top mounting rubberized-aluminum plate, a dual thread (3/8"-16 and 1/4"-20) reversible stud and another  orange -colored soft-rubber ring are attached at one end. The top plate is 58 mm (2.28") in diameter, 1 cm (0.39") thick and has a captive hex hole in the center acting as a spanner for a 3/8'-16 hex nut.  It is hand screwed and tightened directly on the center column via the stud, without any need of tools.
This design follows a late trend with tripod top-plates as it is more convenient to exchange the top plate between long and short center columns.
Triopo GX-1328 center column components layout
All parts of the center column assembly laid on the table. The orange-colored soft-rubber ring on the left, goes under the top mounting plate, playing also the role of a bumper in case the center column is loosened and dropped, thus saving the wing nut from the impact with the top plate bottom. The rubberized aluminium top plate has concentric grooves as an anti-twist mechanism and three small blind holes.
Triopo GX-1328 top mounting plate bottom view
In the photo above, the bottom side of the top mounting plate reveals the under-structure and three small circles near the perimeter that coincide with the blind holes in the rubber on top. By design, these were probably supposed to hold an equal number of headless screws (as found on other top plates) for further securing a head but were later abandoned.
Further, we can see the chromed-steel dual-thread stud with the accompanying hex nut.
Triopo GX-1328 lowest position w/ long center column
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.

Triopo GX-1328 grooved short center column
The ∅28 mm center column is made of aluminium, is 100 mm (3.94") long, weighs 66 gr (4,37 oz) and has metal taps at each end, with 3/8"-16 threaded holes. As with the Long CF column, the taps at both sides are identical so there is not any orientation problem when disassembling or assembling it.
Triopo GX-1328 short center column components layout
In order to assemble a functional short column, one has to unscrew the top mounting plate, the stud and the spring loaded hook together with the rubber rings from the long center column. On the other hand it would be more versatile and time saving to order a second full set, or at least a second top mounting plate with a stud, since the spring hook has to be unscrewed anyway from the long center column so it can be removed from the tripod. 
Triopo GX-1328 short center column semi-assembled
Short center column with rubber rings and spring hook attached.
Triopo GX-1328 short center column assembly
Adding the aluminium top-mounting plate the total weight of the assembly reaches 144gr (5.07oz). 
Triopo GX-1328 w/ short center column installed
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!
Triopo GX-1328 lowest position w/ short center column top-view
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.

Triopo GX-1328 rubber feet w/ steel spikes exposed & retracted
The chromed-steel spikes are covered with bell shaped solid-rubber feet that leave only the tip of the spikes exposed. By unscrewing the rubber part all the way, the metal tips are hidden so as the tripod may be used on sensitive but also slippery surfaces like marble or varnished wooden floors. The rubber traction is very good by the way.

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.

Triopo GX-1328 rubber feet w/ steel spikes exposed completely
All possible choices for the rubber/spike state are pictured above. Partially exposed spike (default), covered spike and fully exposed spike. One more detail shown above, is the steel nut embedded in the rubber foot which reinforces the foot and guaranties longevity.

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.

Triopo GX-1328 w/ Sunwayfoto XB-44 LP Ball Head
The panning base diameter of Sunwayfoto XB-44 matches perfectly with the top mounting plate of the tripod, while the hard rubber offers enough anti-twist friction in order to avoid accidental unscrewing of the ball head. The XB-44's low profile offering a low center of gravity complements very well the tripod characteristics.
Triopo GX-1328 + Sunwayfoto XB-44 LP Ball Head - geometry
As shown above, when the legs are at the most commonly used up-right position, the projection of the virtual axes that pass through the center of the legs meet just below the center of the ball-head ball. This is very favorable for the overall stability and especially for vibration diffusion since there is exactly the point where vibration absorption material exists within the ball head.
Call it luck, coincidence, whatever... but this serves very fine and is one of the reasons I temporarily abandoned the idea of removing the center column.
Triopo GX-1328 + Sunwayfoto XB-44 LP Ball Head - center column raised
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.

Triopo GX-1328 w/ Sunwayfoto DYH-66i Leveling base + DDP-64M+DDY-64 Indexing rotator
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.
HDR Panorama head Assembly w/ Sunwayfoto rotators & Hejnar rails
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.
Canon EOS50D+EF 70-200L IS USM + HDR Multi-row Pamrama head on Triopo GX-1328 CF Tripod
Fully loaded with Canon 50D + EF 70-200 L IS USM at quite an offset and unbalanced position in order to meet the lens nodal point. Checking with the bubble levels on the Leveling Base and the Horizontal Rail the displacement was insignificant compared to my prior experiences that led to the acquisition of this tripod.

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).

Canon EOS50D+BG-E2N+EF100-400L IS USM + Sunwayfoto XB-44 head on Triopo GX-1328 CF Tripod
Equipment portrayed: Canon 50D + EF 100-400 L IS USM mounted on the Sunwayfoto XB-44 ball head by the lens collar foot equipped with Kiwi Fotos LP-100 Arca lens plate, and all supported by the Triopo GX-1328. Note that a focal length of 400 mm is equivalent to 640 mm on 50D due to its crop factor, which is quite demanding.

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.

Triopo GX-1328+Sunwayfoto XB44 aside Carry-bag vertical
GX-1328 due to its narrow leg-hub (spider) is quite slim when folded with a maximum width of 12.5 cm (4.92").
Triopo GX-1328+Sunwayfoto XB44 alongside Carry-bag horizontal
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.
Triopo GX-1328+Sunwayfoto XB44 inside Carry-bag
The tripod fits in the carrying case with no problem...
Triopo GX-1328+Sunwayfoto XB44 inside Carry-bag closeup
...even leaving space for a taller ball head.

Useful Tips
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.

Triopo GX-1328 leg hing friction adjustment
There is an appropriate Allen hex key included for that purpose but I would suggest the use of two hex keys in both opposing screws, for better results. The Allen keys should be well pressed inside the hex cavity on the screw cap in order to avoid damaging ether the screw or the key.

Pros
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.
Good functionality.
Very nice carrying bag included.

Cons
Center column hook although partially improved should be more sturdy for the tripod bearing weight capacity.
Availability only at specific resellers.

Conclusion
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.

Disclaimer:
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.

Referenced Articles:
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

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