Last Updated on 09/28/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
The Gitzo Traveler Alpha tripod was designed specifically for Sony FE cameras, and it works well with them.
I never thought a tripod could be specifically designed for a certain camera series, but indeed the Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod is exactly that for Sony FE series cameras. The design has to do specifically with the plate which accommodates Sony FE cameras as long as they have a native FE lens on them. It was also designed to work in part with an L bracket on the Sony camera. With the L bracket attached, the camera becomes easier and faster to switch from horizontal to vertical mode. This way, you don’t need to manipulate the ball head. While it’s well built, I’m not sure it’s worth a price of just under $1,000.
Pros and Cons
- Well built for the most part
- Strong legs
- Smooth ball head design
- Sturdy yet lightweight
- The L bracket is pretty solid; the first one we received was probably run over by a truck yet mostly held its shape.
- The L bracket is not so great with the vertical grip on.
- Best used with Sonys own straps or none
- With the vertical grip on it blocks battery access.
- Side door access is difficult with plate on.
- The Head unscrews easily at the panoramic rotation spot. You have to be very careful when turning it.
- The plates and L bracket have lips that get in the way if you have a Metabones adapter on the camera.
- I can’t justify $1,000 on a tripod.
The Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod was tested with the Sony a7, Sony a7r III, a metabones adapter, and various lenses.
Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod Tech Specs
Taken from our original news post
The Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod is one of those really well built tripods overall. It’s got every standard feature of many of the tripods out there.
Let’s start at the bottom. With the Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod you get fairly flat feet. They’re not rounded or spiked, just very flat.
The legs collapse and lengthen using these twisty knobs. They’re rubberized and nice to grip. The way they’re arranged allows you to grab all of them at once and lengthen the legs.
These are carbon fiber legs. At the joints connecting the top/center column, you’ll have these silver switches. They’re used to lock the legs into specific positions. Of course, the column also goes up and down when needed via a twist of the rubber center knob.
The head of the Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod is where you’ll spend most of your time in regards to its operation. There are two knobs here; one for controlling the panoramic rotation (the lower knob) and one for controlling the ball head.
The ball head connects to the specific Sony plate. What makes it so specific is the lip that goes up and over the camera’s bottom area.
If you want to connect the Sony plate to a lens with a Metabones attachment, you’ll need to turn the plate and screw it into the tripod socket.
The overall build quality of the Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod is very solid. It’s more solid than some of Manfrotto’s own tripods. But where I found the Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod to be critically flawed was at the panoramic rotation point under the ballhead. You can tighten the tripod head, but it’s still going to spin–or at least that’s what I’ve concluded. This happened twice. After tinkering around with the tripod head again, it stopped happening, so I did further investigation. The entire head will loosen and try to unscrew itself after the panoramic rotation knob is tightened and the user tries to twist the head. This can happen on accident and sometimes it can happen when rotating the ball head itself. It shouldn’t happen.
This is quite annoying to have to do and shouldn’t happen regardless of what head you’re using for a $1,000 tripod.
Does it feel like a $1,000 tripod? Honestly, Vanguard has sets of legs that are even better built than the Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod for a more affordable price point. To be fair though, Vanugard tripods have issues with their heads and the joints connecting the heads. I’ve gone through two of them and they’ve both sadly given way on me.
Ease of Use
The Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod overall is really simple to use. There is nothing that is too out of the ordinary about its design except that, if you haven’t used a Gitzo before, you should look carefully at the upper joints to understand how the tripod folds back in on itself for easier portability. It’s essentially a thumb flip of a switch. Otherwise, it’s like many other tripods out there. What I’ll surely comment on though is the fact that I really wish that the Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod had a hook towards the bottom of the center column. This way, one could weigh the tripod down with their camera bag, sailing rope, or anything else that they might have handy.
Despite my issue involving the panoramic rotation point, the tripod and the bracket themselves are very simple to use. In regard to the bracket though, consider the fact that even when a camera strap isn’t attached to it, you’ll have quite some difficulty accessing the side port doors. Where the bracket I personally feel adds some nice stability though is with holding the camera on both the right and left side. In my experience, I didn’t need to cradle the lens when shooting. Instead, the bracket gave some very nice ergonomic grip ability. It’s great for this reason.
As stated before though, it becomes pretty useless if you have the vertical grip on your camera.
The Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod isn’t a bad tripod at all. The bracket isn’t that awful either sans the fact that you can’t access the ports on the side. But is the entire thing worth $1,000? Honestly, no. I’ve held better legs from Vanguard before, but Vanguard has their own set of issues that are irritating. As for the bracket, I’m not sure that I’d get that either. It’s a great attempt, but if you need to access the ports on the side then you’ll be pretty out of luck.
The Gitzo Traveler Alpha Tripod and L bracket receive three out of five stars.