The Photo That Broke my (New) Gitzo Tripod

Lone Oak Tree During Winter Sunset

Lone Oak Tree During Winter Sunset

This is the photo that broke my new Gitzo tripod! I was out photographing some landscapes yesterday evening in the cold Wisconsin weather (about 20 degrees). I was setting up the tripod for the above composition when one of the magnesium alloy arms that connects the legs of the tripods to the tripod base snapped off. Determined to get my photos, I was able to lean the tripod on the broken leg and still get the above photo and a few other variations.

Sadly, the Gitzo tripod was brand new and I owned it for only 2 weeks. I’m assuming there was a defect in the magnesium which caused the connector arm to break. Ironically, this tripod was a replacement for my 7 year old Manfrotto tripod which has never given me a problem but was to heavy to take on a long photo trip. This stuff happens…thank goodness for lifetime warranties!

Broken Gitzo Tripod

Broken Gitzo Tripod

Broken Gitzo Tripod Leg

Broken Gitzo Tripod Leg

March 12, 2010 Update: I finally heard back on the status of my tripod…and I’m a bit upset.  Back on January 4th, 2010, I took my broken Gitzo tripod back to Camera West in Walnut Creek where I purchased it.  They were amazed to see how the tripod failed, indicating that they never saw anything like that before.  Camera West’s customer support was great by ship the tripod back to Bogen for me for warranty service (Bogen handles Gitzo’s North American warranty service).

Well, after two months of no word on the status of the warranty repair, I finally had Camera West call Bogen to find out what’s going on. (customer service failure #1: no communication back to customer on status of a repair/warranty service)  Bogen is claiming it will cost me about $150 to repair the tripod!  A tripod that failed in the first two weeks of usage…with no adjustments made to tripod after purchase from their retailer…and when the tripod carries a 5 year warranty.  A quote from the warranty:

Gitzo warrants, to the original purchaser only, that this product will be free from defects in materials and workmanship under normal and proper usage for an extra 5 year period above and beyond the standard period imposed by the law in the country where the product was sold. Gitzo’s obligation in this 5 year warranty extension is limited to replacing or repairing, at Gitzo’s discretion, products or parts determined by Gitzo to be defective in materials or workmanship.

(customer service failure #2: not honoring the warranty)

Well, I’m currently working through Camera West to push back on Bogen/Gitzo to honor their warranty.  We’ll see what happens….

April 12th Update: Three and a half months after breaking the tripod, and still no word on the repair status.  I recently stopped in at Camera West to see if they have heard anything.  They did talk to Bogen and indicated to them that the repair should be performed under warranty.  According to the person from Camera West who deals with Bogen this is not unusual…luckily that wasn’t my only tripod, the Manfrotto is still going strong.

April 23rd Update:  Well, I finally have my Gitzo tripod back in hand…and fixed!  I actually got a call from Camera West 10 days ago that the tripod was in, I just couldn’t pick it up before my trip to Bermuda.  Everything was repaired and the tripod is back to original working order; thought I don’t remember seeing as many scratches on the 2 week old legs when I sent it back to Gitzo…   Apparently after the confusion at Bogen about this being a warranty repair, they fixed it and sent it back.

All in all, I’m glad that Gitzo stood by their warranty.  I’m still shocked that the tripod failed like it did.  And I’m even more frustrated with the atrocious customers service that was provided during this process, Gitzo/Bogen need to focus on improving their customer communication processes.    (Guess my opinion is slightly jaded from my years of personally providing exceptional customer service to my clients and for marrying a Nordstrom Alumni…)

19 thoughts

  1. Pingback: The Photo That Broke his Gitzo Tripod

  2. Pingback: latoga photography | My Favorite Photos of 2009

  3. I just had this happen 2 hours ago! What have you found out from Gitzo? I read somewhere it is not covered because it is considered abuse. Please shoot me an email if you get a chance. Thanks!

    [Reply]

    latoga Reply:

    Aaron, I returned the tripod to the store where I bought it and they had never seen a Gitzo tripod break like that before. They sent it back to Gitzo for repair/replacement and expected it should be covered. I haven’t heard anything back from Gitzo directly and probably won’t until I get the tripod back. Depending on how long ago you bought your tripod, you could try doing the same path or contact Gitzo’s warranty representative here in the states (Bogen I believe) for repair.

    I would be surprised if they considered a failure like this to be abuse. I have seen others truly abuse their tripods and not had it break the way mine did. If I get that message back from Gitzo, they will have just lost a customer.

    Good luck with the repairs. I’ll let you know once I hear back on my tripod status.

    [Reply]

  4. Hi. I had the same problem with GT-2531:the leg broke down exactly in the same place. The only difference was that I was photographing in snow. Yes, I applied slight pressure to the legs but it was for just getting the tripod in a stable position. Bogen replied: “item has clearly been damaged by force. Not considered as a manufacturers warranty”. It costed me GBP 105 (including shipment). I am totally dissapointed mainly because nothing says in their user guidelines that you shout use the tripod in snow in any different way as you do normally.
    Juris, UK

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  5. Mine just broke in precisely the same way. I was carrying the tripod holding the leg and it snapped off.

    [Reply]

    latoga Reply:

    Michael, sorry to hear you’re experiencing the same problem with your tripod. If you still have the sales receipt, and you are in the warranty period, I suggest contacting Gitzo for a repair. Just be prepared for the “black hole treatment” during your repair: No acknowledgments, no updates, and no tripod for a few months…apparently their repair provider here in the US doesn’t invest in basic computerization or any interactive customer service.

    [Reply]

  6. The same thing, more or less, happened to my Gitzo about 6 years ago. I was shooting in the Winter. I put a bit of pressure on the tripod to make sure it was seated on the snowy ground. Snap! One arm of the central casting broke in half. The metal inside looked like it had not been properly melted. In other words, maybe there was not enough heat applied during the manufacturing process. I am happy to say I had a much better time of getting it fixed even though it was out of the warranty period. I contacted the distributor in Canada. They sent me a new part by courier in under two days. Now, just a disclamer. The distributor may have known I work for a place that uses a lot of photo/video gear. So maybe they thought I should get the royal treatment. Who knows?

    [Reply]

    latoga Reply:

    Looks like we were all hit by the manufacturing defect Simon. But if you’re happened 6 years ago, then it sounds like there might be a small number of castings that aren’t done right and we both were the unlucky ones who got the defective castings. I’d like to think that the difference in service level that you saw has to do with the difference between US distributor and the Canadian distributor…but I’ve worked in sales for to long and so I’m sure that your employer had something to do with it. Good news is that Gitzo at least stood by their warranty. 🙂

    [Reply]

  7. I just experienced the same exact issue with a new (11/2010) GT2531 in Yosemite in approximately 30 degree weather (snow). I’ve emailed Gitzo twice so far with no response.

    [Reply]

    latoga Reply:

    Kelly, sorry to hear of your tripod failure. There definitely seems to be trend or unusually high failure rate with the casting head for the Gitzo tripods. To start a warranty process I think you have to go thru the Gitzo distributor in the US. I just took my tripod back to the camera store I bought it at (just a week before mine broke) and they did the warranty return for me. Just don’t expect great customer service from the distributor…at least I didn’t get any. Good luck!

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  8. Actually, I’ve been somewhat surprised by my success so far (I hope). Once I figured out that I needed to contact Manfrotto rather than Gitzo things went pretty good. I sent them an email explaining the problem and it took them a couple of days to respond. When they did, I received an email from a service supervisor with information on where to send the tripod in NJ along with his direct phone number. I sent the tripod in on a Tuesday, they received Friday the same week. On Monday the service supervisor called me and said the tripod was back in the mail & to expect it on Friday (tomorrow). So I’m waiting to see, but so far things have gone as good as I could have hoped for. Especially given some of the “black hole” postings. I’ll keep you informed.

    [Reply]

  9. The repaired tripod arrived yesterday (7 days from to receipt to delivery) with no problems or issues at all. I’m back in business!. Thanks for the informative blog and thread that gave ne the clues I needed to get on the right track.

    Kelly

    [Reply]

    latoga Reply:

    Glad that everything worked out so smoothly and quickly Kelly! Also glad that you had so much better customer service during your repair.

    [Reply]

  10. I just had exactly the same thing happen to my 2-year-old GT-2531 yesterday evening while shooting in the snow. I am very careful with my equipment and most certainly did not do anything abusive to it. There must be a manufacturing defect in the material they are using, perhaps something that is most likely to fail in low temperatures.

    [Reply]

    latoga Reply:

    Sorry to hear that you suffered from the same failure.

    I’m sure Gitzo doesn’t consider it a manufacturing defect, but after having it happen to me again a few weeks ago (see http://www.latogaphoto.com/2012/12/photo-that-broke-my-gitzo-tripod-again/) I sure do. Note my manufacturing commentary in that new post…something to think about when buying a tripod.

    [Reply]

  11. Pingback: The Photo That Broke My Gitzo Tripod (Again) | latoga photography

  12. Unbelievable to see others having this exact same failure. I recently posted my experience on my blog (dongeyer.blogspot.com for your info, not to plug). I thought I would see how it Googled after a couple of weeks and found your post (and others). You might be interested in some of my findings, including material analysis and why magnesium is great for weight, but suffers considerably in cold temps. I also found a great source for gitzo parts that I recommend.

    All the Best,

    Don Geyer

    [Reply]

    latoga Reply:

    Don, sorry to hear you suffered the same field failure as I (and so many others) have as well. It happened to me not only once, but twice (see http://www.latogaphoto.com/2012/12/photo-that-broke-my-gitzo-tripod-again/). At this point I am only recommending tripods with solid machined crowns, like the Really Right Stuff tripods. The extra cost up front saves you from lost opportunity from failures like this in the field.

    And thanks for the pointer to the Gitzo part’s website. I hadn’t found that site yet and after a busy start to 2013, my broken tripod is still sitting in the office waiting to be shipped in for warranty repair. Considering they didn’t return my original receipt from my last repair and the usual issues that crop up when a vendor changes warranty servicing agencies, I’m thinking it will be faster and less stressful on me to just order the part and fix it myself! And know that this is the last hard earned money ever going to Gitzo.

    [Reply]

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