The GK2580TR ball head supplied with this kit is also a superb piece of kit. It is made from cast magnesium coated with a scratch-resistant crackle finish, and weighs just 392g. I’m not usually a big fan of ball-and-socket type heads, but the GK2580TR is a pleasure to use. The low-friction PTFE coating on the ball and socket and the large locking lever mean that it is possible to carefully regulate the freedom of movement, so for example when photographing wildlife you can set it to be just loose enough to pan the camera to track your subject, but still still firm enough to be assured of a steady shake-free shot.
The head has no less than four built-in spirit levels, including one inside the middle column which can be used when shooting in portrait format. The kit comes with a small selection of tools to disassemble it for cleaning, and a small tube of PTFE lubricant to keep it operating smoothly.
The only part of the head I’m not particularly keen on is the quick release mechanism. Like most pro tripods the Gitzo has a removable mounting plate, although unusually this one is square and can be mounted in any of four directions. It is held in place by a two-part latch mechanism, with a spring-loaded quick release catch and a stronger pressure clamp which can be adjusted by a screw on the side of the head and released by flipping a wide paddle-shaped lever. It is very secure, but compared to the simple but reliable locking catch used on Manfrotto tripods it is somewhat fiddly.
Despite this very minor niggle, the Traveller 2 with the GK2580TR head is without a doubt the best tripod I’ve ever used. It provides a rock-solid support for cameras weighing up to 7Kg, which is more than enough for a full-frame DSLR with a big telephoto lens, the standard kit for most wildlife photographers. It even comes with a full five-year warranty on all parts and materials. It’s hard to think of any way in which it could be improved, apart from halving the price.
The Gitzo Traveller 2 GK2580TR kit is unquestionably one of the finest pieces of photographic equipment on the market, and is perfect for travel, wildlife and landscape photography. The design, build quality and performance are all of the highest standard, and it is guaranteed to provide many years of reliable service. It is enormously expensive, but as all keen photographers are aware, if you want the very best you have to pay for it.