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Thread: In the market for a new Manfrotto tripod

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    In the market for a new Manfrotto tripod

    As per the subject, I am in the market for a new Manfrotto tripod.

    My current Manfrotto 190D is six years old and severely weathered. It's been in torrential seas, rain, been scratched on rocks, etc., and really needs replacing. The columns aren't smooth and the screw locks are annoying to use.

    My requirements are:
    1. that it's a Manfrotto;
    2. it has clip locks on the legs;
    3. the height is at least six feet without the centre column extended;
    4. it's heavy and sturdy, and can hold the weight of a 300/2.8 or 500/4;
    5. it's able to tolerate being in sea water;

    I am predominantly a seascape/landscape/cityscape photographer.

    I'm not overly concerned about size and weight. I am a photographer who goes out specifically to photograph, and don't carry photography equipment for opportunistic reasons; thus, I don't need something small, light and convenient (these traits always come with stability and height trade-offs).

    I'd prefer to use a large, heavy, sturdy tripod that will simply stay dead-still every time and not topple due to gusts of wind or other interference. Height is important so that I don't need to bend, and so that I don't need to use the less-stable centre column to elevate the camera above eye level.

    While the Manfrotto site can certainly fill in the blanks about what models would be suitable for my requirements, I'd be interested in hearing opinions from owners about:

    1. what models they have;
    2. how the usability fares; and
    3. what they like about them.

    As far as heads, I'll probably go with another ball head. The three-way I have at the moment is a PITA to adjust. I do have a Manfrotto 488RC2, but due to salt water damage it won't budge from its current position (that's why I'm using the 141RC).

    Thanks in advance
    Last edited by Xenedis; 13-05-2011 at 12:47pm.

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    I had a quick look at Manfrotto's range and taking into account your requirements, it looks like there is only one tripod that would suit you - available with a geared or quick centre column - MT057C4-G and MT057C4 respectively. Nothing else comes close to 180cm without the centre column extended. The largest ball heads can add 100mm of height to a tripod, added to the camera-base-to-eyepiece height of say 70-100mm which puts your camera 170-200mm above the tripod height. Include a levelling base and you might get the camera eye-cup could 200-230mm above the tripods listed height. I would make a decision on your ballhead first, and then work out the height of your ballhead/camera combination. Subtract this from your target eye height to find the required tripod height. Of course, you might be 7 foot tall, and you have done this already, in which case I apologise! I am Gitzo user, so I cant help you on Manfrotto impressions.
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    Member brownie's Avatar
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    I have the 055xprob with 498rc2 ball head.

    I’m 184 cm tall and with the ball head I need to tilt over a fraction to look through the view finder. The height of the view finder when mounted on the tripod/ballhead is 1.62m and my eyeball is 1.69m.

    This combination is not light weight but I don't find 3kg for tripod and ballhead that much of a burden either. I purchased the protective carry bag that makes it easy to transport, slung over the shoulder.

    Another feature I liked was the the centre coloum can be repositioned sideways and in the inverted position providing more versitility in camera positioning.

    I have no practical hands on experience with other tripods to compare it to but I find the 055xprob well constructed, stable and quick to set up and adjust with the clip locks.

    Hope this helps.
    Nikon D90, 18-200VR II, Tokina 100mm Macro, Sigma 150-500, Nikkor 35mm, Giotto Rocket Air Blower

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    I strongly recommend that you have a look at the Benro carbon fibre range.

    The salt water won't do it as much harm as it will a Manfrotto of the same price range.

    Each and every one of us have our peculiarities, but I, for one, will never touch a Manfrotto again.
    Products are OK, but severely lacking in the value for money stakes.

    A tripod of 'high quality' should last you more than 6 years.

    Also the slimmer and easier to use design of the twist grip quick lock leg system is so much better than lever or twist locks that Manfrotto use.

    Of course the carbon material means it weighs much less in the leg department, which subsequently means you can attach a sturdier head of whatever description you like.

    Anyhow... just some thoughts so that in another six years time you don't have to go through the same dilemma!

    FWIW, my two Manfrotto's have sat in the corner of this room now, for about 2 or 3 years completely unused. I simply can't bring myself to use them now, even tho the easy to use 458 is handy for quick setup times, it's weight ends up being a burden. My 055 is simply pathetic to use once you've got used to the Gitzo style leg releases.

    Benro is a Gitzo knock off of very high quality. Having seen them and used them both in brief and with some intricacy, I find it impossible to believe that anyone could knock the Benro as an inferior product to the Gitzo. My only regret a few years back when I got mine.. is that I wasted close to $600 on the Gitzo, where the Benro would have been a better choice!
    Yeah, I was one of those sceptics too.
    The only part of the Benro that I found to be of lesser quality is the spring loaded hook under the centre column. Gitzo seem to use a higher quality material. No empirical data to support this thought ... just from observation.
    All other aspects are either the same, or in the case of the leg releases that allow the opening of the tripod's legs, the Benro's have a better design!
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    Quote Originally Posted by brownie View Post
    I have the 055xprob with 498rc2 ball head.

    I have no practical hands on experience with other tripods to compare it to but I find the 055xprob well constructed, stable and quick to set up and adjust with the clip locks.
    Thanks for that; that model might be worth investigation.

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    Thanks Arthur.

    I've heard Benro tripods are good, but I'd really prefer to stick with Manfrotto and buy a replacement 488RC2, which is compatible with the two Manfrotto quick-release plates I have.

    I wouldn't buy a Gitzo, as in my view, they are hideously over-priced for what they are.

    As for the Manfrotto clip locks vs. the Gitzo-style twist-grip mechanism, it comes down to personal preference, and I prefer the clip locks.

    Re carbon fibre vs. aluminium, I prefer the latter. I'm not convinced that carbon fibre is all that great for stability. I prefer a tripod to be heavier (unless I needed to lug it around incidentally) and more stable.

    My tripod still works, but there's severe corrosion on the leg collars and other non-aluminium parts, and I'd prefer something taller and less cumbersome to use. It has had a lot of use in the rough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Re carbon fibre vs. aluminium, I prefer the latter. I'm not convinced that carbon fibre is all that great for stability. I prefer a tripod to be heavier (unless I needed to lug it around incidentally) and more stable.
    I use an 055CXPRO3 with a few different heads. I went for carbon fibre because I really wanted lightness, but when I had it and the 190XPROB it replaced in the same room, I observed that the 055 was considerably stiffer in the legs and was much more stable. I don't know how much of this was due to the CF, but the difference was enormous. I could hold 190 by the head and twist and watch the legs deflect, but I couldn't move the 055 appreciably even though it's taller. In spite of the much lower weight, the 055 is far more solid than the 190 and you can always weight it down if you like.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    I think the reason for carbon being more 'stable' than aluminium is that it eliminates vibrations quicker than Al does.

    They do tend to feel more prone to toppling over, if you have heavy gear up high on the head, but this is really only a feeling and I've never had my setup topple over(apart from a few near misses caused by operator error, of course).

    At the risk of sounding counter intuitive, and remember carbon is a space age material, but the fact that it's all plastic is what gives it a massive advantage for a 99.9% seascaper.
    Corrosion will be a thing of the past.

    All standard ballheads will fit either of the Benro/Gitzo tripods, you won't need to alter any QR plates if you decide to stick with a Manfrotto ballhead.

    There's a bit of serendipity in this thread actually.
    I've spent most of the day(on and off) on the RRS creating an expensive cart for myself and trying to keep the final dollar count as low as possible(which is quite the impossible task, I have to say too! )

    basically a similar predicament, but not the same.
    I'm currently thinking I need to change my QR plate system, and away from the manfrotto system(which is unique), and so Arca Swiss is the obvious choice.
    I've wanted a more sturdy ballhead(as a minimum) for at least 2-3 years now, but I also need plates and other peripherals which I can't seem to get below US$1K(actually $1.3K).
    I have to bite the bullet and get it all in one lot, and the exchange rate is looking really advantageous ATM.

    I found myself in at Vanbar one day only looking for options on focusing rails(Manfrotto), and while they seem to have one available, that's the problem, it's only one.
    The rest of the world have so many permutations and combinations of alternatives that will allow me more opportunities, that I now face the inevitable .... manfrotto have a very limited closed source system, and (for me) it has to go.
    I have a few hundred dollars invested in manfrotto QR system, and I'd rather not see all that wasted away, but ultimately it's going to have too.

    I'm this ' >< ' close to pulling the trigger on my RRS cart ... and then I chased up the exchange rate! .... that $1325 is only going to cost me $1250!
    (I have appointed a director of finances, to oversee my complete incompetence with the concept of financial management.... and if I click that trigger now, I'm as good as dead! ... so it's a case of the money or the gun

    Actually, the Gitzo's themselves I don't think are overpriced. Yes, they are expensive(note that the same parent company owns Gitzo and Manfrotto too) but the quality is a bit higher than manfrotto(and over all better than Benro in a few detail points.. such as the centre column hook).
    But it only becomes apparent that it's way over priced, when you compare it to a Benro(of the same specs).
    As for durability of carbon, mine has taken on it's fair share of salty water and barbed wire fences over the past three or so years!
    being plastic, it'll never corrode, is as strong as the proverbial black stump, and if you really require extra weight, you hang the camera bag on the retractable hook. My camera bag weighs in at approx 15-20kg's and my small-medium carbon tripod easily takes the weight of the bag.

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    Um, I may be wrong but surely you can screw a Manfrotto head onto Benro legs? Or indeed any legs? I was very impressed with David's Benro, which he bought mostly for the height, as it was the tallest one he could find.
    Odille

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    Would an angle viewer help. It would eliminate the need to bend over thus enabling you to buy a tripod that is not as tall as you would normally need.
    Brian

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    Hi
    I just went thru the same process and ended up upgrading from a 190db to the 055xprob, quite a bit more sturdy and has the added benefit of being able to flip the centre column from vertical to horizontal axis to get down lower while still keping the camera clear of the wet dirty bits and also enabling me to get a better angle when doing close up work. I was surprised at how much physically bigger it is but so far have not had any issues lugging it around and I love the flip lock legs after using screwy ones for ages. I also have a 486rc2 ball head and the three way head which I still prefer to the ball head.
    Cheers

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    Quote Originally Posted by Briancd View Post
    Would an angle viewer help. It would eliminate the need to bend over thus enabling you to buy a tripod that is not as tall as you would normally need.
    Not really, as compositionally sometimes height is needed.

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    I really cannot recommend Manfrottos for seascaping. The alloy fittings are highly corrosive to seawater although the legs, alumninium or carbon are great.

    My current tripod is a Velbon but I would be having a look at the Vanguard although my old Slik tripods have held up very well and would also consider one of them again too.

    Of course the ideal tripod for allmost all uses would be the Gitzo Ocean Traveller. Not perfect but carbon fibre, stainless steel fittings, a ball head that can be dissassembled and cleaned. Shorcomings are a few including rediculous price ($1700 in Australia and $1000 from US), a bit on the short side and too light for in the surf despite Gitzo's promotional material. If you are young enough, but one for life and it will pay for itself. I have a 30 year old Slik but it has only been in the ocean a couple of times and whouldn't last but if you have the Gitzo Ocean Traveller, it may pay for itself over time.

    Bas for Benro, from what I have seen it has been all good, so check them out too.

    Choices, choices, choices. I have yet to get an affordable 'perfect' tripod.
    Cheers

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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Xenedis View Post
    Not really, as compositionally sometimes height is needed.
    A large tripod is sometimes desirable, just ask the girls

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    I really cannot recommend Manfrottos for seascaping. The alloy fittings are highly corrosive to seawater although the legs, alumninium or carbon are great.
    Yes, mine has some severe corosion everywhere except the aluminium legs and centre column.

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    Of course the ideal tripod for allmost all uses would be the Gitzo Ocean Traveller. Not perfect but carbon fibre, stainless steel fittings, a ball head that can be dissassembled and cleaned. Shorcomings are a few including rediculous price ($1700 in Australia and $1000 from US)
    I'm one who believes in spending good money for good gear, but I've long held the view that Gitzo tripods are ridiculously over-priced, and while I am prepared to drop serious coin on gear, I don't believe that $2K on a camera tripod is reasonable. I presume the price you've quoted is just for the legs.

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    Choices, choices, choices. I have yet to get an affordable 'perfect' tripod.
    The 'perfect' tripod doesn't exist.

    It's kinda like that 10-800mm f/1 IS lens which weighs 2kg, costs $2K and has no corner softness, CA/PF, pincushion or barrel distortion. It just doesn't exist.

    As far as seascapes, I'm not doing much of that these days, but naturally I want a tripod which can get seriously wet.

    I may need to look into carbon fibre despite my views against it.

    It seems I can have water resistence (ie, CF) or stability (ie, metal). The problem is that in water, the tripod needs to be even more stable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    A large tripod is sometimes desirable, just ask the girls
    I asked the girls who have been on your photoshoots, and they all said it wasn't. :-P

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    I have just bought 055x pro as I broke a leg on my carbon pod, it is very solid and I am 6ft and do not have to bend over any more. As far as to them not liking sea water well I don,t no to many metals that do it comes down to how well you maintain your gear,and at $240 bucks delivered to your door from B&H what a bargain.
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    I've been looking at the 055XPROB on the Manfrotto site.

    I find that with tripods, one really needs to inspect the hardware rather than just look at photos and read tech specs.

    I was looking at prices, too.

    I can get the 055XPROB with 498RC2 for $420. I saw the same combination elsewhere for $445.

    I may order this rig in the near future.

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    This afternoon I picked up a Manfrotto 055XPROB, a Manfrotto 322RC2 ball head and a Manfrotto MBAG80PN padded carry bag -- altogether as a kit.

    The extra height of the 055XPROB over my legacy 190D is very noticeable.

    The 322RC2 head is much simpler to use than the ball head I have (and the replacement I was intending to buy, as it's controlled by a squeezable 'trigger', meaning one-handed operation. I found the controls on the other ball heads cumbersome and slower to adjust.

    The plate cradle on the 322RC2 can also be repositioned for left hand operation, so I did that.

    I used the new rig for a blue hour cityscape shoot tonight. It was a joy to use, and rock-solid. I'll publish my new image later.

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    All lines lead to Home ... arnica's Avatar
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    How much did this set cost ya J?
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