The Manfrotto 190XB is a 3-section aluminum tripod that carries a reasonable price tag around $130. The Manfrotto 486RC2 tripod head is a ball head with a quick release plate that runs about $75. The 190XB and 486RC2 is an everyman’s kind of combo. It’s not as light as the Gitzo Traveler 6x carbon fiber tripod; however, it gets the job done almost as smoothly.
Manfrotto 190XB Tripod Key Specs
- 57.5″ max height
- 21.1″ retracted (folded up)
- 4.0 lb weight
- 11.0 lb max capacity
- Integrated low angle adapter (as low as 3.3″ from the ground)
- 4 leg-angle settings (25, 46, 66 and 88-degrees)
The 190XB is a very solid and versatile tripod. The adjustments are intuitive and simple. Even the low angle adapter is something that an impatient klutz like me can work without a long set of directions to guide me through.
When using the 190XB, you don’t get the feeling that you are using a delicate piece of craftsmanship (as was the case with the Gitzo Traveler 6x). Instead, you feel like you are using a workhorse and it’s asking you to throw something big on it while it shows you what it can do.
The leg locks are the quick-flip style of locks that are a breeze to adjust and the three-section legs work the way they should. There’s a little thumb-switch at the top of each leg so that you can flip it to the next leg-angle setting with ease.
The Benbo Trekker MK3 has a cool take on the low-angle adjustments; however, I was a little concerned with the locking mechanism at lower angles. That was not the case with the Manfrotto 190XB. When the 190XB is locked, it’s locked.
Speaking of low angles . . . The 190XB will get you all the way down on the ground at 3.3″ with the included low angle adapter. This was a nice addition to this already solid tripod. Just pop the low-angle adapter off the bottom of the center column, pull the column completely out and replace it with a little nub that is the low-angle adapter. Voilá, you’re down on the ground. While you don’t get the flexibility of the Bogen Trekker MK3, you’ve still got a great low vantage point and can use your tripod head to help get into tight spots.
The 190XB has grips on a couple of the legs to help your hands out when it’s cold. I didn’t face those problems over the past month or so since it’s been rather warm here. But I know how those cold aluminum parts feel when it’s snowing outside and your trying to get setup for a sunrise or sunset. The grips are just another nice little extra touch on an already great tripod.
The Manfrotto 486RC2 head is a nice ball head. It’s heavy, big and solid – kind of like a tank. The ball movement is smooth and precise for a ball head. Photographers generally like a pan/tilt head or a ball head. I’m more of the latter type and was very pleased with the overall functionality of the 486RC2. I did miss having a bubble level like was on the Gitzo 1178M head though.
The quick release plate goes on smoothly and locks into place with a release lever and separate locking switch. The plate mounts to the bottom of your camera with a swiveling D-ring knob on the underside, which I preferred over the slot/screwhead on the underside of the Gitzo 1178M ball head.
I don’t really have a lot of complaints about the Manfrotto 190XB and 486RC2 combo. My biggest gripe is the weight. Then again, at $130 for the tripod, it’s hard to complain much. If you want something for long treks, you could pay about 4-times as much for half the weight.
I highly recommend the Manfrotto 190XB tripod and 486RC2 ball head as a solid combo for most photographers’ purposes. I’m sure that it’s not the perfect tripod for everyone; however, it will serve most photographers’ needs at a very reasonable price.
The Manfrotto 190XB and 486RC2 are available at B&H Photo via the following links:
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