Manfrotto 190XB Tripod and 486RC2 Head Review

Manfrotto 190XB Tripod and 486RC2 Head

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.

Manfrotto 190XB Tripod

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.

Manfrotto 190XB Tripod and 486RC2 Head

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.

Manfrotto 190XB Tripod

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.


Manfrotto 190XB Tripod and 486RC2 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:

Manfrotto 190XB tripod legs only

Manfrotto 486RC2 ball head

Manfrotto 190XB and 486RC2 combo

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  1. dano says

    I just recently got these exact combo not reading any reviews. I went a store to test the products and was really impressed. Right now just read a couple of reviews and it is very reassuring to know I made a good choice. I just started getting into photography and loving it alot. So its nice to know I made a great choice. Thanks for your review.

  2. jim says

    I’ve had the 190xb legs for years. It’s gone all over the world, been used to support cameras, fend off animals, dry clothes, etc.. and it’s still ticking with just a few scratches and one leg lock starting to stick. I started with a 484RC head (smaller version of the 486 reviewed), but moved on to better heads (now it’s mated to the Acratech GV2). Compact enough to fit into a carry-on (minus the head), lashes onto backpacks easily, weight isn’t too bad, and cheap enough to replace if it’s ever destroyed or lost. By now I’ve made enough to afford a Gitzo but it’s always good to use something that was there from the start and still contributing to this day.