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The Manfrotto 190XDB is a budget priced model from the Italian manufacturer who's led the way in tripods for many years. It's a relatively light weight model available as a stand-alone tripod base or in kit-form with various heads. Here we review the £120 Photo kit which comes with the 804RC2 three-way head.
Manfrotto 804RC2 Panoramic Scale
The head attaches via a robust 1/4in thread
The legs can be angled and locked in four positions - 25°, 46°, 66° and 88°. The centre column doesn't split or have the right angle positioning found on the 190XBPRO so it gets in the way when trying to go lower. The lowest you can go is 35cm. To get around this you can unclip the center column's rubber end cap and reverse the column, but it's fiddly.
Left: the center column cap removed so the column can be reversed.
Above: the centre column casting is metal and has three grub screws that can be tightened to lock the added tripod head securely in place and stop it rotating.
- Interchangeable head
- Anti-shock collar
- Maximum working height of 158cm
- 3 leg sections
- Reversible centre-column
- 1.6kg weight
- D-shape leg sections
- Four position leg angles
The Manfrotto 190XDB has three leg sections, extended by unlocking the wing nuts and pulling the sections out. They are quick release levers on the 190XBPRO and 190XB. The foot is a rubber bulb. There are no spikes for use on soft ground.
The weight is certainly a bonus when carrying it around, but the lack of sponge grips near the top of the column mean your hands feel the cold of the metal tubing on winter days.
Setting up is a bit slower due to tightening leg locks rather than quick-release levers. I found on a number of occasions I didn't rotate tight enough and any pressure on the tripod found one of the legs collapsing. I tend to use a tripod as a supporting pole when clambering around on uneven rocks out in Derbyshire or, in this case, navigating some precarious boulders to get a good viewpoint of a brook. The leg collapsed as I was using it for balance and I nearly fell in the stream. With levers it's either locked or unlocked and there's no uncertainty!
Being able to splay the legs out to 88 degrees wont let you get to near ground angles due to the long centre column, but does help when you're shooting on uneven surfaces. I was doing river shots and using boulders to balance the tripod on. I could easily find angles that would suit, so each leg would be at different angles which was very helpful.
The 804RC2 head has a spring action so you won't find heavier gear clunking against the mechanism if you untighten and forget to grip the gear. It also springs back so a gear can easily be aligned quickly. While this has its benefits I did find making minor adjustments to the head quite tricky, especially when using the Olympus OM-D with a long lens and with the manual focusing set at 14x. I find this high magnification is helpful when focusing old manual lens on the camera using adaptors mounts, and it did highlight how jerky the action is. It wouldn't be the right head for use with video.
Other than that it's a really neat head with comfortable grips for the three way controls and locks solidly when tightened. The camera quick release plate slips in and locks securely with ease.
The tripod used with the center column extended is perfect for someone with a height of 5ft 10in. but stability is reduced so it's better to stoop slightly and use it without the column extended.
The D-shaped legs really do offer a rigid support even when fully extended, further strength is in the triangle shaped center column which prevents rotation and locks rock solid. You can feel confident in using the tripod at low level or fully extended. The rubber feet grip most surfaces and the four leg angle adjustments allow you to manoeuvre it into positions on awkward surfaces, but the lack of a lower position is limiting for nature photographers. I took the tripod out to photograph deer and spotted some fungi and wasn't able to get close enough to the ground. I ended up using the camera tripod free, resting on the ground.
The center column can be reversed but it's a bit of a pain having to unclip the plastic cap which will probably at some point get mislaid. Also sticking your head through a tiny gap of the legs at low level can be uncomfortable, but the option is there for those who like a challenge. Live view or a right angle finder are helpful in such positions.
Value For MoneyThe 190XDB offers budget photographers a pro spec model with a good rugged build. For £120 with head, this represents good value. If you want really small with a quicker reverse column and can cope with a less sturdy model consider the £120 Nivelo 245BK. Those looking for a feature packed model should look at the Giottos MTL9351B with its macro arm lower angle leg positions. You could also look at the more robust Manfrotto MT294A3. It doesn't have four angle leg positions and is a little bigger in size, but it's a really robust option and slightly less expensive - currently £100 including head from WEX Photographic.
I was able to shoot exposures from a fraction of a second to minutes without any camera shake. And the tripods lighter weight was a benefit when walking longer distances.
The ground shooting aspects are its only real shortfall, but you have to weigh that up against the otherwise sturdy build and relatively light weight.
|Lightweight, robust, and very sturdy on solid ground|
Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod ProsSolid metal construction
Leg splay to 90deg
Leg angle locks easy to release
Quite light on soft ground
Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Cons
No spikes on feet
No sponge leg grips
Low angle shooting limitations
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Manfrotto 190XDB Specifications
|Maximum Weight Capacity||5kg|
|Number of Leg Sections||3|
|Box Contents||No Data|