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Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Review

Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Review - Italian manufacturers Manfrotto make a huge range of tripods to suit all budgets. Here we review their entry level 190XDB.

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Category : Tripods, Monopods and Other Supports
Product : Manfrotto 190XDB
Price : £135
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

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 190XDB Collapsed

Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Features

The Manfrotto 190XDB is a thinned down version of the 190XB and 190XBPRO. It lacks the quick release leg lever locks found on the other two, but is 200g lighter. The aluminium legs are in three sections and when extended offer a maximum working height of 118.5cm. With the centre column extended you can reach 146cm, which is fine for anyone nearing 6ft. The centre column isn't geared but does have a triangular shaped tubing so it doesn't spin around and offers a slightly more rigid support.

Manfrotto 804RC2 Panoramic Scale
Manfrotto 804RC2 Panoramic Scale
Manfrotto 190XDB Thread
 The head attaches via a robust 1/4in thread
The head has two scales to make it easier to shoot panoramic photos in horizontal or vertical format.

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.


Manfrotto 190XDB Column Cap
 
Manfrotto 804RC2 Head
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.

Key Features

  • 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
Manfrotto 190XDB Foot Manfrotto 190XDB Leg Release
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.

Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Handling

Manfrotto being used on Baslow Edge | 1/10 sec | f/22 | 24mm | ISO 200
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.


Manfrotto 190XDB  Centre Extended Manfrotto 190XDB  Extended
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.

Manfrotto 804RC2 Quick Release Plate
Above: The 804RC2 head features Manfrotto's standard RC2 quick-release plate. This is compatible with a wide range of Manfrotto tripods as well as models from Giottos.
Right: the plate locks in place with a large lever, which also has a safety catch. The head has a bubble spirit level and three handles to control pan, tilt and horizontal/vertical positioning.
Manfrotto 804RC2 Spirit Level

Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Performance

I found when photographing in heather the lighter weight and none spiked feet meant that the tripod wasn't that sturdy on the springy surface. It's manageable in good weather but when it's blowing a gale you don't have quite the sturdy support you need. There's a hook near the centre column that you can attach a bag to and provide some gravity pulling weight. But the clip is only small so a bag with a wide strap wouldn't be any use, but a rucksack with a peg hook is ideal. On sturdy surfaces the rubber feet are fine and grip really well.

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.

Waterfall at Wyming brook using Lee filters Big Stopper | 56 sec | f/8 | 9mm | ISO 200  
     
Web at Normanby Hall | 1/400 sec | ISO 200   Baslow Edge The Anvil rock | 1/20 sec | f/14 | 9mm | ISO 200Top left clockwise: Waterfall at Wyming brook using Lee filters Big Stopper | 56 sec | f/8 | 9mm | ISO 200.

Millstone at sunset Baslow edge | 4 sec | f/14 | 10mm | ISO 200

Baslow Edge The Anvil rock | 1/20 sec | f/14 | 9mm | ISO 200

Spider's Web at Normanby Hall | 1/400 sec | ISO 200

Value For Money

The 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.

Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Verdict

Once again Manfrotto have a good value for money and robust model. Although I have some misgivings about handling, the tripod certainly did its job giving a stable platform in a variety of places - from really uneven river locations, to soft peaty landscapes and to hard rugged environments.

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 Pros

Solid metal construction
Light weight
Leg splay to 90deg
Leg angle locks easy to release


Manfrotto 190XDB Tripod Cons

Quite light on soft ground
No spikes on feet
No sponge leg grips
Low angle shooting limitations

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
VERDICT

 

Manfrotto 190XDB Specifications

ManufacturerManfrotto
Tripods
Constructionaluminum
Maximum Height158cm
Minimum Height35cm
Maximum Weight Capacity5kg
Number of Leg Sections3
HeadNo Data
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
Weight1600g
WidthNo Data
Height535mm

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