Manfrotto 190XB and 496RC2 Ball Head – Review

I’m late for the party, late by almost 1.5 years, that’s how long it has been since I got a DSLR, never really took time or put any effort into buying a tripod, part of it could be because I never felt the need for one, and some of it surely is laziness.

Piece of advice

The single biggest mistake most people do when it comes to buying a tripod is “let’s buy something cheap for now and upgrade later“. Please don’t. Pretty soon you’ll realize that the ‘cheap’ tripod doesn’t quite cut it and you need a new one, this is when you either upgrade or don’t buy a new tripod at all. If you’re serious about photography and love your camera, then don’t buy a cheap tripod, wait till you have enough money(if that’s a problem) and buy a good tripod.
Part of this advice comes from interacting with people who are into photography and experiences shared by people(online) who have fallen for the ‘cheap tripod’ trap.

My research

A typical start would have been with a web search for ‘best tripod for DSLR’ etc., but I used a different technique this time,  I started watching videos made by some professional and semi-professional photographers on youtube and it didn’t take me long to narrow down on the brand I was going with – Manfrotto. Key selling points for me were good build quality, reliable and a durable brand. Of course I did ask my friends about Manfrotto, and all of them only had good things to say about the brand.
Deciding which brand to go with was just 10% of the problem, the remaining was to finalize which model to buy, which ball head to buy. Few more days of reading and I made up mind to go with the Manfrotto 190XB Aluminum Tripod and the 496RC2 Ball Head.

Ok, I didn’t intend to go about telling you’ll all that, my main aim was to show you’ll how it looks like and answer some common questions people had.

Photographs

Top view

Top view (click image for large)

Tripod legs

Tripod legs (click image for large)

Center column

Center column (click image for large)

Ball Head front

Ball Head front (click image for large)

Ball Head back

Ball Head back (click image for large)

Pros

  • Stability – makes my D90 w/ 18-105mm look like a small baby
  • Adjustable center column length – helps you go really low (two piece column)
  • Build quality – very good
  • Leg warmers :)
  • One button locks the whole ball head, I prefer this over 2-3 different locks
  • Once you lock the ball head, it wont wobble at all
  • Love the friction nob
  • Easy to shuffle between portrait and landscape mode

Cons

  • Doesn’t fit anywhere in/on my camera bag – Kata DR 467
  • No spirit level – they could have easily added one
  • Some might find it heavy – I don’t.

Another question which was going on in my mind after I ordered the tripod was – is it tall enough for a person of my height – I’m 5ft 7in. Yes, it’s tall enough. Look at this pic below.
I mounted my camera and raised the viewfinder to my eye level. Even with that there’s more of that center column left to pull up, little less than half the length of the center column – 3 or 4 inches maybe.

Full view

Full view at 5ft 7in

Overall, I would highly recommend this tripod, it’s worth every penny. If you are willing to take it one step further then buy the carbon-fibre version of this model. It should be twice as light compared to this one and expensive as well.

This entry was posted in Photography and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • KC

    Thanks!  I’m just looking at this unit on sale.  Could I ask what you paid for it?  I’m looking at $229 CND (things tend to cost more in here Canada than in the US, though I realize you live in neither country).  I liked the feel of it in the store, and I’m only about an inch or so taller than you.  I appreciate your review!

    • http://praveenpn.com Praveen

      Hi KC,

      Glad you found the review useful.
      I paid a total of $188 (USD) for the tripod and the ball head. That’s $118 for the “Manfrotto 190XB 3 Section Aluminum Tripod” and $70 for the “496RC2 Ball Head with Quick Release”.
      I made the purchase from Amazon US, shipped it to a friends place in the US and got it to India.

      Cheers!