My First Tripod – review of Manfrotto 055XPROB, 190XDB, 190PROB and fluid heads

I’m filming my first wedding tomorrow and am in the market for my first DECENT tripod. Up until this point I’ve really only used ones from my course or the odd cheapie from friends or for ‘point and click’ cameras.

So the last 24 hours have been a muddle while I have tried to get my head around what to look for in a professional (low budget, $250 – $350) tripod.

I first enquired into Miller tripods, having worked with them before, I thought they would be best. Unfortunately I felt the terms on the site were a bit confusing and so I sought out info to help me understand what kinds of specifications I should look for and what certain terms meant. But after reading a few forums and sites such as 5D Filmmaking I was introduced to the world of Manfrotto.

Completely in the dark about Manfrotto I found the following sites very helpful in understanding what to look for.
Camera Labs , Manfrottos website, B&H and George’s Camera Shop in Sydney.

I then ran into the city and checked out a few products. I had 5D film makings recommendation of a Manfrotto 055XPROB. So with that in mind I checked out a few items. A very patient assistant helped my in ‘George’s Camera shop’. He quickly pointed out that that was out of my price range. So we dug deeper.
After a few unsuitable models we ended up with a Manfrotto 190XDB.  We tested out a fluid head also, but I forgot to write down the model number 😦

The Manfrotto 190XDB seemed to be pretty good. The salesman set it up for me, which I am now realising was a mistake. From now on I will be more hands on with my shopping to ensure I really see what I am getting with the product.
I didn’t notice it in the store but according to the online product specifications I have supplied, that the legs extend with a screw-in system. Where I prefer a thumb lock system. Other than that I found it to be a reasonable weight and the aluminium was a plus. It felt sturdy and fit the budget. The only problem I had was that it didn’t go as low as I would like for more flexible angles when filming.

I then checked JB HI FI and found a Manfrotto 190XPROB which came with a 804 RC2 head. Realising that the ‘PRO’ in XPROB’ referred to Manfrottos ‘q90 degree feature. (Meaning that the central column of the tripod can be tilted at a 90 degree angle when fully extended to get lower angle shots.) Watching that be set up seemed a tad complicated and a little unnecessary to me so I realised that I will be avoiding ‘PRO’ in the Manfrotto range. Good to know. Although, perhaps I could test one out myself and see if it really is too fiddly. Yet again, not setting the tripod up myself left me in the dark to certain functions.

I was also a little unimpressed by the 804 RC2 video head. I feel I am looking for something with a single handle with fluid motion.

After all this I was able to borrow a Manfrotto 055CLB with a 128RC fluid head on it. I fell in love instantly with the 128RC Fluid head It felt pretty good for the kinds of filming I would be doing. The only thing I felt it was missing was a better way to control the drag resistance for panning and tilting. Other than that, the price seems right. The tripod itself, it seems is perhaps an old model and I can’t seem to find too much recent information about it.

So, I have a tripod for the wedding. It’s not my own but the spark has been ignited and i’m sure that I will be looking into getting my own very shortly.

I will let you know how I go.

 

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