These come in several sizes and variations, but once you
have decided if you want a set of legs at eye level, or
camera's viewfinder at eye level, or decided it doesn't matter
that much to you; and on a PRO model or not, silver or
if anodized aluminum or carbon fiber, the choices for still
photography are easy to make. Below the most frequent
selections in this brand.
in the USA as of July, 2011
is by far the most popular. Considered by Manfrotto users a
very affordable and sturdy aluminum tripod;
3 leg sections and four leg locking angle settings. The
055 series is most available, still convenient, not that heavy
to carry around, more so
if you are young
handle a large camera with a long tele lens, even a 300mm f/2.8,
when coupled with the appropriate head and good technique.
It fits most heights if you are not too tall. Last time I
these legs were selling for USD $165*. I try to keep my vintage
version in the trunk of the car at all times -they can
take a lot
of beating- with a Markins
M20 ball head and Wimberley
Sidekick arm, capable of handling
any camera body and any medium sized lens I may have at
the time, with ease and speed. However, avoid wind, or wait
until it stops for critical shutter speeds.
055CX3 has carbon fiber legs. Sturdier
and with a 45% increase in load-to-weight efficiency over
MAG Fiber versions achieve very little load to weight ratio
improvement (14-20%) over aluminum, at a higher price.
are also "PRO" variations in the 055 series, for
horizontal center column positioning. Not the most recommended
is a very compact inexpensive aluminum tripod, yet sturdy enough
to handle a pro body with up to a 300mm f/4 lens, when topped
with a good head and using appropriate tripod
technique. A great buy for USD $130*, as it has
almost the same folded size and weight than a carbon fiber
one. I bought
a chrome one instead of a black, for just $87
USD. Although that was long ago, they sell for $99 today*
good starting choice, but again, if there is no wind and your
setup load is light.
higher cost of energy and therefore of aluminum (with an
energy-intensive production cost) has pushed tripod and monopod
manufacturers to seek alternative materials.
into carbon fiber tubing combined with magnesium die cast
parts for quick-action lever locking collars, top plate,
spider and clamping system in the PRO models. The three-faceted
center column remains of aluminum. We will closely
the evolution of the
various MAG-Fiber tripods.
series is more load-to-weight and cost efficient in aluminum
than the Mag-fiber versions, but it may not be available
in the future and the conclusion may not hold true for other
models. Manfrotto engineering has proven for decades they
are very resourceful and ingenious.
about the "Digi" tripods? They
are very light and convenient, but only for very very
light loads. Like for a Coolpix or a small DSLR with
a small lens.
about the geared column tripods? If
they are to stay stationary (like for studio use only)
they are a good solid camera support, although at the cost
much weight. Very tall Nikonians who bought
these for field work eventually exchanged
them for Gitzo carbon fiber
find the professional ball heads out of my budget
right now. What are the alternatives? If
you cannot afford a pro ball head to use on a tripod,
buy a good three-way pan/tilt. You will be happier
than with a less expensive ball head which will move,
creep, or worst, even place your gear in danger. This is our advice not only from our own experience but because it is also the conclusion from the experience of many Nikonians and non-Nikonians.