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Manfrotto 190XPROL + 496RC2

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by Wizard Steve, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. Wizard Steve

    Wizard Steve Mu-43 Regular

    128
    Feb 10, 2013
    Provence, France
    David Ricketts
    Before I pull the trigger on this, can anyone think of a reason not to?

    For use by a six footer with an OM-D E-M5.
     
  2. condo39

    condo39 Mu-43 Regular

    I bought this exact combination over two years ago and have been very happy with it. I am six feet tall, and used it with a Canon DSLR before switching to m43. Works well with all three cameras I have used with it.
     
  3. Wizard Steve

    Wizard Steve Mu-43 Regular

    128
    Feb 10, 2013
    Provence, France
    David Ricketts
    Excellent!

    I had originally planned to save up for a carbon Gitzo but decided that a very good tripod now was better than an excellent tripod five months from now.
     
  4. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    I can think of several, but it mostly depends on your needs, budget, and expectations. Can you tell us a bit more about your specific needs?

    --Ken

    P.S. Read Thom Hogan's piece on tripods before you buy anything: Tripods and Ball Heads by Thom Hogan .
     
  5. Wizard Steve

    Wizard Steve Mu-43 Regular

    128
    Feb 10, 2013
    Provence, France
    David Ricketts
  6. caimi

    caimi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 13, 2012
    middle US
    Caimi caimiphotography.com
    I don't know about the tripod but I have used the Manfrotto quick release plate on that or a very similar ball head and didn't like it. Compared to the arca swiss style quick release plate the Manfrotto is bulky, a bit cumbersome to use, never felt as secure.
     
  7. Wizard Steve

    Wizard Steve Mu-43 Regular

    128
    Feb 10, 2013
    Provence, France
    David Ricketts
    So I've decided to go back to plan A. My wife and I have always had the same philosophy on buying anything: buy it once and buy it right. Buyer's remorse is generally only something we encounter when we stray from that rule. As I almost did here.

    I'll keep saving for that Gitzo.
     
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    David,

    Gitzo is the "gold standard", but there are some other tripods worth considering, like Feisol. What is your total budget for legs, a head and plates, and what are your need? We can make recommendations, but only if we know what you need.

    --Ken
     
  9. Wizard Steve

    Wizard Steve Mu-43 Regular

    128
    Feb 10, 2013
    Provence, France
    David Ricketts
    Well right now, my budget is zero as I've just dropped my camera budget on the Olympus 60mm :biggrin: but I guess my total budget for tripod/head/plates is €700. It'll be used for long exposure landscape shots (water smoothing, crowd removal, headlight trails, night shots, etc) and macro. It will be carried with me rather than lugged around in the boot of the car so needs to be light and relatively compact.
     
  10. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    678
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Scott
    Gitzo series 2 + Markins head ...

    I also have the 496 and changed the RC2 clamp to an Arca-Swiss compatible one, as my cameras have A/S plates on them. I use this on a smaller tripod or my monopod as needed.
     
  11. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    Thank you for the additional information. In light of what you have provided, I would say that bassman's advice is good, but I will elaborate a bit more so you can mull things over before making a purchase.

    First, do not rush into a purchase. I put together a "stable platform" (i.e. tripod and ballhead) for my Nikon D300 only after months of reading and reviewing information at Nikonians. The requirements for a D300 and long lenses are more demanding than an OM-D E-M5, but many of the principles are the same.

    Your budget will probably allow you to purchase a tripod (especially if there is a Gitzo rebate promotion) and ballhead that will last you well for many years, and work well during that time. As you will be carrying your tripod much of the time, I would strongly recommend carbon fiber for the weight savings (and stiffness). It's a good investment in a larger tripod, and you will be happier, especially on cold days.

    A Gitzo series 2, as bassman said, would be a good choice, although you should also consider what Feisol offers, and Manfrotto's 055 series if you are still looking at alternatives. The latter two are reasonably well made, but a bit more affordable than Gitzo, who raised their prices last year quite a bit.

    Given your height, I would recommend a tripod that has a maximum height of no less than approximately 58 inches (without any center column raised). This will allow you to work comfortably without having to stoop over to see through the viewfinder.

    Regarding ballheads, I would recommend that you consider a model that uses Arca-Swiss (A/S) compatible plates. This is as close to a common standard that you will find for ballheads, and is used by most of the better manufacturers. Like bassman, I prefer Markins, but there are other high quality manufacturers like RRS and Kirk.

    If your budget is tight, I would suggest not compromising on the ballhead, and considering a more affordable set of legs. A cheap ballhead is not fun or convenient, and will probably drive you crazy int he long run. And, good quality ballheads are much easier to sell used if you needed to do so in the future.

    If you get an A/S compatible ballhead, you will need to decide if you want a lever or a screw clamp. There are pros and cons to each, and it is mostly a personal preference. I prefer screw clamps because I do not want any accidents from snagging a lever, but that is me. You will also need to decide if you want a L-bracket for your camera rather than just a base plate. I have one on my D300, but not on my M4/3rd's bodies. They can be very handy if you shoot in a vertical orientation.

    As I said above, a good tripod and ballhead are not cheap, but they will last a long time, and be a pleasure to use. While there are instances where folks can get by on extremely affordable gear, I think that you will appreciate the stability of a stable set of legs if you are interested in long exposures, and a good ballhead if you are shooting macro.

    Good luck,

    --Ken
     
  12. bassman

    bassman Mu-43 Top Veteran

    678
    Apr 22, 2013
    New Jersey
    Scott
    Ken:

    Thanks for being much more insightful on the issue (I was mobile when I responded, not that that's any excuse).

    I think the key take-away is to think of tripods as you would lenses: relatively long-term investments, which can and should survive many camera generations. Digital cameras are, ultimately, disposable toys. Almost all of us will ultimately upgrade to newer and better technology. Tripod technology hasn't changed all that much since the introduction of carbon fiber for the legs, which isn't to say that the manufacturers don't continually try to make engineering improvements to their products.

    To be more specific on my preferences, I have two tripods. The first is a Manfrotto 560B which I bought many years ago, and which came with a pan/tilt head more suitable for video. It was all I could afford at the time, and frankly satisfied my undemanding needs for 20 years or more. However, when I became more serious about photography a few years ago, I replaced the head with the Manfrotto 496RC2 ball head. This a fine head. It's big shortfall, which I didn't realize at the time, is that it has a proprietary RC2 clamp. This created two main issues for me:

    - the Manfrotto proprietary clamp uses a square baseplate which is very annoying when attached to your camera. You would never want to leave it on all the time, as the camera won't sit flat on it's base and it's uncomfortable when you're carrying the camera on a strap.

    - it's almost impossible to get an 'L' plate for this clamp, which means that shooting in portrait mode on your tripod requires you to drop the head over, unbalancing the entire setup.

    The 560B itself is aluminum, and not bad. But aluminum is both heavier and less rigid than carbon fiber. And much cheaper.

    After spending a week on a landscape photography workshop and seeing the difference between working with my setup and a more sophisticated one, I sprung for the upgrade. My current setup is Gitzo GT2541 carbon fiber base and a Markins M10 ball head with the lever clamp. The Manfrotto, with it's original pan head, was gifted to a friend. The Manfrotto 496 has been refitted with an Arca-Swiss screw clamp from Hejnar Photo, which makes some interesting custom bits. I put this head on a cheap set of Vanguard legs (Alta 204AP) I use for hiking when photography is not the main concern and I don't want to risk beating up the Gitzo/Markins set. The Vanguard/Manfrotto setup is shorter, less rigid, and only weighs a bit less than the Gitzo/Markins kit. But if I drop my backpack and nick something I won't cry.

    My Nikon D7000 and E-M5 both have RRS L-plates on them (the E-M5 also has the RRS grip). Using this gear - the L-plates, the Gitzo/Markins stuff - is like using fine machinery. Because it is. It will probably outlast me, will probably last as long as my best lenses, and will definitely outlast the cameras (by many generations). I've put a Kirk A/S screw clamp on my Black Rapid strap, and can attach it to the vertical part of the L-plate on either camera where it's out of the way and very secure. I also added a Kirk screw clamp to my monopod, and so all of my gear is compatible and works interchangeably.

    I won't tell people to spend their money; only you can make that decision. But I can tell you that, in my opinion, if you are serious about photography utilizing a tripod, you will eventually buy gear comparable to my setup (Ken correctly points out there are good choices). The only difference is how much money you spend on cheaper, and ultimately unsatisfactory stuff before you get there. I was fortunate; I got 20+ happy years out of my first set and only spend $160 on the 496RC2 before replacing it (and still use it, albeit with the Hejnar upgrade). There are plenty of examples of people who have a closet full of tripods they no longer use because they were looking for an illusory bargain.

    Hope this is all helpful and gets you closer to a decision you are happy with, whatever that is.
     
  13. Wizard Steve

    Wizard Steve Mu-43 Regular

    128
    Feb 10, 2013
    Provence, France
    David Ricketts
    Thank you both for your detailed replies. I very much appreciate the time you've both taken.

    I'll update you once I'm closer to making a purchase.
     
  14. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    Ken
    No worries. I have been in your situation many times, and its not somuch an excuse as it is reality. Typing a long post on a tablet or phone is not a fun experience in any way, shape or form. I happened to be at my computer and had some time, so I thought I would "pay it forward" for all of those folks who helped me out in the past.

    --Ken

    P.S. Have you seen the new Markins' heads with the BV-10 pan/tilt attachment? If I did not already own a Wimberley Sidekick and was shooting more BIF, I could be convinced to upgrade.