Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 Tripod

Contrary to what most people think, my camera is not my favorite piece of equipment – my tripod (and the head) is. The tripod allows me to stabilize my camera and do so in numerous ways, ranging in height from about three inches off the ground to more than 70 inches. It’s very versatile and, no matter how good your camera or lenses, if your tripod can’t stabilize your camera in creative ways, your pictures won’t be sharp.

My workhorse tripod has been a Manfrotto 3021N. It’s a fairly light aluminum tripod (a bit over 5 pounds), can go very low to the ground, can go higher than my head, and is very stable. It’s been a fabulous tripod, especially coupled with my Acratech Ultimate Ballhead. Five pounds (without the head), is too heavy for my liking when I go backpacking with my gear, so I decided to take a look at a second, lighter tripod for backpacking trips. I wanted a light, carbon fiber tripod with a smaller footprint than my current 3021N. After testing various tripods at Pictureline in Salt Lake City, as well as online research, I settled on the Manfrotto 190CXPRO3.

Manfrotto 190CXPRO3 tripod

I’ve taken this tripod on one photo outing and have been very impressed with it. It weighs just over 2.5 pounds, so it’s about half the weight of my 3021N, though it cannot be raised as high as the aluminum tripod. That’s not such a big deal because I’m willing to compromise a bit of size for the weight loss. The tripod is also smaller when collapsed so it doesn’t weigh down my backpack. I was a bit nervous about the stability of such a light tripod but it seemed plenty stable during my outings. It also has a hook where I can use a carabiner to attach my backpack for additional stability if needed, though the hook isn’t on the center post. For the few times I may need to use it, the hook will be fine.

The other outstanding feature of the tripod is the quick adjusting center post which, with the press of a button, can move from a vertical to horizontal orientation very quickly. It saved my bacon on a shot in which I needed to quickly get about four inches off the ground before I lost the light. The switch from vertical to a horizontal position was quick and worked flawlessly.

The bottom line…I’ve very happy with this tripod. While not doing everything perfectly, it suits my purposes very well. It’s light yet stable and very versatile. It is also well built, as I’d expect from Manfrotto, and wasn’t ridiculously expensive, coming in at $300. I’m pleased.