3 vs 4 section manfrotto tripod?

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by allan_martin, Mar 12, 2013.

  1. Hi people!

    I need a lightweight portable tripod and so far these 2 are the best for the budget:
    The core difference is the 8 cm less height with the 4 section one. Though im worried about its sturdiness.
    My heaviest lens is a 70-300.
    I'll get a 496RC ballhead.
    Now what do you think? I know 8 cm is a lot less, practically 15% less. But at the same time I sure dont want to lose too much stability, as this series of manfrottos are already not that stable.
  2. The 190s aren't actually all that bad (for their size), and my experience with an 055CXPro3 suggests that the carbon fibre ones are appreciably stiffer than the aluminium ones. The CF 190, particularly, is featherweight. That said, the bottom section on a 190CXPro4 is going to be tiny and probably not up to holding all that much if there's a source of vibration.

    I'd not be too scared about putting a 70-300 on one of these, except perhaps in high winds. The decision probably comes down to whether the folded length wins you anything. In hold luggage, I'd be astonished if it made much difference - maybe I've always bought large suitcases, but I've never had a problem with my 055CXPro3 or a TVC-34L, both of which are longer, and I've often not even taken the head off. Strapped to a backpack, they're both light enough that it shouldn't much matter (and tripods probably shouldn't go in a camera bag unless you like being careful what you've stood them in). If you have a particular application for which 50cms is short enough but 58cm is too long, go for the 4-section, otherwise I'd lean towards the 3. The 190 isn't all that tall anyway, and avoiding extending the bottom section would make matters worse. (I did get the TVC-34L which has four sections instead of the TVC-33 even though the bottom section on the 34L isn't all that stable - but that tripod is head height even with only three sections extended.) But try them in a store - tripods are personal.
    I'll get a 496RC ballhead.​
    I'd try that before buying too. If you like the handling, so be it, but it's not a very high-end head; I actually preferred how Giottos low-end heads work, but they're not very secure either. See my "heads for every budget" thread for the Triopo RS-3, which is much more stable for similar money, but you might prefer the way the 496 works (particularly if you like a separate pan control). I doubt you'll be stressing what the head can hold too much, so the extra capacity of the RS-3 may be overkill if you're sure you won't buy a bigger lens. You are sure, yes? (I've been there, I made the mistake of ignoring that article, even if it's a bit old now...) :)
  3. Well I guess ill have to try them in the store like you said. I was under the impression the difference in stability would be greater, good it isnt then!
    Now, while looking for other ballhead options, I found this one too GIOTTOS MH1302 655:
    I see it turn not only up/down but left right too, which the 496rc doesnt.
    Why are the 496rc so popular if you cant turn it to the sides? I mean, you cant use the 496 with a camera in a portrait orientation.
  4. That said, the bottom section on a 190CXPro4 is going to be tiny and probably not up to holding all that much if there's a source of vibration.​
    The bottom section of that tripod is tiny, thin, flimsy, prone to instability. The three-section tripod is much more stable. Trying it in the store, with no wind, won't tell you much. For more views on this, look, for example, at this thread. I can tell you that the original poster of that thread is very happy with her 190CXPro3.

    But there is another issue. How tall are you? It's a short tripod, which might mean you have to raise the center column in order to use it comfortably. Raising the center column will make it less stable. You might want to consider the 055CXPro3, which is still rather light, and which you might be able to use comfortably without raising the center column. A couple of inches is O.K., but much more than that is not. In determining the height you need, take into account the height of the head and that of the viewfinder above the base of the camera.
  5. Why are the 496rc so popular if you cant turn it to the sides? I mean, you cant use the 496 with a camera in a portrait orientation.​
    Because it's cheap, and you can always pan with the ball...
    I have to agree with what Andrew says about the 496 though:
    I'd try that before buying too. If you like the handling, so be it, but it's not a very high-end head;​
    I have the 498RC2, which is the same head, but with the pan on the bottom, so you don't have to loosen the ball and lose the setup on the head when panning. When I bought my 055XPROB, I was offered the 496, but I wanted the independent pan control, so I upgraded to the 498.
    For a heavy lens combo, it isn't very ideal. You really need to pay close attention to how tight the ball is, lest the whole lens/camera flop over. This usually doesn't result in any major damage, but I can imagine the one day the ball has flopped over one too many times, and it all goes tumbling.
    I was using it with a gripped Canon 7D, and the 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L zoom, with the RC2 plate on the lens' tripod collar. That's a total of between 6 and 7 pounds. With the tripod collar, the balance was pretty good. I'd not want to try that lens with the RC2 connection at the camera!
    With a heavy camera and lens, the small ball and lightweight construction of the 496/498 isn't the right tool for the job. But with just the camera and a relatively lightweight (and short...) lens, it's fine.
    I've moved on to gimbals for my 7D & 100-400. Much better control and support for that much gear.
  6. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    Of the 3 section vs 4 section, then assuming that its not a prerequisite that it fits in an existing piece of luggage of a short dimension I think its an easy decision in favour of the 3 section tripod. The extra joints and the skinny bottom sections of the 4 section, together with the fact that the 4 section is a little heavier, make this an easy one for me.
    Which isn't to say that it would be my tripod of choice for a dslr with a 70-300 that you're going to turn on its side. Unless you're pretty short you're going to be crouching over 190 series tripods, and you're going to get tempted to raise the centre column. Clearly there's a trade off between size and stability and I think that where you're headed is the wrong side of optimum.
    I don't know anything about your proposed ballheads but people seem to think the same there. There is no guarantee that its possible to meet a weight target, a cost target and a stability target all at the same time and it looks to me like you're taking a risk. Everything you're doing looks to me to be a bit lightweight I'm afraid. Personally i might even be happier with a bigger QR plate . I presume your lens has a collar ?
  7. I'll believe Hector's doubts about the bottom section of the 190CXPro4 if he has personal experience - by "try it in a store" I did mean stick the camera on it and try to jiggle it. :) The 190 range is pretty good for its size, but it's not in the class of the big tripods - I'm not sure that my statement should be taken to indicate that they're equal in stability to each other. I've only played with them in a shop as well! (Though there are a number of happy purchasers on this forum.)
    I can vouch for the 055CXPro3, but it's appreciably bigger and heavier (though not that heavy) than the 190 series, though more stable. If you can handle the size (and cost premium), it's certainly up to a 70-300 - I bought mine when my biggest lens was a 150-500, though a move to a 500 f/4 made me upgrade to a Really Right Stuff tripod. As David says, if there's not a good reason to get the four-section, go with the three.
    I'd not noticed that the 496 didn't have a separate panning clamp - I assume the extra knob is a tension adjust. In which case, it presumably behaves very like the RS-3 (which, admittedly, doesn't have a tension control, though there's reasonable travel in the tension knob): if you loosen the head a bit, you can pan with the ball held (fairly) steady, and if you loosen further you can move the ball. You can obviously pan - with a bit less control - just by turning the ball, but swivelling the whole head lets you align the portrait shooting slot. I'm not quite clear whether the 496 allows a little lateral movement, or whether you can only move the column in the direction of the slot, but with the ability to spin the ball (so you can get portrait orientation) - which removes the main use of a combo ball/tilt head like Manfrotto used to put on the Modo. Anyway, given that, I'd certainly look at an RS-3.
    However, if you want a separate tension control and a panning knob, the Giottos would be better. I have, although I no longer use, the 1301 variant. The handling was okay - it doesn't hold much weight, and it sags a little, but otherwise it felt decent and it held my 150-500, so I'd expect it to be fine with a 70-300 - though the rated "6kg" is probably optimistic. The RS-3 is appreciably more solid and sag-less; for a step up in handling you're looking at something like an Acratech. But heads are personal, so I can understand if you'd rather buy something you've seen than rely on eBay (the RS-3 isn't very refined, for all I sing its praises, but I do think it's the bargain in this price bracket). At least your Giottos has an Arca-Swiss compatible clamp (I believe), which puts you in a good system for buying dedicated camera/lens plates and other heads.

    I do have a gimbal head (ish - Manfrotto 393), but it's probably overkill for a 70-300. I use it exclusively with my 500 f/4. A 100-400 is a heavier beast than a 70-300, and I suspect more justifies the gimbal.
    Good luck with whatever you choose!
  8. Both tripods are a little short. Hope you are not 6 feet and over..
  9. The reason to go with 4-section vs. 3-section is that they usually a shorter when folded, making them easier to pack into luggage. In this case, there's only about 3" difference. If that's enough of a difference to get it into your bag, consider it. Otherwise, a 3-section will be sturdier and faster to erect.
  10. The leg joints are a weak spot in a Manfrotto tripod. You suffer a loss of stiffness with 4 sections v 3 sections. Gitzo tripods are exceptional in this regard, if you can afford it. They are also 30% lighter than the comparable Manfrotto. I have no qualms about using a 4 section #2 Gitzo CF tripod, or aluminum if size #3 or larger.
  11. Im 5,9 (1,79m), will I regret going with the 190CXPRO3, would it be too small for me?

    My worries are that additional 7 cm and 300 g from 055CXPRO3 would make the whole tripod experience a little cumbersome.
  12. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    It will certainly make it bulkier and heavier. It will be more comfortable to use, support the camera and lens better and the downside is harder to carry. I don't think anyone else can tell you how you should rank these features.
  13. Allan, that small difference isn't going to impact you in the field. The only place you'll notice it is trying to pack it in a bag. Measure your bag to see if the three-section will fit. Opening a three-section is more convenient than a four-section and the three-section will be better damped and more stable.
  14. Allan: I'm roughly the same height as you (maybe I have an inch on you), and find that the 055CXPro3 is slightly taller than comfortable for me, with a head, plate and camera on it, if I extend all the legs fully. This is fine, and useful if I actually want to point the camera upwards; I simply don't fully extend the bottom leg section most of the time. I'd much prefer a tripod to be too tall than too short. I find the weight difference between most tripods in this category to be negligible by the time I've got a head on the tripod and I've carried a few lenses with me, but then I don't travel light. The 190 is extremely light in itself; put a Manfrotto 393 on it and the weight of the tripod is utterly irrelevant (especially with, in my case, a D800 and a 500 f/4), but go with a Joby Ballhead X and a D3100 + 70-300 and you might just notice.

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