Manfrotto 484RC2, 486RC2 and 488RC2 heads

Discussion in 'Accessories' started by panos_voudouris, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. Hello all,

    I am trying to decide on one of these three to go on a Manfrotto
    190Pro tripod. I am buying the tripod mostly for macro and
    landscapes. The nominal load is 4, 6 and 8kg respectively. What will
    go on top is at most a Tamron 180mm macro and a Canon EOS 30 (Elan
    7) on the portrait/landscape orientation (weight 1.5kg). Also, the
    same camera, a Tamron 90mm macro and possibly a flashgun (total
    weight 1.5kg) will be used with the column on the horizontal
    position, lens facing down.

    In theory, all of them should cope with either orientation and these
    loads but in practice, but will the smaller ones do in practice? I
    am especially worried about the macro layout (column horizontal).

    I will try them in a shop, but a 10 minute play there won't tell me
    what will happen after 3 hours in the fields, in the cold! So, any
    comments from users of these heads will be greatly appreciated.

  2. This setup is very light duty, especially for macro work, which demands high rigidity and the ability to support off-center loads. In many respects, it is more demanding than using a super-telephoto for wildlife. The load ratings don't tell you much, other than whether the tripod will collapse under the weight.

    To test the tripod and head in the store, you need to bring your camera and try it out. Focus on something close, look through the viewfinder and tap the camera and or legs. How much does it vibrate and how long does it take to dampen out? With the camera nearly horizontal, does the ball head hold? How much force does it take to cause the head to slip? With the head partially tightened, does the camera move smoothly, with resistance, or is there a slip-stick action. (Slip-stick motion will fry your brain when setting up a shot in the field).

    For the same money, you could get an aluminum Gitzo G-1224 which is much stiffer and over a foot taller (without a column). I use one with 35mm, medium format and even a Sinar F1 on occasion. Carbon fiber is nice for the weight savings, but expensive. The fact that the G-1224 and Bogen/Manfrotto 190 cost the same should tell you a lot - it's a competetive business and you tend to get what you pay for.

    Finding a good ball head, unfortunately, is expensive. Ultimately, the head is the key to your use of the tripod. The 388 ball head has a small diameter ball, which is usually the source of problems when you stress the application. Bogen/Manfrotto furthermore has a sadly inadequate quick release system. The worst problem is that there is nothing to keep the camera from rotating on the QR plate in the vertical position. Macro work demands some unusual positions,, as does nature photography in general. There was one thread in in which the owner complained that the 388 doesn't hold in cold (Canadian) weather.

    Try to find a head that has a ball about 2 inches in diameter. Acratech, Kirk, RRS, Linhof and Arca-Swiss are among the best contenders. If you don't get a head that uses an Arca-Swiss type QR system, at least get one that can be adapted later. I haven't tried them all, but I've owned several Bogen and Gitzo ball heads, eventually getting an Arca B1. I know from experience that the B1 works in temperatures from -15F to 118F (even if I don't do so well), desert and snow. There are good reports about the others heads )mentioned above) as well.
  3. I have this exact combination and don't really have any problems with it. The only thing I wish it had was a tensioning system for the ball. I tried some Gitzo equipment out and it is just excellent, I couldnt justify the cash at the time. My next head will likey be a gitzo or AS B1.

    For an example of my heaviest load, I shoot a 350D with battry grip, Sigma 70-200 EX DG + 1.4TC, with Lee filter system attached, so that's not overly heavy but it certainly isnt light and the head holds it rock solid: I think that's somewhere around 3 kilos maye more. There are a lot of gear heads frequenting these forums, and yes there is better equipment, but do you need it?
  4. I have a 488RC2 on my 3021BPro tripod legs and it works quite well for me. The 486RC2 head tops off a monopod for me. It is a little weak on the tripod when using heavy lenses (such as the 70-200 f/2.8 IS), but works great on the monopod.
  5. Thanks. I forgot to mention, I am more or less set on the tripod, maybe I will consider the 055. I don't really care about the height (most things macro seem to be on the ground) and would rather have something light that I can carry for hours in the fields. And CF is far too expensive with minescule weight savings.

    I would love a Gitzo Explorer but cannot afford one at the moment as it will cost more than the whole head/tripod/strap/feet combo. As for the Gitzo 1224, that costs even more and really limits my macro capabilities (at least in the UK).

    What I would like to know is, if anyone tried, for example, the 484 with a setup similar to my Elan 7 + 90 macro facing down and found the head sliping.

    I think I'll go for the 486...hmmmm...
  6. Many hereabouts seem obsessed with overkill ballheads and overweight tripods for relatively light set-ups like yours. I produced 100s of pin-sharp macro slides with a 190 and an old Manfrotto 3D head that fell far short of the hi-end support tonnage recommended elsewhere. You might want to upgrade to a 055, especially if you're taller than about 5'10" where the 190 will be at full centre-column extension, though this may be less concern with low angle macro shots. The 486RC2 is probably at or near the sweet spot for your needs. I've found that Manfrotto rates its heads' weight bearing capacity conservatively. But if using a ballhead that's nearly the size of your camera makes sense, then buy one
  7. I was lucky to find a shop with both the 190 and 055 and the 486 head. The head handled
    fine (well, not very "fine" control but for the price I think it is great) so I'm set on the head
    now. The 055 looked very interesting as at full extension without the column, plus head
    plus camera the viewfinder is almost at my eye-level (need 1-2 inches on the column). The
    190 needs to be fully extended and still I have to bent down a bit.

    I am tempted by the 055 but keep reminding myself that landscapes don't need to be at
    eye-level and macro stuff is low in the ground (well, usually)... I just might have to flip a
    in the end :)

    Thanks very much guys.
  8. 055 is a no-brainer if you ask me... You might develop new interests in photography - 055 will still be sturdy enough for both...

    I went with the 486 for now, because I know that eventually I will want the 'real' thing, and it ain't a Manfrotto... Then the 486 will be down graded to be used in my 'light-weight' gear combo.

    Get the proper size padded Manfrotto carry-case, and the 055 becomes pretty easy to carry.
  9. I used the exact same setup for a year (Bogen 3001BPro + 486RC2) with a kit as large as a 10D + Grip, 70-200 f/4 L, and 420EX flash. It's a great value at under $200. I'm actually selling both the ballhead and tripod legs on Ebay this week, item numbers 7570964708 and 7570967217. I'm selling because I ended up finally caving in and buying a set of carbon fiber legs and a Kirk BH-3.
  10. The legs on the Gitzo G-1224 have three independent angle settings, and can lay flat to the ground. With a stub column, you can get as close to the ground as with any tripod I've used (I have a Benbo, which I haven't needed since getting the Gitzo). The extra available height is a lot more useful than you think. It is vastly better quality than the Manfrotto, despite being aluminum (foam pipe insulation makes carrying it in cold weather easier).

    I'm not surprised some are satisfied with a light-duty ball head (Manfrotto's weight ratings are misleading at best), considering that they have probably never used anything better. The rest of us have learned by experience.
  11. Edward, I am pretty sure that the Gitzo is a lot better. In fact, the first tripods I looked at
    where the ones in the Gitzo catalog. But then I looked at the price lists...the legs alone
    cost more than the 055 + head + bag and I really cannot afford this at the moment.
    Besides, if I could afford the 1224, I'd get an explorer instead and some fancy ball head on

    And yes, I am sure there are much better ball heads but they cost and weigh more than my

    I am looking for this particular set of legs and heads for two reasons: money and weight.
    The 55+head stretches my budget to the max. I would like tension control and smoother
    ball control but since the 486 is the best I can afford, that's the one it is going to be.

    I also do not want more than 3kg of tripod to haul around. In fact, 3kg is pushing it, hence
    why I am looking at the 190 as that saves 0.5kg compared to the 055. But anyway, the
    more I think about it, the more the 055 looks good. The extra height is quite useful. After
    all, camera, lenses, camera bag, tripod and accessories will end up weighing 10kg...not a
    very light setup for someone who only shoots photos for his own hobby!

    In the end, you get what you pay for, but I have that much to pay, hence that much I can
    get. :)

  12. david_henderson


    I'm sure that what you get will be just fine, and I'm with Gary Watson on this. I take thousands of exposures a year with medium format gear using a 190 in cities and a 055 when I need something a bit more rugged, together with a 488RCO head. I do a little macro though frankly its more 2-3 feet than real macro stuff. Anyway, fact is that I don't have unsharp transparencies except when the winds strong enough to set up vibrations in the whole rig, and I don't think a tripod's going to be of much help there.

    The point here is that there's no right or wrong about getting really expensive high quality engineering. Its a question only about whether you need it or not, or whether you're the type of person to get satisfaction out of owning them or not. For what I do- pretty normal landscape/urban landscape stuff- I don't need Arca Swiss and I don't need to save a few ounces by getting carbon fibre either- frankly I could save more weight by taking a few filters I don't use much out of the bag. If I needed to make frequent, fast and accurate changes to framing such as when shooting birds or wildlife , or if I shot extreme close-ups, I'm sure I'd be buying an Arca Swiss or whatever very fast.

    A couple of points about Manfrotto though. First not every version of the 190/055 has the centre column you can use horizontally, or variable leg angle adjustments, or the single action leg locks ( as against wing nuts which are harder work). I think you'll find you need the models designated "professional" to get these things. So be careful if you buy mail order to get the right models.

    If you don't have the camera attached to the QR plate firmly enough, it will be inclined to twist when in a vertical position. The solution is self evident though its fair to say that if I did a lot of heavy lens work with the camera on its side then I'd be looking at different heads/QR systems without a doubt.
  13. David,

    Thanks for the advice. Yes, I am looking at the Pro versions of the 190 and 055 (and I am
    buying locally). As for the
    head and QR being secure enough, I am also looking into the "architectural plate" which is
    supposed to keep the camera secure from twisting around. But most of my shots are in
    the landscape position anyway.

  14. Hi, I have a 055ProB + 486RC2 and it works just great. I bought it just a few weeks ago but i'm more than pleased. It's very rigid, tall and the head is very easy to adjust, just misses the tension knob but with a bit of care that is not such a problem. I've strapped it with my old Nikon neckstrap and it become very easy to carry, this combo weights about 3kg. I put on it a N80 + Sigma 28-70 f/2.8 or Sigma 70-300 f/4-5.6 DL + filters, just fine.
    Go with this, you go well.<br><br>
  15. For macros, I didn't see any mention of either the Gitzo G2220 or G2227?

    Also, if you use the 488RC0 or 488RC2, I highly recommend losing the Bogen/Manfrotto QR plate and adding a ReallyRightStuff (RRS) head clamp and a RRS L-bracket. Gets rid of the little bit of lense creep that hides in there:)

    Money well spent.
  16. "For macros, I didn't see any mention of either the Gitzo G2220 or G2227?"

    Yeap, that's the Explorer I referred to earlier. A bit pricey for the moment. Maybe in a few
    years... :)
  17. Looking at the price of a 190MF3: $263.00 (US)

    And a G-2220 (aluminium): $250.00 (US)

    It seems that the G-2220 would be within your budget.
  18. "It seems that the G-2220 would be within your budget."

    I'm buying the aluminium model which is half that price.
  19. The G-2220 is the aluminium model:)
  20. Just FYI. There's a lot of threads and active conversation about ballheads and tripod legs over on in the "General Gear-talk" forum.

    Here's a currently active thread in regard to the G-2220 and a Bogen/Manfrotto 3001.
  21. david_henderson


    But the version of the 190 you're using as a comparator isn't aluminium and is much more expensive than the one the poster intends to buy. So what you quoted is not an appropriate comparison.
  22. "So what you quoted is not an appropriate comparison."

    You're kidding.

    I post several choices, with links for easy comparitive purposes and you're commenting on the approprietness of my choices?

  23. Ya better recheck the links as to the aluminium comment.
  24. A full three of the links I posted were to aluminium G-2220 tripod legs and two were even labeled as such.
  25. david_henderson


    This link, provided in your post of 10.14, is not to an aluminium tripod.

    "Looking at the price of a 190MF3: $263.00 (US)"

    Maybe you'd be better off checking your own stuff quietly rather than drawing attention to your mistake. Your post implies that the poster can afford the Gitzo you promote because it costs the same as the 190 he's considering. It doesn't, since the aluminium versions of the 190 are much cheaper. Therefore your comparison is inappropriate and potentially misleading.
  26. "Maybe you'd be better off checking your own stuff quietly rather than drawing attention to your mistake."

    There was no mistake. The link was for "comparison" purposes.

    I think you're doing this to be some sort of nutty trouble maker so I'll ignore your future posts in this matter.
  27. "I think you're doing this to be some sort of nutty trouble maker so I'll ignore your future
    posts in this matter."

    Guys relax. Thomas, you are comparing the aluminium Gitzo with the carbon
    Manfrotto, the 190MF3 is the carbon model (Mag-Fiber as Manfrotto calls them).
    What I am talking about is the aluminium Manfrotto (190Pro) which is a lot cheaper.
  28. "What I am talking about is the aluminium Manfrotto (190Pro) which is a lot cheaper."

    Are you in Europe? I ask because B&H doesn't list a 190Pro and Bogen/Manfrotto has some dual numbers. I think what you're calling a 190Pro, I would know as a 3001BPro.
  29. "Are you in Europe? I ask because B&H doesn't list a 190Pro and Bogen/Manfrotto has some dual numbers. I think what you're calling a 190Pro, I would know as a 3001BPro. "

    Yes, in the UK. THe 3001 seems to be the 190 over here.
  30. Where's the UK? :)

    My fav historical UK personality is Alfred the Great. :)

    You might want to check out the Bogen/Manfrotto 3021 (055). It is a few quid more but can handle a bit heavier load. This makes a difference in the stability factor and down the road as your equipment list grows and your macro demands increase also.

    Link, for comparison purposes only. :)

    Link, to 3001BPro, for comparison purposes only. :)

    Give consideration to the 488RC2 as it has a panning base and can be easily upgraded down the road with ReallyRightStuff (RRS) clamps and brackets. Way cool.

    The ultimate ballhead, for my purposes has been the Bogen/Manfrotto 468MGRC0 that I upgraded with RRS lever clamp. It's da bomb.

    Hope the above helps.

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