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02-07-2008, 07:32 PM   #16
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QuoteOriginally posted by Rickster Quote
When I called Bogen/Manfrotto today I asked if they had a parts listing for the 3021 BPRO ... they sent me this by email within the hour.
The Bogen/Manfrotto 3021PROB designation is for North America. Elsewhere around the world the tripod is known as the Manfrotto 055PROB. The parts diagram for this and other Manfrotto tripods can be found on their website Manfrotto.com - homepage
Manfrotto also has configurator that helps you select a tripod/head combo from their lineup.

As a long time Manfrotto user, I can vouch their products perform well, are durable and very good value for money. However I have switched to Gitzo CF and the difference is amazing. BTW both Manfrotto and Gitzo are owned by the same parent company.

My tripod tip is to buy the best you can get. Many years ago I saw a photographer had his Leica R3 camera and lens smashed on the ground because his cheap tripod gave way, surely an expensive lesson that photographer had to rue over. Buying cheap tripods and cheap clones, especially the flood of Benro/Induro is false economy in my book.

02-07-2008, 08:42 PM   #17
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Do as I say, not as I do...

Speaking from experience, three critical things:

1. DON'T buy a "cheap" tripod.

2. DON'T buy ANY tripod with a "pan and tilt" (2 - way) head.

3. DON'T buy a tripod with a built in quick release system, because anything is substandard compared to Arca-Swiss style quick releases. When you look into those, you'll get sticker shock, but take my advice - save your money until you can afford the Arca-Swiss style quick release and plates. Anything else is a waste of money, and when you finally do invest in it at some point you'll realize just how worthless anything else you spent your money on really was (and you'll wish you bought the Arca-Swiss style stuff sooner).

My strong recommendation for a "best first tripod" that won't break the bank is the Tiltall. It comes complete with a THREE way head (essential; otherwise, you're trying to level your camera with a three-legged object, which will cause endless aggravation and convince you to leave it home in short order).

The Tiltall is sturdy enough for stability, tall enough for six footers to use without raising the center column (also important for stability) and isn't a tremendous load. If you buy a tripod that needs a separate head, you can figure on a minimum of double the price of a Tiltall for the legs AND double the price of a Tiltall AGAIN for the head. Used might seem attractive, but you don't really know if what you get is in good working order until you get it, so I don't know if I'd go that way.

The Tiltall is (depending on your color choice) 100 or 110 bucks at B&H. Even comes with a free case. The Arca-Swiss style quick release clamps and camera and lens plates can be found at Really Right Stuff, Kirk Enterprises, Wimberly, and Acratech, among others. (I'd go with the old style screw type clamps as opposed to the new cam lock style, since I figure the minimal additional time it takes me to turn the screw to tighten it is better than running the risk of having a shirtsleeve catch that cam lever and dump my camera and lens on the ground.)

A high quality tripod and high quality quick release equipment are two of the most important purchases you'll make, so choose carefully and don't waste your money.
02-07-2008, 10:20 PM   #18
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perhaps its because I've not used the Arca-swiss quick release heads, but I find the manfrotto designs to be very usable.
02-08-2008, 01:40 AM   #19
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Tiltall isn't as good as they used to be. I dare say the Manfrotto 190 or 055 series of tripods outperform the Tiltall hands down. The trend nowadays is towards the ease of use of a modular ballhead rather than any 2 or 3 way head.

Also the company has changed hands so many times I'm unsure they can provide any after sales support.

02-08-2008, 05:31 AM   #20
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The Arca's are good without a doubt and lock solidly in place. I have one as well as a Manfrotto 3030 (square QR) and there is a slight difference but it's negligible. The Manfrotto locks down solidly as well and I've used it with the Sigma 50-500mm without any issues or wobble. Either is very good IMO
02-08-2008, 05:33 AM   #21
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I did a lot of research on the net and looked at tripods at local camera stores and I am now happy I invested the extra money in a Manfrotto 190. I have a 190XPROB only because the store had one with no box for only 5 bucks more than the 190XB. I got the 486RC2 Ball Head to go with it as well.
02-08-2008, 06:01 AM   #22
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Wow everyone, this is an amazing response - thanks! I didn't realize all of the things I need to keep in mind (head type was something I never even knew to consider), height, stability, portability, durability ... you've given me a lot of ammo/info to take with me when I go shopping. I'll keep you posted on my decision!
02-08-2008, 07:54 AM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by creampuff Quote
As a long time Manfrotto user, I can vouch their products perform well, are durable and very good value for money. However I have switched to Gitzo CF and the difference is amazing. BTW both Manfrotto and Gitzo are owned by the same parent company.

Yeah, but how much did that jump to a CF Gitzo cost you? I'm not knocking your decision, btw. I'm just saying that an investment like that is a mighty big leap for a first tripod. But, just to add a bit to the argument in favor of spending the money to get a really good tripod... I started out with an old Davis and Sanford tripod. Big legs, so-so quick release, sturdy. A good tripod as long as I didn't want to shoot anything lower than about 3 feet off the ground nor higher than about 5 feet. lol So, 20+ years ago, I bit the bullet and bought a Gitzo 320. It was a touch over $300 for the legs alone at that time. BUT, that sucker is still going strong. It goes from dead flat on the ground to somewhere around 6 feet with no center column extension. And it can handle heavier cameras than I care to tote around. I have no doubt it will outlive me and possibly my kids.

02-08-2008, 02:42 PM   #24
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I just took the plunge myself and bought a new tripod and head...the one I had was very cheap and hard to work with. I went with the Bogen / Manfrotto 055XPROB Pro Tripod Legs (Black) with 468MGRC2 Magnesium Hydrostatic Ballhead (Quick Release) from B&H...so far I am very pleased with it and thoroughly impressed.
02-08-2008, 03:18 PM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by travis_cooper Quote
Avoid Amvona at all costs. They have really low prices for some pro-like qualities and you will probably be happy if nothing goes wrong. However, things go wrong all the time over there and they will not help you out. I had a problem with some legs I bought there and they take weeks to even give any kind of response and even then they say there is nothing they can do. While I was waiting I did some looking and found a lot of people have had problems with them, including sometimes they mark you as a non-paying customer through ebay. DO NOT use Amvona, they are just okay when things go well, but if things don't go perfectly you will regret it big time.

ETA: If you don't want to take my word for it, check out there ratings at reseller ratings.
most ridiculous advise i've ever heard.. i have 4 heads and have had 3 tripods from them. customer service takes awhile but it works just fine.. their 858 tripods are great .. had 2 of them.. their ball heads are a little stiff but easily compare to heads in the +$300 range. i have nothing but praise for the company..
02-08-2008, 03:24 PM   #26
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the ball heads i'm using now also have an arca/swiss style quick release. it can even use their plates..
02-08-2008, 05:04 PM   #27
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Like you Roy, I have a couple of heads from them and they work well. They use the Arca style QR's and a nice solid head. But Travis may have a valid point. their reseller ratings do suck. I emailed them 3 times to order extra QR plates as I like to have one on each body and each long lens. That way I'm not constantly switching back and forth.

It took 3 emails over 2 weeks before I gave up and ordered from another source. After 6 weeks from the last email, they finally responded and that wasn't much help anyway. So I imagine that customer service could easily be far worse, cause I wanted to buy something and it wasn't a complaint.

Most of their stuff comes from China and I bet they don't get any credits from the source. I deal with Chinese stuff all the time with work and they suck. The attitude is that once the container leaves the dock in Asia, it's the buyers problem no matter how bad the quality is. So I would guess that Amvona wants to take back stuff as much as I want a root canal. Anything broken is a total write off and goes in the bin.
02-08-2008, 05:12 PM   #28
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TaoMaas, yes I see your point in so far as initial investment goes. As I mentioned, I was quite satisfied with my more affordable Manfrottos (which I would still strongly recommend), but I switched to Gitzo CF principally for 3 reasons.

1) The new Gitzos have the G-Locks which increases the load capacity by almost double. The locks actually lock stronger with more load applied!
2) I've always felt that Manfrotto's flip locks were quite quick to use until I tried the new Gitzos. I can open and extend the legs in seconds!
3) Very substantial weight saving. My Gitzo with an Acratech ballhead weights a shade over 1.6kg, a little lighter if I use my 486RC2 head. Previously instead of a O55PROB for indoor use and a lighter 190PROB for outdoor use, I now use 1 tripod for everything.


roy, I would say you were perhaps fortunate in not having any issues with Amvona's products, though others I know have had mixed experiences with some of their products. As for me I first came across their product was when I was given 2 ballheads from a photographer friend. Tried them and found that over time there was a white metallic residue on the ball and that the ball needed to be tightened progressively tighter. Dismantling it, I found the screw was eating into the cup that tightens the ball. Bottom line, I junked the 2 ball heads.

To me I can understand the attraction for a cheap set-up because of the perceived value. After all, one could buy several units compared to a more expensive setup. But the adage that "you get what you pay for", and "pay cheap pay twice" certainly holds true for me as far as tripods go.
02-09-2008, 12:12 PM   #29
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Why are the Arca style QR's said to be better than the quick releases offered on the Manfrotto heads? Mine has the QR 2 system on it and it is rock solid, easy to operate. I guess I am missing something here?
02-09-2008, 11:12 PM   #30
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QuoteOriginally posted by harv3589 Quote
Why are the Arca style QR's said to be better than the quick releases offered on the Manfrotto heads? Mine has the QR 2 system on it and it is rock solid, easy to operate. I guess I am missing something here?
I've used Bogen/Manfrotto QR systems (RC0 and RC4) and the Arca-Swiss system. The main advantages of the Arca Swiss QR mount are: (1) the plates are smaller and lighter, (2) you can get custom fit plates that fit your camera or lens exactly without any twist (from Kirk Enterprises or Really Right Stuff), (3) the plates clamp tighter and more securly to the QR mount (because of the larger clamping area and the clamp pressure from both sides), and (4) a partially secured clamp mechanism is less likely to drop the gear.

I still use the Bogen/Manfrotto RC4 on one tripod/head (mostly for my small telescope) but it really is no match for my Kirk ball head and custom Kirk plates for my camera bodies and lenses with tripod feet. With the Bogen system, you have to have the mounting bolt rather tight to keep the plate from twisting against the camera. With the Kirk plates, they are machined to match the bottom contours of the camera so they will never twist. The Bogen plate is held one by one small spring-loaded tab (and some notches on the opposite side). If you bump the lever you can accidentally release the tab. With most Arca Swiss mounts, you turn a knob that squeezes two sides of the QR base together given a solid grip that is 1 1/2 to 2 inches long on both sides. Much more secure and unlikely to release by accident. And with lenses with tripod feet, the Arca Swiss plates are usually 2-4 inches long and allow you to position the lens in the QR base back or forward a couple of inches for best balance. With the Bogen system, there is one position and that's it. Once you use the Arca Swiss system you will not want to go back the the Bogen/Manfrotto system.
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