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01-15-2009, 04:01 PM   #1
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Tripod recommendation: Manfrotto vs. Giottos

I'm in the market for a tripod and ballhead setup for everyday use (mainly landscapes, night photography, and still lifes). I've pretty much settled for the Manfrotto 486RC2 ballhead. The tripod itself I'm less sure about.

I know there have been a number of threads discussing tripods, but none, as far as I know, directly comparing these two brands.

Anyhow, I've basically whittled my selection down to the following:
Manfrotto 190XproB
Giottos MTL9351b

I'm leaning slightly toward the Manfrotto, but the Giottos is really tempting me.

I have a few questions to those who have experience with these (or similar) models.

1. Weight: My principle concern with the Giottos is it's weight; it's about a half pound heavier than the Manfrotto. However, as I understand it, the Giottos allows me to either replace the centre column with a short column, or remove it all together (along with the head) and use the built in "3 way" head. How much weight can I expect to save with either of these arrangements?

2. How is the build quality of the Giottos. From my research, it seems some people have issues with Giottos tripods, in particular, the leg locking and column locking mechanisms. Is this something I should worry about?

3. Is the lateral arm function actually useful? I've heard a number of people say that it looks a lot more useful than it actually is. If it's essentially a gimmick, I'd be better off going with a lighter model Giottos such as the 9251, as it would eliminate the weight issue.

Any advice would be appreciated.

01-15-2009, 04:15 PM   #2
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If at all possible, you should actually handle both tripods. The 190XPROB is a nice unit, but I did not find it sturdy enough for my needs when mounted with my K10D in the lateral arm configuration. I have never seen the Giottos 9351 and cannot comment on that unit.

Steve
01-15-2009, 04:28 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
If at all possible, you should actually handle both tripods. The 190XPROB is a nice unit, but I did not find it sturdy enough for my needs when mounted with my K10D in the lateral arm configuration. I have never seen the Giottos 9351 and cannot comment on that unit.
Unfortunately, the local Henry's does not have the Giottos in stock. I would have to order it sight unseen.

None of the other local vendors carry this tripod. It seems Giottos products are not widely distributed in Canada.
01-15-2009, 05:16 PM   #4
Ed in GA
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wizzywig Quote
I'm in the market for a tripod and ballhead setup for everyday use (mainly landscapes, night photography, and still lifes). I've pretty much settled for the Manfrotto 486RC2 ballhead. The tripod itself I'm less sure about.

I.

Anyhow, I've basically whittled my selection down to the following:
Manfrotto 190XproB


Any advice would be appreciated.
You might want to consider the Manfrotto 055XPROB. It's a bit heavier but a lot more sturdy.

01-15-2009, 06:23 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ed in GA Quote
You might want to consider the Manfrotto 055XPROB. It's a bit heavier but a lot more sturdy.
Thanks for the reply, Ed.

The 055XPROB is too heavy for my needs. Even the Giottos, at around 2kg, is pushing my limits.

I've looked at the 190XPROB at the store, and I'm pretty satisfied with it, at least with respect to sturdiness. It's the Giottos that's the question mark, since there wasn't any in the store to examine.
01-15-2009, 08:25 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wizzywig Quote
1. Weight: My principle concern with the Giottos is it's weight; it's about a half pound heavier than the Manfrotto. However, as I understand it, the Giottos allows me to either replace the centre column with a short column, or remove it all together (along with the head) and use the built in "3 way" head. How much weight can I expect to save with either of these arrangements?

2. How is the build quality of the Giottos. From my research, it seems some people have issues with Giottos tripods, in particular, the leg locking and column locking mechanisms. Is this something I should worry about?

3. Is the lateral arm function actually useful? I've heard a number of people say that it looks a lot more useful than it actually is. If it's essentially a gimmick, I'd be better off going with a lighter model Giottos such as the 9251, as it would eliminate the weight issue.

Any advice would be appreciated.
I did a little research...
  1. The Giottos 9351 is actually 4 ounces lighter than the 190XPROB (1.7 kg vs. 1.8 kg). Edit: Oops...wrong model...the 9351 is actually 2.0 kg (4.4 lbs). End edit The built-in 3-way head on the Giottos is actually the short column paired with the swing/tilt/pan feature of the lateral arm. It is a lighter than the long column with ball head, but is pretty cumbersome in use. The head mount platform on the end of the column also makes a pretty poor camera platform.
  2. If the build quality is anything like my 9361, build is probably somewhat better than the Manfrotto product.
  3. The lateral arm is great for doing any low level work where you need precision positioning of the camera. Think macro or certain kinds of creative angles. The Giottos differs from the Manfrotto in that the Manfrotto is locked at 90 degrees from the tripod axis. The Giottos is capable of swinging to a full sphere including full inversion under the tripod (except for where the legs are).

Steve

(Not wanting to seem like a Giottos fan boy...I actually like the Induro and Benro stuff too...)

Last edited by stevebrot; 01-15-2009 at 08:44 PM.
01-16-2009, 12:17 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The built-in 3-way head on the Giottos is actually the short column paired with the swing/tilt/pan feature of the lateral arm. It is a lighter than the long column with ball head, but is pretty cumbersome in use. The head mount platform on the end of the column also makes a pretty poor camera platform.
Just to clarify, can I attach a separate head to the short column? Or would I have to use the built in 3 way head?

QuoteQuote:
The lateral arm is great for doing any low level work where you need precision positioning of the camera. Think macro or certain kinds of creative angles. The Giottos differs from the Manfrotto in that the Manfrotto is locked at 90 degrees from the tripod axis. The Giottos is capable of swinging to a full sphere including full inversion under the tripod (except for where the legs are).
Yeah, this was what attracted me to the Giottos. Thanks again for your help.

01-16-2009, 12:25 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wizzywig Quote
Just to clarify, can I attach a separate head to the short column? Or would I have to use the built in 3 way head?
The short column is the built-in 3-way head. It is hard to explain, but if you can imagine the tripod in the lateral arm configuration, only with a very short column. So...yes, you can use the short column with the head of your choice. If you don't attach a head, the short column itself can be adapted to expose a 1/4-20 stud to mount a camera to.

Steve
01-16-2009, 12:38 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
The short column is the built-in 3-way head. It is hard to explain, but if you can imagine the tripod in the lateral arm configuration, only with a very short column. So...yes, you can use the short column with the head of your choice. If you don't attach a head, the short column itself can be adapted to expose a 1/4-20 stud to mount a camera to.
I think that clears it up. Thanks!
01-16-2009, 04:55 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ed in GA Quote
You might want to consider the Manfrotto 055XPROB. It's a bit heavier but a lot more sturdy.
I second the recommendation. It's a fantastic tripod and is probably the best bang for buck in the price range. It offers VERY good support, rock solid. As to weight though, it's very subjective. I find the weight very manageable in my weeklong trips to the mountains, beaches, islands etc. with all my old heavy f/2.8 gear. I'm 5'9" and weight about 150 lbs. and athletic so your experience may differ.

I find that if you want support as good as the 055 but lighter, you're gonna have to spend on the carbon fiber tripods because the 055 is pretty much as good as it gets in the price range. Rock solid support for $100 USD (got it last year locally).

You might want to get tripod legs that offer sealed joints to prevent corrosion when exposed to water etc. This is a big deal as the 055 can corrode easily if not maintained. After each trip where it's been drenched in the rain, gone in the sea, rivers etc I dismantle the joints, clean, oil etc. Worth it because they'll rust pretty quick.

Which is why I'm going to get Benros aka Induros I believe. Sealed joints. Had them but sold it for the 055. I miss it but the 055's support is just fantastic at that price point.
01-26-2009, 10:38 PM   #11
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Just an update.

After a couple of you mentioned Induro, I took a good look at what they had to offer. I finally ended up getting the AlloyFlex 6M AX-113. This is a tripod with very similar specs as the Giottos I was considering, including the 180 degrees fully positionable centre column.

A few points I'd like to make:
  • The Induro is very well built, about on par with the Manfrotto, as far as I could tell.
  • It comes with a bag and strap. This isn't some cheap bag they just tossed in; It's very nicely made and well padded. I would gladly pay 30-40 dollars for a bag like this.
  • It also has a hook at the base of the column to add a counterweight, which the Manfrotto lacks. This seems like it would be especially useful when using the column in the horizontal position to prevent the setup from falling over.
As for the weight issue, well that turned out to be not much of an issue after all. The Induro website lists the weight at 2kg, compared to 1.8kg for the Manfrotto. However, when I was comparing them at the store, I couldn't detect any significant difference. Later, when I came home, I noticed the box listed the weight at 1.82kg. Strange.


Some things I don't like about it:
  • The legs seem to bind a little when I retract it. This only happens with the middle section of the leg, and only when it's been fully extended.
  • The mounting point for the strap at the top of the tripod seems somewhat flimsy. I'm not sure it will hold up to rough use.

All in all, I'm quite satisfied with my purchase. Thanks for your help, guys.
01-27-2009, 11:58 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wizzywig Quote
Just an update.

After a couple of you mentioned Induro, I took a good look at what they had to offer. I finally ended up getting the AlloyFlex 6M AX-113. This is a tripod with very similar specs as the Giottos I was considering, including the 180 degrees fully positionable centre column.

A few points I'd like to make:
  • The Induro is very well built, about on par with the Manfrotto, as far as I could tell.
  • It comes with a bag and strap. This isn't some cheap bag they just tossed in; It's very nicely made and well padded. I would gladly pay 30-40 dollars for a bag like this.
  • It also has a hook at the base of the column to add a counterweight, which the Manfrotto lacks. This seems like it would be especially useful when using the column in the horizontal position to prevent the setup from falling over.
As for the weight issue, well that turned out to be not much of an issue after all. The Induro website lists the weight at 2kg, compared to 1.8kg for the Manfrotto. However, when I was comparing them at the store, I couldn't detect any significant difference. Later, when I came home, I noticed the box listed the weight at 1.82kg. Strange.


Some things I don't like about it:
  • The legs seem to bind a little when I retract it. This only happens with the middle section of the leg, and only when it's been fully extended.
  • The mounting point for the strap at the top of the tripod seems somewhat flimsy. I'm not sure it will hold up to rough use.

All in all, I'm quite satisfied with my purchase. Thanks for your help, guys.
Sounds like you made a very sound purchase. Glad we could all be of assistance.

Steve
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