Review Price £224.69
The single most useful accessory for any type of camera is a good sturdy tripod. Setting your camera up on a tripod opens up a whole world of photography that would be impossible without one. With a tripod you can take low-light photos at any shutter speed without having to worry about camera shake, you can perfectly compose group photos when you also want to be in the shot as well, and more importantly you can take your time over a photo and get it exactly right.
However tripods are usually heavy and bulky pieces of equipment, and awkward to carry around especially if you're travelling light. There are some lightweight travel tripods that are easy enough to carry, but there tends to be an inverse relationship between rigidity and weight, and many of them are too flimsy to provide much worthwhile support, especially for larger DSLR systems.
As with many modern applications where low weight needs to co-exist with high strength, the solution is carbon fibre. Carbon fibre tripods aren't new, but until recently they have been comparatively expensive. Prices for this advanced composite material are falling all the time though, and it's now possible to find some outstanding bargains, such as today's review item, the superb Manfrotto 190CXPRO4, which is available for under £200.
The 190CXPRO4 is a lightweight four-section carbon fibre tripod designed for travel and portability. It weighs just 1.34Kg (minus the head), but can support a weight of 5Kg, more than enough for a full-size DSLR and telephoto lens. Fully extended it has a height of 1.46m, but packs down to a compact 50cm long. There is also a three-section version (the 190CXPRO3) which is marginally lighter at 1.29Kg but folds down to 58cm.