While the 190CXPRO4 itself is certainly good value for money, it manages to achieve this to some extent by missing out the kind of extras that most other manufacturers include as standard. Most tripods in this kind of price range come with a basic carrying bag, but with Manfrotto this is an optional extra costing another £25. Likewise optional spiked feet are available for an extra £17, but only the standard rubber feet are included. It doesn’t even include a shoulder strap, a curious omission for a tripod sold on its portability. Again this is an optional extra costing a further £20.
The price of the 190CXPRO4 also doesn’t include a camera head, although with professional tripods this is standard practice. I tried it out with several different heads (I own a couple of Manfrotto tripods myself), but by far the best match is the lightweight 460MG three-way head, which costs £57. It is made of cast magnesium alloy and offers an excellent combination of strength, versatility and low weight. It adds 10.5cm to the height and 430g to the weight of the tripod, and is rated to support at least 3Kg, more than sufficient for most DSLR systems. It’s an ideal head for travel use, since its compact design takes up a lot less room that the usual bundle of awkward levers found on most other tripods. It uses Manfrotto’s well-proven 200PL-14 quick-release plate system.
The main reason for buying a Manfrotto tripod however is its near-legendary build quality. I’ve been using this particular tripod throughout the winter so far, chucking it in the back of the car strapped to the side of a rucksack, taking it on hikes across Dartmoor, using it in the recent snow and generally giving it a hard time, but the thing still looks brand new, without even a scratch on the powder-coated paintwork. Manfrotto tripods come with a three-year warranty, but I’d be surprised if you ever need it. If you want a tripod that will not let you down, this is definitely the one to go for.
The Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 carbon fibre tripod is pretty much the perfect combination of portability, strength and value for money, and provides a professional-quality option for keen photographers who like to travel light. The build quality is simply awesome, and the clever Q90 centre column system adds some very useful extra versatility. It’s a pity it doesn’t come with at least a shoulder strap though.