Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 + 498RC2 ball head £415, $620
With upgraded load ratings and superior rigidity, this is a highly desirable Manfrotto pairing
Unlike the aluminium Manfrotto 190-series model on test, which comes as a kit, the MT055CXPRO3 carbon fibre legs and 498RC2 ball head are sold separately. The maximum load ratings of 9kg and 8kg respectively are a little down on some competing outfits in the group, but both parts feel particularly sturdy.
Like the 190-series model, this new-generation 055-series tripod has been revamped, with the same updated clip locks, four-way multi-angle leg locks, 90-degree pivot mechanism and an adaptor socket for attaching accessories. There’s also the same rotating bubble lock on the tripod collar. However, the carbon 055’s leg sections have a wider diameter, and the maximum operating height is loftier, at 183cm instead of 171cm (head attached). A contributing factor is that the 498RC2 head itself is also taller.
Compared with the Manfrotto 190-series model, the carbon fibre 055 feels much more rigid, even at its higher maximum extension. The leg sections also extend more smoothly. The ball head is particularly solid and has a pan-only release. The only sticking point is that the price of the legs and head is nearly twice that of the 190-series kit (more than double, in the US).