For a fair while we have been told that form should follow function. Good enough as far as it goes but in my experience functions are generally followed by having to sweep up the litter and throw out the drunks – and you don’t need a lot of form for that.
Nevertheless, I want to report on a pretty stylish product on sale for Christmas. I initially dismissed it as just another amateur penny catcher…but after photographing it in my studio for an advertisement ( designed to catch your pennies ) I have come to the conclusion that it is actually pretty competent.
It’s got a horrendously complex sales code: MK190XPRO4-3W that tells the computers in the warehouse all they need to know while concealing the information from you. Manfrotto – the Italian accessory makers – produce it as the latest in their 190-series of photo tripods. Think in terms of medium-sized still cameras and lenses for studio or field use.
The XPRO bit is their code for the fact that the center column can rise up and then go out sideways and lock there. It’s a geometric trick that is more sold than used but when you need to do art copy or anything else that needs to look down steadily – it is invaluable. The trick involves getting more weight behind the fulcrum than in front of it – you have to extend the back leg of the tripod and put weights on it. Failure to do this means the thing tips forward and crashes. You learn after the third or fourth time.
There is a good deal more flash about this tripod than in some of the other German designs. That’s the Italian bit. Of course there will be oriental copycats who will make things that look similar but generally they never do it with the same materials and as elegant a set of lines. This one carries a 10 year warranty and with Manfrotto they have wholesale agents here in Australia who have been in the biz a lot longer than that! They honour their promises.