What is the Manfrotto 190go! M Series?
Manfrotto announced the 190go! M series at the end of 2017, a follow on from its original 190go! series, now featuring the “M-Lock Mechanism”. This mechanism promises quicker and easier set-up thanks to a single 90-degree hand rotation movement to extend (and retract) the legs.
The tripod is available in both aluminium and carbon-fibre versions, at two different price points. For this review, we’ve been looking at the carbon-fibre version.
One of the stand-out features of the 190!go M series is the 90-degree central column mechanism, which means you can position your camera in a horizontal position for table-top or overhead shots.
Build and Handling
In the box you get a carry-case with an adjustable strap for easy transportation when out and about. The case is reasonably thin, but the tripod itself feels like it can easily withstand being thrown around in the boot of your car, making the need for a padded bag less essential than other cheaper tripods.
The M series of 190go! series comes with a new set of legs, which depending on whether you have the aluminium or carbon-fibre version are slightly different. The aluminium version has D-shaped tubing, while the carbon version includes a new carbon-fibre weave, which is designed to increase the tripod’s stiffness while keeping it lightweight.
Indeed, the Manfrotto 190! go M is the most compact and light 190 tripod in Manfrotto’s range. Weighing in at 2.3kg (with the 3-way head), this would be a good tripod to take with you for landscape photography where you might need to hike some distance to your preferred destination.
None of the legs feature a padded grip for more comfortable carrying, or for preventing you from having to touch a freezing cold tripod leg in less than tropical conditions, but the cold isn’t a major issue with carbon fibre.
Manfrotto’s tripods are made in Italy, a fact which is proudly displayed on the legs of the tripod itself. Not only is the tripod light, but it feels very well made and sturdy.
Although the central column has a 90-degree mechanism, there is a loop on the spider to enable a a weight or bag to be attached to give extra stability.
The tripod extends to a maximum height of 160cm, and the new twist locks make it very easy and quick to reach the full height.
A simple twist of the leg mechanism allows you to extend each section – you can have it at the full height in a matter of just a few seconds. It’s also very easy to extend each leg using just one hand thanks to the simplicity of the mechanism.
Setting up the 90-degree central column is similarly simple. There’s no need to remove the tripod head or anything else, you simply loosen the central column screw, then push the column up from underneath and into the horizontal position, re-tightening the screw when you reach the position you require.
There are a couple of things you need to be mindful of when using the central column. Although the tripod can bear a maximum weight of 6kg (made up of camera and lens combination when using the 3-way head), if you’re using something towards the heavier end of the scale, the tripod can be prone to tip over when you’re using the 90-degree column, especially if the column is secured towards the end, rather than near the tripod head.
Adding a weight to the spider can, of course, help with this issue, but make sure the tripod is steady before leaving it unattended with your camera gear attached to it.
Secondly, if you’re hoping to use your camera to do table-top shots, such as for food and product photography, bear in mind that even at the maximum height, using macro lenses with a mid to long focal length (such as 100mm) will probably be far too close to your subject to either focus correctly or frame it as you wish. This makes it better suited for use with low tables, or perhaps the floor.
Pressing down a lever at the top of each leg allows you to adjust the leg angle into four different positions. These levers are a little stiffer than the twist locks on the leg, so take a little more oomph to release – on the plus side this helps them to feel secure and unlikely that they will accidentally slip out of place.
At the base of each leg is a small rubber foot. Unlike some other tripods, there are no spikes available here for getting a firmer hold on certain terrains, such as grass. There’s no spirit level on the base of the tripod itself, instead, you’ll need to rely on any levels found on the head, or your camera itself.
The 190go! M series can be bought as part of a kit, either with a three-way head or a ball-head. We have been using the MHXPRO-3W head with it, which features retractable levers and a number of different spirit levels to ensure that your precise framing is as accurate as possible.
When you’re done with the tripod and you want to pack it up, collapsing it down to its smallest size is also quick and easy, making it good if you want to quickly move on to get your next shot.
The Manfrotto 190! go M series is a versatile tripod which would suit a number of different types of photographers. If you’re looking for something light, but which still offers a good degree of stability, then it’s an excellent choice.
Compared with some other tripods, a maximum payload of 7kg is perhaps a little light. It should suit most average camera setups though – only those who shoot sports, action or wildlife and use very heavy telephoto lenses might want to look elsewhere.
If you often photograph in stormy conditions, you may also want to look elsewhere, but again, most average conditions should be well suited to this tripod.
The innovative 90-degree central column is a great feature of the tripod. Personally, I’d like to see the tripod be taller, so as to allow for the use of macro lenses when shooting on a table top. You also need to consider that if you’re using a heavy camera, placing it at the very end of the central column extension is likely to result in instability – although a weight hanging from the spider can help with this.
Perhaps my favourite thing about the Manfrotto 190! go series is how speedy it is to set up and collapse again. Being able to quickly extend the tripod, especially using only one hand (the other one usually holding something else – such as the camera) is a big plus point.
The aluminium version of this tripod is cheaper than the carbon fibre one. We haven’t used that tripod, so can’t offer full comment on how it performs, but if you are able to invest a little more and get the carbon fibre version – especially if you’re likely to be using the tripod for landscape photography – it’s probably worth the extra investment.
This is a fairly pricey piece of equipment, but with a solid, Italian construction, it can also be considered good value for money.