Bogen / Manfrotto 055XB

Picture of the Bogen-Manfrotto 055XB and my MH-5000 head

The standard advice has traditionally been that the best tripod legs to get are either the Gitzo and Bogen legs and that the best bang for the buck was their well-constructed Aluminum legs. We're now in the era where things are changing because factories in China can turn out carbon fiber legs that look and act just like the best Gitzo carbon fiber legs... but I never really liked the way the Gitzo leg locks work and nobody seems to be cloning the Bogen flip-lock legs that I tend to prefer.

Based on the choices and my desire to get a fairly solid tripod leg for not much money, I picked the 055XB, which doesn't have the funky ability to put the center post on the side but is designed to handle a lot of weight and lets me put different center posts in.

The top of the tripod has a screw to loosen the center post, an eyelet to clip the Bogen Manfrotto strap to, and a hangar to hold some weight to hold the tripod down better.

The center post is a triangular piece of metal to prevent rotation. You can unclip the supplied low-angle adapter off of the bottom of the center post and remove the center post. You can then remount the head on the low-angle adapter. The center post has three screws so you can prevent the head from rotating (if it's machined on the bottom right) but then you need tools to use the low-angle adapter. You can get a two-piece center post that makes it so that you can reverse the head for a low angle, or you can get the higher-end version that lets you move the center post to the side, or you can get a short center post that means that you don't need to use the low-angle adapter.

There's also a leveling center-post, although there's not much price difference between that and leveler that hooks up to the center post.

The low-angle adapter is plastic, not metal, and feels a little flimsy so I kinda want the short center post now. When you've got the center post extended, you are turning a stable tripod into a monopod, so I kinda want the short center post because I'd worry about using the low-angle adapter all the time.

The lever locks (which is really why I got the tripod in the first place) are apparently prone to coming undone over time. The tripod comes with a little plastic key to fix that, however, it just clips onto the legs and feels like something ready to get lost while carrying the tripod. The legs are three piece (less stuff to shake) black aluminum. They lock at four different angles. Two of the three legs are padded. There are also twist-lock legs available from other manufacturers, but I don't like them nearly as much.

The advantage of the four different angles is that you can get the tripod a lot lower by splaying the legs out.

My continuing love affair with Op/TECH straps

I decided to get the Op/TECH tripod strap, given how well it works with my RB67 to make it feel lighter.

Sadly, the Bogen/Manfrotto tripod doesn't seem to have a proper eyelet on the legs or the center post to hook off of, so I had to get the sort that just wraps around the legs.

Either way, I came to loathe the tripod sack I had for my Sunpak. The strap was too short to actually sling it over my shoulder in any reasonable fashion and I'd have to do too much setting up / putting away.

I probably need to get a new tripod bag, but for most situations, I like the Op/TECH strap just fine. Fewer things to do between when I take the tripod off my shoulder and put it on the ground. And it does make things feel lighter.

Been uninspired to write about photography, even though I've been shooting at a decent rate and have been pleased with the results...

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