The MT055XPRO3 is the top of the line tripod that Manfrotto sells for still photography. It comes with every bell and whistle that Manfrotto can think of. Manfrotto has long been an innovator and leader in the midrange tripod space, and they continue to show that heritage here. The new flip locks, leg angle selectors, and horizontal center column create a tripod that is truly distinct from the rest of the market.
This is an abbreviated list. The full measured specs can be found here.[table “MT055XPRO3specs” not found /]
The height and weight of the MT055 place it firmly in the “All Purpose” category of tripods. These are too big for convenient travel, but are perfectly capable of being a workhorse in many situations. All three of the MT055 tripods reach nearly the same height, but the XPRO3 version is more than a pound heavier than the carbon fiber CXPRO3. The XPRO3 is by no means a light tripod, but that is the ‘cost’ one pays instead of money when buying an aluminum tripod.
The big feature on the MT055 is the horizontal center column. Manfrotto has long been a pioneer integrating a horizontal center column into the tripod. This is easily the best implementation yet. To set it up, one simply unlocks the center column as normal, presses a button on the bottom of the center column, and raises it all the way through the apex, which pulls up the red clamp. The center column is rotated horizontally and then tightened down with the same center column lock knob. The whole process takes about ten seconds, and is really slick and intuitive.
The MT055 also has a 3/8″ accessory port built into the apex which Manfrotto has named “Easylink”. These are becoming more common on tripods and allow the user to screw in a wide array of different accessories such as lighting or video monitors. While it is standard on most high end tripods, the 190go! is the only travel tripod I have seen at this price point that includes one.
The MT055 tripods omit replaceable feet for a simple rubber bumper at the bottom of each leg. This is an acceptable design choice for a mid range tripod. It saves weight and cost while providing a solution that is optimal 90% of the time. The rubber feet will work very competently on soft ground or sand, where one might have wanted spikes, and also on hard level ground where the rotating platform style feet are preferred. The only place you might get in trouble is on powder snow where snowshoes are critical.
The MT055 tripods feature Manfrotto’s unique method of leg angle selection. Instead of the traditional pull out tab, one pulls down on a tab on the outside of the top of each leg section. This disengages a ratchet mechanism on the bottom side of the apex piece, and allows the leg angle to be adjusted. This is a slick system, and allows for slightly faster leg angle adjustments than the traditional design.
Manfrotto has traditionally stuck with flip locks for the legs on its tripods, and the MT055 is no exception. It features the newest generation called “Quick Power Lock”. The locks are indeed very quick to use, much quicker than your typical twist locks. There was no apparent loss of stability due to these leg locks, so overall I consider them a win. The only downside I experienced was once when the lock pinched the skin of my hand upon the spring assisted opening. Ouch.
A complaint of mine about the construction of the MT055 is common to the entire line of Manfrottos. The top sections of each leg, that attaches to the apex, is so bulky that the legs do not make contact with the center column when the tripod is folded up. There is a gap that the legs flex into when the tripod is picked up and given a gentle squeeze. This really does not impact performance in any meaningful way, but does not endow the feeling of solidness when handling the tripod. It also makes the whole package bulkier than it really needs to be. This gap is partly due to the design constraints required by the fast setup horizontal center column, and cannot be eliminated in the traditional way by placing a rubber bumper around the base of the center column. My suggestion for Manfrotto is to trim down the size of the top section of each leg, and then place the rubber bumper on the inside of each leg. This will allow the tripod to fold up in a more solid fashion.
The build quality of the Manfrotto tripods is typically excellent for the price, and the MT055 is no exception. The metal parts of the MT055 are cast aluminum and feel solid. The same bulkiness that causes problems when the tripod is folded up lends to a feeling of durability about the apex. The metal parts don’t have the same high level of fit and finish typically seen on CNC machined tripods, but those tripods are typically many times the price. The center column lock knob is plastic, but this never caused a problem. There is nothing wrong with the MT055 build quality, as long as you aren’t expecting it to be at the same level as a top of the line tripod.
The full test data can be found here. The table below summarizes the results.[table “MT055XPRO3data” not found /]
The stiffness of the MT055XPRO3 is excellent for the price and given that it is made of aluminum.. It is not as stiff as either of the carbon versions however. This is expected. Carbon fiber is stiffer than aluminum. The damping numbers on the aluminum XPRO version are very low. This is a good sign for the build quality, as low damping usually means everything is tight, stiff, and secure. But of course damping is a good thing and this tripod would thus be better suited to light loads in windy conditions than heavy ones where damping is paramount. With a long telephoto lens, it will take a frustratingly noticeable amount of time for the vibrations to die after touching the camera when using the XPRO3.
- Excellent build quality
- Best built in horizontal center column mechanism ever made
- Fast action flip locks
- Fast leg angle release mechanism
- Good stiffness for an aluminum tripod at this price
- Air gap between the legs when folded
- Feet are not replaceable
- Low damping
The Manfrotto MT055XPRO3 is for you if you are looking for a stiff, well built, feature rich tripod on a budget, and you are okay with some extra weight and bulk. The XPRO3 version is significantly heavier than the carbon version, but also much cheaper. Weight and bulk are the typical compromises for price and stiffness, but the MT055XPRO3 does better than most. Due to the lack of damping, look elsewhere if you are intending to support long telephoto lenses. But the stiffness is good for the price, and so this should be an excellent tripod for general purpose photography when you don’t have to carry your gear very far.