Originally, I wanted to do some research on this tripod to make an informed decision to buy the Manfrotto 055C Tripod.During my attempt to find more information about this tripod, I realised to my surprise I could find scant information even on the internet. The only information I could unearth was some basic specs and the rough age of this particular series (more than 20 years apparently.)
Hence, here is a modern review of the Manfrotto 055C with the 239 3-way Pan Tilt Head, mainly for landscapes and basic product shoots.
The 055C is an aluminium, 3 segment tripod. It goes up to a height of about slightly under 6 ft (182cm) when fully extended without including the height of the tripod head ( this is a rough estimate only). The leg locks are not the modern closing locks, but an older twist design. They are very sturdy, I find that they are pretty stiff during my attempts to unlock the legs when adjusting the tripod height for my landscape shoot. The stiffness does contribute to the rock solid feel of the tripod. Still, if it is an issue, you may wish to loosen the bolts of the leg locks for ease of use in the field.
Despite being a very old model of the 055 series, it already features the adjustable leg angle. This allows the tripod to go low to the ground for macro or a low angle view for your chosen composition.
The 329 Head that came with the tripod allowed me very precise adjustments for my composition. It has dual bubble levels, 2 handles for adjusting tilt and one lock for adjusting the smoothness of panning.
The Manfrotto 3 way head allows for superb control of camera movements. You can control the horizontal, vertical and diagonal movements, allowing for pretty precise positioning and framing of the camera. This will be greatly appreciated by photographers who do not like cropping or making adjustments in angle in post processing.
For those who need the additional height, you can also extend the central column by another 10-12cm thereabouts. The entire combination becomes pretty tall, about 180cm when deployed with legs opened.
The head is also operated by loosening and tightening the levers. When you need to adjust the position, you would loosen the corresponding levers and shift the head. After that, you can tighten the lever by rotating it the opposite direction. Again, once you’ve tightened all the levers, the head will be extremely stable and you can count on it not to move and interfere with your camera framing.
I like that some of the movements allowed are also marked in case you need to remember the positioning of the camera on the tripod head.
The issue is that the head itself is a rather heavy beast, coupled with the heft of the tripod itself, and we’re looking at a package easily exceeding 2 kg in weight. If you are using a long lens with a DSLR, the entire combination will be make for excellent arm training. 😉
I bought this tripod and head combination for about SGD$160 in 2012. The tripod has served me well in the studio and during shoots where I need something tall.
Weight and size is an issue, especially when I am lugging this around on a hike or taking public transport.
Despite being an old piece of gear, this is something that will last you many years with good care and maintenance, and if you can pick it up cheap, definitely worth it if you can handle the weight.
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