Annecy is called the “Venice of the Alps” because of the many canals that traverse the Old City. This makes the city very popular with tourists…so it is very often a favorite subject for photographers! As a resident of Annecy, I have always dreamed of taking photos that are worthy of the city’s beauty, showcasing the canals, the lake, and the picturesque architecture of the Old City. So I needed a tripod that would let me take long poses (daytime and nighttime) so I could smooth out the water’s surface and best capture the twinkling lights. I also like taking mountain photography, so I needed a multi-purpose tripod that was solid, stable, maneuverable, compact, and not (too) heavy. In a word, I wanted it ALL! So I opted for the 190CXPRO4, mounted on the 3D MHXPRO-3W joint which allows for extremely precise setting of the axes.
Photo session in Annecy
I was immediately impressed by the quality of the manufacturing: it is super sturdy! My old aluminum tripod was certainly lightweight, but it was way too unstable and more than anything, it couldn’t hold up long over the course of all my adventures… Well, I couldn’t wait anymore. I had to get a new tripod!
I already knew exactly which places I wanted to photograph, so “all I had left to do” was get out and shoot. Once I got there, the tripod’s legs unfolded quickly in a couple of moves, and once it was locked in place, it wouldn’t move again! The same goes for the case which is attached to the magnesium tray. The feet adhere perfectly to the ground (even the smoothest surfaces). I wasn’t afraid to get right up close to the lakeshore despite the weight of both the case and the lens and the popularity of that spot (with prams, bicycles, scooters, etc.). So I was able to create a series of pictures of Lake Annecy with its surface smoothed out to truly showcase the serene power it inspires. To get this result in bright daylight conditions, I used an ND filter (gray, with neutral density) so I could get a 30 second exposure.
Later, I headed over to the Old City where, with the stony ridges and cobblestone lanes, the ground is a lot more irregular. So I had to adjust the height of each foot, but I was able to do this quickly and easily. In fact, the joint has its own adjustment mechanism (like resistance adjustment, for greater or lesser degrees of “friction”) which is very exact (with 3 linear bubble levels and 1 circular level). With extra help from the camera’s internal grid, I was able to adjust my horizontal and vertical lines to the utmost, which is indispensable for urban photography. It’s more worth your while to spend a little time to perfect your shot than to spend twice, three or four times as long to get there in post-production.
Given how narrow the quays are, you are constrained in trying to find the best viewpoints, and as I work out the composition of my image, sometimes barriers end up in the foreground. Next, it let me play more freely with balance in my images (1/2; 1/3…). To do so, I made use of the column, to get the camera up to a height of 1.8 meters. Since that’s taller than I am, then I had to work in LiveView.
Because it can be adjusted horizontally, it works like an arm, and it also gives you greater freedom as you’re looking for the right viewing angle. I also use it to archive work taken with a high-angle vertical shot.
The 190CXPRO4 tripod on a mountain hike
I mentioned that I was looking for a multi-purpose tripod that I could also take up to the mountains. I don’t take it with me each time, but I do when I go hiking near a lake, near a body of water (rivers, waterfalls…) and when camping out in the wee hours. I chose the 190CXPRO4 tripod for its 4 telescoping sections (more compact) to make it easier to hang it to the side of the bag I take on photo hiking excursions. In fact, folded up, the tripod measures exactly the same as my 55 cm Offroad 30L backpack and it’s only the joint that sticks out a few centimeters.
That was the case for my trip in Maurienne, where its adaptability to all types of terrain, its stability, and its sturdiness allowed me to get some amazing shots, with my feet right in the water. That way I could get the reflex camera as close as possible to the water. I was also able to use a polarized lens to eliminate surface reflections and “bring out” the stones below the surface.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to take some panoramic shots. When you operate the photo series feature with your hand up, you encounter two problems: no matter how hard you try, the horizontal is still often just approximate, and rotation doesn’t pivot at the exact vertical of the case, which can lead to alignment divergence in the foreground of the images you take, and then the processing software can produce some aberrations. The use of the tripod and a 3D joint will resolve these problems. In this case, I also took advantage of the stability of the tripod to pose each image for 30 seconds (with an ND filter) in order to smooth out the surface of the water, which was being stirred up by a light wind.
Even if it’s not the lightest in the Manfrotto line, the choice of carbon fiber construction makes the weight quite manageable. And you have to admit that this is part of the game when you want to take photos in mountainous settings, and I can tell you, you won’t regret it!
Co-editor of the Trace Ta Route photo blog, I’m a lover of Art and the outdoors, especially great, wide open spaces, out of the way places, even deserted or practically empty places. I am particularly sensitive to the Sublime, the aesthetic of emptiness and silence, and I’m influenced by the work of Caspar David Friedrich, Edward Hopper, Luc Tuymans, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Bernd and Hilla Becher Andres Serrano, Eric Poitevin, Michelangelo Antonioni, Gus Van Sant…