If you're back is starting to hurt from hauling around a metal tripod, you might like the sound of Manfrotto's new CX-Series of tripods, since they're made of carbon fiber. Of course, it's nothing new that carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum, which is what most metal tripods are made of. The new thing here is that Manfrotto has added its innovative Q90 center column system to its array of carbon fiber tripods. The Q90 system lets you switch the center column from vertical to horizontal without having to remove it and reinsert it, as you have to on most tripods that allow a horizontal center column, including Manfrotto's older models.
The CX series includes three models: the 190CXPRO3, 190CXPRO4, and 190CX3. Only the PRO3 and PRO4 include the Q90 center column, the CX3 has a vertical-only center column, which is aluminum, though the legs on all three tripods are carbon fiber. Some folk will tell you that a horizontal center column is an unnecessary extravagance, but those people probably don't do much macro shooting and might not have realized how convenient a horizontal column can be when setting up a makeshift copy stand. Sure this feature costs a little extra, but tripods tend to last a long time, so that's one purchase on which you can spend a little extra and get a lot in return.
All three of the new models can reach a maximum height of 57.5 inches (about 4.8 feet) with the legs and center column fully extended and can hold a maximum of 11 pounds. The 190CX3 folds down to 21.7-inches with the legs and center column closed, weighs 2.9 pounds, and is expected to cost about $250. The 190CXPRO3 folds down to 22.8-inches, weighs 2.84 pounds, and should set you back about $300. The 190CXPRO4 folds down to a tidy 19.7-inches, weighs 2.95 pounds, and is expected to cost about $325. All three should be available this month, however, prices do not include a tripod head, which you'll need before you use one of these with a camera.