Manfrotto MT294A3 - £95/$120
The larger and heavier model from the new Manfrotto 290 series, the MT294A3 is nevertheless quite travel-friendly. It's 60cm long when collapsed, and lightweight at 1.9kg.
That's still a little heavier than the similarly sized Giottos MTL9251B, which also has a maximum load capacity of 5kg. The Manfrotto MT294A3 extends a little higher, to 169cm, as opposed to the Giottos' moderate 161cm.
There's no pivoting centre column, and the Manfrotto MT294A3 is altogether quite basic, lacking a weight hook at the bottom of the centre column and the almost ubiquitous bubble level on the shoulder.
Even the multi-angle leg mechanism only enables two angles, where most tripods offer three.
On the plus side, the newly designed angle selection lever is clever, requiring just a quick flick of a thumb from one side to the other. It's faster than the push-pull arrangement on the Benro, Giottos, Hama and Slik tripods we tested here.
Typical of Manfrottos, the leg sections drop out in freefall when the clips are released, so don't need any coaxing. This makes the legs easy to extend one-handed, but the flip side is that a little extra care is needed when collapsing the tripod, due to the looseness of the sections.
The Manfrotto MT294A3's stability is pretty average for a lightweight tripod - about the same as the Giottos MTL9251B.