Manfrotto Gear

April 16, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

For Triple R Monday, I wanted to review a few pieces of Manfrotto equipment I recently purchased. Let me preface this review with an explanation: I HATE tripods. I've always hated them and only drag out the ball & chain if I absolutely have to. If there is no humanly possible way for me to get a good shot holding the camera, as a last resort, I will go get my tripod. I feel they are so limiting. I can never get them to the unique angles I want. I spend so much time trying to remember which knob I need to unlock. My quick release plate has a weak screw & when I would use my large lens in a vertical position the camera would slowly sag. To top it off, I think my tripod hated me too....it was constantly biting me (pinching my fingers). I think we have a hate-hate relationship. To sum it up, the only time the tripod saw the light of day, was at night!

HOWEVER, after watching another photographer, Sandy Puc', work with her Manfrotto tripod O58B I fell in LOVE or at least serious like. That like came with a pretty hefty price tag though, $500 for the tripod & $200 for the head that sits atop. Reinforcing the fact photography is NOT cheap. I couldn't justify spending $700 plus tax & shipping on something I couldn't stand anyway. I was afraid I would shell out 3/4 of a grand and get an expensive piece of metal to help hold up the corner of the studio. But this tripod was really amazing! I just couldn't let the sight of it go. With one hand she could adjust the angle or go from horizontal to vertical & back. With 3 fingers & in a second she could adjust the height of all 3 legs at once. To get closer to the ground by adjusting the legs, all it required was her feet, she could kick the leg to the position she desired. This thing was awesome! Still I was hesitant.

My wonderful husband decided to do some research & ebay scouring & found another nearly like this tripod, but with a much lighter price tag. After looking at the listing & doing some more research we found out that it was the same tripod, but just an earlier model, the 3051. It even came with the 222 head I wanted. So, I bid & won & it came in. I was able to get the tripod & head for less than what the head alone cost. Problems with it: it has some minor cosmetic damage, it didn't come with a plate for the quick release system,  the simultaneous leg release was a little more complicated than the one Sandy had & a little sticky, oh, & it weighs about 20 pounds by the time the head & camera are on top (approx 16 pounds tripod alone). 

While I was waiting for the tripod to arrive, I ordered this quick release seen here at B&H. It had an anti-twist lip & I thought that if this tripod had the same problem as my other one, the edge might solve part of the problem. 

*Funny side note, the plate came in within about 3 days all the way from New York. The tripod was mailed from the same state & took nearly 2 weeks to be delivered.

Well, after getting all the pieces here & then finally getting a chance to test them out in various situations, I can say that I no longer HATE tripods, just hate or seriously dislike. I used it to photograph tiny flowers close to the ground. I used it for shooting lighting & storm clouds. I used it in the studio. I used it out on a location shoot to hold a reflector as a shade. The joystick head works so much better than I thought it would. I love the fact it can get to 7 ft (ish) tall (I need a ladder) or 1 ft (ish) off the ground (I lay on my stomach). The legs are sturdy even when not locked in place & are quick to adjust vertically or laterally. The quick release plate doesn't try to turn at all. I can get it into all kinds of funky positions. It works very, very well & is a solid long lasting piece (3 pieces) of gear. Why do I not LOVE or love it? It weighs too much. I can't imagine what it will be like to take it on a hike, it gets so heavy. The leg is still sticky even after some WD-40. I think it needs to meet with some more, maybe an entire can. The handle on the head feels backwards or to big for my hand. If I want to use it to pan, I will have to buy a different head for that (or use my old, evil tripod.). My last gripe about it...it likes to bite me too!!!! Gotta watch those fingers when you fold it up! So, we have a dislike-dislike relationship with the potential for love as we get use to working with each other.

Will I continue to use it? Yes, and for more applications. Would I recommend Manfrotto? Yes, I'm a convert. 

Thanks B&H, Manfrotto, & eBay for this wonderful add to my gear for a reasonable price!


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JW Heldermon       Photography

Jeramie KS Heldermon

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