The Story So Far
I started on this section because I’d used much the same tripod and head for years
– a Uniloc (Benbo by another name) and a Manfrotto 168 ball and socket head.
Looking back, neither were really ideal but they worked and I knew them well. You get used to Benbos but they can be really awkward b.........s if all you need is a quick setup on a level surface. Recently I’ve used various Manfrotto sets of legs and bought a geared head – a Manfrotto 410 which I thought was the answer to the meaning of life until I actually used it.
The head is lovely but the adaptor plate is awful – It’s huge and expensive but the camera is secured by a tiny knurled screw which is impossible to tighten adequately unless you have a 50p coin in your pocket. Even then, it’s far too small. Messed up a whole night shoot because I just couldn’t get it tight enough to hold my 5D MkII + 24-105 and grip. The camera kept moving slightly whenever I was shooting uprights. By the end of the assignment I was ready to drop kick the thing into the River Tay. Time to look outside Manfrotto.
That experience sent me on a tripod mission – I didn’t know that several manufacturers now have a design of leg that gives you most of a Benbo’s versatility without the pain. Nobody told me.
At the moment I’m using, and would recommend, a Giottos MH1301 ball and socket head – beautifully made, small, simple and just plain works. Also an excellent Giottos MH5001 3 way head, and Giottos MTL9251B legs which are lovely but a bit lightweight so I’ll probably buy a heavier set sometime. Although they usually all lock at the same angle, there’s a clever little clip at the top of the legs which pulls out allowing them to open to a much wider angle, which gives you about 80% of a Benbo – when you need it, but a normal tripod when you don’t. Brilliant !!
Not so wonderful was a friend’s Manfrotto 322RC2 joystick head I tried. I’ve seen quite a lot of people using these recently, and although the quick release seems like a great idea, there’s a problem : The head’s OK shooting landscape format pictures, but when you want to shoot an upright image, or even level a horizon, quick becomes slow, clumsy, awkward, and I’m glad I haven’t bought one. (Sorry John) (Sorry Manfrotto)