A versatile and affordable tripod for owners of smaller cameras
Manfrotto is a famous Italian brand synonymous with camera and lighting supports used by many professionals and enthusiasts alike. It's probably the biggest name in camera tripods and monopods. Manfrotto has had cheaper and more compact tripods for the consumer end of the market before, but now the company has applied some innovation to this sector and one of the products is the Manfrotto MKC3-H01 Photo Video tripod.
The MKC3-H01 is innovative because of it's neat pistol-grip style head that incorporates a quick-release plate and can be configured for video shooting and also general stills photography. While it has 5-section telescoping legs, the MKC3-H01 packs down impressively to a length of just 46cm and only weighs1.15kg. Manfrotto rates the MKC3-H01 to a camera/lens load of 1.5kg, so it will happily support DSLRs with modest lenses, but it's really designed for users of compact cameras, bridge cameras and, of course, the rapidly growing family of compact system cameras.
The MKC3-H01 extends to a maximum height of 1.54m, so only the very tallest of photographers will be stooping uncomfortably when using this tripod.
The head works in two modes, which are selected via a lock switch on the side of the head. Switch it to video mode, and the head will pan and tilt only. The camera itself cannot be tilted left or right, only sideways or up and down along two axes. When the still camera mode is selected the head is freed to allow full angular orientation around the central ball at the base of the head. The base of the head can be moved independently of the top of the head to allow the fullest flexibility when in still camera mode. This means the camera can be orientated sideways for vertical format shooting, for example, or even pointed directly downwards at the ground if required.
The action of the head is not damped although you can exercise crude adjustment of the friction by selectively tightening or loosening the head via the handy thumb wheel built into the pistol grip. Care is required for video shooting as the head can make a noise when tightened as the camera is moved.
With oval-section tubular steel legs and plastic leg locks, the MKC3-H01 is not as rock-steady as its more expensive professional and semi-professional stablemates, but I never worried that the tripod was going to collapse unexpectedly. The quick-release plate is a simple plastic affair, but is effective and a red lug for use with video camera included, although it's a pain to remove when fitting to a camera that doesn't support this. There are no options for splaying the legs further than 21 degrees and nor are there any Manfrotto tricks like a side-ways fitting centre column for low angle and macro shots. The head is also completely proprietary and you can't replace it with a standard one.
I use compact system cameras a lot, especially when traveling and have found that the MKC3-H01 is often more than adequate for my purposes, which is why it has already been to France, China and Greece this year. Most importantly, where it is priced competitively, the MKC3-H01 offers excellent value for money.
Below is a captioned picture gallery tour of the MKC3-H01. Just click on the thumbnail to see a larger view in a new window. And at the bottom of the page read our conclusions and ratings:
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Conclusions and ratings
What we like about the Manfrotto MKC3-H01:
- Versatile head design.
- Quick release facility.
- Very compact and lightweight.
- Excellent value for money.
What we don't like about the Manfrotto MKC3-H01:
- Video lug in quick release plate difficult to remove and replace - easily lost too.
- When the head is semi-locked and moving the head for video recording it can sometimes be noisy.
- Not particularly strong build - probably won't reward abuse.
The Manfrotto MKC3-H01:is a budget tripod that stands out through innovative design. It's ideal for users of smaller cameras and those who travel frequently. It won't replace the more versatile and tough tripods I already own, but I use a MKC3-H01 when traveling and am happy to recommend it.
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