Stop Laughing – This Is Serious

Stop Laughing – This Is Serious

A great deal of photographic equipment is novel – at least it is the first time you see it. And some items are frivolous – mere mechanical bagatelles. Not so today’s featured device.

The box said Manfrotto 405 New Geared Head. I’m glad it was on a low shelf because I would not have liked to lift it down – it was a heavy box. The camera head inside turns out to be the closest thing to a naval cannon mount that you can buy commercially…and if you are a studio photographer you should be delighted to find it.

It weighs 2.250 Kg itself and will support 7.5 Kg…that’s 16 and a half pounds in the old money. It’s heavier than my camera…

The support platform is massive – the largest large format field camera would be comfortable on top of it. The double lock positively ensures that it will stay on top until you very deliberately dismount it. The sight of the 3/8″ camera screw is heartening – this is intended for the bigger pro equipment.

As with the smaller geared head, the three axes are controlled by slow worms with heavy damping – but you can release the gear engagement for quick revolving by turning the clutch ring.

For the people contemplating constructing* a panoramic view, there are two bubble levels – get them both correct and you can go round the centre vertical axis with confidence. You won’t twirl round it quickly as you might with other smaller heads, but the resultant images should be of such precision that your stitching program will thank you.

And finally, when you attach this to the tripod legs – look on the Manfrotto site and contemplate their larger rigs – you will be mating solid 3/8″ brass to solid steel. The two metals ensure that you can get it apart again later when you want it – not trying to stick aluminium to cheap metal. Real metallurgy pays off in real reliability.

Is this head for you? Not if you are a snap shooter. Not if you carry Hello Kitty cameras in your man-bag. Not if you like to put your tripod into the overhead locker on the Boeing. This is for the person who works slowly and with great deliberation and turns out thoroughly professional images – moneymakers, in fact.

*  “constructing” is a deliberate word. No-one working with large format cameras and making panoramas is doing it flippantly. The language they use as they haul the gear up to the top of the cliff may be startling, but everything else is serious.

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