Manfrotto Tag

Sorry about the tortured English of the title - late night and too much coffee. What I really meant to say is " Here is a tracking gimbal mount for a very large telephoto lens that is not made with the Wimberley uni-pivot design. It's from the old masters of aluminium - Manfrotto. The design is double-pivot over a central training point with friction locks for the horizontal axis. It has a very simple but very sturdy construction - there has been no over-styling with it. The lower section of the support bracket has also been clad in a neoprene or rubber material - i suspect this is to assist photographers in cold weather conditions to avoid freezing to the metal. The mount is the standard large Manfrotto 577 sliding mount adapter that will couple to very large cameras and lenses. There is no more to this than what you see, but what it is is imminently usable and durable. I do note one bit of swank; they've included a plate that attributes the design to Graziano Ferrari. He turns out to be a...

We go Luigi Savadamoney one better. We got the fancy as well as the cheap - and in the case of the Phottix Varos PRO BG bracket we are approaching the sort of thing that you see on building sites to hold up concrete panels. As you'll no doubt recognise, it's a bracket/adapter that goes onto studio light stands to allow them to hold an umbrella and a speedlight flash. This, in many cases, will give you a surprisingly soft and workable portrait or illustration light. The fact that you can set up, shoot, then pack up and scoot off without having to have been concerned with finding mains AC power is a real boon for some. Leave aside the need for good batteries in your speed lights - some modern lights have lithium ion ones that are as good as the mains. What you need for the classic brolly flash rig is a good stand - and here we cannot say fairer than Manfrotto at any stage of the game - and a good coupling. There's been quite a spate of...

Every week or so the WEST AUSTRALIAN newspaper runs a section called Market Place that takes a Camera Electronic ad. We vary it throughout the year and it does pretty well. The brief that's given to the writer is to pick a product that fits into a price bracket - it's never too dear - and set it out for the average punter in the paper. This is fun to do. I've completed the latest one for a Joby product, and it'll be fine, but I was a little torn in my work when I realised that we had several good candidates for the page. As it turned out the Manfrotto PIXI Smart lost out on only one point - the packaging. It's a sealed packet, and I hesitated to rip it apart for the illustration shot. The pack shot through heavy plastic was done on the floor of the main sales area and showed too many reflections - that yellow hot spot is the edge of the Nikon cabinet. If it had been in the Little Studio I could have lit...

Carlos and Sam at the Stirling Street Store are real life savers. When I'm casting about for a topic to include in the week's reports here on the weblog column, they always have something new - or newish - to show me. This time it was Carlos and a new little accessory from Manfrotto. Note: I am a fan of Manfrotto, as my studio will show. Nearly everything that has to stand up or hang down does so on something from either Manfrotto or Bunnings ( and if Camera Electronic did sheets of MDF board and sausages in a bun I could cut out Bunnings...

And you're darned lucky at that. It's a piece of junk. The legs are thin-wall aluminium tubing with a profile pressed into them - so far so normal. They ride in white plastic bushes that are held in place by cutouts in the tubes - again pretty much what you might see in better tripods, albeit a bit flimsy here. But the whole edifice falls into a heap with the leg clamps - they are cheap plastic clipovers that compress a rubber block onto the next smaller tube. I do not decry clipovers - Manfrotto have used them on some of their new tripods and they are a model of good design. Their clips are metal and they have adjustment bolts to let you take up slack as they wear in. But these flimsy clips are just disasters waiting to happen. One's broken - and has been replaced by the only sensible alternative - a car hose clamp. The other two at the same level of the tripod are showing the same cracks that broke the first one, so it's off to Supercheap...

I well remember a tripod that was offered for sale with a ball head on the top and a very stylish set of control knobs on the side - locking for the tilt and also for the panning. The style adopted was minimalist and the maker thought that if they put a plain rubber cylinder there it would be  a world-winner. Possibly, in a world where there was no air, water, or grease to foul the fingers. Here on Earth the thing was a monumental nuisance when people tried to tighten it only to find their fingers sliding around and nothing really happening. Anyone who still owns one of these designs has either developed a grip like a gorilla or carries a pipe spanner in their back pocket. Thank goodness the designers at Manfrotto looked at real life and real requirements. They've issued new ball heads for their BeFree and larger tripods that incorporate very positive cast knobs. They are somewhat reminiscent of the knobs on a bathroom tap, but set sideways. This is no bad thing - remember that bathroom fittings...

Some decades ago an employee of mine got married and I was invited along to the wedding - a cheerful affair on a sunny day. Her uncle was a professional wedding shooter of some aquaintance and he did the wedding coverage as a gift. I was content to donate a toaster and not do any shooting. As I had been doing weddings myself on a part-time basis for years I was curious to see what the rig was going to be. It was full-on film days and I cannot remember whether it was an Olympus or a Nikon outfit that he carried, but I do recall that he had the biggest accessory cart I have ever seen. It would not have been out of place pulled up next to a Jumbo jet at the airport. Quite why he felt it necessary to tow an artillery limber to a wedding is beyond me, but he faithfully pulled it over all the doorsills in the place for hours. Maybe film was heavier than pixels...

Flat, but not down in the dumps - in fact quite elated. Manfrotto have made a winner. Sometimes we need to have a stable platform that is exactly horizontal. We might be launching V-2's or looking at the stars or making panoramic photographs - possibly all three on a busy week. Manfrotto have come up with an accessory that makes this easy. The 438 Camera Ball Leveler does the job. It is meant to go between a Manfrotto tripod with a 3/8" stud and another device with a 3/8" socket. The size of the leveller and these two connections tell you that it is intended for professional gear - this is not something you take as a backpacker tourist, unless you are a Royal Marine on workdays. It's heavy. It's also precise and locks with a positive lever action. Both top and bottom can be lock-screwed to their respective mates. Uses? a. Put a video head on it, level it, and you can be sure that when you pan with the race car or surfer, you will not be getting a tilted or rising/falling...