Author Topic: Review: Manfrotto MKC3-H01 compact photo/video tripod  (Read 2509 times)

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Offline PetrifiedWood

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Review: Manfrotto MKC3-H01 compact photo/video tripod
« on: November 12, 2012, 07:56:02 PM »
Well, I finally got tired of dealing with flimsy "cheapo" tripods and wanted something with a bit nicer feel to it. I happened into a Best Buy while on a trip with my family over the weekend. They had several tripods, and this one seemed like a good buy. It was an "open box" item, so I got it for about $12 less than the original $59.99 price. I asked the cashier if I could open the box and look at the instruction manual to make sure everything was there and he allowed me to check it out.

Anyhow, all was well so I bought it. At first, I was a bit apprehensive about the pistol grip ball head design, but after taking a few sets of pictures with it, I am pretty impressed with the design. the grip has a wheel embedded in it that you pull back with your index finger while pushing forward with your thumb to lock the head in whatever position you want. This makes composing still image shots a lot faster since you simply position the camera as you want, then lock the head with the wheel. it's very fast and beats the hack out of fiddling with twisting two different handles and a knob like a conventional tripod.  The head also has a feature that allows the user to lock the "roll" axis while keeping the "pitch and yaw" axis free. This is supposed to help when panning video shots.

The overall height of the tripod with the center column fully extended puts the camera at or just slightly above eye level for my 6'0" frame. (See the picture below with the light switch to give an estimation of height.) The legs are made of 5 separate telescoping oval aluminum tubes. The tubing wall thickness feels like it's a bit thicker than some of the cheaper tripods I've used. The leg clamps, hinges and other parts of the tripod are made from a composite plastic material. The whole thing collapses down to a pretty compact size, as you can see from the picture below with a sharpie marker. The head has a quick release camera mounting plate that slides off with the push of a button, but locks in place firmly with no wiggle. The center column can be extended and retracted using the screw clamp on the side of the hinge base.

There are a few things to be aware of. The tripod's compact size and 5 leg sections require the smallest tubes to be pretty thin. This means that the legs are moderately flexible when fully extended. This flexibility means the tripod/camera assembly will vibrate when you press the shutter button. You should already be using a remote release or the camera's self timer to take pictures when using a tripod so this won't be a problem if you are using proper technique. The design did not include a hook under the center column to add a weight to stabilize the tripod. And it is most definitely NOT a good choice for a full size DSLR.

 If you are going to bother to bring along a full size "serious" camera, then you should use a serious tripod. This tripod is a great choice for pocket, compact, and bridge cameras and small video cameras. It's designed to be a "travel" tripod and should be used with a "travel" camera. For that purpose, I think it's a winner. It is compact enough to fit completely inside all but the smallest day packs. My other light duty tripods are too long to fit in a pack, but don't seem to have the degree of build quality of this one.

I have not tried using it for panning video shots so I cannot speak to it's suitability for that purpose, but for still photographs and fixed video shots this is a nice choice that won't take up too much space.

All in all it turned out to be a real good deal. I got a significant discount for an item that was essentially new, but I would not hesitate to replace it at full price if it was lost or stolen. I originally thought the ball head would require "getting used to" but after using it, what I thought would be a negative turned out to be a surprisingly good feature. My next tripod will have a ball head as well, providing it is implemented as nicely as Manfrotto has done.

Manfrotto MKC3-H01 compact photo/video tripod

Here's a fully extended shot with camera mounted. Note the light switch for height estimation.

Picture of head showing camera mounted. Note the thumb wheel for locking the head in position, and the button for releasing the mounting plate just to the left of the wheel.

This picture shows the head with camera and mounting plate removed. You can see the stud which locks the mounting plate in place. This is tapered so that it self adjusts to hold the plate in place firmly.

This is a picture of the knob on the left side of the head which locks the roll axis for video panning shots. It is in the locked position in this picture, and unlocked in the previous pictures.

Here the knob has been unlocked to demonstrate the head can roll 90o to allow vertical or "portrait" orientation.

And finally, here is the tripod fully collapsed next to a sharpie marker for scale.

The only two things I'd change about it would be to add a hook to the center column to hang a weight to make it more stable, and it would be nice if it came with a bag or carrying case of some kind.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2013, 04:52:21 PM by PetrifiedWood »