The Manfrotto 804RC2 3-way head is a simple option that’s made of a lightweight and durable polymer that’s tough enough for professional use.
Don’t be put off by the price-tag, because although it’s at the cheaper end of Manfrotto’s vast range of tripod heads it really is all of the above, with smooth and easy operation to boot. The handles for tilting and panning are large enough to use easily, even with gloves on. A handy circular spirit level on the top of the head makes achieving a perfectly level composition a breeze. However, the downside to all this is that you have to get used to using the front and lateral tilt controls (that’s up and down and forwards and sideways to most people) at the same time. Once you get used to this you can have a perfectly level composition in a matter of seconds.
The quick-release button on this head is one of the easiest to use of all the heads we’ve ever used. No fiddling, just a nice big button to press to release the plate and camera. If this sounds a little flimsy don’t worry, there’s also a lever to move to fully release the plate so there’s no chance of accidently dropping the camera from the head.
The standard Manfrotto 200PL-14 quick-release plate is small and features a full cover of gripped rubber on the top. On the rear there are two clear arrows to show the two ways a camera can be attached, and the screw has a little handle for turning.
If you’re on a tight budget and need a head that’s lightweight and sturdy this is an option that shouldn’t be overlooked. It really is tough, lightweight and easy to operate. It lacks the convenience of a ball head, but more than makes up for it with its smooth controls.
- Price: £78 (As of June 2016)
- Max load: 4kg
- Weight: 750g
- Visit: www.manfrotto.co.uk
This review was first published in the February 2013 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.