I’m going to tell a story and I promise it ends with an actual review of the Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod. But first, my story of why I needed to buy a new tripod.
When I got my first SLR camera, the Minolta X700 in 1980, I also bought a tripod. I used that tripod for more than 30 years. Finally I suggested to Steve one year that perhaps tripod technology had advanced a bit, and that a new tripod would make a lovely Christmas gift. I did some research and found a Manfrotto tripod that looked really cool and I gave the link to Steve.
When Christmas came and went and there was no tripod, I went out and bought it for myself. I remember I didn’t wait for the holiday cheer to subside, and went to the Best Buy near Steve’s sister’s house and bought the Manfrotto I’d had my eyes on.
Fast forward a year or two and I slowly started to notice that whenever I wanted to use my tripod, Steve had already anchored his camcorder to it. I seemed to never be quick enough to snag it before he laid claim to it.
Last Christmas, I asked Steve for a replacement tripod. Well…he got me one, but it wasn’t anything like the Manfrotto I’d picked out. It was a good tripod but I could never get used to how it opened. It sort of folded inside out to itself – when pulled from the bag, the legs AND the tripod mount were both on the same end. After a minute or two I’d remember how to make it go, but it never quite worked as easily as I wanted.
Last week I decided to buy myself a THIRD tripod. I decided to check out Manfrotto since I liked my original tripod so much. At first I was finding tripods costing hundreds of dollars. I’m not saying you shouldn’t spend a lot on a tripod, it’s just that I use one maybe 4 times a year so it’s really not worth it to me to go high end.
I settled on the Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod in RED. Here’s what I like about it.
- It’s light, weighing in at only 2.5 pounds. It fits that sweet spot between light enough to carry and not so light that it will get easily knocked over. Ask Bart about that problem. This one is made of aluminum and “technopolymer” which sounds like a made up word to me. The “payload” this camera can hold is 3.3 pounds, which means it’s definitely not meant for giant professional cameras but will easily accommodate a consumer DSLR or micro four-thirds camera.
- Each leg has four clasps to telescope the legs, making it around 18 inches long, and it fits easily into the included bag with a shoulder rope
- At full extension it’s 61 inches tall which is definitely tall enough of rme.
- The thing that sold me on it, both the first and second time I bought it, was the pistol grip for rotating the head. You grab this handle like you would a gun and there’s a thumb wheel that you simply rotate forwards and back to lock and unlock the rotation. It’s the fastest method I know of to allow you to move the camera around and then quickly lock it back in place. I love the pistol grip!
- One big improvement they made from the old model to the new one is the way the camera attaches to the tripod. On the old one there was a plate you had to screw into the bottom of the camera with a coin. The plate was almost, but not quite square so I always had trouble getting it aligned correctly to connect to the tripod. The new Manfrotto has a simple 1/4-20″ screw with a knurled knob that you can easily twist onto your camera. Then you place the camera onto the tripod by dropping the knob into a circular hole and flip a lever to lock it into place. SO much easier.
- I have to thank listener and friend Cemal for helping me figure out how to rotate the camera into portrait mode, because that baffled me on the photo walk with Trey Ratcliff. In nearly complete darkness he noticed that there’s a knob on the left side that you rotate 90° and it allows the entire ball head of the tripod to rotate the camera into portrait position. It’s easy to do but it would have taken some study for me to figure that out.
- It’s RED. Why is that a good thing? Well, so StevenP will not steal it from me!
- It was only $70 on Amazon!
Bottom line – the Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod (in Red) is inexpensive, light, and easy to use, perfect for my needs.