New Gear

Three-way head pre­ci­sion, ball-head size

NPhoto - - Contents -

From a three-way head with less bulk than the norm to por­ta­ble stu­dio flash for light­ing on the move, we look at all the lat­est hot new Nikon-fit gear

£115, $156­

A ball tri­pod head may be com­pact, but a three-way de­sign is bet­ter for com­po­si­tional con­trol. The trou­ble is, they tend to be un­wieldy, so Man­frotto has made this com­pact ver­sion.

The X-Pro weighs just one kilo­gram, nearly 40 per cent less than Man­frotto’s stan­dard three-way head. A com­pressed de­sign and re­tractable han­dles keep things com­pact, re­sult­ing in fully folded di­men­sions of 13 x 13.5 x 13.5cm. That’s good by three-way head stan­dards but on the bulky side com­pared to ball heads.

Dual fric­tion knobs let you ad­just the re­sis­tance of each tilt axis, mak­ing sub­tle fram­ing tweaks a breeze. You also get a trio of bub­ble lev­els and a quick-re­lease mount­ing plate. The X-Pro has the same 360-de­gree pan ro­ta­tion and -30/+90-de­gree range of front and lat­eral tilt as the stan­dard three-way head. It means you can shoot straight down in land­scape and por­trait for­mats, but you’ll need to ro­tate the mount­ing plate on your Nikon to shoot up­ward beyond 30 de­grees.

If it’s a fairly hefty head, at least it’s also ruggedly built. Its high-qual­ity alu­minium con­struc­tion can support up to eight kilo­grams of kit and will shrug off some rough and tum­ble. The chunky rub­ber han­dles im­prove er­gonomics and are easy to use while wear­ing gloves, though the same can’t be said of the plas­tic fric­tion knobs, which don’t of­fer much grip.

The X-Pro is never go­ing to be ideal for trav­el­ling light, but it’s less bulky than a tra­di­tional three-way de­sign. A rea­son­able price tag also makes this good value.

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