Review – Manfrotto Monopod and Ball Head

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This is my newly-purchased Manfrotto 680B Monopod and Manfrotto 494RC2 Ball Head with Quick Release. I bought both for use at the MotoGP race this August in Indianapolis. The Motor Speedway doesn’t allow for tripods in the stands, and I’ll be renting a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens from Pro Photo Rentals to get some good shots of the riders. I needed something to steady the camera and help support the weight, while still being lightweight and non-cumbersome.

I believe I’ve found what I’m looking for in this particular monopod/ball head combination. In the shot above, it is in its fully collapsed state of about twenty inches. Fully expanded, it reaches about sixty inches tall. Each section is expanded/collapsed by a series of locking levers, which hold very securely, and can be tightened with adjustment screws. The ball head simply screws onto the top, and the quick release plate screws onto the bottom of the camera. It clamps onto the head with a very satisfying “click” to let you know it’s on there securely.

In this shot you can see my own camera mounted onto the ball head and monopod. This is my Canon Digital Rebel XTi, with Opteka battery grip, and a 17-55 f/2.8 IS standard zoom lens with hood. The camera in this getup weighs three pounds, ten and a half ounces (according to my kitchen scale). The ball head held it securely, no matter which strange angle I tilted and locked it in. There was no gradual slippage due to the camera’s weight, and I anticipate it will perform every bit as admirably when I mount the telephoto lens.

Now, since I see myself performing this selfsame maneuver, I can’t stress enough to NOT forget that the camera is mounted on a MONOPOD, not a tripod. You can’t let go and walk away from it, though I know I will probably forget more than once as I get used to working with a monopod. So, my very enthusiastic recommendation is that you always secure the camera strap around your neck while working with a monopod. Just in case.

Photo credits (all): Tiffany Joyce.

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  • Steve Russell

    I have a Bogan 3021 aluminum tripod that I've had for 25 years. I started looking at new, Manfroto carbon fiber tripods so I could reduce the weight. Interestingly, the 3021 and an equivilent carbon fiber tripod each weigh approximately 5 pounds. However, the pan and tilt head was a beast. I purchased the same ball head that you did and I think it's great. It's amazing how much lighter the tripod is with the 494RC2 head. I hope you enjoy the ball head as much as I have.