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Giottos MTL9351B Tripod & MH5011 Head Review

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod & MH5011 Head Review - Peter Bargh takes the Giottos MTL9351B Professional Aluminium Tripod with MH5011 three way head out in the field for a thorough ePHOTOzine test.

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Category : Tripods, Monopods and Other Supports
Product : Giottos MTL9351B & MH5011
Price : £115
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification
 
Giottos MTL9351B and MH5011

The MTL9351B is from Giottos' Professional Aluminium Tripod range and comes bundled with a MH5011 head. It's a mid range model with a quick-release camera plate and low angle shooting thanks to the 180 degree swivel center column.

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod Features

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod's various spirit levelsThe MTL9351B is made from cast aluminium. It has foam grips on each leg that not only make it comfortable to carry, but also easier to hold without gloves on in cold weather. It has three leg sections which are released using quick-release leg locks. The thinnest tube is 20mm and the wider top section is 25mm.

There is a spirit level on the tripod and two more on the MH5011 kit head. This could be seen as overkill!

The center column is one of the key features as it swivels through 180 degrees and has friction tightening control plus a hook to use to secure the tripod in rough conditions.

The MH5011 head has a 35mm square quick-release plate that's flanged to 40mm at the base. The plate has a standard 1/4in camera thread and a video locking pin.

Key Features

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod - center column in horizontal position
The Giottos MTL9351B Tripod seen here with the center column in horizontal position.
  • 180 deg center column
  • Quick release plate
  • Spirit levels
  • Three section legs
  • Light weight (2.2kg)
  • Extended height of 180cm

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod Handling

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod - quick release plate Giottos MTL9351B Tripod - quick release lock

The camera quick-release is a small square plate with a coin tightening thread, but also with a flip out ring so you can tighten by hand (above left). When it sits in the tripod head there's a locking lever with a secondary release catch for extra security (above right).

On the review sample I could not tighten the plate to the camera well enough by hand so a coin had to be used, and even then the camera swiveled around on the plate when secured on the tripod. After a few goes the finger ring snapped off too. It turned out that there was a fault with a few of these plates and it was replaced by Daymen in the UK. The new one is fine and grips the camera securly.

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod - leg angle catch
 
Giottos MTL9351B Tripod - quick release leg lock

Each leg can be set to one of three angular positions by pulling out a latch (above left) and pressing it back in once one of the three positions is reached. The leg then stops from opening any wider than that point.

The three section legs extend and lock with substantial leg release catches (above right). These can be tightened if they loosen up at any point.

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod spirit level  Giottos MTL9351B Tripod - centre column release

The bubble spirit level was almost impossible to centralise (above left). The slightest adjustment sent it flying across to the other side. I aligned as much as I could and then gave up.

The Giottos center column can be raised and then swiveled almost through 180 degrees. This makes it easy to shoot from low angles or turn the column into a macro arm so you can position the tripod near the subject and use the arm to move the camera in and out.

There's a spring loaded hook at the base of the column that can be used to add a weight or an anchor cord to stop the tripod moving in severe gails.

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod Performance

1/125 sec | f/4.0 | 120.0 mm | ISO 1000

I really gave the tripod a thorough test in outdoor, rugged conditions using a Pentax K20D and a number of lenses up to 300mm focal length.

In this scene I was in the river in wellies, the tripod feet submerged and balancing on rocks. The rubber grips on the feet held well. The tripod is sturdy enough to cope with the river flow too.

It's able to go high enough for a good comfortable eye level view, but the low angle is where it really comes into its own.

Giottos MTL9351B and MH5011 with centre column swung round to shoot low level photo

Here the Giottos MTL9351B and MH5011 are seen with center column swung round to shoot a low level photo of fungi on a fallen tree. And below is the result of an eight second exposure at f/16.0 with the Pentax 100mm macro.

Fungi - 8 sec | f/16.0 | 100.0 mm | ISO 100

The rotating center column is also useful for subjects in awkward places, such as a flower in a flower bed. You can position the tripod in clear area and use the arm to poke into the patches of flowers. You can then glide the camera back and forward to get a rough position before you focus up accurately with the lens.

The adjustable leg angles and different extensions of individual legs allowed me to position the tripod on rugged ground in the right spot for the waterfall below.

Waterfall 1.5 sec | f/22.0 | 12.0 mm | ISO 100

One thing that did frustrate me in the early stages of using the tripod was the number of locks. This tripod needs a redesign for simplicity sakes. When the center column is collapsed there are three locks all close to each other - one for the head, one for the center column up and down lock and one for the swivel lock. Not only that but add the friction tightening for the center column, and there are four controls that could be responsible for the camera rotating (or not) and having to go through each one to find the culprit is irritating. Giottos either needs to combine two, or change how one works so it's differentiated.

Value For Money

Giottos tripods are known for offering extra features for competitive prices. Even though this model is not alone in the adjustable center column arena, at £115 street price the MTL9351B seems superb value. The £139 Manfrotto 190XPROB can be rotated, but not with quite the same versatility as the Giottos, it just removes and can be slotted back in horizontally. The Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT has 180deg Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC) System, but costs £125 without a head, so the Giottos MTL9351B appears to be a real bargain.

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod Verdict

At first with the faulty quick-release and lack of familiarity with controls the Giottos was proving to be one of the most frustrating tripods I'd used. Once the plate was exchanged and I'd become familiar with which control adjusts what, I started to like the tripod. It wins hands down for price, and is a decent spec for the money too. The center column makes it extremely versatile. All in all it's a worthy consideration if you're not after a tripod to support a huge lens or large format.
 
  The Giottos MTL9351B tripod offers super versatility at a highly competitive price.

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod Pros

Lightweight for size
Versatile
Grip on legs good to handle in cold
Low angle shooting
Competitive price

 

Giottos MTL9351B Tripod Cons

Locks can be confusing
Spirit level not easy to align
Pan head cannot go through 180 unless handle is facing outwards

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Giottos MTL9351B & MH5011 Specifications

Tripods
ConstructionAluminium
Maximum Height165cm
Minimum Height26cm
Maximum Weight Capacity5kg
Number of Leg Sections3
Head5011
Box Contents
Box Contentstripod, 5011 head, instructions, toolkit, low angle adaptor
Dimensions
Weight1850g
WidthNo Data
Height630mm

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Comments


JackAllTog e2
5 3.6k 58 United Kingdom
17 Jan 2012 1:05PM
I'd 2nd the positive review of this tripod, i've had it with a ball head for over a year now (maybe 2) and love it.
Mine also came with a short centre column incase you wanted all legs fully out and the camera on top as usual (otherwise the length of the centre column hits the ground) though i've never really had reason to use this more than once.
In water and mud if does need a thorough clean to stop the grit fouling the locks, and it has before sucked brackish water into the leg sections - took a while to get that smelly water out.
No corrision visible yet, spanner kit used twice to keep legs tight.
Ball Head on mine needs tightening once or twice a year.

Its slighty taller than the manfrotto from memory and perhaps the only negative is its weight, but its been on 3 hour hikes with me and is fine. Oh yes one negative - the special over shoulder strap you can get for it makes it hang awkwardy and can fall off. So i just strap it to the lowpro rucksack.

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Pete e2
13 18.4k 96 England
17 Jan 2012 1:24PM
That's excellent additional information Stuart, thanks Smile
Ewanneil 4 1.1k 2 Scotland
17 Jan 2012 5:55PM
I have a similar combo to the one reviewed (a MTL8361B and a MH5001) and wholeheartedly agree with your findings. It has served me well for 18 months now and I'm glad I bought it.

However, I share your frustrations over the 4 controls. On mine 2 of the 3 on the tripod are marked "tilt" and "rise" but you have to have good eyesight to see the wording (the 3rd is the central column control). The one on the head is unmarked. Given that we tend to use tripods in low light it really is important to be able to distinguish the various controls quickly and easily. I always thought it would be better to have each control a different shape or to have them ribbed/textured in some way. That way you could identify each in total darkness.

To overcome this problem I have fixed tape to the controls to help me identify them by touch but it seems a bit of a Heath Robinson solution for an expensive bit of kit.
janeez e2
6 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
18 Jan 2012 5:02PM
I have the MH5001 head with the MTL8350B tripod. Being carbon fibre means less weight (1.6kg+0.82kg) to carry around and so far it is proving to be an excellent combination. 4 leg section means that it folds up quite small (fits nicely onto my camera bag) and it still takes up to 5kg of camera gear. It also has the vertical shift fitting which is simple to set up. I have not used it on location yet but it is a really good feature that I could have done with on my old tripod. Only minor niggle is that the movement on the head is quite tight so nothing happens quickly. I expect over time this will loosen a bit and can't say this is a major issue. I got mine from Morris Photo as they had the best offer at the time but it is a higher price than the one reviewed. Hope this helps others who are looking to buy a new tripod. I needed all the help I could get as my husband was paying!!! Wink
JackAllTog e2
5 3.6k 58 United Kingdom
18 Jan 2012 6:33PM
Hi Janeez even if you twist the control(one of the 3?) clock/anticlockwise to loosen it its still stiff?
janeez e2
6 1.2k 8 United Kingdom
19 Jan 2012 6:28PM
Hi Stuart. Yes, but it is freeing up slowly. I think it is just because it is new and needs a bit of use. I will persevere. Smile
vickylou 3 27 United Kingdom
15 Mar 2012 9:15AM
How does it compare to the Manfrotto 190XPROB? Is it as good quality?
JackAllTog e2
5 3.6k 58 United Kingdom
15 Mar 2012 9:54AM
Hi Vicky - I've had mine well over 2 years now its not in daily use, but has been all over the place and in mud and water, gets thrown in the car boot and and still shows very little sign of wear. I have had to tighten 2 screws but i see no problem with this.
I don't have the 190XPROB, i rejected it as it was to short for me. Pop into a camera shop and feel the 190XPROB - lots of people stock it.

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