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
The 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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
Grip on legs good to handle in cold
Low angle shooting
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
|VALUE FOR MONEY
Giottos MTL9351B & MH5011 Specifications
|Maximum Weight Capacity||5kg|
|Number of Leg Sections||3|
|Box Contents||tripod, 5011 head, instructions, toolkit, low angle adaptor|
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