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The Manfrotto 390 Series MK393-H Photo - Movie Kit QR tripod is a high quality entry level tripod aimed at someone interested in both photo and video work. It supports 2.5kg, weighs 1.27kg, extends to 142cm, and is quite compact at 49cm, with a reversible centre column. It differs from the "Compact Series" (see: MKC3-H02 and MKC3-P02) by including an aluminium construction at the top of the legs, a 3-way aluminiuim photo / video head with panning, and two different angles for the legs, with 4 leg sections. The tripod is available for £69.
- Quick release
- Reversible column
- 2.5kg weight support
- Aluminium legs
- 25 / 51 degree leg angle
- 4 leg section
- Minimum height 35.0cm
- Extends to 142cm
- Rubber seal around centre column
- 5 year warranty
|The camera mount is a small pentagon shaped quick release plate with video locking pin.||The 390 Series QR has strong plastic quick release leg locks.|
The legs splay out to a maximum of 51 degrees, or alternatively the more normal 25 degrees, and the angle is changed easily by twisting the top of the legs. The centre column is a sliding version with a latch lock, this can be reversed by removing the rubber stopper on the end. The head has a twisting handle that is used to lock and unlock the head, allowing you to tilt the camera up and down, or pan the camera around for panoramic shots or panning video. A side knob can be twisted allowing the head to be angle up to 90 degrees for shooting portrait format photos. Rubber grips on all the main knobs and handles makes it easier to use and grip the controls.
|Leg angle at top, altered by twisting these grey knobs. Shown above at 25 degrees.||Here we've twisted the knobs and the legs now spread to 51 degrees.|
The handle and design allows panning of the camera, and the handle locks and unlocks the ability to pan and tilt the camera, this means that when you undo it to pan you need to be careful not to accidentally tilt the camera up and down. The tightness can be carefully controlled which helps in this regard, however panning seems stiffer than the ability to tilt the camera up and down.The design and weight of the tripod, with the particularly solid metal construction at the top of the legs creates a firm, and reassuring foundation for mounting expensive cameras and lenses on top. Additional stability is available by withdrawing the thinnest legs.
The height is quite good, although not quite high enough for the viewfinder to line up with my eyes, although it's not too far off, and I'm 5 foot 11. The centre column seems a little short, and if this was as long as the legs when compact it would add some useful additional height. If you're of a similar height and don't have a live view camera with a tilting screen, then you may be better off with a taller tripod such as the Manfrotto MKC3-P02 Photo (165cm).
The quick-release plate locks firmly in its cradle, but the pin system is frustrating. In the past I've used plates where the pin pushes down when not needed. With this one you have to push it out (thin object required) and then keep it somewhere. I guarantee many users (and us) will lose theirs.
Manfrotto MKC3-P02 Photo (165cm) and MKC3-H02 Photo / Video (154cm) tripods, both of them available for £49, the Velbon Ultra Rexi L (£100, 153cm), Vanguard Nivelo 204SL (£49, 100cm), and at the budget end of the scale, the Hama Profil Duo III (£25, 150cm).
|Legs at 51 degrees, tripod centre column reversed for low level shooting.||Photo taken with the Panasonic Lumic G3 and kit lens has come out well.|
The Manfrotto 390 Series MK393-H does a good job at being both compact and solidly built and enables the tripod to fit neatly into a rucksack, as well as provide a solid base for your camera. The ability to pan and tilt will be useful for video recording, and the reversible centre column and two leg angles make the tripod versatile for tricky situations.
The handle to control the lock strength of the head makes it a little difficult to control pan and tilt, making it easier to tilt the camera than to pan the camera. However panning smoothly is possible and very little or no noise was picked up by the camera when recording video. I would have preferred a little more height from the centre column which seems a little short, and the biggest competition is most likely from Manfrotto's own compact series, which gives more height and a lower price, in the form of the Manfrotto MKC3-P02 Photo, at the expense of panning, and a more plastic construction. If you want a solid tripod with a higher weight rating, then the MK393-H with its premium quality feel and build is recommended.
|The MK393-H QR Kit Tripod is a solid tripod with a high quality feel and build.|
Manfrotto 390 Series MK393-H Pros
Solid construction / metal top section
Reversible centre column
Panning possible with photo/video head
Legs splay to two different angles
Manfrotto 390 Series MK393-H Cons
Very firm locking catches (can be considered a good thing)
Pin on quick release plate easily lost
Care needs to be taken when panning
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
|Number of Legs sections||4|
|Leg Locking mechanism||Quick Release|