The saying that man's best friend is a dog can easily be adapted for the photographic world to state that man's best friend is a tripod. In both cases this presupposes that the man in question isn't exactly gifted with social skills, but there's no doubt that a tripod is the most essential accessory for any photographer. Giottos have a new batch of six tripods out, two in the MT93 series and four in the MT92 series. Here we're looking at the MT9242 which is the cheapest of the lot at just £89.99, but it was sent in with the new MH 7303-730 ball head, which in itself is around £80, which boosts the price quite considerably. You can get a perfectly decent Giottos ball and socket head for around £30, and also kits are available that are much cheaper when the tripod and head are bought together. It also should be noted that the tripod base is rated to take a 3kg weight, while the head will take a 8kg maximum load, so it's perhaps a little over-specified to be used here.
- Sections: 3
- Folded: 56cm
- Extended: 145cm
- Max load: 3kg
- Material: Aluminium
- Three leg angles
- Reversible column
- Bubble spirit level
- Finish: hammered silver fleck paint
- Accessories: shoulder pad, carry case
The ball head has a quick release plate that slides off.
The tripod comes with an attractive hammered, silver fleck finish that has a quality feel and doesn't look like it will scratch too easily. When the legs are extended though, the finish turns to matt black metal, which looks more susceptible to wear and tear. The legs have turn-locks rather than snap ones, and, thankfully, the legs don't rotate as is the case with cheaper tripods. So, the locking mechanism can be twisted without the legs going round at the same time. The feet end in non-slip rubber, but don't have spikes. There's a bubble spirit level near the top, and the legs have a three position lock so that they can be spread out. They don't have any method of fixing the angle they are spread at - unless it's against the three positions of the lock which makes it pretty sturdy.
There's also a hook for attaching the carry handle and the central column is reversible so the camera could be used upside down for example. The lock for the central column basically surrounds the column and has two large wings for tightening and loosening.
The centre of the tripod has a solid locking mechanism plus bubble spirit level.
The ball and socket head features quite a large ball, with equally large screws on either side of it to lock it into position. A smaller screw tightens and locks the head from rotating. The head has compass markings in one section, quite why this couldn't go all the way round is a function of the design, but an omission all the same. The top plate has a quick-release plate, but rather than just coming straight off, a screw thread holds it in place, and then a smaller button must be pressed to let it slide off. The reason for this is that the plate position can be adjusted for better balance of the camera - but it's only a small adjustment and dragging it back and forth scratches the paint underneath right from the start. Also underneath the plate is another bubble spirit, which is easier to use to get the tripod straight. For future expansion it's good to note that the plates are interchangeable and that there is a range of them available so larger ones can be used for heavier cameras.
The overall impression of the tripod and head is one of high quality build and solidity. It's very solid and not excessively heavy, and certainly feels like it could take a greater weight than the 3kg quoted. Even so, it's fine for any standard consumer DSLR and represents a excellent purchase for anyone looking for a general purpose tripod.
Low shooting position
Legs don't rotate
Quality build and finish
Three leg lock positions
Quick release plate adjustable
Bubble spirit on head
Non-slip foam grips
Legs don't lock
The Giottos MT9242 Classic Pro costs around £88 and is available from Warehouse Express here:
Giottos MT9242 Classic Pro tripod