Manfrotto MKC3-H02 Compact Tripod Review

A review of the new Manfrotto MKC3-H02 compact photo movie tripod with video head.

|  Manfrotto MKC3-H02 in Tripods, Monopods and Other Supports
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Manfrotto MKC3-H02 tripod in useFeatures

This MKC3-H02 is a compact and lightweight tripod with five section legs that extend to an overly generous working height for an average sized photographer. It's bundled with a redesigned head, that's fine for movie recording or stills, and is also available in black as the MKC3-H01. There are also photo versions with a ball & socket head called the MKC3-P02 (grey) and MKC3-P01 (black). All four models retail at £49.

Manfrotto Compact MKC3-H02 Photo Movie Kit Tripod: Key Features

  • Quick release
  • 1.15kg weight
  • Aluminium legs
  • 21deg leg angle
  • 5 leg section
  • Minimum height 44.5cm
  • Extends to 154cm
  • Rubber seal around centre column
  • 5 year warranty

Manfrotto Compact MKC3-H02 Photo Movie Kit Tripod: Handling

The MKC3-H02 has quick release leg locks. Although not as fast as the recently reviewed Velbon or Vanguard models with twist locks, these legs are still quick to extend. You can open really quickly by releasing all four catches at once and then pull out the bottom leg to extend all four sections. Then you just have to slide up each leg with your hand and snap the locks shut.

extending the legs of the Manfrotto MKC3-H02   Manfrotto MKC3-H02 quick release plate  
The MKC3-H02 has quick release leg locks   Pentagon shaped quick release plate  

The legs splay out to a maximum of 21 degrees and the centre column is a sliding version with a twist lock. The head is the most interesting development on this model. It has a large rear grip making it good to control the movement, especially when using video to shoot movies. A single wheel is rotated using your finger and thumb to release and lock the head's pan and tilt action. And a side lock switches the head into stills camera mode allowing the head to be angle up to 90 degrees for shooting portrait format photos.

The camera mount is a small pentagon shaped quick release plate with video locking pin.

the video head has a locking wheel
The head has a locking wheel for the pan tilt action (above) and a photo video lock on the side (right).
manfrotto mck3-ho2 video/photo lock

Value For Money
The Manfrotto MKC3-H02 is priced at £49 which is good value for money for an aluminium tripod with such a compact design and video action grip head. Alternatives include 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).

Manfrotto Compact MKC3-H02 Photo Movie Kit Tripod: Performance

The two key performance aspects of this tripod are stability and its manoeuvrability using this new design head. Most tripods of this compact nature play safe with four section legs so they are fairly rigid when fully extended. The downside is they're waist high on blokes the size of Jeremy Clarkson. This one has the extra leg extension and does make it comfortable to use, but can we really expect a stable tripod from a product with legs as thin as this? If we were talking models, we'd be on the bulimic catwalk right now.

That's one of the disadvantages - the bottom leg does make this a bit fragile, and not the sturdiest model we've seen. It also has an impact on maximum camera weight. 1.5kg is not going to be good enough to support a camera with a heavy lens, but it's fine for your standard SLR kits and perfect for compacts or the modern minicams.

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 will lose theirs.

The grip is quite odd. While it's really good to control the movement when using a camera with an LCD viewing screen, your hand gets in the way when looking through a camera with a viewfinder such as the Pentax K5 SLR below. Switching to Liveview resolves this but you may prefer the optical approach.

Manfrotto MKC3-H02 head

Manfrotto Compact MKC3-H02 Photo Movie Kit Tripod: Verdict

The Manfrotto MKC3-H02 is certainly light and ideal for travel and the five sections make sure it's at a comfortable height too. So it meets two of the common requirements, but what about stability? I was using it with a smaller digital SLR, the Pentax K5 and it supports that with lenses up to 300mm focal length without any effort.

It took a while to get used to using the grip, but when used with a small camcorder I found the shape made perfect sense. I was able to shoot with good control. I'd like the head action to be smoother, it did feel a bit jerky with friction when adjusting. The head doesn't feel right for use with a stills camera that has an optical finder so I would recommend buying the MKC3-P02 if stills is mostly your game, but for movies it's fine.

Manfrotto Compact MKC3-H02 Photo Movie Kit Tripod: Pros

Video head offers good control of camcorder
Higher than average working height 

Manfrotto Compact MKC3-H02 Photo Movie Tripod: Cons

Legs flimsy
Low level shooting not possible
Pin on quick release plate
Head takes some getting used to for stills

FEATURES Vanguard Nivelo 204SL rating
HANDLING Vanguard Nivelo 204SL rating

Manfrotto Compact MKC3-H02 Photo Movie Tripod: Specification

Price £50
Weight 1.15Kg
Min Height 44.5m
Max Height 154cm
Folded Height 46cm
Maximum Load 1.5Kg
Tube Diameter 22mm
Number of Legs sections 5
Leg Locking mechanism Quick Release
Construction Magnesium alloy legs and technopolymer head

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