Manfrotto Released A New Geared Head – How Does It Compare To Existing Geared Heads?

March 19th, 2015

NewManfrottoSeveral weeks ago Lee pointed out a new three way geared tripod head that Manfrotto released. For a long while the Manfrotto 405 and Manfrotto 410 have been the standards for this kind of tripod head. The beauty of this kind of tripod head is that you can easily and precisely level your camera on all three axises – a must for real estate and interior photographers.

This head appears to have two major differences as compared to the 405 and 410. First, it’s made of  “Adapto technopolymer” (plastic) rather than metal. Second, in addition to precise adjustment made with the three knobs you can make larger movements by pushing the knobs against the knob housings. Also, the price appears to be about $60 USD less than the 410 which used to be the cheapest three axis geared head.

It’s always tough to tell if new versions of gadgets like this are a good thing or not. Lucky a couple of PFRE forum members got their hands on this tripod head and have tested it for us. Their reviews are mixed. They say this new head works well but they both prefer the solidness of the existing metal heads. Thanks FotografieBerg and Object&co_Mario for the review!

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11 Responses to “Manfrotto Released A New Geared Head – How Does It Compare To Existing Geared Heads?”

  • The most disappointing thing about this gear head, and the others budget heads from manfrotto, is their insistence on using their standard quick release plates. No way I would ever put a pro rig on a head with one of these (again). They release way too easily — I can attest from experience, after watching a “locked” plate release my 5D III and 16-35 for a glorious 8 feet fall (note: insure your gear.). To my knowledge, you can’t get a geared or three way head from Manfrotto with the very secure Q5 or Q6 plates. $700 will get you a secure plate with the top of the line geared head — but thats a little steep.

  • I started am using a Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head a few months ago. Since all my cameras have RRS right angle brackets, I had to mount a RRS clamp onto the Manfroto quick release plate, which is bulky, heavy and when the bubble levels are all centered, the camera is not exactly level.
    Does Manfroto make a replacement quick release plate that has a built-in Arca Swiss (or RRS) clamp?
    I thought it was mentioned in a Flicker real estate forum, but did not understand what part they were talking about.
    Before the Mafroto head, I used a Cambo Ball head with my RRS L bracket and clamp, which was better made and less weight. But leveling with the 410 is quicker.
    Is anyone else using the 410 head with an Arca or RRS L Bracket?

  • Sure, plastic works for cameras and lenses. Even better when reinforced with carbon fiber, brass mounts, metal subframes and/or magnesium bodies.

    Plastic for a tripod head?

    No.

  • Here’s a link to the Kirk “arca style” tripod plate for the Manfrotto 405/410 heads:

    I would imaging that RSS makes something similar but I’ve been quite happy with the Kirk plates on my 405 heads.

  • I have both the 405 & 410jr heads. I have never had any issues with the QR plates. I use the same Manfrotto QR system on top of a telescopic mast. I send my D4 with 14-24 f/2.8 Nikkor lens 20+ feet in the air all the time…

    The bubble levels are not really level when centered, as someone pointed out, but they give me a repeatable reference point. I know the LR settings required to bring everything very close to real level. I have these stored in a preset.
    This system works great for me.

    The 410jr has some “slop”, but overall is a great light weight head

  • I have the 410 head with the Hejnar Photo arca mount as I did not care for to have multiple mounts.

  • To address some of the points above:

    1 – You could also make large adjustments to the 410 / 405 heads by turning the knobs housing – this feature is not new.

    2 – you can indeed get a dovetail adapter for the 410 / 405, a fantastic product made in the US by a top company – Hejnar Photo. I’m surprised more people don’t know this, especially your side of the pond;) I have been using one of their adapter clamps since ’11, it’s ace, especially with an L bracket.

    3 – I really hope their gearing (brass worm drive) has been improved in the new head – in the 410 / 405 it binds in stages throughout it’s movement. This is a symptom of its design according to Manfrotto’s UK repair centre (a very helpful bunch – always up for a chat on the phone:) I’ve sent my 405 back to them to be looked at twice and its unfortunately working to spec. It’s never caused serious issues but it would be nice if the new head is improved.

    Geared heads all the way!

  • Exciting news – Would love to try it soon.

    Of all the pieces of kit I ever bought, my Manfrotto 410 is the best piece of kit that has given me the most joy to use.

  • I have been using the 410 junior head in my studio for several years. I like it for the precise movement when doing table top product, jewelry, and still life work as well as portraits. To use this type head in the field for REP is probably over kill and heavy where a standard ball head will do. However, If you are working in mm movements then you need a worm gear type head to make the precise movements and this is where the 410 or its big brother shines. For gross movement the large twist quick release knobs work well but you do need to be sure the gear teeth are engaged when releasing the knob spring tension or else when you do a fine adjustment they will snap in place meshing the gears, which is not good. Would I buy a “plastic” head? It depends if the worm gear is steel and all the bearing surfaces are brass, and If they are possibly, but there is too much action and weight put on these parts for an all plastic head to survive for vary long. As far as the design of the camera plate clamp it really doesn’t matter as the camera hardly ever comes off the tripod. When it does the quick release works well and secures the camera very well, provided you are not stupid enough to be sure it’s not secured before you let go of the camera.
    As an example why the “plastic” ware parts won’t due is I have a couple of Manfrotto tripods that have “thumb twist cam locks” for the legs. After making a tensioning adjustment of the cam lock nut so the legs are firmly locked it isn’t to many months before you find a leg slipping ever so slowly. Why? because the “Plastic” cams mush under the cam pressure and get loose. I wish there were steel twist cam replacements. Yah..my next studio pod will be a Gitzo with twist locks or a studio stand, (ouch $$) so in the mean time I just keep a small socket wrench handy to keep tightening the tension nuts.

  • @Eric Hilton

    Check out Hejnar Photo. He machines exactly those adapters for manfrotto heads and fixes those quirks. Arca clamp for L-bracket and shifts the clamp back to the center.
    http://www.hejnarphotostore.com/product-p/m410longf63.htm

    Not too cheap tho considering the price of the 410 too. The 410 still has that little bit of wiggle if the locking nut isn’t tight enough (which again makes it harder to make adjustments). Wish I had just bought the 405 and then bought the conversion to arca.

  • I have never had a plate (and camera) fall off of a Manfrotto 410 head, nor have I ever heard of that happening to anyone else. I will say that one annoying thing about the 410 is that, on one of mine, the locking mechanism for the plate loosens up occasionally and I need to tighten it down again. If it starts to loosen and you let it go on doing that and using the head that way, then I have no sympathy for you.

    As mentioned above, the 410 head does not work as smoothly as I would like, but it gets the job done fine. I am not sure plastic is necessarily a problem for the body, as long as the
    points of friction for the movements are metal. Will have to see it for myself to make any reasonable judgement about it.

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