Review: Manfrotto 701 HDV


More and more photographers are starting to use their cameras to record video. Before I started shooting video I was like most photographers and bought a normal ball head for my tripod. A ball head works great for still photography as it allows for quick and easy adjustments, but I soon realized that it doesn’t work well for video. The ball head was harder to get level and keep level while panning. As I started recording more videos I looked on the Internet for good video heads that would fit on my tripod. I have a Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod so I started looking at what Manfrotto had to offer.

In searching for a video head, I came across two different models, the 501HDV and the 701HDV. Both video heads are reasonably priced at around $150 each, and being that they were Manfrotto I didn’t mind spending the money for the quality I’ve come to expect from the brand. I ultimately decided on the 701HDV (701) because it was smaller in size, and could still support up to 8.82 pounds.

The Tripod Video Head

The fact that you spend $150 on the 701HDV means that you get a video head built from aluminum parts rather than plastic. The 701HDV might look smaller than most video heads, but the construction and build quality are second to none. I have owned aluminum and carbon fiber Manfrotto tripods and I can say that Manfrotto’s tripod heads match the quality of their tripods.

The video head comes with a quick release plate which comes off the head making it easier to mount your camera to the it. Another thing to mention is that Manfrotto sells these plates so that if you use your tripod often you can leave the plates on the gear you use frequently. This would allow you to leave one on your camera and also a 70-200mm lens that comes with a tripod foot.

There are two main controls on the 701 that allow you to control the pan and tilt functions on the tripod. The larger knob on left side of the 701 controls the tilt function while the smaller knob at the base of the 701 controls the panning. Both functions are really smooth so when you use a pan or tilt in your video it will look fluid.

The other main feature on the 701 is the arm. This allows you to control the movement of the tripod. I’m right-handed so I’ve placed the arm on the right side of the head. The 701 has the ability for you to place the arm on either side of the head depending on your preference.

In Use

The Manfrotto 701HDV is really easy to use. The fluid movement and the fact that there are only two main controls make it incredibly easy to use. While the 701 is really meant to be used for video, I use it for my still photography as well. I have the Manfrotto 190XPROB which allows me to move the center column parallel to the floor. This allows me to get vertical shots on lenses that don’t have a tripod foot. When using a lens like the 70-200 I can just loosen the tripod foot ring, and twist the camera to be vertical. So if you are going to use a video head for still photography, be sure to get a tripod that allows you to get the center column parallel to the ground.

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