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The Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head Review

Hands-on with the XPRO
A few weeks ago I took delivery of Manfrotto’s latest lightweight ball head for tripods-the XPRO. I attached it to my ancient 055-C legs which was actually a very quick and easy operation- and confirmed just how lightweight this head is.
First thoughts after using other makes of ball heads were how beautifully designed this one is- surely it would have a trade-off in usefulness with the weight of a heavy lens and camera on it? Manfrotto say it can take up to 10 kg, (22lbs), weight but I admit I was a little sceptical.

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Portrait

Locking
Previous experience with other ball heads is that they are great for portability but when it comes to locking the camera down they tend to drift about a bit. Not so with this one- even a pretty hefty camera like the D3s body which is heading towards 3lbs and a 70-200mm 2.8 lens weighing in at around 3.5lbs didn’t phase it at all.

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Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head

I tried it locked off in the vertical and horizontal and I can vouch that it was rock solid. There must be some pretty clever engineering involved to achieve that!
Now the really clever bit is that there is a little control on this head that lets you adjust the friction on how smoothly the head moves before you lock it down- like the fluid head on their video tripods. Genius!

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Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head – Friction Control

Please release me
The quick release plate for the camera on the XPRO is a thing of joy to use. You simply press down on a catch and then can release the lock lever holding the plate in. It’s very secure but once you get the hang of using it, extremely quick to release. That’s very important to us editorial photographers. For my photos of the former England Cricketer Chris Lewis during an interview, (taken for The Daily Telegraph), I was able to remove the camera speedily for hand-held shots but rely on the tripod and friction control set to a mid-level for those shot at a slower shutter speed. Normally I’d use the monopod for this, but after using this head for a while I’m now using the tripod more and more for the extra stability.

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Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head – Quick Release Plate

Ease of use
This is a very easy head to use. If you need a lightweight but quick to set up unit then look no further. I’d recommend this for beginners or old timers like myself. There are even two ball spirit levels included in the design to make levelling the head really easy. For panoramics the base has clearly marked degrees of rotation on the stylish red base.

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A photo for my personal project ‘Discarded’

A photo for my personal project ‘Discarded’ where the Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head proved it’s worth for ease of use and quick set up.Taken at night with a small flashgun.

Conclusion
My 23 year old tripod now has a new lease of life fitted with this little ball head and it’s a tribute to Manfrotto engineering and design that it’s still going strong after all this time.
Team the XPRO Ball Head up with some carbon fibre legs and you have a lightweight setup ready to go anywhere, easy to use and with rock solid dependability.

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Manfrotto XPRO Ball Head

Copyright Text and Photos by John Robertson.

 

John RobertsonOther articles by author

John Robertson is a Manfrotto Ambassador and freelance photographer with the UK National and International press. He also works for commercial clients and produces both editorial and commercial videos.

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