Equipment Review - Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared Head

14th May 2011
Equipment Review – Manfrotto 410 Junior Geared head
After years of trusting the support of my camera and various lenses to a variety of ball type tripod heads I finally took the fairly expensive step of investing in a Manfrotto geared head. Was it worth its £145 price tag? Have a read of my review and find out.

The Ball heads I have used in the past have been adequate for most forms of photography. Most landscapes have the camera and lens in a fairly balanced position, the same is true for wildlife images if shooting from a fixed position. The one area of photography that has caused me many frustrations with this set up has been macro photography. If you’ve attempted this the following scene might be very familiar. You manage to set the tripod and camera up on a very small and delicate flower or insect, you tighten the ball head into position, remove your hand and look through the viewfinder, only to find that the camera has sagged on the head and you now only have half the image you wanted. Now it’s a case of estimating how much the lag was and resetting the lens pointing slightly above your target. No not right again? And so it goes on.

This is where the Monfrotto 410 Geared head comes in.

Head Description
From my previous tripod heads this is a pretty weight affair weighing in at 1.2kg. It has a capacity to carry up to 5kg so should be up to most situations.
The head attaches to the tripod using a 3/8 female thread, which is pretty standard and you get a large secure quick release plate that attaches to the base of the camera. This has ¼ and 3/8 inch screws which you can change dependant on your camera. Once this is in place you simply rest the plate on the top of the head and it smoothly clips into place. Once on it feels very sturdy and secure. The camera is removed by pressing the button on the large lever at the side of the plate and pushing the lever at the same time.
Below the plate area you are presented with three large rubberised nobs. Turning any one of these will move the camera either tilt forward or back, move from side to side or flip the camera over up to 90 degrees. The outer part of each nob is designed for micro adjustment of the camera. On the inside of each nob is collar which when twisted removes the gearing aspect of the head and allows you to move the full range of movement rapidly.
There are precise scales on the side of the head to tell you what angle you are shooting at and there is also a small bubble level to let you know the tripod is level to start with.

My Conclusion

Well is it worth it? In my opinion it has to be worth every penny, particularly for the macro photographer. You can get extremely precise adjustment and know that the camera is rock steady in position. If a breeze moves the delicate flower head slightly you can reposition in seconds without fighting for half an hour with a sagging ball head! Macro photography requires enough skill and patience as it is, everything has to be very precise and if you start to add flash and reflectors into the equation this head totally removes one headache you can really do without.

This head would not be suitable if you require support that allows the user to rapidly rotate the camera in any given direction, such as photographing birds in flight, although perhaps handheld or a beanbag would be the best option here.

One point to note, I would recommend a robust tripod to twin up with this rather hefty head. Currently I have mine attached to a Giottos professional aluminium tripod which is similarly well built and handles the head well. Would I recommend this head? Yes without a doubt, I really wish I had used this a long time ago.


Photo comment By Duncan Lewis: This is a very helpful review. Thanks for taking the time to write it and to making it available

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