I recently received a new tripod and I had time to play with it a bit. Here’s my review of the Manfrotto 294 Carbon Fiber and the 804RC2 3-Way head.
First off, the clips on this tripod are the more regular snapping ones. My previous tripod had the twisty ones. I have to say that the clips seem to be holding very well. I know that some people don’t like the twist to lock mechanism but I find that it works well for me and my opinion is the same for the snapping locks present on this tripod model. I found that those locks are really solid; in no way was I able to slide a leg section in or out when it was locked. Speaking of leg sections, this tripod has 3 sections per leg. I prefer that over 4 or 5 sections because it makes the whole tripod more solid. One thing I don’t like at all about this tripod is the lack of a hook at the bottom of the center column. This is really frustrating as I use the hook as a way to weight the tripod down in order to make it more stable. I will have to find a way to attach a weight there myself.
On another subject, the feet on this tripod are a lot grippier than what I had before. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that this tripod is new and the old one isn’t but the feet are a lot softer and grip the surfaces with ease. Although I didn’t use them on my last tripod, no spike feet are included on this tripod. Moving up, the center column is, I would say, fair. I don’t really like it’s locking mechanism; it’s a simple bolt. However, when raised, the center column is rather wobble-free. The material seems to be some kind of metal, aluminium would make sense. Also, the raising and lowering action is pretty smooth.
Finally, I like the head. When you lock the big handles in, it won’t go anywhere. There’s an handle for every axis. I like the use of a standard Manfrotto quick release system as I can take off the camera, keep the same quick release plate and put it on my steadycam stabilizer. The head includes a bubble level. My only complaint would be that the head moves too freely when unlocked, a bit more friction would make everything smoother - but hey, it’s not a fluid head.
The legs can go in two positions in order to allow you to place the tripod lower to the ground. While it’s not bad, this feature doesn’t stand out from the pack as a lot of other tripods can go lower.
So, would I recommend this tripod for commercial product and still life photography? Yes, if you’re willing to build something that let’s you hang a weight at the center column.
What tripod do you recommend? What do you like about them? Tell us below!