New Manfrotto Products at Photokina

Manfrotto busted out several new products and product lines earlier this week at Photokina 2010. The new products fit neatly into Manfrotto’s new “brand evolution” with its Imagine More slogan.

The bread and butter Manfrotto products fall into the broad photo support category and, from there, Manfrotto has subdivided 4 product families based on the type of photographer – professional, advanced amateur, amateur and social recorders.

Obviously, some of the key differences will be quality, features and price.  While all the Manfrotto products that I have used have been what I consider high quality, you will see differences in materials – pro products get the carbonium and magnesium treatment, while social recorder products are made with aluminum.

Manfrotto breaks the product families down as follows:

Manfrotto Product Families

Pro Products

New pro models include the 057 Pro Tripod, which are heavy duty carbon fiber models available in 3 or 4 leg section models with max heights up to 80 inches and max load capacities on some models approaching 40 lbs.

The Series 050 Pro Ball Head are also part of the pro line-up:

“Available in three different sizes (4, 5 and 7), the ball’s diameter ranges from a minimum of 45 mm to a maximum of 65 mm for a maximum load ranging anywhere between 10-15 kilos, depending upon its support.

Its magnesium structure allows for its light weight, while its special self-lubricating collar guarantees constantly fluid and controlled movements without having to lubricate. The 050 ball head also features a completely innovative characteristic: portrait function offers the possibility of choosing to position the camera vertically at a perfect 90° angle or tilt the angle up to 105-110° when shooting from uneven ground.” -Manfrotto

Amateur Products

The new amateur products include the 290 Series of products, which supplements the popular 190 Series that also remains in the line-up as a more advanced-amateur product category.  (See past reviews on the 190XDB and 190XB tripods)  Manfrotto says that the 290 Series will be more affordable due to the use of other materials, but will maintain the same quality standards found the in popular 190 Series.

Casual Products

The products for “social recorders” (as Manfrotto puts it) are probably best characterized as consumer- or casual-grade photographer products.  The product series include the 390 Series, along with the Compact and Pocket Series.

The 390 Series look to be equivalent to the basic tripods you find in department stores in terms of features; however, the quality from Manfrotto should put them several steps above when it comes to actual functionality.

The Compact and Pocket Series include several small tripods or supports for point and shoot or compact-DSLR cameras.

Video Products

Manfrotto has a very nice and affordable video head in the 501HDV, which works great with the current crop of DSLR cameras.  Manfrotto introduced the 504HD back in April and continues to tout its superiority as a video support product.

What is interesting though, is the new hybrid photo-video heads, which are geared toward the droves of photographers who are getting into video. The new photo-video heads have convertible modes for photo and video, and are supposed to function more akin to a traditional ball head in photo mode and a fluid pan/tilt head in video mode.

For many photographers who shoot both video and photo, I can see how something like the 501HDV would be overkill, so I am anxious to see how well these new hybrid photo-video heads work in the field.

Along with the hybrid heads, Manfrotto is also jumping into the LED video lights for on-camera support.  At launch, it appears Manfrotto has 5 models to choose from that are basically just changes in size:

  3. MIDI
  4. MINI

There are a number of LED light manufacturers offering similar products already, with LitePanels at the top for camera-top lights in the prosumer price range.  So, it will be interesting to see if Manfrotto brings anything unique to the table in this category.

Other Stuff

Manfrotto announced a number of new bags and apparel items for packing everything to a lot or a little gear. The new bag and apparel lines will apparently be available in Spring 2011, so there’s very little to share concerning these products right now.

The new bags include:

  • Pro Backpack
  • Pro Messenger
  • Pro Rolling Bag
  • Box
  • Case

As for the apparel line, the products are made in both men and women sizes, and include the following:

  • Pro Field Jacket
  • Pro Wind Jacket
  • Pro Photo Vest
  • Pro Soft Shell Jacket

So, as you can see, lots of new stuff from Manfrotto this week.  Some of the biggest items that I’m interested in are the new hybrid photo-video heads, along with the LED lights in comparison to what LitePanels is already doing.

As I see some of this stuff become available, I’ll try to pass it along. So, stay tuned.