Manfrotto 560B and 561B Fluid Video Monopods Review

Manfrotto 561BHDV

This is going to be a pretty short and sweet review; however, I wanted to get my thoughts out there for those of you interested in run & gun video stabilization setups.  When we went to CES earlier this month, we took the Manfrotto 561B and 560B video monopods with us for capturing video from the show floor.

In short, they rock. 

If you aren’t familiar with these video monopods, it’s a slick little setup that has the fluid pan cartridge at the base of the monopod, instead of in the head.  This setup allows for better control when panning because you aren’t torquing the top of the unit, which can be more challenging to keep the monopod steady.  With the fluid pan cartridge at the bottom of the unit, the pan is more natural and stable.

Between the two units, the larger 561B is the better unit for getting the smoothest pans and tilts.  The head is actually a modified version of the fluid 701HDV head that allows tilting only (again, the pan is at the base).  The head on the 561B also offers a pan-arm (I suppose it’s a tilt-arm in this case), which can be attached to either side.

The 560B is a more compact unit with no fluid head – tilting is adjusted based on friction only.  It’s lighter and more compact for the most extreme guerrilla situation.  I found the pan base to be as smooth and effective as the 561B though.

For me, the biggest advantage of the fluid head on the 561B was the ease with which you can execute faux-dolly moves by tilting the base ball unit forward and back while holding the head level on your subject.  It takes some practice; however, the technique is certainly easier on the 561B thanks to the modified 701HDV fluid head.

One quick tip for keeping things smooth is to make sure that you place your foot on one of the three little pop-out “legs” at the base.  Keeping pressure here ensures that the legs don’t lift up off the ground when rotating and cause the monopod to lift off the ground and snap down during a pan or faux-dolly move.  We had this happen a few times and thought that the fluid cartridge was defective until we discovered that it was user error.

Again, these monopods are great tools for run and gun or light/fast ENG setups.  The 560B unit carries a max weight of 4.4 lbs, while the larger 561B unit with fluid head handles up to 8.8 lbs.  Either should work fine for most HDSLR or lighter camcorder setups.  I recommend going with the 561B and fluid head if you don’t mind spending the extra $100 or so.

You can see some of the samples we shot at CES on Photography Bay’s YouTube channel.  Note that Nick even used to the monopod for a neat little jib move (around the 00:10-00:16 mark) on the Steadicam Merlin 2 video.

The Manfrotto 561B and 560B fluid video monopods are available from Photography Bay’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following links:

Manfrotto 561B Video Monopod w/ Fluid Head

Manfrotto 560B Video Monopod

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