Manfrotto 785B Modo tripod
Review Date :
It's cheap as chips but is this tiny joystick head tripod a good investment?
|Pros:||Small, light, joystick head|
|Cons:||Plastic head doesn't lock tightly, flimsy plastic leg locks, only suitable for lightweight gear|
Manfrotto is a name synonymous with professional quality tripods, with all that this implies - ie, big, heavy and, for the more casual user, a bit expensive. The Modo range is about as far from this description as its possible to get, and the 785B is a case in point. Weighing only 980 grams and just 43.5cm high when folded away, its hardly taxing to carry, yet it extends to 150cm when fully opened up.
It comes with a joystick-controlled ball head, with a quick-release plate, that can be switched from stills to video mode at the turn of a dial. It's fast and easy to use - which is just as well as it can't be removed. The tripod's leg sections are lever locking, with a dividable centre column so the tripod can be used for low-angle work as low as 17.5cm from the ground if required. Rubber feet mean you're protected against slippage.
The Modo looks good, and for outdoor photographers there is even an optional bag available to keep it that way. For £50 it seems like the answer to a lot of people's needs.
But of course there has to be a downside and here it is. The Modo 785B is (surprise surprise) a bit flimsy. If you avoid extending the legs too far, and keep the centre column down, it does the job its built for pretty well. But at full extension, or outside on a windy day, I wouldn't recommend using overly long exposures, or pushing it beyond its comfort zone by using it with a mid-size DSLR or a long zoom lens.
Part of the problem is that, by giving it five leg sections to keep the folded size down, the lower legs are pretty thin, and the number of joints doesn't help stablity either. The head doesn't lock very tightly either, so add any substantial weight and it will soon start to droop. Hence the 1kg load limit.
Neither will the Modo withstand the rigours of frequent use - the plastic leg release mechanisms aren't the most robust and we managed to break one on our review sample.
Aimed at occasional users who don't want anything heavy or more expensive. Its fine for a consumer camcorder or a bridge camera, for example, as long as it isn't use at maximum extension. But the weak plastic head doesn't lock tightly enough to support anything heavier than an entry level DSLR, and the leg locks have broken on two samples we have tried. Demanding users should look elsewhere.