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Manfrotto MKC3-H01 travel tripod - Performance and Verdict

Audley Jarvis

By Audley Jarvis

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Manfrotto MKC3-H01 tripod

Summary

Our Score:

8

The first thing that strikes you about the MKC3-H01 is just how light it is. This is very much a carry-all-day kind of tripod, and as such would prove ideal for hikers and active landscape photographers looking to spend all day in the hills or on the move without getting weighed down with kit.

Of course, the crucial question with any tripod that’s been purposely designed to be light and easy to carry is just how sturdy it is, and whether or not you trust it to support your camera. Field testing our review sample with a Nikon D90 and Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 lens (combined total weight: 1.35kg) brought us close to the tripod’s claimed maximum load capacity of 1.5kg and yet we still felt, with some reservations that we’ll expand upon in a moment, that our camera was safe and secure.

We’re also pleased to report that the thumbwheel-operated locking mechanism works very well too, with no incidence of creep even with our relatively front-heavy zoom attached. Thanks to the chunky hand grip, maneuvering the ball-head proves pretty easy too. Our only minor concern regarding durability is with the thin (approx. 0.7cm) metal column that protrudes from the base of the ball-head connecting it to the top of the centre column. If anything on the tripod looks like it could break through mishap then this particular part looks to be the most likely contender.

As with many tripods, the MKC3-H01 is far more stable when the centre column is down. Extending it up to its maximum reach makes your camera feel precariously perched and also facilitates a small amount of wobble when pressing the shutter button (if possible, it’s always good practice to use a remote or even the camera’s self-timer when using a tripod). We also found that the MKC3-H01 felt substantially sturdier when the thinnest legs at the bottom of each leg are not extended. Of course this does cut approximately 29cm off the total height of the tripod, but the trade-off is a much more stable-feeling platform.

In use, we found the four leg-locks easy enough to operate, being neither too stiff no too loose. With a bit of practice we found we were able to fully extend all of the legs in less than15 seconds, with the time taken to fully fold it all back down about the same. One thing that may bug some users is that the centre column cannot be removed, and the legs only have the one position, meaning it’s impossible to get the quick release platform lower than about 44cm. If you’re fond of shooting from ground level this may not be the ideal tripod for you.

Also, given its light overall weight, we would ideally like to see a hook placed on the bottom of the centre column so that the tripod can be weighted down in windy conditions with bag or suchlike. As things stand, the MKC3-H01 isn’t really designed to take on a windy day. We’d be reluctant to use it in such conditions anyhow. Of course this is really just common sense, rather than any inherent fault with the tripod itself though.

Verdict
Lightweight, extremely portable and yet relatively robust, the MKC3-H01 is undoubtedly a quality bit of kit. Built to support up to 1.5kg, it’ll easily cope with anything from an advanced compact to a compact system camera to a mid-weight DSLR and lens. If you’re looking for a tripod that won’t weigh you down for use in calm conditions then the MKC3-H01 ticks all the right boxes.

Overall Score

8

PoisonJam

January 27, 2012, 1:48 am

A Manfrotto with a ball-head for £50? Wow. This is going on my birthday wish list!

BrendanS

February 24, 2012, 4:52 pm

Dixons Travel had this at the airport for €55. Impulse purchase, confirmed after checking out this review. Thanks. It got great use on holiday. I like the clips, but never extended the last (most skinny) length or the centre pillar (for improve stability). I was shooting with a micro four-thirds and it's perfect for that. The handgun lever for the ballhead is intuitive, the rubber tensioner is well positioned and effective. The only gripe for me is that the photo/video switch has limited use, so there is no way to ensure smooth panning without a steady hand. There is always some risk of vertical shifting. That said, for still shots, the ball is so easy to manipulate, especially when switch is set to photo. I have no regrets about the purchase.

Ovidiu Stefan

December 26, 2012, 10:28 pm

I'm using this amazing tripod with my Nikon D5100 and 50-200 mm lens ( a total around 2.5 kg) and it's working great. For a perfect shot I just don't open the last legs.

The materials from which is made are high quality and resist very well.

I recommended it with no problem

young

February 2, 2013, 1:55 pm

Hi, I just bought this tripod but im not sure if it'll support my Nikon D7000 + 24-70mm lens. (~1.6kg). I was planning to return it to JB Hifi, until i saw this post. But just out of curiosity, D5100+ 50-200mm = 850g. So, was it really 2.5kg? was it with all your other equipment ie. flash etc?

Pete Johnston

February 6, 2013, 8:09 pm

Actually, both of the "bug some users" comments are incorrect. If you remove the little rubber protector on the base of the central column you will see two holes to allow attachment of said hook. Removing the protector also allows the central column to be completely removed, then inserted from the bottom. This allows the camera to be held at ground level, admittedly upside down but not really too much problem.

Bogdan Coticopol

May 10, 2013, 9:51 am

i used with with my D5100 & 55-200mm lens, it's pretty stable even with the all legs opened. i doubt the camera & lens have 2.5kg, tho.. :)

Simon

May 11, 2013, 7:16 am

I got this tripod last minute from Argos for £40 for my recent holiday to Crete as my current tripod was too big to fit in my suitcase. I've gotta say that I was really impressed.

For the price this tripod was surprisingly compact and lightweight, whilst being very stable and extremely intuitive.

I found it quick and easy to get into position and I was able to take some nice long exposures with my fairly compact D5100 18-55/55-300mm setup which weighs up to around 1200g with filters.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this tripod. It is one of the best compact travel models I've come across and for a measly £40 I really can't fault it and would have to give it 5 stars.

Jeffrey Byron

May 11, 2013, 4:25 pm

Thanks for the info, I was good with buying this to upgrade from my now ancient cheapo tripod, now I have even more good ticks on getting it.

Chris Milbourne

September 12, 2013, 1:32 am

Would this tripod be possible to change head to a fluid video head in the future making panning/tilting shots more cinematic or would i need a more "pro" tripod. Thanks

Jacopo Scarpa

July 23, 2014, 11:02 am

As already said by others, very light and solid, works fine with my OMD e-m5. Central column can be twisted upside down, so the minimum height is far lower than 49 cm (as stated in the review): once you've removed the rubber stop at the base you can use it for macros at ground level. 5 stars, I've not felt a significant difference with my carbon Benro in most cases.

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