Manfrotto, the legendary Italian maker of tripods and accessories, has grown over the years to become a real powerhouse of product development for photo and video.
Their booth at NAB 2018, found in the Vitec group’s space (Vitec is the larger company that Manfrotto is now part of) is full of updates to popular products.
The BeFree Live is my favorite tripod for vlogging work, featuring a quick-locking collar that makes setting a camera up a snap. I’ve taken the BeFree tripod on shoots around the world, so I’m particularly happy to see the updates in this year’s models.
The BeFree Live is the company’s version of the BeFree tripod with the quick-adjusting head, but it’s also available as a BeFree, a model that doesn’t have the quick-adjust head but has the ability to mount any of the company’s (or anyone else’s) tripod heads.
The BeFree models now come in carbon fiber (hooray lightness!) and feature a port to mount a magic arm. That’s great since so much of the work I do with the BeFree involves a single person crew (me), so having the ability to mount a monitor, light or audio boom on the side of the tripod is a great update.
The carbon-fiber model will be available by the end of the month and the aluminum is already available.
There’s also a BeFree Advanced tripod, made specifically for and in cooperation with Sony, which features a Sony-colored orange mount plate that exactly fits the bottom of the Alpha mirrorless cameras.
The company’s carbon-fiber portable video tripod legs also get an update, with improved mid-level and floor spreader models that are light and can hold the company’s N8 or N12 Nitrotec tripod heads. The video legs are around six pounds, making them some of the lightest legs of their size.
The company also has updates to the PIXI tripod, which now has a leg design that’s easier to hold. The small tripod is still a great choice for a light mirrorless camera or iPhone.
The popular Manfrotto TwistGrip phone holder pairs up now with a new group of collections for the video creative that’s using a phone and accessories for content creation. Combine the TwistGrip with the company’s accessory bar and handle, and it’s easy to connect a phone, light and microphone into a small, compact field-recording package. We saw the combination with the company’s Lumimuse 8 LED setup, which can be controlled via Bluetooth for remote lighting changes.
The company’s line of Joby Gorillapods is growing—specifically arms. The new Gorillapod 5K Kit now can come with an upgrade that provides two upward-facing arms, plus the camera mount, to allow you to mount lighting or sound accessories to the top of the flexible, bendable tripod.
As a self-confessed bag-addict, I was interested to see the new ProLight cinema bags, one of which is designed to expand if a camera operator wants to pack up and move locations without removing the handle from the top of the camera and the second designed to hold a DJI Ronin rig and a camera. Clever external straps allow for the frame to tie down to the outside of the bag for quick location moves.
You can find more information at manfrotto.us.