NAB Live: Manfrotto’s Got It In The Bag

In one of those bits of coincidence that comes with attending trade shows, I’ve just had an extended conversation about Manfrotto and their product development cycle from Marco Vidali, the company’s head of Manfrotto’s U.S. distribution. Striking up a conversion as I uploaded these shots of the company’s bags as we sat next to one another on a flight home from NAB 2017, we talked about the company and their optimistic look for the future of the photography and videography market, the role of the DSLR and mirrorless market in driving innovations in the video space, and other Manfrotto products.

We’ve covered the company’s new and impressive Nitrotech tripod, which uses a nitrogen-filled piston to create continuous counterbalance, and which can hold up to 18 pounds of camera gear, but it’s more interesting seeing the tripod in person. Vidali told me that the tripod took six years of R&D, and I’m really looking forward to reviewing it in both a studio and in a field test.

I’ve been traveling with the BeFree Live tripod, which we covered in a video review. The tripod has a compact and unique twist-lock integrated tripod head and folds incredibly compactly. I take the BeFree Live anywhere I’m planning to shoot, because of the easy-to-lock tripod head. It tightens down quickly and can be easily loosened enough to pivot a rig, while a locking pin limits the horizontal movement for smooth pans.

We will be doing a hands-on look at the Manfrotto BeFree monopod soon as well.

We spent a lot of time talking about camera bags. Manfrotto, who years ago absorbed the legendary bag makers Kata, has integrated a lot of the design sensibility of those products into their bag designs.

The new Prolight 3-in-1 bag can be set up to be run as a backpack, a cross-strap backpack setup for more stability and as a sling-style bag with top-facing entry points. The largest is the 35L-capacity 3N1-36 (3-N-1, get it?) and is convertible on the inside so that it can either carry photo/video gear or a DJI Phantom-sized drone. Flexible internal dividers allow the bag to be switched between uses without having to install a special drone divider. There is also a 26L version of the bag.

Straps and back support are both well built and designed to help shooters reduce back strain when carrying heavy loads.

NAB 2017

The company’s new ProLight camcorder cases are traditional-style top-handle camcorder bags, and thanks to the modularity of many of today’s cameras, users with modular systems can use a small bag, fitting the handle and other attachments into pouches, or can choose a larger bag to carry a camera with handle and EVF attached.

The prototype Bumblebee bag will ship in June, and is designed to be lighter and comfortable. Lightweight-yet-durable accessories hold the straps, and there is a breathable back support panel. The curvy (bumblebee-looking) front section uses curved zipper tracks to make it easy to access larger gear toward the bottom of the pack.

New VR rigs are available as well, which we’ll cover in a longer in-depth review.

You can visit Manfrotto at