Vinten ProTouch/Manfroto Equivalents at

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Old July 5th, 2004, 09:53 AM   #1
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Vinten ProTouch/Manfroto Equivalents

Searching this board in recent weeks, I couldn't find any useful references to the Vinten Pro-Touch range. Since I bought one of them last week, I thought I'd post my findings.

The ProTouch range comprises three Manfroto pan-heads fitted to either a Manfroto or a Vinten tripod, with Vinten badges:
ProTouch 5 (350 incl VAT): 501 head + MF 525 legs;
ProTouch 6 (500 incl VAT): 503 head + Vinten posi-lock legs;
ProTouch 10 ( ??): 505(?) head + Vinten posi-lock legs;
All are sold with floor spreader, one pan-handle, 75mm ball-leveller and a padded black case. Although Vinten list the parts separately, the dealers I contancted were only selling complete kits.

Prices for the kits seem to be pretty consistant across UK dealers - I found less than 5 variation in the ProTouch 5. Compared with Manfroto-branded parts, the ProTouch kits appear to be slightly cheaper, but a Manfroto dealer should be able to offer a wider range of legs, spreaders, etc. so you might end up paying less...

I chose the ProTouch 5 for use with my Canon XM1. The MF525 legs weigh slightly less than the Vinten ones, though they are slightly shorter. Likewise, the 501 head is a little lighter, and I preferred the feel of the tilt - the 503 has a spring, which I didn't really like with my relatively light camera. All in all, I felt there was no advantage (for me) for the extra 150. (I also tried a Vinten Vision 3, which was brilliant, but decided I just couldn't afford it, sadly. I think the salesman said it was 1000 just for the head!)

The Pro Touch 5 head performs just like other 501s reported elsewhere on this board - i.e. some "stiction" when panning if it has been left to stand for a few minutes. This has caught me out about two times out of three so far, but I think I'm learning! Can more experienced users tell me whether this goes away as the head is "run in", or will it always do it?

The attachment for the pan handles appears to be common between 501, 503 and Vision 3 (and possibly more heads), but I cannot just transfer the extra handle from my old MF head (model 136?). I'll need a different attachment widgit. I was also surprised to find that although the 501, 503 and Vision 3 heads look very similar from a distance, the quick-release plate is slightly different for each. This made my comparitive tests at the dealer more long-winded than they need have been, but is probably not a problem to most users in every-day life. However, it means that you can't use a 20 501-plate in place of the 70 V3 plate!

So who owns whom? My dealer said Vinten owns Manfroto, but that doesn't sound quite right to me...
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Old July 5th, 2004, 10:16 PM   #2
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The Vitec Group ( owns Vinten. They also own Bogen, Manfrotto, Sachtler, OConnor, Gitzo, Anton/Bauer, Clear-Com and a lot of other recognizable name companies. Take a look at their Annual Report to see all of them.

I was told by a Vinten agent that the ProTouch series are actually re-machined Manfrotto designs with higher quality metal and other components. He said they are not simply rebadged Manfrotto heads. I would expect their performance to be the same as the 501 and 503 though since the design has not changed.
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Old July 6th, 2004, 10:18 AM   #3
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Stiction is a permanent affliction.
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Old July 26th, 2004, 08:53 AM   #4
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The ProTouch 5 head carries a Manfroto serial number. There is no visible difference from the MF-badged version, apart from the badges: a friend of mine has just got one and we stood them side-by-side on Saturday. Until I see more evidence, I suspect that "re-machined" is marketing-speak and doesn't equate to any engineering differences.
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