Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs? at DVinfo.net

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Old April 9th, 2012, 09:02 AM   #1
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Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

Hi, i recently got a 504HD head with the 546B sticks. The whole kit is great overall except for one little piece: the mid level spreader.

I had a cheaper tripode before that had a fixed spreader, but it allowed me to open the legs in a second, super easy with almost no effort.

With the Manfrotto one i always struggle for a minute because the spreader always goes in whatever direction it wants and overall feels a bit flimsy, i'm always afraid to break it if i try to open the tripod too fast.

Anyone know if Manfrotto or any other company sells a compatible spreader that it's easier to work with? a Mid Level one preferably.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 04:12 PM   #2
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Re: Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

Hi, Iker............

I have to admit, a wry smile crossed my face when I read your post.

If you go to the top of any page here on DVinfo, and click on the button marked ARTICLES, then do a bit of dumpster diving, you'll find my review of the Manfrotto 504HD and 546B sticks from last year.

One of the (numerous) items to get a tongue lashing was that very spreader.

For reasons unknown, possibly an unexpected rush of blood to the brain, the designers of those sticks decided to put the attachment points for the spreader on the bottom of the second stage, instead of the more usual bottom of the first/ top stage.

The upshot of that rather bizarre decision was that, in order to keep the leg angles anything like decent, they had to make the spreader arms HUGE!

That in turn meant that the inner arm extensions were also gigantic.

Compound the felony by putting concentric twist arm extension locks to release and lock said extensions, and you have the camera support equivalent of "the perfect storm".

It is, indeed, a complete pig of a set up, which is a real shame as the sticks themselves are the best twin tube Manfrotto's I've ever tried and not far behind the Vinten PoziLock's in rigidity.

As noted in my review, from memory, there are three things you can do:

1. Don't buy them. Too late, you're the proud owner.

2. Never, ever, and I mean NEVER extend those extension arms, the rig will eat you alive!

3. Throw away the mid level spreader and fit a ground level spreader.

There isn't, to the best of my knowledge, any other manufactured mid level spreader compatible with the 546B's, due to that "bottom of second stage" fixing.

You MAY be able to cobble something up using chain if you're handy, but then you're going to have a shed load of chain to deal with, which may actually be worse than you have already.

Sorry I can't be much more help.


CS
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Old April 9th, 2012, 04:34 PM   #3
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Re: Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

thanks for the comments. Yeah i've kept the spreader locked into the shortest position most of the time.

Have you tried the ground version? do you know if it behaves any better?
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Old April 9th, 2012, 05:06 PM   #4
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Re: Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

I did have that rig on a ground spreader for the rigidity tests, but have to admit, in the more than a decade I've had that GLS, I've only ever used it in anger maybe twice.

Too clumsy for me and pretty useless on uneven terrain.

I've just been going over my photos of the rig from my review to refresh my memory, and think I may have a possible solution or two for you.

The inner extension arms of the spreader are quite free to rotate in the outer tube by anything up to 30 plus degrees in either direction.

So twisted, they throw the spreader off completely and it will try to perform all sorts of contortions when you close it.

Set up the tripod so the spreader is as flat as it will go.

Loosen off the concentric extension locks, one arm at a time, and ensure the inner tube of each is rotated back to a postion whereby the spreader attach pin through the leg attach point is completely horizontal.

Re-lock all the locks.

Try closing the spreader and tripod. Open it back up again and re - check each of those attach pins, are they still horizontal?

If not, readjust.

If that is repeatable 3 or 4 times in a row, that's about as good as that spreaders operation is going to get.

Make sure those locks are done up real tight so the tubes can't wander.

Give it a whirl and let me know how you get on, suggestion two is a bit sort of "out there".


CS
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Old April 9th, 2012, 05:24 PM   #5
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Re: Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

will try it tonight, have that "out there" suggestion ready just in case hehe
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Old April 9th, 2012, 05:42 PM   #6
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Re: Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

Good luck.

Hope it solves, or at least diminishes, the problem.


CS
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Old April 9th, 2012, 07:26 PM   #7
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Re: Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

tried your suggestion but it didn't change much, it's still a pain to open and close.

Btw I have to add than once set the tripod feels super solid, really like it. It's just the minute that it takes to fight the spreader that i hate.
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Old April 9th, 2012, 09:56 PM   #8
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Re: Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

OK, well, I'll throw this into the pot, but as I said, it's a bit "out there".

Actually, before I do, just how handy are you?

If you're all thumbs, this is never going to fly.


CS
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Old April 27th, 2013, 05:46 AM   #9
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Re: Any alternatives to the spreader in the Manfrotto 546b legs?

Ha

Great Thread. I ordered the 564 with ground spreader and the one with mid spreader came. I was gutted as it looked really flimsy but I had to go on a shoot in Tenerife so had no chance to change the tripod. I kept the mid spreader locked - but be careful - I opened her up one morning and one of the connectors had sheared - useless. Manfrotto guarantee? - forget it. They say 'Misuse' (so far) to the shop I bought it from.

So I'm off to buy the ground spreader, no choice it looks like. Great Tripod though.
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