Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head? at DVinfo.net

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Old March 8th, 2017, 09:09 AM   #1
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Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

I have had a lot of Bogen and Manfrotto heads over the years and generally hate them. Still have several laying around but thinking of buying the 504HD fluid Head as my cheap, travel head. Just weighed my Sachtler head it weighs 12lbs which puts me over on weight limit for carrying it in my camera backpack and I cannot bring myself to check an expensive Sachtler head when multiple airlines have lost multiple bags and items out of bags for me over the years. The specs will work for my rig, just have a couple of questions?

1. Anyone shooting with about a 13lb rig on this head? I see the preset counter balance settings include 11.5lbs and 16.5lbs? I take it the 16.5lb setting might actually work for a 13lb set up?
2. Overall, can you get a decently smooth pan and tilt when shooting with say, the 70-200 2.8 IS II Canon at 200mm? I won't need to shoot anything longer focal length for this assignment but will spend a lot of time with this lens on my C100.

I bought the Manfrotto 500 last year with a lighter rig for some shoots in Africa and it was pretty so so, barely usable, so my hope is by stepping up a few levels, I will be able to at least get a few decent panning shots on long lens, that the head will hold up to two solid weeks of run and gun, being rained on, etc. I would really much rather bring my Sachtler but there is no way I can take the weight and size when my camera backpack will be over packed already. The 504 is half the weight, although not a lot smaller but I have no problem throwing a Manfrotto into my checked luggage so it is looking like it might do the trick for a cheapo travel head. I will be using it on my Miller Solo DV 75mm carbon sticks.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 04:43 PM   #2
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Manfrottos seem ok until you try to start/stop pans zoomed in.
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Old March 9th, 2017, 01:17 AM   #3
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Yeah, I know. I have about half a dozen of them laying around here, old 501, new 701, new 500AH. They are all junk but I need something cheap for flying and this time I need something that can hold a 13lb rig with counterbalance and fit into my 75mm bowl. Manfrottos are not good but Benros seem worse. I've been at this long enough where I know the tricks to get usable moves out of cheap heads. Not good moves, but usable moves.

Last edited by Dan Brockett; March 9th, 2017 at 02:16 AM.
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Old March 9th, 2017, 05:33 PM   #4
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Don't know how many people realize this is sitting in the vaults.


Review: Manfrotto 504HD/ 546GBK Video Support System
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Old March 9th, 2017, 08:17 PM   #5
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

The review reminded me of a few things:

1. I'm not sure what the internal bag of the case is used for but I'm always annoyed when the tripod legs get snagged on it when I'm in a rush packing and unpacking.

2. The dam tripod arm is too short and if you don't really tighten it, it has play in it.

3. Specific to mvh500 top load head often jams because the locking spring doesn't fully retract. I'm often caught struggling at crucial moments trying to get the plate to snap in.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 01:40 AM   #6
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

I think a "good lightweight fluid head" a bit of an oxymoron. Not only do I have, like Dan Brockett, various Manfrotto heads and bits lying around doing nothing, I also have heads by Gitzo and Libec (their "Allex" a shocker).

Latest addition to the "buyer's regret" list is a Benro S7. First one returned and distributor agreed it was faulty.
Replacement not much better, pan so so (sort of) but tilt another "all or nothing". Okay with my FZ2000, bloody useless with my GH4/Sigma 150-600 outfit.

Trouble seems to be that the manufacturers go on about maximum load, without also stating that this is when pan and tilt locked hard. Don't expect to pan and tilt with that lot aboard should be warned of.

Looks as if I'm stuck with my old DVS 6B on Gitzo legs which I can fit into a suitcase and use set up over a car seat (for videoing birds) or my equally old Vision 6 outfit which too much for a suitcase.

One slight ray of sunshine is my E-Image cheap and cheerful Chinese made head. Goes under a variety of names I think. Grease rather than fluid but not as awful as eg my 502AH.

Best of luck,

Ron
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Old March 10th, 2017, 02:10 AM   #7
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

I should have added that I use the Benro S7and the E-Image heads as flat based on a Gitzo levelling pod which makes for a portable outfit.


Ron
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Old March 10th, 2017, 10:18 AM   #8
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Hi Chris:

I read your review, wow, the 504HD looks like a really lousy piece of gear. I am still in a dilemma and it's all about weight and air travel. I would so much like to just bring my Sachtler head, it's really what I need but fear of losing it or having it stolen in transit are real. I can reduce my camera rig weight down a few pounds by NOT bringing the VCT 14 plate and just attaching the tripod plate to the Zacuto VCT Pro baseplate. So that gets my rig down closer to 11lbs but still the same issue. I wish I could go really light and minimalist but I think this client will want to shoot a lot of handheld all over the area we will be in so I am loath to not bring a setup that is easily shoulder mountable. That means adding the VCT Pro plate, Graticle, Axis Mini, etc. and all of that kit just weighs what it weighs, even on a small and lightweight rig like the C100. An alternative might be to ask the client if I can just shoot monopod more than shoulder mounted. It's a different way of shooting, but if I didn't have to bring all of the Zacuto Recoil rig, then I could just bring my crappy Manfrotto 500 head and smaller Bogen MdVE legs?

Are there any other $300.00 to $500.00 usable heads that can support 11lbs with decent counterbalance that are 75mm ball? Not even considering Benro, I think they are worse than Manfrotto.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 10:25 AM   #9
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald Jackson View Post
I think a "good lightweight fluid head" a bit of an oxymoron. Not only do I have, like Dan Brockett, various Manfrotto heads and bits lying around doing nothing, I also have heads by Gitzo and Libec (their "Allex" a shocker).

Latest addition to the "buyer's regret" list is a Benro S7. First one returned and distributor agreed it was faulty.
Replacement not much better, pan so so (sort of) but tilt another "all or nothing". Okay with my FZ2000, bloody useless with my GH4/Sigma 150-600 outfit.

Trouble seems to be that the manufacturers go on about maximum load, without also stating that this is when pan and tilt locked hard. Don't expect to pan and tilt with that lot aboard should be warned of.

Looks as if I'm stuck with my old DVS 6B on Gitzo legs which I can fit into a suitcase and use set up over a car seat (for videoing birds) or my equally old Vision 6 outfit which too much for a suitcase.

One slight ray of sunshine is my E-Image cheap and cheerful Chinese made head. Goes under a variety of names I think. Grease rather than fluid but not as awful as eg my 502AH.

Best of luck,

Ron
Hi Ron:

The E-Image is intriguing. Looking at this one, is this the one you have? The specs actually look decent and it's $50.00 more. I will only use it for travel, so you think this is operationally superior to the Manfrotto 504HD? Seems like it. I may try this one. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...ipod_head.html
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Old March 10th, 2017, 11:03 AM   #10
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

My E-Image "type" is quite a bit smaller and a lot cheaper than this which looks quite good. I'd try and find a few more reviews if I wished to avoid adding to the tripod head pile.

Ron
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Old March 10th, 2017, 01:00 PM   #11
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

The real challenge is, if you go on Amazon and B&H, etc. and read the "reviews" about any cheap heads, about 90% of the time it's an amateur, putting their GH4 or a DSLR on it and remarking how it's the greatest thing ever but that they "have never owned or used another head so I don't have anything to compare it to". It's difficult to find a pro, using a 10-13lb rig on a $400.00 head. By virtue that it is a cheap head, most working pros avoid these like the plague and buy a good head like a Sachtler or O'Connor. It's too bad that most of the quality manufacturers have not filled the mid range niche with lightweight yet high quality, under $1k heads for travel. If Sachtler sold the ACE L head separately (they don't) for around $600.00 to $800.00, I think it would probably fill this niche nicely.

If I didn't already own the Miller Solo DV carbon legs, I would probably just spend the $1,300.00 and buy this https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ..._Ace_L_TT.html but my Miller legs are better, more heavy duty and cost me about $1,000.00 back in the day. I'll probably end up trying the Ikan E-Image 406. I can afford it and it doesn't seem as horrible as the 504 HD Fluid for $50.00 more.
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Old March 11th, 2017, 02:27 AM   #12
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Agree re review on the like of the B&H website. "Butter smooth" re the 502. I'm strictly amateur, GH4 outfits and previously XLH1 and EX3 hence my owning a couple of decent albeit heavy pods.
I take it seriously though.

Tried a Ace L outfit, lent to me by Sachtler. No good, legs or head. Ended up with the latter on my old Gitzo legs but still poor panning partic. with a 500mm lens on my GH3.

Ron
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Old March 11th, 2017, 09:12 AM   #13
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Eureka! I found the solution. It's the Miller Air fluid head. It is part of the Miller Air Carbon Fluid head package that teams it with the Miller Solo DV carbon legs. Problem is, I already own the Miller Solo DV carbon legs and I don't need two sets of them. B&H says they can order the head alone from Miller for me for $643.00. Millers, generally are good stuff, not as good as Sachtler but Sachtler doesn't have a head in this price range, only the entire ACE package line, which personally I don't even feel should have the Sachtler name on them, they are subpar in comparison to the "real" Sachtler stuff.

B&H says they take 7-14 business days to obtain just the head from the Miller distributor in New Jersey, it's non-cancelable and non-returnable so I asked them to see if they could get me one by the end of the month for my shoot in South America. If they can, I am going for it. I would much rather pay $643.00 for something good and usable (maxes out at 11lbs capacity) than a piece of junk 504 for $349.00

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...luid_head.html

The Gear Dads were impressed with it Miller Tripod - Gear Dads and I read a few other reviews on-line. Not perfect, still a few small issues but leagues better than anything else out there for under $700.00. Good combination of weight capacity, counterbalance and it only weighs 3.1 lbs! Sounds like I found my new travel tripod head, finally.
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Old March 11th, 2017, 12:27 PM   #14
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Hey Dan …. thinking out of the box here. (Uh-oh!) Maybe the solution is not a lighter weight head but a pair of cargo pants. With big pockets. Take everything out of the camera bag that you can: Batteries, the arm for the head, quick-release plate, even the micro SD cards, and stuff them in the pant pockets.

Maybe once past the check-in scales the bag could be reloaded with delicate items.

Might not look executive style but, hey, if it “computes” (gets below their weight limit), what the heck?
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Old March 12th, 2017, 03:15 AM   #15
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Re: Who owns a Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Head?

Manfrotto 504HD as well as the MV500AH are strictly for lock down interviews. When you need multiple cameras and one of them is locked down, then these heads are fine. C300 with smaller lens without rigs is fine but with a 70-200 it becomes an issue. That is why I am also looking for other tripod heads as I can't drag my OConnor everywhere.

Have a look at this: SIRUI BCH-10 Broadcast Video Head - Sirui USA

I haven't tried as it is not available in my market yet, but am happy with their other products.
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