Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bogen/Manfrotto 322RC2 - First Impressions

As mentioned in a previous blog entry, my Bogen/Manfrotto 3265 tripod head failed on me a few weeks ago. I will not blame Bogen/Manfrotto--when I bought the tripod/head combination 4 cameras ago I never envisioned I'd ever have as heavy of a setup as I have today. I busted the max weight on it by about a half pound as it turns out, and while it survived a few months it finally went kaput on me. Awesome head, but not for the rig I'm running with these days.

After somewhat of a search and with a desire to keep the same quick release system that I have on my monopod, I went with the 322RC2. The thought process was I love the trigger system that the 3265 had and the 322RC2 seemed to meet the need the best.

The head brand new runs about $110, but through Texas Photo Forum's Buy & Sell section (w/the assist of one of my regular readers to this forum--Thank You), I was able to find somebody who was trying to part with his at $80. For $80 I was willing to take a chance.

My first impressions are generally good, though the head is not everything that I had hoped it would be. The head is solid. Darn solid. The Quick Release plates work exactly as they should, snapping in solidly and without hesitation, yet coming out with a reasonable amount of force. When the trigger is pressed, the head loosens up without hesitation. When you release the trigger, it locks up tight and stays in place.

However, the motion on this head is significantly different from the motion I'm used to with my old 3265. I do not have nearly the vertical travel with the 322RC2, and I really have to tweak the legs on the tripod to make sure I have the mobility that I desire. For the ground birds, this is not an issue--I have plenty of downward motion. But for the birds in the trees it does not work nearly as well.

I like the purchase and I'm happy with it. It will be the head that moves when I go carbon fiber in my next set of tripod legs. I'm sure I'll get used to it with time--I used that 3265 for an awful long time.

Northern Cardinal (Female), San Angelo State Park, ©2009 Jim Miller

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