Reviewed by: Mario Georgiou, March 2008
Published by: Manfrotto Group a division of Vitec Group PLc
Requires: An SLR or digital SLR camera
MSRP: US$299.95, CAN$399.99, UK£220, 240.00€
Despite the claims of some photography pundits, you certainly do need a stable shooting platform for your camera in many situations. OIS, IS and VR can't help you when shutter speeds drop to seconds.
A few years ago I returned to the UK from Canada. Unfortunately, I left a vital piece of photographic equipment in Canada. For years I had used a Manfrotto 074 tripod with the Manfrotto 029 Deluxe Three-Way Pan Head. I gave this fave piece of kit away to an old friend for reasons which escape me at the moment. It was probably an emotional departure exchange (or, ahem, maybe I owed him some money). To my regret when it came to replacing it, I cheaped out and settled for a consumer-grade head which was poorly constructed in comparison to the old model 029. Sometime in September of 2007 I decided to reinvest in a new tripod and head system. Having spent some time researching the various options I decided to opt for the 468MGRC0 Hydrostatic Ball Head from Manfrotto, which incorporates their revolutionary and easy to use hydraulic ball locking system designed for the 468MG. The Manfrotto 468MGRC0 was picked up for me at Henry's in Toronto, who are exceptionally helpful. This head is packaged with the excellent Manfrotto RC0 Hexagonal Quick Release Plate system. The hex plate makes it ideal for a quick release, supports heavy loads, and provides secure locking and flexible positioning.
I also opted for the Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod which I will cover in another review. All I can say now is that it is a nice combination. Technically the 468MGRC0 borrows the popular features found on Manfrotto's standard range of ball heads such as independent pan and tilt locks with a 360° pan movement and +90°/-90° tilt movement. To keep weight low, the head is made of magnesium. To provide smooth adjustment movements the 2" aluminum ball is Teflon coated. For additional control, a calibrated adjustable tension knob allows you to preset the ball friction to suit your camera weight so that you can remove your hands from the camera without risking any unwanted movement.
The Manfrotto 468MGRC0 is really easy to handle and I only needed a few days of field use to adjust to its superb controls. The inclusion of integrated liquid levels on the head makes it really easy to set up for both studio and field work. The control knob is a good size, has a soft feel and the tension can be adjusted to your own preference for locking the camera. The engraved panoramic base is graduated for easy rotation of your camera for generating panoramics. I wouldn't use the head in the same way as I did the 029 Deluxe Three-Way Pan Head because the 468MGRC0 does not quite have the refined control of my old 029 head or the new Manfrotto 3D Pro Head 229, both of which are ideal for shooting virtual tours and 360 degree panoramics.
The Manfrotto 468MGRC0 is an excellent piece of kit which is easy to use and faultless in both design and operation. The control surfaces and knobs are comfortable in any environment and require only the most subtle of touches even in cold and wet weather or even whilst wearing gloves or mitts.
(Ed. Note: During a two week photography shoot in southern England during October 2007, Mario and I put the Manfrotto 468MGRC0 through muck, dust, high winds, rain, hail, torrential downpours and a lot of bumps, bangs and grinds. The tripod and this excellent head functioned perfectly.)
Cons: Not recommended for use in work where fine adjustment accuracy is essential such as controlled panoramics.
Pros: The Manfrotto 468MGRC0 with its quick release capabilities is the ideal complement for the landscape and field photographer. Large controls. Easy to use. Levels are integrated and well placed for balancing your landscapes and other photos. As of this writing I've been using it for about six months and have yet to experience any urge remove it from my tripod. Anyone working with a professional or semi-professional SLR or digital SLR camera and who wants a high quality, easy to use head for their photography, needs this excellent piece of kit. Highly recommended.