Manfrotto 322RC2 heavy duty grip ball head review
Ease of use
Value for money
Robust metal build quality, very steady with no noticeable creep, a little heavy for some, very easy and fast to recompose shots. Should last many years. For those with small to average sized hands, fine control could be a challenge. Not good for panos.
In my book, the less fiddling with kit I do while on location shooting images, the better. I have owned and tried a few different tripod heads now which all did the job well but were fiddly and a little time consuming when it came to composing the shot, especially on those occasions when light and the scene is changing by the second and a fast recompose is needed, enter the Manfrotto 322RC2.
I had watched videos on YouTube demonstrating how easy the Manfrotto 322RC2 head is to use but I could not justify the £120+ ($160 +) cost of buying the head new. While browsing through photography kit on mpb.com I happened to notice a used Manfrotto 322RC2 head in excellent condition for £40 ($53), I had a think, scratched my head for a while, went and made another coffee, came back and decided to buy the head. Six months later, boy am I glad I did!
As right as this head is for me, it may not be for some, this review is honest and I do not get paid a penny for doing it, the head was bought by me and not given for review purposes, that out of the way, lets go over some of the points I have star rated in this review.
The Manfrotto 322RC2 is almost all metal construction and comes with a hand trigger to release the ball head locking mechanism, the trigger section comes with a friction wheel which makes the grip of the ball head more or less powerful depending on your hand strength and what combination of camera and lens you are using at the time. As with all Manfrotto heads the product uses a quick release plate (200PL-14) with a quarter inch (1/4) screw and a secondary small locking pin which prevents accidental release of the camera. The head also comes with a small round bubble spirit level. By using the supplied Allen key the head can be set to right or lefthand use with ease.
Ease of Use
The number one reason for choosing a pistol grip ball head over a normal ball head is ease of use, and believe me, tripod heads do not get easier to use than this one! Skip to 5 minutes 59 seconds (5:59) in the video below to see a similar model Manfrotto pistol grip in action and check out how easy this grip is to use. Although in my case missing due to buying the grip second hand, the unit comes with a small Allen key which is used to easily change the grip from right and to left-hand use. Mine was already set to right handed so I was good to go and the key was not needed. As with all Manfrotto heads the unit comes with a quick release plate and locking mechanism that again just works and should be familiar to most.
Although this grip is very easy for me to use, that is not to say it will be for all. Due to the units robust metal construction, the head is not light and will add a fair amount of weight to your tripod, which should be considered when it comes to carrying the kit around for any length of time in all terrains. Also, if you have small hands and a dainty grip, this particular head may not be for you but Manfrotto do sell other, not so heavy duty version of this head which should suit all, for example, Manfrotto Light Duty Grip Ball Head Compact and Portable (324RC2) I should point out that the friction control will make the trigger easier to squeeze but at the same time release the head clamping pressure.
Again the Manfrotto 322RC2 head scores highly for build quaily, you have heard the phrase bulletproof before I am sure, well, due to it’s all magnesium (metal) construction this grip is as close to bulletproof as photography kit gets, true Italian build quality that (time will tell) should last for years and years.
Pros & Cons
- Robust metal construction
- Very easy to reframe a shot
- Smooth and fluent action
- Sturdy with up to 5kg plus of camera and lens
- Right or left handed use
- Friction wheel
- Locking plate & spirit level
- The head is not light due to mostly magnesium construction
- Quite expensive when purchased new
- Not for those with dainty hands and grip
- Not good for doing panoramic images
- Plate locking mechanism is a little small & fiddly
Manfrotto 322RC2 Summary
If you are a Lady or Gentleman with a good grip and medium to large hands who doesn’t mind or welcomes a heavier tripod head, then the Manfrotto 322RC2 pistol grip head is definitely for you. I have used a variety of lenses up to 300mm on this head and never noticed any creep at all, the head is solid especially with the friction increased. Always look for a good condition second-hand head to save money, this head is built so well, there should be very little wrong with it making second hand a safe buy. If you do a lot of panoramic images this head is not for you unless you are good at lining up your shots. With a 5kg rating this head will clamp and hold most DSLR lens combinations. Would I buy this head again, hell yes! Can I see myself switching to another head any time soon, no way!
Comments, questions and things I have missed in this review which may help others always welcome and answered. Thank you…