Manfrotto 501HDV Video Head - Replaces 501
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- Silky smooth pan and tilt action.
- Counterbalance spring keeps equipment safe.
- Built in quick release system.
- Separate pan and tilt locks.
- Additional accessory pan handle can be attached.
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Top Customer Reviews
First, if you've never seen one in person, this head is larger than any of the cheap heads that you've seen on $69-150 tripods. It's also really solid. As a result, people who see this sitting on top of my ultra-cheap tripod legs ignore the legs, see the head, and assume that I know what I'm doing. (I don't, but I'm not going to disavow them of that assumption.) The only downside to this is that it could overwhelm less-serious legs due to it's size/weight. The legs I'm using are a knock-off of these: Manfrotto 190XDB 3 Section Aluminum Tripod Note: I do NOT recommend this as an ideal combination, but it IS workable/usable, presuming that you keep the legs set at the wider angle.
Second, the spring counterbalance works pretty well, but is designed for cameras that are at least as heavy as the DVX-100a. If your camera is lighter than 3.7 lbs, you may find that the spring balance (which is NOT adjustable, as far as I can tell) is too strong, and will always force the head back to horizontal. As it is, I can tilt down or up a good 30 degrees, with the lightest tilt resistance setting, and the camera is perfectly still and stable. (If you want more flexibility in this regard, the 503HDV offers a range of counterbalance adjustments, for another $160.)
The mounting plate (which adjusts fore/aft to balance the camera) works well, and the safety release keeps the camera from sliding out the front.Read more ›
Last thought: I made the mistake of selling my ball head and thought I could use this 501HDV for both photo and video. WRONG. If you shoot 100% landscape orientation then you can, but if you shoot vertical stills on a tripod (and of course you will), you CANNOT lock down this head well enough to do that.Read more ›
The head has a built-in spring to counter-balance the weight of the camcorder when tilting. I was concerned that it would be too strong and push the camcorder back up - adding a bit of drag (via the right hand knob) took care of that. It does take a bit of practice to fine the best drag settings for both tilt and pan. Practice a bit with the camera zoomed all the way out and you'll figure it out pretty quickly. The head is big and heavy, with may put some off. But big and heavy is a requirement for getting smooth moves. Any tripod that is good for this head won't be light either.
To sum it up - this is a great head for anyone who is serious about trying to make smooth moves with their lightweight/prosumer/consumer camcorders. If you have a heavier camcorder, you might want to look at the more expensive Manfrotto 503 head, with adjustable spring tension. But this head is very good and a very reasonable price for what you get. Mate it to a good set of legs.
Overall I would suggest this to anyone who wants a nice video head that's built tough and works well. If you're already looking at a tripod in the $200-$300 range, I would save a couple hundred more and go for this, you'll be happy you did.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I am using this head with 4 pound astronomical binoculars. It works perfectly for this purpose. I saw a YouTube review comparing to the 502 model and decided that the 500 was much... Read morePublished 2 months ago by MichiganGHM
There is a reason why products like this from Manfrotto are more expensive.... They are grade A quality and you can tell. Read morePublished 5 months ago by James Caleb Money
Works great. Very sturdy product. Panning is smooth and excellent as well. Will buy again for my monopods.Published 18 months ago by likeyourface
Works perfectly for video work, heavy-duty workhorse video head.Published 19 months ago by Video Man
This head is very smooth and works well. It just went right on with no problems. I would buy one again.Published 20 months ago by jeff thielscher
As a bottom line, I'm replacing the 501 ahead as I can't avoid abrupt movements at the initiation of both pan and tilt movements. Read morePublished on February 9, 2014 by John C. Caldwell MD