Giottos MH-5000 head

Picture of the Bogen-Manfrotto 055XB and my MH-5000 head

I want the impossible. I want a lightweight geared head vaguely like the Arca CUBE for under $200. Failing that, a good pan-tilt head with a ARCA-Swiss type mount. Unfortunately, neither of these are available. Actually, there aren't even any really good geared heads for cheap, heavy or not. So I ended up getting one of the fairly hard to find pan-tilt heads that doesn't have a quick release at all and I'll buy some proper quick release hardware later.

I've written about this before, but I'm trying to avoid crappy quick release systems. My old Sunpak tripod had a quick release system common to a bunch of no-name cheap flashes. Pretty much all of my friends with cheap tripods have the same quick release system, regardless of how much they paid for it. It doesn't lock securely (as all mounts that don't latch to the back of the camera are prone to do) and really doesn't fit any reasonable sized camera very well.

My buying selection was pretty much determined by going to B&H and Adorama and sorting the different pan heads by price and then going up in price until I got to a non-quick-release head that's not crappy looking. It turns out that the cheapest one that didn't look like a piece of plastic crap is the MH-5000. There's two versions of it. The MH-5000 has no quick release and the MH-5001 has a quick release. Sometimes the MH-5000 is listed as having a quick release, even though it doesn't.

It seems to be made from a few pieces of cast aluminum with a few bits of plastic here and there.

The bottom part of the tripod has a knob that doesn't quite secure the camera from side-to-side movement as well as I'd like. There's also a bubble level to help you get the tripod properly leveled and a set of guides like a compass rose, although there isn't a corresponding tick mark on the tripod to let you index off of it. If the top of your tripod has the right sort of screws in it, you can tighten them to get the head completely secured.

In my mind, the bottom part of it isn't great. In my mind, I should be able to tighten the side-to-side tripod axis sufficiently tight that I can unscrew the head from the tripod.

They did something with the screw to attach a camera underneath the mounting plate. There's a knob and a lever and the whole works is designed supposedly so that you won't be able to strip the tripod socket. But I'm not sure how to actually use it. It's covered with some sort of matte sticky material to help it hold the camera steady. There's no bubble level in this version.

The other two axes, tilting the camera up and down and side to side, feature huge plastic-coated handles. These two axes of rotation secure quite well. Because they are so big, you need to unscrew at least one of the handles to collapse the head for travel. Then you can screw that handle into the back of the other handle. The promotional material indicates that you can get a locking screw to replace one handle which gives you a two-axis head and a very nice handle, however that screw's not included and I'm not entirely sure what screw is the right one to get.

Because it's very much intended as a low-end video head, it's fluid damped.

It comes in a sack that's big enough to fit over the head once you've mounted it on the tripod and removed one of the two handles.

Posted by BigNfat :
We're in the minority, Ken. Most people like quick release heads, at least the manufacturers think so.

I've seen conflicting descriptions regarding quick release on the Giottos MH-5000 head. Your review stating it is not quick release is the tie breaker. Even though it doesn't get your whole hearted endorsement, I going to get one.


The leg set I purchased to go with the head.

I really want a good quick-release system, but the G7 is sufficiently old and the wife has her eye on it that I've been putting off buying one until I figure out what the G7's replacement will be. Also, I kinda want the ARCA-Swiss type mount and that's a good way to spend a bunch of money.

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