GEAR REVIEW - MANFROTTO 804-RC2 TRIPOD HEAD
The 804RC2 is a 3-way tripod head from the renowned Manfrotto stable. It's a basic, no-frills head, that offers straightforward features for everyday use. It's both a lightweight and durable platform, with great functionality for the professional and amateur photographer alike. At £55, the 804RC2 is within most peoples' budgets and will provide many years of reliable use.
According to Manfrotto, the 804RC2 is made from a "technopolymer". In layman's terms, it's an exceptionally tough plastic. I actually thought it was metal - that's how tough it is. I've had mine for 4 years now and aside from a few minor cosmetic imperfections, it still functions as well as the day it left the factory.
The base that connects to the tripod itself is solid metal, as are the handles that position and lock the head in place. Sturdy rubber cover all 3 and provide a comfortable grip. To compensate for heavy cameras that are off balance, the frontal tilt is assisted by a spring feature. This is handy in preventing the load tipping forward so easily and gives the user a bit more measured control. It's reasonably lightweight at 750g and can support up to 4Kg (That's approximately a D4s with a 300mm f/2.8 VRII mounted to give you some idea - big camera, big lens)
The camera attaches via a 200PL quick release plate, which is screwed into the tripod thread on the base of the camera. Just be sure to do this with the little arrow on it facing in the same direction the lens is, otherwise all the handles will be in the wrong place when looking through the viewfinder. The plate slides into the tripod head and clicks down, locking it in place. I like to push it further to the right, just to tighten it slightly and prevent any movement. In order to remove the camera from the head, a security button next to the lever must first be depressed before sliding the lever from right to left. Once done, simply tip the camera forward and lift.
The 804RC2 has Frontal and lateral tilt of +90º/-30º degree, as well as 360º degree panoramic rotation. Each axis has an angle marker, although I've never bothered using them myself. Tilting is performed by turning the handles counter clockwise to release the pressure and then raising or lowering them, before re-tightening. This enables the user to go from landscape to portrait orientation with relative ease to frame your shot. For basic landscape, architectural or portrait photography the head works great. If macro photography is more your thing, then I would recommend splashing out on something like the 405 Pro Geared Head. This is because of the accurate fine-tuning features, which when working at extremely shallow depths of field, can be crucial.
That's pretty much it. For the money it's a well constructed and useful tripod head that caters for the overwhelming majority of photographic needs. It's quick and easy to use and will serve for many, many years to