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ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia

700RC2 or alternatives? (1 Viewer)

mtar925

Well-known member
I have a non-ED Kowa 60mm and may upgrade someday to something like a 65mm Pentax ED, but larger scopes are not in my plans. My current head is a Bogen 3130 (old version of Manfrotto 128RC). I'm satisfied with the performance but would like to save some weight and bulk.

I saw the Manfrotto 700RC2 in a shop and thought it looked trim and plenty sturdy for my scope, and would save me almost a pound. The azimuth motion seemed stiff though, and I read reviews where some owners complain about that. Does the azimuth tend to loosen up after a period of break-in?

Any similar alternatives? I've considered the Gitzo 1720 but that gets uneven reviews too, for triple the price. I'm not 100% convinced I need a fluid head; a good smooth pan and tilt without the fluid feature might be adequate with a ~60mm at <40x - especially if the handle locked both axes. But I've never used such a head with a scope and would welcome comments on the need for fluid motion. I'd also prefer a head that allows the scope to be adjusted front-to-back for fine balance.
 

Alexis Powell

Natural history enthusiast
United States
I went from Bogen 3126 (similar to your 3130, but w/o quick release) to the 700RC2. In my experience, the latter is not nearly as smooth or adjustable in tension, and is highly variable unit to unit. One thing that I don't like about the 700RC2 (based on experience with several) is that when the tension is adjusted low (Note: some units never become truly low tension, limited by the viscous grease in the design. In my experience these heads do not become smoother at all in use), the head becomes wobbly. Both of those heads are limited in the ease with which one can balance a scope that is nose or tail heavy because they both take drop-in plates. But the 700RC2 sure saves a lot of weight, so I used it with my light rig for a long time. I'm much happier with the Gitzo 1720, which is lighter, more adjustable, doesn't get wobbly at low tension, can take different length plates to balance different scopes, can be adapted to the Arca-Swiss QR plate standard, and is easier to adjust with its single big knob. I don't have any relevant experience with alternatives.

--AP
 

mtar925

Well-known member
Thanks for the comments!

Here's another candidate, the Manfrotto "BeFree Live" Video head. Even lighter at 0.8 lbs but still aluminum construction, and a plate that slides fore-and-aft for balancing. The handle is adjustable in angle which might be nice, too. Has anyone tried this with a scope yet?

Manfrotto BeFree Live at B&H
 

Hermann

Well-known member
The Gitzo 2180 should be more than enough for a 60mm scope. That's a head I really like a lot - light, smooth, and cheap (for a Gitzo).

Hermann
 

mtar925

Well-known member
Since I have a head that works and am trying to reduce the weight and bulk - I think I'll watch the prices on the Gitzo heads and buy either the 1720 or 2180 when I see a good deal.
 

Bwana1

Well-known member
Thanks for the comments!

Here's another candidate, the Manfrotto "BeFree Live" Video head. Even lighter at 0.8 lbs but still aluminum construction, and a plate that slides fore-and-aft for balancing. The handle is adjustable in angle which might be nice, too. Has anyone tried this with a scope yet?

Manfrotto BeFree Live at B&H

I actually just replaced my MV500 with the new 400 Befree, really like the quality and much smaller size...using a Swaro ATM80 HD with digiscoping adapters. The 400 is much smaller in size than the 500, a much smaller handle, and easy access front adjustment drag...so far a winner.
 

Jim M.

Choose Civility
I'm not 100% convinced I need a fluid head; a good smooth pan and tilt without the fluid feature might be adequate with a ~60mm at <40x - especially if the handle locked both axes.

Have used the inexpensive Velbon PH-157Q head with my Kowa 883 for almost 8 years. Best lightweight head I've owned, and I love the ability to tighten/loosen both pan and tilt with a single twist of the handle (as opposed to separate screws on the manfrotto). The 700RC2 pan tightener went numb on me after a year of use, and I had to throw the head away. IMO fluid heads are unnecessary unless you digiscope.
 

mtar925

Well-known member
I decided to try a cheap solution and bought a Benro S2 for $69. This head bears superficial resemblance to the Manfrotto BeFree Live fluid head.

I had the Benro out today with my 60mm TS-611 and....not sure what I think of it. The azimuth movement is smooth but very light, and tension in azimuth is non-adjustable. The altitude is smooth enough with the tension set to minimum, but add any tension in altitude and movements start with a jump. The quick release is nice and allows me to slide the scope back and forth for balance, which is a welcome upgrade from my Bogen 3130. The Benro S2 works well enough at 20x-25x, with the scope carefully balanced and the altitude tension set almost free, and would probably be OK at ~40x. At 60x it was getting fussy.

On the plus side, the head weighs under a pound and is small enough to let me zip my tripod case around it. The handle has a wide range of adjustment, though the handle-mounting clamp is plastic with uncertain durability. The ability to balance the scope is nice - without balance adjustment on the 3130, I find myself playing constantly with the altitude tension which sort of defeats the advantage of the 3130's smoother motion.

Not entirely satisfied, but I have so many other pieces of kit in need of upgrade - the TS-611 for one - that I need to allocate the budget carefully.
 
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Columbia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
ZEISS. Discover the fascinating world of birds, and win a birding trip to Colombia
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