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Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg)

B&H # MA438 Mfr # 438
In Stock
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You Pay: $92.49
Product Highlights
  • Replaces #3502

The Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head provides fast leveling for tripods without built-in levels. It fits between the center column and head and has 10° range of adjustment.

This item replaces old catalog #3502.

Features a 3/8" socket at its base, and a 3/8" screw at its top.
Three anti-twist screws prohibit unwanted rotation of tripod head, camera or other attached device
Load Capacity 33 lbs (15kg)
Levelling Bubble Yes (1)
Height 2" (5cm)
Weight 1.4 lb (650g)
Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg)
  • 1-Year Warranty
  • REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

    by PowerReviews
    Manfrotto438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg)
     
    4.3

    (based on 64 reviews)

    Ratings Distribution

    • 5 Stars

       

      (29)

    • 4 Stars

       

      (24)

    • 3 Stars

       

      (10)

    • 2 Stars

       

      (1)

    • 1 Stars

       

      (0)

    90%

    of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

    Pros

    • Easy to use (48)
    • Improves tripod function (42)
    • Solid/sturdy (36)
    • Fits well (32)
    • Durable (10)

    Cons

    • Heavy (9)

    Best Uses

    • Landscape/scenery (30)
    • Video (27)
    • Travel (15)
    • Sports/action (13)
    • Wildlife (13)
      • Reviewer Profile:
      • Semi-pro photographer (21), Pro photographer (18), Photo enthusiast (15)
      • Was this a gift?:
      • No (42)

    Most Liked Positive Review

     

    Excellent Tripod Accessory

    My tripod (Slik Pro 813) is a fine piece of equipment, but lacks a spirit level. I need to achieve a perfect leveling of the tripod/panorama head as well as the camera...Read complete review

    My tripod (Slik Pro 813) is a fine piece of equipment, but lacks a spirit level. I need to achieve a perfect leveling of the tripod/panorama head as well as the camera to achieve optimal results when shooting panoramas. Using the Manfrotto Leveling Head makes it a snap to achieve a level surface for the panorama head. Far easier than adjusting the tripod's legs! The adjustment locking lever is robust, the spirit bubble easy to see and the three sets screws lock the panorama head securely.

    VS

    Most Liked Negative Review

     

    Good but heavy

    Heavier than I would have liked. Works all right for tweaking the level of the tripod when setting up for panorama shots. But the "ball" is rather rough (probably...Read complete review

    Heavier than I would have liked. Works all right for tweaking the level of the tripod when setting up for panorama shots. But the "ball" is rather rough (probably has to be to reduce slippage and to support higher weights), so making tiny adjustments is more difficult than one would like. Tightening the lockdown lever changes the level a bit, so you have to compensate by under-adjusting the ball before tightening.

    Overall, I'm fairly happy with the product, but do wish someone would design something lighter and less "fiddly".

    Reviewed by 64 customers

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    5.0

    Great for D.I.Y. projects too.

    By DorkusErectus

    from Chicago IL.

    Verified Reviewer

    Pros

    • Compact
    • Durable
    • Easy to Use
    • Rock Solid
    • Sturdy

    Cons

    • Adjustment Compensation

    Best Uses

    • Center Columns
    • Flat Mounts
    • Sports/Action
    • Weddings/Events

    Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

    I use an HPX170 to shoot video for bands and live events. In order to shoot above the crowds heads I use a geared center column tripod, the Manfrotto 028B Studio Pro Triman. Adjusting it for level was always a pain in the ___. Going from one leg to the bubble level, back to another leg, back to the bubble and so on until I was satisfied. I always took it as something I had to do. Until I stumbled upon the 438 leveling head. (More on that in the next paragraph.) It has streamlined my workflow from a few minutes, down to seconds. In this set up my only gripe is with the adjustment compensation you have to do. It's been mentioned in other comments. The work around is placing the bubble against the marker ring closest to the adjustment handle. As you tighten the lever, the bubble creeps towards center. Really quite easy. I can barely consider it a work around. More of a quirk really. I can't even take away a star for it. Other than that the 438 is rock solid. I highly recommend it.My other gripe is not really something that would normally be experienced. I am an avid DIY'er. I have made my own slider and jib. (Video link below.) But I can't make my own 100mm bowl. Therefor I have to place the tripod head directly onto a metal plate. So I began looking for alternative ways to adjust the level. That's when I found this beauty. It's almost perfect for my needs. I placed the 438 leveler on the plate then the tripod head on the 438. When I tried to adjust the level... I couldn't. The 438 rests on a plate that is much wider then the leveler. The adjustment lever wouldn't even move because it was tight against that metal plate. Another very easy workaround though. I used a two inch fender washer with a 3/8 hole in it. That gave me enough clearance to use the 438 flawlessly. Again, rock solid. I can't take away a star for that either. It wasn't intended to be used on a flat plate like that. This is an excellent tool for anyone using a center columned tripod and for DIY'ers.

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    (1 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

     
    3.0

    Valuable and necessary product and....

    By Mark

    from Sandusky, Ohio

    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Necessay Evil

    Cons

      Best Uses

        Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

        If I hadn't paid so much for the Manfrotto's 438 Compact Leveling head, I would be looking for a better solution and I suggest you do the same. The 438 has major flaws that will leave you with a disappointing user experience that keeps giving. I bought the 438 Compact Leveling Head to resolve leveling difficulties with the Manfrotto 055 X Pro Tripod and Manfrotto 502 HD Pro Head with flat base I bought. I would have preferred the ball version of both, but at the time couldn't justify the extra costs. In hindsight the extra money would have been well worth it. I use the 055 X Pro tripod and 502 HD Pro Head in a studio setting. They are heavy and bulky - and leveling them by adjusting the legs is very awkward and cumbersome. The 438 Compact Leveling Head appeared to be a tolerable solution, but the 438's ball is stiff and has a grainy texture which makes it very difficult to adjust and level. Despite its names, the 438's is not compact and is so large it obscures the tripods bubble level, making leveling even harder. The bubble level on Manfrotto's 502 HD Pro Head is also poorly positioned. It is tucked under the bridge and almost impossible to see, contributing even further to the negative user experience. So overall, the 438 certainly is not the quality expected from a company with Manfrotto's reputation and prices…. Please keep looking!

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        5.0

        The 438 Does the Job!

        By Spencer

        from Ridgefield, CT

        About Me Pro Photographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Compact
        • Durable
        • Easy to Use

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Family Photos
          • Landscape/Scenery
          • Travel
          • Video
          • Weddings/Events
          • Wildlife Photos

          Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

          The Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head allows me to benefit from the ease of leveling with a ball head while continuing to use my flat base tripods. Video recording theatrical productions means setting up tripods in a variety of difference spaces and levels (steps, inclines, etc.). The 438 makes the leveling chore a breeze. Well worth the price. So far...no negatives regarding the product.

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          • No

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          5.0

          Camera Leveler works great

          By Mr. L.

          from South Texas

          About Me Photo Enthusiast

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Durable
          • Easy to Use

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Architecture
            • HDR
            • Landscape/Scenery
            • Panoramics

            Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

            Easy to level your tripod with out adjusting the legs. Quick and straight forward.

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            5.0

            Well built; Does the job well.

            By johnmeyer

            from Carmel, CA

            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Durable

            Cons

            • None

            Best Uses

              Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

              I have an old Bogen tripod that is built like a rock and has a nice fluid head, but has no way to set the level except by adjusting the leg length. Several people recommended this product, but I put of purchasing because it is expensive for what it does.

              However, I am very glad I finally splurged and made the purchase. It now only takes a few seconds to make my camera perfectly level.

              I am very satisfied with the build quality and the way this product works. I highly recommend it.

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              • No

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              5.0

              How else

              By Bias Voltage

              from Lincoln,NE

              About Me Photo Enthusiast

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Durable
              • Easy to Use
              • Robust

              Cons

              • Heavy

              Best Uses

              • Landscape/Scenery
              • Travel
              • Video
              • Wildlife Photos

              Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

              When you're trying to build the most compact tripod system, this really helps! I put it on a 3LT 16" Adrian and it works great. Stores in the Adrian cap on the tripod case like it was made for it.

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              • No

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              5.0

              Awsome!!

              By sTaRfLuX

              from Fort Worth, TX

              About Me Pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Durable
              • Easy to Use

              Cons

                Best Uses

                • Family Photos
                • Landscape/Scenery
                • Sports/Action
                • Travel
                • Video
                • Weddings/Events
                • Wildlife Photos

                Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                Love this product... after reading many review on the Manfrotto video tripod kits it seemed the general consensus was that most people love Manfrotto head and are not that crazy about the legs(at least on the lower end kits). So i bought this leveler to go with a flat base Manfrotto 502HD head and then paired them both with my awesomely light weight but super sturdy Gitzo tripod legs. In all it adds just the right amount of bulk to the complete setup. Its always better to have a tiny bit more weight to a video tripod than too little, especially when you are heavy on the drag. just less likely tomove around on a smoother surface.Fianlly, i've use regular ball mount video heads and this leveler has just as much range of motion and there were no problem getting exact level every time...

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                5.0

                Solid product for a low price

                By Jessica Trinity

                from Ottawa, Canada

                About Me Pro Photographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Durable
                • Easy to Use

                Cons

                  Best Uses

                  • Landscape/Scenery
                  • Sports/Action
                  • Video
                  • Wildlife Photos

                  Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                  The convenience of being able to level your video head without fumbling with tripod legs is already obvious enough. But this item makes you want to be unlevel just so you can play with it/adjust it. Really, very smooth even under quite a bit of weight, very solid build and to be honest I can't think of anything bad to say about it. For the price it's a god sent. Highly recommended, no regrets.

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                  • No

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                  4.0

                  Works but one minor flaw

                  By mauimike

                  from kihei

                  About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Durable
                  • Easy to Use

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                      very simple to install and adjust to achieve a balanced 501 head. only flaw so far is the amount of tilt is diminished slightly as the fluid head will touch the leveling head as you tilt upward, unlike without the leveling head i can tilt almost fully vertical.

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                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                       
                      3.0

                      It's Just Ok...

                      By Aaron

                      from Gainesville FL

                      About Me Pro Photographer

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                        Cons

                          Best Uses

                            Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                            I use this with my Gitzo Carbon Fiber Tripod and Manfrotto 502HD Video Head. It is not as smooth to adjust as I had expected, even with a little wd40.

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                            • No

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                            (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                             
                            4.0

                            Incredibly useful but not perfect

                            By Adam

                            from San Francisco, CA

                            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                            Pros

                            • Convenient

                            Cons

                            • Heavy
                            • Inconsistent

                            Best Uses

                              Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                              I use this leveler in conjunction with a Manfrotto 502 head and 055xprob legs for video production.This leveling head gives me the flexibility of raising the fluidhead vertically whilst also being able to level it easily without messing around with the legs. This is huge for quick and easy shots that require the rigidity of a tripod but would otherwise not allot the time to adjust each leg perfectly until it is level. For video production you always have the option of buying the half-ball mounted fluidheads, but those do not have the option of raising or dropping vertically. The Manfrotto 438 is the perfect solution as a middleman, both literally and figuratively. Nothing can be perfect, however. First, this thing will weigh your tripod setup down by 2lbs. Weight distribution and load can only be determined by their user, so don't let this discourage you, though it is worth mentioning as a con. Also, as others have mentioned, there is a bit of a learning curve. As you tighten the leveling ball the head will deviate from it's otherwise perfect position. This will lead to uneven shots, unfortunately. One has to hold the head tightly and adjust the level as the lock is being tightened. This will make sure that your level is aboslutely perfect. Despite it's shortcomings this device is a godsend.

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                              • No

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                              3.0

                              Heavy and Little Tricky, but very Sturdy

                              By Jonathan144

                              from Minnesota

                              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                              Verified Buyer

                              Pros

                              • Durable

                              Cons

                              • Integrated Bubble Level
                              • Location Of Bubble Level
                              • Sticky Movement

                              Best Uses

                              • Landscape/Scenery
                              • Video

                              Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                              The first one of these I received would bind when I tried to adjust it; the replacement, however, works just OK--it's still not smooth and locking the unit sometimes alters the leveling. The bulls-eye level doesn't extend very far from the mounting stud, so that almost everything that I mount obscures the level and renders the level useless. Unless the level can be viewed directly from above, there is too much parallax error to quickly obtain an accurate leveling. I was planning on using a Q2 quick release, however that system is too small and does not mount flush on the base plate; so I ended up going with a Manfrotto 625 RC0 adapter which is a better match in terms of weight capacity. In spite of all of that, I gave it three stars because it's very sturdy, and that's what I needed for leveling a MVH502A video head and also a Gigapan Epic Pro robotic head--both of which are quite heavy and the primary reason I purchased the ball leveling head for use with my existing tripod.

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                              • No

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                              4.0

                              I would highly recommend this product

                              By Jay

                              from Ardmore, PA

                              About Me Pro Photographer

                              Verified Buyer

                              Pros

                              • Easy To Use
                              • Improves Tripod Function
                              • Solid/Sturdy

                              Cons

                                Best Uses

                                • Portraits
                                • Video

                                Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                                I'm using this ball leveling support with a Manfroto fluid head for DSLR Video shooting.

                                This is a great tool that allows me to quickly and cleanly snap the camera to level using little effort, it's accurate, and simple to setup and use, I find it a valuable part of the DSLR Video production.

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                                • No

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                                4.0

                                Great Product for Quick Leveling

                                By JTL

                                from Dana Point, CA

                                About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                                Verified Buyer

                                Pros

                                • Easy To Use
                                • Improves Tripod Function
                                • Locks Down Tight
                                • Solid/Sturdy
                                • Worth The Money

                                Cons

                                  Best Uses

                                  • Landscape/Scenery
                                  • Night Shots
                                  • Portraits
                                  • Sports/Action
                                  • Travel
                                  • Video
                                  • Weddings/Events
                                  • Wildlife

                                  Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                                  I mounted the 438 Compact Leveling Head to my Manfrotto tripod then mounted my Manfrotto 701HD head to the leveler. This combination allows for quick and easy leveling for my light weight (non-ballhead tripod). The leveling base gives me the freedom to pan & tilt the 701 head without concern of getting out of level during pans.I shoot landscape and architecture photography and I like using the Manfrotto 701HD fluid head for composing and fine tuning my shots.The second reason I use a fluid head is that I shoot a fair amount of video; where I really need the smooth movement of the video head. This is where the leveling base is really important and the 438 Compact Leveling Head gets it done quick and easy.I have a larger set of Manfrotto legs with a ballhead and larger fluid head for studio work, but I find this compact and light weight setup works for me whether shooting stills or video in the field without having to change gear.BTW: I use a Canon 7D, Canon EF-S 10-24 and a 5" Marshall monitor for indoor work; Of course I purchased it all from B&H.

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                                  • No

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                                  4.0

                                  Solid equipment

                                  By Great Artist

                                  from New York, NY

                                  About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                                  Verified Buyer

                                  Pros

                                  • Easy To Use
                                  • Fits Well
                                  • Improves Tripod Function
                                  • Solid/Sturdy

                                  Cons

                                    Best Uses

                                    • Landscape/Scenery
                                    • Night Shots
                                    • Portraits
                                    • Sports/Action
                                    • Video
                                    • Weddings/Events
                                    • Wildlife

                                    Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                                    Seems to be a durable, effective, and easy-to-use Leveling Head.

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                                    • No

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                                    4.0

                                    Easy leveling and great for traveling

                                    By ÅS

                                    from Norway

                                    About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                                    Verified Buyer

                                    Pros

                                    • Easy To Use
                                    • Fits Well
                                    • Improves Tripod Function

                                    Cons

                                      Best Uses

                                      • Travel
                                      • Video

                                      Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                                      I use the leveling head for fast leveling on location when shooting music videos and taking landscape photos on uneven ground. Actually I never remove it from my tripod since it is quite handy in all circumstances.Even though the leverling head itself is a bit heavy I would say it is great for traveling. When combining it with a small and light carbon fibre tripod it is far better than bringing a more heavier and larger classical video tripod.It does not move completely smoothly, but then again it is not used for tilting or panning. At first it was actually quite stuck, but as soon you get the camera on it works much better and now it moves great. Of course it has not the same amount of leveling abilities as a regular video tripod.

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                                      (2 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

                                       
                                      3.0

                                      A must have on every tripod

                                      By Daniel

                                      from Lynchburg, VA

                                      About Me Photography Student

                                      Verified Buyer

                                      Pros

                                      • Easy To Use
                                      • Fits Well
                                      • Improves Tripod Function
                                      • Saves time
                                      • Solid/Sturdy

                                      Cons

                                      • Bulky
                                      • Heavy
                                      • Not As Good As Post

                                      Best Uses

                                      • Video

                                      Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                                      Very simple operation of the leveler. All you have to do is unscrew your tripod head, screw this on, and screw your head back on. Comes with all the tiny screws that you need to ensure a strong bonding.It is very useful for people who frequently do video, and it cuts down on setup time where balancing legs would take.As much as I liked it, i found this a little too heavy and not worth having. Instead, the manfrotto tripod post with a 50mm ball head would do much better. it is similar with the MDEVE tripod heads, but for the XPRO series. B&H carries it . Highly recommend that

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                                      • No

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                                      5.0

                                      Big help!!

                                      By EconoBob

                                      from Marin County, CA

                                      About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                                      Verified Buyer

                                      Pros

                                      • Easy To Use
                                      • Effective
                                      • Improves Tripod Function
                                      • Solid/Sturdy

                                      Cons

                                      • Heavy

                                      Best Uses

                                      • Landscape/Scenery
                                      • Video

                                      Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                                      I use this along with a 501HDV head. It really simplifies leveling on uneven surfaces--not sure what I ever did without it!

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                                      • No

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                                      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                       
                                      4.0

                                      Does its job, watch out for the lever

                                      By Adam

                                      from Detroit, MI

                                      About Me Photo Enthusiast

                                      Verified Buyer

                                      Pros

                                        Cons

                                          Best Uses

                                            Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                                            I used it something like three times before the lever fell off. Luckily it fell off in the trunk of my car so I found it and was able to put it back on. I tightened it down with an allen wrench and I think it's secure now.

                                            Overall it's very convenient, especially if you need to move around frequently on uneven surfaces. What a pain to fiddle with the legs, extending this one and retracting that one trying to get it level. The range of travel is pretty impressive. If my tripod legs are on the steepest angle I can set the tripod so far off-level that it's about to fall over and the leveler still has enough range to level the head.

                                            As others have mentioned, it doesn't move in a nice smooth fashion but has a tendency to stick a little bit and then jerk abruptly when trying to adjust it. But it gets the job done. The bubble level is mounted on a surface that moves slightly as the lever is locked down, so if you have it perfectly level before locking it down you'll probably be slightly out of level after locking it down. It's a small enough adjustment that I find it doesn't make that much difference but if you are looking for high precision leveling that might be frustrating. You'll have to adjust it so it's slightly off-level in the appropriate direction and then tighten the lever down.

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                                            • No

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                                            (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                                             
                                            4.0

                                            Really useful

                                            By JC

                                            from Houston, TX

                                            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

                                            Verified Buyer

                                            Pros

                                            • Easy To Use
                                            • Improves Tripod Function
                                            • Solid/Sturdy

                                            Cons

                                            • Can get stuck in place

                                            Best Uses

                                            • Landscape/Scenery

                                            Comments about Manfrotto 438 Compact Leveling Head - Ball Camera Leveler - Supports 33 lb (15kg):

                                            Very useful when trying to level your camera on a tripod that doesn't have a bowl. I had to "fix" mine when I initially received it because the bowl was stuck in place. To fix it, I had to loosen all the screws and attachements so that I can open the head and release the stuck leveler. Simple fix that I hope I will never have to redo.

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