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REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
Manfrotto504HD Fluid Video Head
 
4.4

(based on 97 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (61)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (25)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (7)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (3)

92%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Stable (63)
  • Large range of motion (16)
  • Attaches firmly (13)
  • Lightweight (13)
  • SMOOTH (10)

Cons

  • Heavy (19)
  • Cumbersome (5)

Best Uses

  • Movies (33)
  • Stabilization (32)
  • Video (18)
  • Sports/action (7)
  • Weddings (7)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Film professional (38), Pro photographer (14), Tech savvy (13), Aspiring film maker (7), Video professional (5)
    • Was this a gift?:
    • No (77)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Excellent performance and value

I ordered this from BH, sight unseen due to a *really good* Manfrotto ad, [...]. It didn't disappoint. I am comparing this 504HD to three heads: 1) my...Read complete review

I ordered this from BH, sight unseen due to a *really good* Manfrotto ad, [...]. It didn't disappoint. I am comparing this 504HD to three heads: 1) my ancient, clunky Manfrotto 501 head; 2) a Sachtler DV2; and 3) the multi-thousand dollar Sachtler Video 20P head I use at work. Not exactly fair, but that's the kind of smooth, reliable performance I'm looking for.At 1/16 the cost of the Sachtler 20P, the 504HD is simply wonderful. And the tiny Sachtler DV2 simply does not not have enough head/drag/balance/baseplate options for even the Z1U. Manfrotto has packed a ton of nice features into this head. I don't expect it to be as rugged as the 20P, but I'm not going to expose the 504HD to that level of pro abuse, either. Hey, this is MY tripod/head. Some guys mistreat our stuff and then complain "Why is everything broken around here?!" My bet is my little 504 will work long after our pro gear has bitten the dust for being tossed in the back without its case over and over. But I digress....I'm also using it with smaller cameras like the Sony Z1U or my Canon HFS100 on a rail/mattebox system (that adds weight, length and an external field monitor). Yes, the 504HD big if you're holding up a little HFS100 by itself, but you'll appreciate it if you are pushed out long and tracking something moving fast. Features: 1) a very useful feature is the LED-illuminated leveling bubble. Press a tiny button next to the bubble and a bright orange LED turns on for 10 seconds clearly illuminating the bubble. Each working cameraman I showed this to who's tried to level a head in the dark said, "Now THAT is cool!"2) The long locking knob that tightens the head to the legs is rubberized, compact and very grippable. 3) The 501PLONG baseplate has a rubber plug that holds the screws in the plate securely but allows easy and rapid changeout of the screws. This sliding baseplate may not be as elegant as the snap-in Sachtler, but still allows the camera to be moved fore and aft for balance while allowing easy removal. The head has a pushbutton safety catch so even if you forget to lock the plate to the head, the camera will not fall off the head. Small, nice design element: pre-threaded holes on the underside of the bridge to store unused 3/8" and 1/4" screws. By the way, the sliding baseplate comes with two screws of each size. (Understand that a single Sachtler baseplate screw is ten bucks!) 4) Eight levels of fluid drag, horizontal and vertical.5) Three levels of spring counterbalance plus zero help hold the camera from tipping over.6) Excellent look and feel. The red anodized aluminum trim looks great. The edges are not sharp, the finish is nice. 7) The 75mm ball works great. Get the Manfrotto 319 adapter plate if you have a 100mm bowl. 8) Large, rubberized adjustment knobs are comfortable and grippable in any weather. The traditional Manfrotto "pull-to-reposition" teardrop-shaped locking knobs adjust so they don't get caught or run into things. This is just good design.9) Telescoping pan handle fits left or right and has a replaceable intermediate toothed spacer between the handle and the head. This is the part that wears out over the years of repositioning the handle. So instead of the head casting wearing out, the intermediate part does. The threads are brass, not potmetal. Good design again. 10) Two 3/8-16 accessory socket holes on the left and right of the head. Flexi arms can be threaded into these holes to hold French flags, external monitors, etc. And the holes have steel thread inserts in them so you won't strip out the aluminum casting. 11) This is small, but there is even a rubber bumper at the full tilt-down limit. So instead of the head "clunking" to a stop metal-to-metal if you tilt all the way down, it softly bumps into the rubber stop. Somebody's thinking here. This head really shines when holding a medium sized camera like the Sony Z1U or Panasonic 200. (It even holds the Panasonic 300 in a pinch.) I tracked both ice hockey and basketball games with a Z1U and my editor (without knowing I had used it) said, "Wow, you can really see the difference between that and hand held." When I showed my legs/504HD rig to my coworkers, each wanted to borrow it immediately. They realized it would be a lot easier to use when traveling than to ship our big tripods. I loved using it: very smooth. No need for image stabilization. Some people say the 504HD is heavy but good heads are not light or cheap. And this is a steal for what it is capable of. Besides, compared to a Sachtler 100mm bowl setup, it's positively lightweight.I have the 504HD mounted on a set of 100mm Varizoom aluminum legs. It'd be lighter with the carbon fiber 75mm legs, but this is easy to transport and the rubber floor spreader is easy to kick up to collapse the legs when you have to move to a new location quickly. Also, these days a "small" camera can get "big" fast when you add rails, mattebox, follow focus, above-camera external monitor, etc. My "tiny" Canon HFS100 rig now weighs 10.6 lbs. At that point, the extra support is really appreciated. And when you push out long for aircraft or sports tracking, that weight adds stability. There is no "lash" in the system: not the slightest "clunk" as the bearings change directions. The fluid drag is smooth and predictable. When you lock the head in position, it doesn't shift. (In other words, you can lock the head off on a speech or whatever and unlock it without the image moving.) The only (and I mean only) "click" is if you have the telescoping panhandle at minimum length. If the drag is set high, I can feel the handle move ever so slightly. If you extend the panhandle to be longer than minimum length, this slight hiccup is gone.Manfrotto has continuously and vastly improved their product line from their crude early days of gauling potmetal threads and oddball baseplates. Overall, this is a terrific head and I expect to use it for many, many years.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Great Design but so...so manufacturing.

I bought this fluid head to provide greater counterbalance range, adjustable via a four position switch. The head it was to replace required the swapping out of springs which was very inconvenient when changing...Read complete review

I bought this fluid head to provide greater counterbalance range, adjustable via a four position switch. The head it was to replace required the swapping out of springs which was very inconvenient when changing cameras or lens loads in the field.

I own Manfrotto's out of production grand daddy, the 501 fluid head, with 100mm half ball which comes with three settings for drag (switching drag capsules) but an infinite range of counterspring settings. That head makes it extremely easy to balance various loads on the fly. But you are stuck with three settings of drag and nothing inbetween.

The 504HD is a bit smaller and lighter with a 75mm half ball, perfect for the slightly smaller, lighter Manfrotto sticks I use more often with my lighter cameras. It was to replace my Vinten Vision 3 head to afford a wider range of return spring balance. The Vinten is a more expensive head, also out of production. I assumed that Manfrotto had their act together and was able to machine a good product at a significantly lower manufacturing cost. I was mistaken.

While the continuously variable drag settings both tilt and pan feel very good, only having three settings for return spring balance reduces the tilt range that can be used before the spring is either too strong or too weak. I could work with that. So it wasn't the deal breaker.

I so wanted the 504HD to work for me. The red anodized trim accents, the overall appeareance, the longer camera adapter slide, the two accessory threaded sockets on the head for outboard gear, are all wonderful touches. In the end the spoiler was the excessive play in the tilt bearings and/or other axis components. At the end of a tilt, no matter how gently you stopped and then removed pressure from the handle the head would settle back slightly. Even when not using telephoto magnification the movement was still obvious in the image. I was able to reduce this problem, but not eliminate it with careful adjustment of camera slide position and counterbalance spring setting. Maybe if the spring tension was continuously variable it might have been possible to reduce the effect of its mechanical backlash to a tolerable level.

To confirm that it wasn't me or the camera I replaced the head with my older Vinten. The Vinten had zero backlash and behaved as it should.

I think Manfrotto's problem is a machining tolerance issue as my old trusty 501 head has a tiny amount of the same backlash problem, but small enough that it isn't disturbing.

I guess the old maxim, "you get what you pay for" still holds forth. It probably isn't fair to compare it to a fluid head that originally cost 3X as much. And maybe some of the 504HD's are coming through, per chance, with tighter tolerance or better fit. Mine did not.

Reviewed by 97 customers

Displaying reviews 1-20

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3.0

No drag scale on adjustment knobs. Uses 3/8 reducer.

By Aaron

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

The quick release plate is not the one shown in photos. This comes with one that doesn't accept 3/8" screws, instead, they send a reducer. It also does not have the numbered drag scale shown. I returned the first one I received because the drag was crazy loose. The second one I received is very smooth, and I am keeping it, rather than trying again for another brand over the lack if number scale and quick release plate differences and I don't have time to wait for a replacement again. In the future, I will think twice about manfrotto because although I did receive one that WORKS great, I had to return the first, and the features are not as advertised.

 
3.0

Decent tripod head, especially at the price-point

By Drew

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

I've never liked that their cheaper heads are top-loading where these are exclusively slide-loading (makes it near impossible to build a handheld rig with handles on sticks). That being said, for the price these are pretty decent heads.

The action is smooth as long as you are within the proper weight range (a built-up DSLR rig to a stripped down Red rig-ish) but isn't great if you have too little weight (just an a7sii body with a 50 w/ no cage or accessories) or too much (Amira with add-ons etc.)

 
5.0

Great head, wish I could change the mount.

By Peter

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

Really great started fluid head. Honestly the only issue I can find is that it is difficult to put on sliders. You need to purchase a bowl adapter (I got the 325N Manfrotto) which then will add about 6 inches the the height of either the tripod or the slider you are mounting on.

 
5.0

Just love it

By Iaroslav

from Undisclosed

See all my reviews

Site Member

Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

This head is just perfect for my rig set up with Tilta cage for Sony a7SII and I am using it with Manfrotto 536 Pro carbon fiber tripod. All the time am happy to you this head. One thing is too heavy, it would be so cool if this had was a bit lightweight.

 
4.0

Great bang for the buck.

By John

from undisclosed

Verified Buyer

Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

Very reasonably priced for a fluid head, well made and functional.

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
4.0

Super smooth.

By Gustavo Campos

from Brooklyn NY

Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

I worked with a dslr for 3 years on a 501HD head, I was never satisfied with its moves, specially pans. I am very happy with the 504HD, it is heavier and more expensive but this is what it takes to get smooth pans.

(11 of 11 customers found this review helpful)

 
1.0

Grinding noise and feel on tilt and pan.

By Grinder

from Dallas, TX

About Me Pro Photographer

Verified Reviewer

Pros

  • Good Stability

Cons

  • Grinding Noise
  • Heavy

Best Uses

    Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

    I liked the head and was disappointed to see there was an audible and you could feel a grinding noise on pan and tilt.

    I sent the original one back to B&H for a replacement as recommended by Manfrotto. The second one is just as bad. I recorded the loud sound and was told they would check other units they had to see if this was normal. Aparantly they say this is normal. I'm stunned this is the case. They said all the units they tested had this grinding noise and feel.

    I can't believe it as I've always had quality products from manfrotto.

    Would love to know if B&H can chime in to see if this is indeed normal for the product or if I just had bad luck twice.

    • Was this a gift?:
    • No
     
    5.0

    Very Good Intro Professional Head with Counter Balance

    By Matt Gonsalves

    from Miami, FL

    About Me Pro Photographer

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Attaches Firmly
    • Good Stability
    • Large Range of Motion

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Video
      • Weddings/Events

      Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

      Beefier than the 502. Love that the tilt and pan locks can be used with your left hand and you dont have to give your head (502) a weird reach around the front body contorting thing of a magjig to unlock the tilt during a shot, if need be. The counter balance is very good for light cameras and dslrs that aren't built up a ton with cages/accessories. Pan and Tilt are buttery smooth.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No
       
      5.0

      Sturdy!

      By E to the M

      from New York, NY

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Attaches Firmly
      • Good Stability
      • Large Range of Motion
      • Strong Clamp

      Cons

      • Heavy

      Best Uses

      • Video

      Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

      Great fluid head that holds lots of weight. Highly recommend it if you are in the market for a pro video head. It is a bit heavy, but it's designed to hold a lot so it has to be.

      • Was this a gift?:
      • No
       
      5.0

      So worth the extra money over the 502

      By motionbutton

      from Minneapolis, MN

      Verified Buyer

      Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

      Feels Solid. Parts are well located.

      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

       
      5.0

      Great Mid Class Video Head

      By restoredproductions

      from Menifee, CA

      About Me Pro Photographer

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Decent Counter Balance
      • Feels Tough
      • Good Stability
      • Nice Control

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Video

        Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

        Needed another head to replace an older Manfrotto Fluid Head. Great choice for a B-Cam head for midnight camera set up or a great smooth option to throw on crane or slider. Similar controls to the 509HD which I own for a heaver set up and love that everything is in same spot. Makes it easy to transition between the two for my crew.

        • Was this a gift?:
        • No

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Great Addition

        By Tangkha

        from New Mexico

        About Me Pro Photographer

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Attaches Firmly
        • Good Stability
        • Large Range of Motion
        • Strong Clamp

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Video

          Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

          I needed a stronger, heavier head to use as a foundation for my light jib. The 504HD Fluid Video Head was the perfect tool.

          • Was this a gift?:
          • No

          (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

           
          4.0

          Very Good Head

          By JohnnyKaboom

          from Billings, MT

          About Me Pro Photographer

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

          • Attaches Firmly
          • Good Stability
          • Large Range of Motion
          • Strong Clamp

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Professional Video
            • Video
            • Weddings/Events

            Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

            A very good mid range head with nice counter balance fluid feel quick intuitive setup and great design. versatile in the field and easy to mount I found this head to be a very nice step up from an entry level fluid head. Not as feature heavy as some higher level heads the 504 is ideal for lighter cameras that need smooth motion with reasonable counterbalance control and quick setups.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Great Head

            By Andrew K.

            from Pittsburgh, PA

            About Me Semi-pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Adjustable Counterbalance
            • Good Stability
            • Large Range of Motion
            • Smooth

            Cons

            • Heavy
            • Large

            Best Uses

            • Landscape/Scenery
            • Sports/Action
            • Video
            • Weddings/Events

            Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

            This is a great fluid head. I use it with several cameras, but mostly a C100 and a BMPCC. The adjustable counterbalance system makes it so easy to swap between these two cameras and keep things stable.
            The location of all the knobs and levers is very intuitive and ergonomic, with the tilt lock on the left - the tension adjustment knob for the pan is a little awkward, but still easy enough to get to, even with my chubby fingers. This is a huge step up from heads I have previously owned and the smoothness of the pan and tilt is on par with other more expensive heads by Manfrotto and other brands. The light up bubble level is handy and turns on and off easily.
            The 75mm bowl seems a little small considering the size of the head, but it is a convenient option, as it allows you to use it with lots of other mounting options. On my Induro Hi-Hat it works great! However, this is a big and heavy head - I was using it on a cheap set of Dracast sticks, and although it was fine with smaller cameras, the combined weight of the rigged out C100 and the 504HD caused the bottom legs on my Dracast legs to bend. I had used the same camera setup with another head on those sticks before without issue, but the 504HD made it simply too heavy. So make sure not to cheap out and to get some good sticks to support this good head.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            (5 of 13 customers found this review helpful)

             
            1.0

            Tilt Friction virtually non existent - do buy this head

            By Fred

            from Washington, DC

            About Me Pro Photographer

            Verified Reviewer

            Pros

            • Attaches Firmly
            • Large Range of Motion

            Cons

            • Poor Tilt Control

            Best Uses

            • None

            Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

            Looked like a really nice head until I mounted my C300 and gear only to discover there's virtually no fluid drag on the tilt mechanism. Not sure how this slipped through design. Basically unusable for critical camera moves.

            • Was this a gift?:
            • No

            (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            So Smoooooth

            By Dave

            from Southern Illinois

            Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

            i am so pleased to be using this video head. It was very easy to set the compensation for my camera. The lighted bubble level is nice in a dark theater. I was able to find comfortable settings for both pan and tilt. Neither tilt nor pan have any sticky spots. The head is a bit large for my XA-20 but it works very well and I'll feel comfortable moving to a larger camera if I decide to in the future. The head is also beautiful! I was very nervous about this purchase as I had taken a mistep the last time. Very,very pleased.

            (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

             
            5.0

            Fantastic head for the price

            By RK

            from Jax, Fl

            About Me Pro Photographer

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Good Stability
            • Large Range of Motion

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Video

              Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

              I love this fluid head. I had rented it on location once before I purchased it and was pleasantly surprised at how solidly it is built and how smooth it is. It's now a mainstay in my kit.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Makes things run smooth

              By Jay Clark

              from Cermont, FL

              About Me Semi-pro Photographer

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Attaches Firmly
              • Good Stability
              • Large Range of Motion
              • Strong Clamp

              Cons

              • None

              Best Uses

              • Sports/Action
              • Video
              • Weddings/Events

              Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

              At best I am a prosumer and ended up purchasing this head on the advice of one of my friends who is a pro videographer. He was right. For the price this is a great piece of equipment. Intuitive and easy to use not to mention well built. I am a very happy camper.

              • Was this a gift?:
              • No

              (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

               
              5.0

              Solid construction, great control

              By strikeoutsandwich

              from Corvallis, OR

              About Me Photo Enthusiast

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Attaches Firmly
              • Good Stability
              • Large Range of Motion
              • Strong Clamp

              Cons

                Best Uses

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

                Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

                I really like this tripod head - considering that I'm moving up from my old Sony tripod, this is a serious move up for me and I really like the feel and control this head has over my old one. I can't compare to others of this type on the market, but for me as a hobbyist this is great.

                Really like the built-in level bubble with back light, and the ability to quickly level the ball connection is outstanding.

                • Was this a gift?:
                • Yes

                (3 of 3 customers found this review helpful)

                 
                4.0

                Solid Head

                By Athens Shooter

                from Athens, GA

                About Me Pro Photographer

                Verified Buyer

                Pros

                • Attaches Firmly
                • Good Stability
                • Large Range of Motion
                • Strong Clamp

                Cons

                • Complicated Controls
                • Heavy

                Best Uses

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

                Comments about Manfrotto 504HD Fluid Video Head:

                I had a Manfrotto 502HD and I moved up to the 504HD because my gear was exceeding the weight limits of my old trusty 502. If you are familiar with the 502HD than the 504HD should be instantly familiar. The lighted level is nice and the resistance allows you to get very nice pans and tilts with a DSLR rig outfitted with a number of accessories. The only thing that is a little weird is that the pan resistance nob is under the bridge at the center of the head. I have small hands and it is a tight somewhat unnatural fit, even for me. That being said, you can still get great resistance and flow from the head and for the performance you get for the price there is nothing that comes close.

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