The Manfrotto 725B was the first tripod I ever had. I've had others since and although I still own this, it has kind of been relegated to the back of the cupboard! However, i did use this for about six months and became more than aware of its pluses and failings. At the time, I bought this from the In Focus Exhibition at the NEC for about £95 - although I believe it has come down a lot in price since then!
I was aware that Manfrotto was a range recommended by many photographers and so I admit that I was largely drawn to this tripod by the name and by the way it looked fairly simple to use. After picking up several tripods at the exhibition, I was also drawn to the fact that compared to some that were cheaper, this one was lighter and felt less bulky.
As a basic tripod, this is fine.....but it is basic. I think that when someone is starting in photography, "basic" is fine, but as with all things, the more involved you become in the science and art of photography, the more you realise the benefits of having more professional equipment....and with a tripod this is no exception.
First thing first is that this tripod does feel lightweight. Its manufactured from aluminium and black plastic and, as such, there are no heavy components to it.
The mounting is a ball-head mounting - which, to this day, is the type of mounting I prefer since it allows greater freedom in movement. I also find ball-head mountings to be smoother when setting up positioning. Although the movement of this ball-end is absolutlely fine, it does not have the smoothness associated with more expensive models - and it does occasionally stick and need a good push to get it moving again. I do find its jerky movement to be undesirable.
The maximum load capacity is 3.5kg which is not as high a load capacity as is generally needed by serious photographers. However, for a beginner, this is probably adequate, but bear in mind that by the time you have your camera and 70-200mm lens mounted on it with a flash, then thats about it. If you have longer and heavier lenses, then the 3.5kg weight limit may be a bit borderline for you.
It does feel very stable and rigid and I never had a problem with feeling like it wasn't stable enough for the job at hand. However, most of my work tended to be done in an inside environment with a flat floor and no wind, and I feel that perhaps the base feet may not be wide enough for outside work in any type of hostile environment. I think its important for the tripod to be light, but the weight should not compromise on stability.
Adjusting the height of the tripod is easy and unproblematic and is done using a standard slide and clip function. Its maximum height is 166cms - which for a shorty like me is acutally okay, but for the average man, its going to mean bending down and stooping to peer though your lens viewer - which isn't ideal.....especially on a longer shoot.
For a beginner or for someone who isn't likely to use a tripod very often, the Manfrotto 725B may be a good place to start......but, in all honestly, i suspect that a few months down the line you'll think about trading it in for a better model!
This tripod is a relatively cheap and light alternative to something more all singing and all dancing. It does the job a tripod needs to do: hold the camera steady, and although it lacks some features of more expensive tripods, it is sterdy enough and strong enough to be used in most situations. It is all you will ever need for a compact camera and can take medium sized SLR/DSLR's with large lenses. One of the more attractive features of this particular tripod is that is is light enough to carry up a mountain, but is not in the normal price range that light tripods are.
Obviously it is not the sort of thing you would take with you if you were shooting with large format equipment, but for trecking, or shoots where your location constantly changes, it is just right. This tripod is perfect for beguinners who want quality and straightforwardness, or for students who want versatility, good value and lightness!
a cheaper brand with more features may be cheaper, but in the long run, this tripod will last years of hard labour and has supirior design.
When people venture into photography they are mostly unaware of just how much equipment it takes to get shots like the pro`s do. There is much more needed than just a good camera (no matter how good the camera), after the camera is in place you need a few other bits and pieces and one of the most important things is a tripod.
A lot of budding photographers are put off buying a tripod because of the money they can cost but the fact is you can actually pick up tripod`s these days very cheaply.
Whilst I would not recommend buying the very cheap tripods, there are plenty to choose from without going into the professional range and spending hundreds. Manfrotto make dozens of different tripods and they are the a very reliable brand and the Manfrotto 725B that I review here is one that you can rely on and also purchase for just a few pennies over £100.
This tripod is good enough for beginners right through to high end amateurs and perhaps even some semi-pro`s will still use them, it is fairly lightweight which is always important as us photographers have to lug a lot of equipment about without adding heavy items to it.
The Manfrotto 725B has a closed length of 52cm, a minimum shooting height of 49cm and a maximum shooting height of 166cm.
The maximum shooting height is the one thing that lets this tripod down a little and one of the reasons pro`s would not use it, at only around 5 and a half feet it is not tall enough to shoot standing portraits at eye level when your subject is a taller person and this is a real problem for me as a portrait photographer but it could be much less so if you are a landscape photographer although pro landscapers will definitely want more height also.
If you can live with the lack of height then everything else about this tripod is great for basic use. it is very strong and although lightweight it holds very firm when in use and even fully extended can still do a great job, although again it is not quite as steady and firm at full height as us pro`s would want.
The Manfrotto 725B is constructed of aluminium and has only plastic as its other components thus giving it the lightweight and easy to carry label, it has a ball head instead of a mount plate which helps give it a better rating in my eyes as a ball head offers much more freedom when shooting.
It has a load capacity of 3.5kg this again is usually fine for beginners and will take a DSLR with a fair sized lens no problems but the pro`s tend to use some very big lenses and also I use some large flash guns for outdoor portrait work so again I need something just a bit higher up the range.
Now although I have pointed out a few problems with this tripod as far as professional use goes you should take into consideration that the tripod I use cost upwards of £600 and there are very few beginners that would need such a tripod or wish to spend the money on it so this tripod is aimed at those starting out through to semi-pro and in that market it is great value for money.
You can pick up some very cheap tripods, some for less than £30 but they will not do a good job and they will feel flimsy whilst in the main be heavier and more cumbersome than the Manfrotto 725B so although you want to get a good price you also want to get a good tripod so look at this one at the £100 mark as a good investment rather than going through a few cheap ones and throwing good money after bad.
Another good point of note with this tripod is that it has three leg adjustment sections allowing you real versatility when adjusting height and they adjust by quick release levers so it is all very easy and fast to adjust.
The ball head of this and pretty much any other Manfrotto tripod, flows like water and cannot be recommended highly enough, you always want a good free moving head and a tripod that is quick and easy to adjust and you get all of that with this one.
I would have no worries about recommending this tripod to beginners or even mid range amateurs but if you are top end amateur or pro and looking for a tripod that will suit super macro shooing or high end sports photography then this is not going to give you the results you are looking for. This is a sturdy and very durable tripod so it will last probably longer than you have use for it which means that you can always sell it on second hand when it is time for you to upgrade.
A tip for users of this tripod or any other for that matter would be that if you are using it near the seaside or perhaps it's a bit windy and dusty where you are shooting then be sure to wipe the tripod clean using a mild detergent and then dry thoroughly because you do not want the ball head mechanism to become dry due to dust or sand gathering in it because then it will become sticky to manoeuvre and noisy which you want to avoid.
Thanks for reading
© 2008 thebigc1690