Andy Westlake takes a look at the Manfrotto’s latest X-PRO model three-way head, the Manfrotto X-PRO

Manfrotto X-PRO 3-Way Head at a glance:

It may look much like any other three-way head, but Manfrotto’s latest X-PRO model has two key new features that make it stand out. First, a retractable lever design allows for an unusually compact size when packed down for transport (I measured 12 x 12.5 x 15.5cm). Second, friction controls on the tilt and landscape-portrait axes allow the head
to deal much more comfortably with large and heavy lenses.

Solidly made from aluminium, the X-PRO 3-Way Head weighs 1kg and is capable of supporting up to 8kg, according to Manfrotto. The controls for the three axes of movement have large rubberised grips that lock down firmly, and the sliding retractable handles are so simple and elegant that you wonder why this hasn’t been done before.

The camera platform uses Manfrotto’s readily available RC2 plates, with an interlock lever to stop the quick release from accidentally coming undone. Three spirit levels set at 90° to each other allow easy levelling in both portrait and landscape formats, or with the camera pointing vertically downwards for copy work.

The best feature, though, is the friction control. With other three-way designs, unlocking a lever allows the head to move freely, so the camera can flop forwards or backwards with potentially catastrophic results. With the X-PRO, the friction can be adjusted to match the lens in use via large silver-coloured dials that click at various (unmarked) intervals, allowing much better control. I tested this with a Canon EOS 7D and Tamron 150-600mm lens attached, which together weigh around 2.8kg, and the head was able to handle this load easily enough. This makes the X-PRO 3-Way Head a great choice for photographers using heavy lenses.

SCORE: 5 out of 5