Manfrotto Tripod, $400 – stainless steel bolts, priceless!

Manfrotto 535 MPRO salt corosion

Professionalism at what cost?

Ever wonder what a real Pro tripod costs?  Better yet, what’s it worth?

Well, a couple of weeks in (to the Gulf) and the new $400 carbon fibre Manfrotto 535 MPRO legs I bought are pretty worthless.  Well, worthless unless I go spend $2.00 more for a half-dozen stainless steel bolts.  That’s right – for a frigg’n $2 more Manfrotto could have made a REAL pro tripod.

Hmmm?  Note a tone of piss’d off ness?

YES!  When I spend $400 on a set of PRO legs I expect a higher degree of quality – hell, charge me the $402, I’ll pay it – really.  This wasn’t a price-point issue.

I’m rough on gear – I’ll admit it.  I take it to places even my body complains about.  But I’m not a ‘studio pro’, I work in the real world of rain, heat, salt, BP oil, and all kinds of shit (yes, real shit – I have a growing list of how many creatures have pooped on me and my gear.)  I NEED gear that works – it’s my job to USE the equipment – I depend on it.

C’mon Manfrotto – you made a carbon fibre set of legs, called it “MPRO”, so it could be carried into places.  I love them – light, rock steady, quick for both stills and video, perfect except on tiny, centimeter by 1/4 cm bolt and corresponding nut… oh, and the spring in the clamp lever that is certain to go soon.  Seriously, when they went for that pasta lunch, how many bottles of Valpolicella did your engineers down?  Stainless steel is not rocket science!

In case you were wondering, I checked, there are stainless steel bolts available in Italy.

The Solution:

So if this happens to you – before you can buy your own stainless steel replacement bolts –

  • always wash the legs ASAP with fresh water and extend so they can dry
  • pull all the joints apart – including all bolts and nuts, and clean everything (NOT the gaskets) with a de-ruster like WD40
  • go to the bicycle store and get winter formula chain lube – it’s thicker and bit more resistant to the wet
  • lube all bolts and nuts – and squirt just a little into the clamp spring
  • then reassemble
  • repeat as needed until you get all potentially corrode-able parts replaced

PS – the springs are going to fail – order a complete new spare set of lever join mechanisms to carry as a spare

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