Light and Flexible Tripod For Video Production – Manfrotto 536 M-Pro
Whether you’re a full time camera operator or an all-round videographer, there’s one thing you can be sure of: No matter your video production needs or type of video material you create, owning a good set of sticks is an essential part of any filmmaker’s arsenal. Similarly to all video and film equipment in the market, tripods come in all different shapes, sizes and price ranges. So choosing a proper one for you will completely depend on your budget and production needs.
Cameraman with the Manfrotto 536 MPRO
Heavy-duty tripods with high payloads are great for camera teams and film- video crews who mostly work on bigger productions; and although camera bodies are tending to get smaller, most cinema cameras really need plenty of knick-knacks attached in order for them to really shine and allow the camera operator to properly and efficiently shoot (monitors, EVFs, cinema lens, external battery source, follow focus, matte box etc…). All of these external accessories accumulate weight, so a heavy-duty and reliable tripod is essential on those occasions.
On the other hand, one-man band style videographers who are just starting out and own a DSLR/Mirrorless camera with only the bare video equipment essentials could do just fine using smaller, lighter tripods with lower payload capabilities. As most independent filmmakers and videographers out there who are in the beginning of their careers, I also started with small and very cheap tripods with minimal payload capabilities. Slowly but surely as my video production needs here in Austria kept changing and my skill set improving, I gradually upgraded my tripods along with the rest of my video production gear.
Manfrotto 536 MPRO on the left supporting an Edelkrone slider for a corporate interview
A few years ago I came across the Manfrotto 536 MPRO during my search for a lightweight and flexible tripod that could also handle a significant amount of weight. The reviews online from other filmmakers and videographers were all mostly positive so I pulled the trigger and purchased one.
The 536 MPRO is a three-stage tripod made of carbon fiber leg tubes and magnesium castings, making it extremely lightweight but also very robust. It has a safety payload of 25 kg. (55.12 lbs.) which is plenty for the type of video productions our video crew shoots out here in Vienna, Austria.
Videographer transporting the lightweight 536 MPRO on the go
The 536 MPRO is a four section tripod and very easy to transport. It has a 100 mm bowl + 75mm adapter depending on which tripod-head you’ll be using (our production crew uses the Manfrotto 504HD fluid head). The versatility of the tripod is amazing, it extends to an amazing 203mm (nearly 6'7 ft.), which by the way is exactly my size (I’m tall, yes). Making it a perfect tripod for our video crew since we do a lot of conference, presentation and event coverage where we need the camera set up really high for filming speeches and/or talks on stage across a room.
High-angle set up for a conference coverage video shoot
High-angle set up for a presentation / talk video shoot
One of my favorite features are the three leg angle selector options (23°, 50° and 70°) which allow camera operators to be extremely flexible when it comes to support. I find this especially useful when our vide team needs to get a low shot close to the ground; the tripod is flexible enough to get almost at a Hi-Hat tripod level.
Camera operator filming a low shot with the 536 MPRO
When it comes to flexibilty and quality, our video production crew has been extremely satisfied with it. Let us know if you also have any experience with the 536 MPRO and what you think of it. We’d also love to hear which other flexible tripods you use for your video and film productions.
Posted by Vitor Goncalves
Vitor is a filmmaker, cameraman and editor based in Vienna, Austria. He is the owner of Reel Arts Media.