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Mini Test: Manfrotto 645 Fast tripod with 608 head

Posted on Sep 10, 2021 by Alex Fice

£1079/$1092

If you just love a traditional-style twin-tube video tripod, but want all the latest high-tech innovations, the Manfrotto 645 Fast tripod with 608 head could be an ideal fit. We tested the aluminium version, although a carbon design is also available – which saves 0.3kg/0.66lb, but costs £216/$156 more.

The kit matches the award-winning Nitrotech 608 fluid head with the new 645 Fast Twin legs, making it one of the fastest tripods of its type to set up.

The latest innovation is in the legs, with large lever-lock clamps at the very top, just underneath the head. Instead of having to bend down and manually unlock the thumbscrew locks, then lock each leg into position – as on conventional tripods – it’s easy to unlock the Fast clamps at the top. Then extend the legs to the desired height, and clamp them down again without bending down. This is always the fiddly bit, when you often accidentally change the leg length.

The Fast system really is swift. Flip open the locks, lift the top of the tripod to the desired height, close the locks, then spread the legs. It’s simple, and the clamps are nice and large, rather than the traditional thumbscrew-type. The tripod we used had a mid-level spreader, so it’s ideal to set up quickly. Remove it if you like, and use the three-angle selectors on the legs.

The tripod has a 100mm bowl fitting, but comes with a 75mm bowl adapter already in place. The Nitrotech 608 head has a flat base, but comes with a 75mm bowl adapter so it’s ready to go. Being able to use either 75mm or 100mm bowl heads is a nice touch. And the flat-base head can be removed to use on sliders.

The head uses a very visible nitrogen piston mechanism that allows a continuous and adjustable counterbalance system (enabling the precise control of payload up to 8kg/17.6lb). The kit comes with a long camera plate, so balancing your rig nicely shouldn’t be a problem.

The fluid drag is variable on both pan and tilt, offering a silky-smooth, judder-free action, with no discernible bounceback at the end of the movement. The tilt drag is altered by a large knob on the side of the head, and the pan by a large dial at the base. It really is very easy and obvious to use.

The head itself has a 3/8in Easy Link connector with anti-rotation pins, that allow an external monitor or other accessories to be fitted. Spiked feet allow outdoor use, with rubber overshoes to protect floors for use indoors. And there is an illuminated spirit level on the head to ensure your set up is horizontal.

Specifications:

Material: Aluminium

Head maximum load: 8kg/17.6lb

Tripod maximum load:
24.95kg/55lb

Working height: 43.5-173cm

Legs: Three-section
twin-tube aluminium

Leg lock: Flip lock

Spreader: Mid-level

Feet: Rubber and dual spiked

Closed length: 89.5cm/35.2in

Weight: 6.1kg/13.4lb

Pro Moviemaker Rating: 9/10

A speedy, high-tech tripod that is ideal for traditionalists and big cameras

Pros: Fast to set up, smooth operation

Cons: Not the lightest

To find out more, visit Manfrotto’s website.

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