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Manfrotto's 502AH fluid video head offers silky smooth footage, we review it here.

manfrotto 502ah
Best for...
Professional use with heavier DSLR set-ups
Overall Score
Easy set up and fine adjustment to drag.
Fixed counterbalance weight a tad high for lightweight mirrorless camera use.

Okay, this isn't exactly a lightweight option but it sits conveniently between the Befree, which is what you really need for travelling with a fluid video head, and the professional grade Nitrotech range, both in terms of features and weight.

What you get with the 502AH is a hefty build of anodised, smoothly moving parts that feels every bit the prosumer video head.

The quality is immediately apparent but realistically this would only be taken abroad if your primary objective was for a shoot.

We used the 502AH with a Panasonic GH5 with kit lens and a Canon M50 with Tokina 11-16mm and the 4kg counterbalance weight is never likely to be met by either of these cameras, with my set-up sitting at a max of about 1.5kg. In this instance the head springs back up slowly so if you want it to sit in a particular position you have to lock the head off.

To be fair to Manfrotto though, they do suggest the usage of the 502AH sits within HDSLR and camcorders, and they've clearly optimised the counterbalance weight for this scenario.

Despite this we could absolutely see the benefits of stepping up from a much cheaper video head without a fluid drag system or with fixed drag.

Set-up and balancing are both relatively straightforward thanks to a sliding plate with ¼" and 3/8" screws supplied. Once set-up the 502AH gives you silky smooth pan and tilt motions with the adjustable drag allowing for slow, smooth shots or faster panning shots. Build quality is superb and if you have the right payload the counterweight is a bonus which gives you much finer control over tilt motion.

The pan bar is removable and adjustable as well as being attachable on either side of the head depending on preference and the 502AH is equipped with two 3/8'' attachment points to allow an external monitor or other accessory to be connected.

If you're looking to up your videography game and investing in new kit then the Manfrotto 502AH is a fantastic and affordable option that's built to last and last. For a more travel friendly video head check out the lightweight and compact Befree Live.


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