In this Manfrotto XPRO monopod review, we take a look at one of the most popular video monopods for DSLR and mirrorless video shooters.
While there are a number of fluid base monopods competing for attention, Manfrotto’s meticulous attention to detail makes the XPRO my favorite monopod on the market. Manfrotto has scoured their old monopod design (the MVM250A) for weaknesses and made meaningful changes that videographers will find a worthy upgrade.
If you don’t need the full staying power of a tripod, but are ready to move past shaky handheld-camera footage, the XPRO is a powerfully portable tool for stabilizing your video. If you want to learn more about why you might choose a monopod over a tripod, check out our technical breakdown article here.
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Manfrotto XPRO Monopod Review: Technical Specs
Manfrotto XPRO Monopod, 4 sections, aluminum
|Manfrotto XPRO Monopod, 5 sections, carbon fiber|
Manfrotto XPRO Monopod, 4 sections, aluminum w/ fluid head
Manfrotto XPRO Monopod Review: Features
Even though it’s technically a single-leg pod, video monopods can’t quite get away from three feet, or toes as I like to call them. An inch or two longer than the MVM250A, the XPRO’s toes give the monopod that much more stability. The new fluid joint is also a bit bigger for a smoother glide and greater range of motion.
Entirely new to the XPRO base is the locking switch which fixes the monopod upright. While I’m probably not going to leave the standing monopod to cross the room, the locking clamp allows me to kneel down and rifle through my camera bag without worrying too much about it (and my camera) falling over.
That said, I’m probably gonna keep a hand close by, so I can catch it just in case. Before the locking clamp, I could always just lay the monopod on the ground and because I’m a stickler for safety, I’m probably going to keep doing that.
I suppose if you were using a very light camera and felt confident there was no way a stiff wind or clumsy bystander wouldn’t tip it over, the lock might come in handy, but overall I’m not sold on the hype of its usefulness.
Once upon an oceanside wedding, I took my Manfrotto XPRO monopod into the sand without a second thought of what the gritty bits of rock would do to the fluid ball joint. For the rest of the day everything was fine, but a few wedding weekends later I began to notice a rather horrible creaking noise coming from the monopod’s base.
Eventually, the creaking became so loud that I was actually ruining audio and getting evil eyes from various mothers of the bride. After one particularly squeaky wedding, I knew I had to do something so I carefully opened up the joint and applied a bit of WD-40 with a prayer that I hadn’t completely ruined Manfrotto’s ingenious, but not-quite-beach-proof tech. I haven’t heard a peep since.
The moral of the story is firstly to not take your fluid joints into the sand, but it’s also a testament that Manfrotto monopods are resilient, even under the worst wedding-brain blunders.
With my MVM250A, I occasionally ran into the issue of a slipping leg. If my camera rig was too heavy, or I put any of my own weight on the pole, (which sometimes you just gotta do after a long day at the venue) one of the sections would slowly slip downwards. Readjusting the height was an inconvenience, so I’m very happy to report that Manfrotto solved the issue with its new “quick power lock” clamps. The new system is quick, snappy, doesn’t require much force to unclamp, and feels much more secure.
Get a grip
Older monopods and tripods from Manfrotto have this weirdly hard foam material wrapped around their legs. Have you ever come across foam that’s so old or beat up that it’s like it dried up, cracking, and a little petrified? It’s sort of like that. The diameter of the grip is also just a little too big around to get a good grip on.
With the XPRO, Manfrotto has ditched the foam for a sturdy rubberized grip (aka “leg warmer”) that feels better to hold. The diameter is also a bit skinnier, readily accommodating hands smaller than those of a basketball player.
In the past, Manfrotto has only offered video head + tripod/monopod legs in bundles which, in my case, meant buying a second video head I didn’t need. But since the release of the XPRO line, Manfrotto has loosened up and given their customers the freedom to pick and choose what they need. Now you can buy the pole individually and use the MVM500AH video head from your old monopod.
You also have the option of going for a 4 or 5-piece built from aluminum or carbon fiber. Note: the 5-section is actually the smaller design, in case you’re looking for something more travel-friendly. Note 2: The carbon fiber version is technically lighter which is nice, but it’s not like a night and day difference.
Another nifty perk is the built-in ¼” to ⅜” fixing screw. If you ever need to use a smaller thread size, the larger thread tucks inside of the mounting plate via a spring-loaded mechanism.
A word from the competition
If you can imagine more situations where it might be useful to have a locking base and a monopod that can stand on its own, you might want to check out the Sirui P-204SR. It’s the same three-toe base but significantly longer. The added length makes the Sirui more stable and more tripod-like.
The overall construction of the Sirui is well-built, is also available in carbon-fiber, and I often hear how much videographers enjoy working with it. But the complaint I hear the most is that Sirui uses rotating knobs for the leg sections. The XPRO’s quick power locks are just so much faster than twisting to untighten and retighten to make height adjustments.
There are a few other manufacturer’s out there that make almost identical monopods in terms of both design and functionality like Benro, Avella, and IFOOTAGE, but I prefer to stick with Manfrotto because of their reputation. They’re typically more expensive, but for me, I know I’m getting great customer service, a good warranty, and long-term build quality from a well-established brand like Manfrotto.
Manfrotto XPRO Monopod Review: Pros & Cons
Manfrotto XPRO Monopod Review: Final Verdict
With the right video head, there are a ton of visually-interesting shots you can capture with a monopod. But with the new Quick Release Locks, improved FLUIDTECH base, and rubberized grip the XPRO goes the extra mile.
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