Today we shall be taking a look at a small little product that seemed to completely fly under the radar but truly deserve much more attention.
It comes in this small unassuming cardboard box and has a really boring name – the Manfrotto 003, but the product itself is anything but boring and is actually extremely useful and remarkably versatile.
The 003 is a super well built table-top light stand. Before we got it from Manfrotto we were not really sure what to expect but the minute that we opened the box and held the unit in our hand we immediately felt that it is built to last.
The legs are heavy duty and made from thick metal and the longest one is 33 cm or about 13 inches when closed down. All the legs have very well made heavy duty rubberized tips. The unit feels substantial and indeed we are looking at over 880 grams or 31 ounces.
You do need to apply a bit of force to open the legs and the unit came with a metal spigot with a 1/4″ 20 or 3/8″ threads which you lock into the female receptacle. The longer leg has a 3/8″ thread at the end for connecting accessories.
Compact and super versatile unit
O.K., so why are we so excited about this little unit? after all isn’t this just three metal pieces with a simple adaptor?
Well, there are two connected reasons. The first is that this little thing is super versatile and the second reason is that since it is so well built it can take quite a bit of weight while still being extremely portable.
So what can you really do with it? If you watched our previous review of the Ledgo LG-D600 light you might have seen that we used that light as a hair light behind our talent. We wanted to place the light directly behind her but out of the frame. Since we were on location we didn’t have all of our gear with us and we didn’t have a way to hang the light above her with a stand which would have required another heavy duty stand with a boom and sandbags. Instead we placed it directly behind her on the ground.
Since most light stands can’t go very low and the light itself has a tall yoke we had a problem. Luckily our talent was tall and she hid the light completely and we were able to finish the shoot. However it was clear to us that we need a different solution and this is where the 003 came into the picture.
Low to the ground
With this unit you can place your light significantly closer to the ground. This isn’t a solution to any shooting scenario but when you need it – there is really no other way to go.
What else can you do with the stand? the answer is quite a few things actually. You can light a background, use it as a table top light stand and even convert it into a pretty nice heavy duty table top tripod – just make sure that you secure the head firmly enough if you are using a fluid head to pan.
One other cool thing that you can do with this unit is connect a actual pole to it and turn it into a real, but very compact light stand. Manfrotto actually has two compatible products that you can buy and use with the 003 – the first is a 21-33 inch pole and the second is a very long 35-95 inch pole which turn this stand base into a proper light stand although one with a very small footprint.
We haven’t tried this combination yet (we already asked Manfrotto if they can send us the poles and we shall report back), but if it is stable enough it can be a really nice solution for a compact foldable light stand that can be used with smaller, lightweight lights when you need to travel with minimal sized gear.
You can use it as a tabletop tripod
So to sum thing up – The Manfrotto 003 is surprisingly well build, compact and phenomenally versatile. There is really nothing bad that we can say about this little accessory apart from being a tad heavy which in our view is not a bad thing as it needs to keep your gear from tipping down.
Finally pricing. We got the unit from Manfrotto along with a large number of other review samples (reviews coming soon) so we didn’t really bother to check the price beforehand. Since many of Manffrotto’s products are designed for professionals and priced accordingly we were a little bit worried that this unit might turn out to be on the pricey side. To our big surprise we were really happy to discover that this unit is actually really inexpensive at under $28 (Please don’t tell Manfrotto, but we still think it would be a steal at twice the price). You can get the shorter Manfrotto 122B Adjustable Pole (21-Inches to 33-Inches) about $28 as well and the longer Manfrotto 099B 3- Section Extension Pole (35-Inches to 92-Inches) for for $48.
Bottom line – with so much going for it we think that this is a product almost any photographer or videographer will find very useful and at this price – just go ahead and buy one, what the hell – get two.
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