Today we are looking at the Manfrotto 460 gimbal. This is a stabilizer with a 4.6kg capacity that promises quick camera installation and ease of use with an intuitive touch screen interface.
This version comes with some of the latest technology available on gimbals, like a control wheel and 12-hour battery life.
Manfrotto – Background
Manfrotto is a big name in the photo/video industry. They provide lots of solutions for travel and studio shoots, like tripods, grip and lighting. Manfrotto’s line of gimbals was announced in the summer of 2020, and although there are only 2 options available now from Manfrotto, they claim to be working on some new gimbals with very interesting features.
In the box
Manfrotto ships this gimbal in a gray EPP styrofoam box — not the most elegant solution, but it works. Inside, you get the gimbal itself, a mounting plate, quick release plate, top bracket, 4 batteries, charger and cable, support arm, tripod, lens support, and camera control cables.
At first look, the gimbal is pretty standard, with no outstanding features, like accessory mounts or ergonomic design. But upon further inspection, the simplicity of the design seems to be the main point of this unit. It just does what it’s supposed to do. It’s an all-metal construction with a rubberized grip, locking axes, two USB ports, and a camera control port on the tilt baseplate.
Size and weight
Folded up, the 460 measures about 45cm long by 24cm wide. It’s pretty compact compared to some of the other gimbals we have in the studio. It weighs under 2kg with the tripod and the support arm.
One of the most prominent features of this gimbal is the quick-release plate. It allows to dismount the camera without losing the balance. Manfrotto isn’t the only brand that offers this option, but this one is important because it’s not just a proprietary system. This release plate is compatible with the ARCA Swiss.
This is a big deal for us because all of our tripods in the studio are fitted with RC2 supports, and we’ve been using release plates that are compatible with both the ARCA and RC2. So now, we can easily go from the Manfrotto gimbal to our RC2 supports, and without having to re-balance the gimbal when returning the camera.
The quick-release plate comes with a D-ring to attach to the camera, but we suggest tightening it with an Allen key for additional grip. To operate the quick release, turn the lever to the open position and hold it there, while angling the camera to the right, away from the lever.
In order to help with balancing, with the locking lever released, you can slide the camera back and forth. With some front-heavy setups, you’ll need the additional 2-3cm that this adjustment provides.
To mount the camera back on the gimbal, angle the release plate against the right edge of the mount, then press down on the left to activate the lock. Tighten the locking lever by pulling it back.
The base plate inserts from the front towards the back and has stoppers on both ends. There are arrows on both components to guide this operation. You lock the baseplate in place by pulling back on this lever. To release the plate for storage, loosen the lever and slide the plate forward while pushing the release button on the back end.
One note about balancing. The baseplate release lever and the quick release plate lever are very close together and look very similar. If you’re not mindful, it’s possible to unintentionally release the camera. This can result in the camera falling, so make sure you hold the camera while operating the release levers.
The kit ships with 4 big Li-Ion batteries and a dedicated charger. There is no way to charge these batteries through the USB interface on the gimbal. This may or may not be a design flaw. There are plenty of people that would argue for or against this feature.
On the one hand, you can’t simply power the gimbal with a power bank for continuous usage. But you can always have a second set of batteries to ensure that you can continue working with the gimbal after the 12 hours of runtime are up.
While you’ll probably not have to continuously use the gimbal for 12 hours, it’s important to remember that charging these batteries takes about 5 hours.
Another note about installing the batteries. In order to get to the battery compartment, you have to unscrew this metal cap on the bottom of the gimbal. There is no direction guide on the battery bay, so you kind of have to look at the terminals to know which way the batteries go in. And the battery door feels a little hard to close. We wonder if, in the long run, it will hold up to the constant back and forth.
Body / design
The overall design of the Manfrotto 460 is pretty minimalist, but the features feel very well thought-out. The add-on support arm is made of metal. It attaches with a special non-twist positioning guide, which is a nice touch.
On both sides of the arm, there are 1/4’’ mounting holes with some slits that look like some anti-twist mount, but we’re not sure what kind. We tried a mount with Arri locating pins, and it didn’t fit in the slits, but worked by gripping the sides of the arm. The back end of the arm has another 1/4’’ mount for a handle. Our kit didn’t include this handle, but Manfrotto sells a long carbon fiber extension handle.
Another option that you can buy separately to use as a handle is a wireless controller that features all the buttons and a simple menu screen. We didn’t get this accessory, so we couldn’t test it, but it looks promising since it allows to control the unit remotely and has a motion-mimic system.
The tripod is pretty simple but very sturdy — something you would expect from Manfrotto. It’s an all-metal construction with a rubberized grip and rubber feet. Something we haven’t seen on other gimbal tripods is that this one comes with screws to control the tension on the legs.
Another interesting accessory is this top bracket that gives extra grip for the camera, while also adding extra mounting holes on top. It connects to the camera’s hot shoe on one side, and on the other side to a provided short rod that screws into the top of the gimbal’s tilt arm.
Screen / menu / operation
To operate the gimbal, there is a control wheel, a joystick, 6 buttons, and a clear LCD screen. The joystick feels very spring-y, and the response is quick. There is no way to adjust the joystick response time on the gimbal, but you can use the app for those settings.
The 4 buttons on the front are for turning the unit on and off, changing between lock mode and pan follow mode, and operating the camera photo and video functions.
There’s a trigger button on the back of the unit for temporarily going into follow mode and for repositioning the camera.
The right side of the gimbal features a function button. Single-click the function button to lock and unlock the screen. Within the menu interface, single-clicking the function button returns to the main screen.
The control wheel allows for fine-tuned control of the axes. To pick the axis to control, click on the wheel. As you click on it, you can see the setting icon change on the screen. You can also use this wheel to control the wireless follow focus add-on, but we didn’t receive this in our kit, so we couldn’t test it.
The menu touchscreen is pretty intuitive. You just swipe through the menu pages and tap on the items. Use the joystick to set the values.
The main screen displays 4 modes that you can tap on to control how the gimbal reacts to your movements. The lock mode keeps the camera pointed in one direction. The pan mode frees the pan axis. The follow mode frees the pan and tilt axis. And the all-follow mode frees all three axes.
When swiping left of the home screen, you enter the camera controls menu. Connect your camera to the USB camera control interface on the left side of the gimbal’s tilt base. Depending on camera and lens compatibility, you can use the gimbal’s menu screen to start and stop the video, take photos, set your camera’s white balance, zoom in and out, and switch between photo and video modes.
We tried the compatibility functions with 3 different Sony cameras, and the gimbal was only able to connect to our a6500, but the only control options were taking photos and video. We found this functionality pretty limited and also pretty slow. Manfrotto will need to work on this in future firmware updates.
Swiping to the right of the home screen takes you to a quick feature selection. The first one is Inception Mode. Tap on it to enter the settings screen. You can choose the direction and the number of rotations. In order to use this feature, turn the gimbal handle horizontally.
The second feature in this menu is Motion Timelapse. This requires camera control because you set the gimbal to take still images at a set interval of time. You can set this up in the app or in this interface. In the settings for this feature, you have the option to indicate the start and stop rotation and tilt points.
Going back to the features screen, you have the selfie button. Tap on it to turn the camera to face you. Double click on the trigger button to recenter the camera. The last option on this screen is the portrait feature, which changes the camera orientation to shoot vertical video. This option is grayed out and is activated when you position the gimbal horizontally. To exit portrait orientation, double-click on the trigger button.
The other two buttons on the bottom of this screen are for the wireless follow focus unit and to toggle between control wheel modes.
Two swipes to the right of the home screen will take you to the gimbal settings. The first item in this menu is Payload settings. Here, you can use preset, set settings automatically, or customize your settings.
Swipe to the left again to return to the previous screen. You can set the responsiveness of the gimbal by entering one of the maneuver modes. The Smooth Mode allows for longer sweeps as the gimbal follows the movement.
The action mode keeps the sweeps to a minimum. This mode feels quick and responsive. You can also customize these values in the Custom mode.
Manfrotto gimbal app
The app to control the gimbal is pretty straightforward. Connecting is simple. It allows to move the axes independently remotely. There is a settings page, but it has some problems. While you can change the maneuver modes, the joystick and trigger settings don’t seem to register with the gimbal. The app is a little too simple, and clearly needs more development and error proofing.
Another interesting add-on from Manfrotto is this extension they call the Gimboom. If you’ve seen our Manfrotto 635 fast tripod review, you’ll recognize this technology.
It’s a lightweight, but durable carbon fiber tube that weighs only 500g and extends from 50cm to about 1m by releasing the mechanism in the middle. attaching this Gimboom allows for smoother control of wide vertical and horizontal sweeps. You can also get creative angles by raising or lowering the camera.
The Gimboom features 3 mounting holes for adding accessories, like a monitor, but it’s missing any kind of anti-twist adapter. There is a mounting hole also on the bottom of the Gimboom, so you can attach tripod legs, for example. It’s a sturdy construction and really helps in controlling and handling the gimbal.
Manfrotto Gimboom in action
In the field
When working with the gimbal in the field, it simply did what you expected it to. It’s responsive and easy to go through the controls. The screen is clearly visible in daylight. The handle is a little too short, but the tripod extension makes up for it. Using the Manfrotto 460 connected to the Gimboom makes it even easier to handle.
In conclusion, this gimbal is strong enough to maneuver some hefty camera setups. It’s responsive and simple to use. The accessories make up for the gimbal’s minimalist design. You have the option to strip it down to bare essentials, or rig to get it ready for heavy prolonged use. There isn’t much to critique in this unit, other than the compatibility issues, the carrying case, and the app — all of which can be solved in future updates.
As for pricing, the Manfrotto 460 gimbal sells for $530. The wireless controller is an extra $150. The follow focus adds an extra $110 to the package, and the Gimboom extension another $200.
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