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Home > Reviews > Bogen / Manfrotto 484RC2 Mini Ballhead with Rapid Connect 2 (Quick Release) Review

Bogen / Manfrotto 484RC2 Mini Ballhead with Rapid Connect 2 (Quick Release) Review
06/25/2006

When I'm out in the field with my Digital Rebel XT, I've been carrying along my Velbon UP-40 4-section monopod. It's light, compact and quick to set up. Unfortunately it lacks the one feature that a tripod has, tilt. I've been doing a lot of research and found many options to add the tilt feature to my monopod so, since I already own a Bogen/Manfrotto 728B tripod with RC2 quick release, I opted for Bogen / Manfrotto 484RC2 Mini Ballhead which uses the same/similar quick release mechanism... at more than double the cost of my monopod.

What's Inside
1 - Bogen / Manfrotto 484RC2 Mini Ballhead with Rapid Connect 2 (Quick Release)
1 - 3157N Quick Release Plate
1 - Instructions guide
1 - General Instructions and Warning guide
1 - 2-Year Warranty + Additional 3-Years after Registering Online or by Mail

Bogen / Manfrotto 484RC2 Mini Ballhead Specifications
Maximum Camera Supported   35mm SLR
Load Capacity   8.80 lb (4 kg)
Height   3.75" (9.5 cm)
Base Diameter   1.33" (3.3 cm)
Quick Release   Yes
Spirit Level   No
Tension Control   No
Tripod Mount Thread Size   3/8"-16
Weight   11 oz (317 g)

A close up view of Bogen / Manfrotto's 484RC2 Mini Ballhead with Rapid Connect 2 (Quick Release)
 
Bogen / Manfrotto's 484RC2 Mini Ballhead is not as mini is I expected. From the base to the surface of the mounting plate, it stands just short of 4" which will add that much more to the height of the monopod, transforming the compact monopod into one that is not so compact.

Except for the plastic (hard phenolic resin) ball and the plastic ball release lever the rest of the construction is metal. The ball housing is die cast aluminum with the die marks and imperfections left intact (kinda' crude). It has a durable matte black finish. The interior of the housing is precision machined. The base is milled aluminum and it doesn't appear to have any finish on it. The center of the base is tapped for 3/8"-16 threads.

The die cast aluminum Rapid Connect (RC2), same finish as the housing, is mounted to the ball with 3/8"-16 threads and locked in place with an allen screw. The 3157N quick release plate is die cast anodized aluminum with a non-slip rubber pad and even though it has holes for a VHS (camcorder locator/positioning) pin, the pin is not included. Probably because this product is targeted towards camera users.

Using Bogen / Manfrotto's 484RC2 Mini Ballhead with Rapid Connect 2 (Quick Release)
When I received the 484RC2 Mini Ballhead I didn't realize that I would also need a 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 tripod reducer bushing to make it work on the monopod... bummer. This item was not available at the local hardware stores, so I had to order it from the same place where I purchased the ballhead (B&H). While I was there, I ordered some other stuff to defray the cost of shipping.

The 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 tripod reducer bushing was installed using a compact, convenient, inexpensive tool... a coin.

Velbon VS-3
To open the quick release lever, you'll need to rotate the safety lever away from the plate. Once you pull out the quick release lever fully, a pin pops up, lifting the quick release plate and locking the release lever open. The use of this pop-up pin is a nice feature and, unfortunately, is not incorporated in Bogen/Manfrotto's 728B tripod.

Replacing the 3157N quick release plate by engaging the front, then pushing down the back, will lower the pin and close the release lever.

The safety lever is an important feature of the RC2 mechanism because it will prevent accidental opening of the release lever.

The 3157N quick release plate is solid and fairly light. It weighs just under an ounce, or about 4 quarters (US). There's a slight recess (or indentation) on one side indicating the front of the plate and there are two sets of recessed marks on the bottom pointing to the direction of the lens. Number 1 is for cameras and number 2 for camcorders.

What I like about the 3157N quick release plate is the thumb screw. The thumb screw is steel with black chrome finish. The head of the screw has a flip out D-ring, so you don't have to worry about carrying around a screw driver, or making sure you have coins in your camera bag.

Handling Bogen / Manfrotto's 484RC2 Mini Ballhead for the first time, I discovered that my hands were covered in dark gray grease and realized that the ball was thickly coated with that stuff. I immediately washed my hands and, with a clean rag, wiped off all the grease that covered the Mini Ballhead, although residue remains on the ball.

Releasing the ball lever, you can swing/tilt the camera 30 degrees left or right. There are slots on opposite sides of the ball housing allowing you to tilt the camera 90 degrees straight up or down, and shoot in vertical format. The action of the ball, when there is slight tension, is fairly smooth but feels as though the ball is a tad bit out-of-round. I'm not certain, but maybe the action could have been smoother had I left the grease on the ball? Just for comfort of mind, I covered the ball in ball bearing grease, but the ball still feels out-of-round. Of course, releasing the ball lever fully (less that 1/4 turn), the ball is totally free. So the grease is out, again.

If you're not satisfied with the position of the ball lever, you can rotate it to any position by pulling it slightly out, until it is free. The pictures on the left shows the lever, in the locked position, pointing up. Personally I like to have it locked in the down position.

Conclusion
Adding a ballhead to a monopod greatly increases the versatility of the monopod. Prior to the ballhead I was pretty much limited to landscape photography although in some instances I have rotated the camera with monopod attached, nearly causing injury and/or damage.

The quality of Bogen / Manfrotto's 484RC2 Mini Ballhead is pretty good and my one complaint is that the ball still feels slightly out-of-round but, with the weight of the camera, you don't notice it. The other minor complaint was the over abundance of grease that was used.

The 484RC2 Mini Ballhead is small and light, but it does reduce the compactness of my Velbon UP-40 monopod, but that's a sacrifice I'm more than happy to make.

The quick release definitely adds to the joy of using the monopod because it's the same/similar mechanism on my tripod and makes setting up the monopod that much quicker. Now I can leave the 3157N quick release plate on the camera.

:-)

Gary Kawamura
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