Manfrotto 393 / Bogen 3421 long lens support
by Luc Van Nieuwenhove
Nikonian in Belgium
a friend about this article
of us dream with making wildlife images, as those at the Nikonians
Wildlife Photography Forum and in well made nature books.
To begin to learn how, the need for a truly long lens soon becomes
very apparent. Finally, I bought a 600mm f/4 AF-I Nikkor and was
then confronted with how to gracefully support such a monster.
My regular ballhead didn't seem to be the best of means.
393 / Bogen 3421 long lens support
desperate and fruitless search for a Wimberley Gimbal type lens
support in Europe, where I live, made the inquiry at the Tripods,
Heads & Camera Support forum and was given an immediate
answer: The Manfrotto 393, known as the Bogen 3421 in the USA.
Len Shepherd explained: "Based on the 'U' supports used to
hold powerful binoculars (100x50 or bigger) on naval vessels,
these have to be strong to take weights up to 20 pounds, infinitely
flexible so the user can counteract the movement of the ship in
rough seas, and hold the binoculars absolutely steady for maximum
resolution. The principle behind the design is good for big lenses".
quick look at the head in a store and home it went. What
a fantastic value for the money!
thing to do is to balance the lens around the center of
gravity. This can be achieved by moving the lens back
or forwards using the provided sliding plate (Manfrotto
357PLV), now improved with two screws instead of just
key features are:
protection to prevent damage to the lens when tilted to maximum
adjustments in three steps (P1 P2 P3)
for your money (150 Euro)
right, the lens mounted in the most secure configuration,
not hanging from the top but resting, as there is a choice
of supporting the lens with the lens tripod support below
or above the lens.
head is build to give both panoramic and vertical friction
movements, so it is really easy to use it for dynamic
The Manfrotto 393 certainly holds the lens firm and yet
allows instant following of a moving subject without unlocking
can see on this right side image how, if well balanced,
you can point it anywhere and just leave it there without
locking it further - it will stay put - this
is a great feature!
Gimbal type tripod head is either $465 or $565 if with quick
Wimberley Sidekick costs $250 but you need a sturdy professional
ballhead to operate it, like the Markins
M20. The other alternative is Kirk's King
Cobra, for $440. So, yes, this bracket is the least expensive
of the Gimbal type lens supports, it currently runs for $160 at
and can be mounted directly on a monopod or a tripod.
Prices in the USA, in US Dollars as of April 21, 2005