Sign up Login
Home Forums Articles Galleries Members Galleries Master Your Vision Galleries 5Contest Categories 5Winners Galleries 5ANPAT Galleries 5 The Winners Editor's Choice Portfolios Recent Photos Search Contest Info Help News Newsletter Join us Renew Membership About us Retrieve password Contact us Contests Vouchers Wiki Apps THE NIKONIAN™ For the press Fundraising Search Help!

Accessories Reviews

Using the Manfrotto 393 (Bogen 3421)

Luc VN (LucVN)

Keywords: gadgets, non_nikon, manfrotto

previous page Page 1/2 show all pages

Many of us dream about making wildlife images as those we can see here at Nikonians in the Wildlife category 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.


Click for enlarged view

Click for enlarged detail

Manfrotto 393 / Bogen 3421 long lens support


After desperate and fruitless search for a Wimberley Gimbal type lens support in Europe, where I live, made the inquiry at the Tripods and Camera Support forum and was given an immediate answer: The Manfrotto 393, known as the Bogen 3421 in the USA. 

Nikonian Len Shepherd explained: "Based on the 'U' supports used to hold powerful binoculars (100 x 50 or even bigger) on naval vessels, these have to be strong to take weights up to 10kg (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".

A quick look at the head in a store and home it went. What a fantastic value for the money! 

First 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 one.


The key features are:

  • Friction base (S)
  • Rubber hand grips
  • Rubber protection to prevent damage to the lens when tilted to maximum (R)
  • Height adjustments in three steps (P1 P2 P3)
  • Value for your money (150 Euro or ca 150 USD)

At 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.

The head is build to give both panoramic and vertical friction movements, so it is really easy to use it for dynamic photography.

Click for enlarged view

The Manfrotto 393 certainly holds the lens firm and yet allows instant following of a moving subject without unlocking any controls.


You 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!

Click for enlargement

The Wimberley Gimbal type tripod head is either $465 or $565 if with quick release. The 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 B&H*, and can be mounted directly on a monopod or a tripod. 

* Prices in the USA, in US Dollars as of April 21, 2005

(1 Vote )
previous page Page 1/2 show all pages

Originally written on June 20, 2003

Last updated on January 6, 2021

Luc VN Luc VN (LucVN)

Awarded for his excellent article contributions to the Resources

Brussels, Belgium
Basic, 848 posts


Roman Slusny (nikors) on May 13, 2016

test 20160513 1830

Roman Slusny (nikors) on May 11, 2016

test 1606

Roman Slusny (nikors) on May 11, 2016

test 1604

previous page Page 1/2 show all pages