Manfrotto is a widely respected manufacturer of camera and light support equipment and its tripods and tripod heads are favoured by photographers and film-makers across the world. Its most recent video head, the Nitrotech N8 (this tripod has been discontinued – see our current Manfrotto Tripod heads here), debuts technology more commonly associated with air rifles - a nitrogen piston.
Rather than providing the force to propel a pellet, the pressurised nitrogen gas moves the piston to counterbalance the weight of the camera as the tripod head is tilted. It’s designed to work with camera systems up to 8Kg in weight and it enables smooth tilting movements to be made so it can be used during filming. As the pressure inside the piston can be varied continuously via a knob, the counterbalance can be adjusted to suit a range of camera and lens set-ups perfectly. This, combined with the smooth movements, make this tripod head ideal for video as well as other applications such as wildlife photography where long, heavy lenses can be difficult to move precisely or you’ll need to mount a spotting scope to give a clear, steady view.
Unlike most spring-loaded video heads, the counterbalance can be relied upon to hold the camera in position without the need to lock it - although you can if you wish. There’s also a tilt drag adjustment dial so you can vary the pressure that’s required on the pan bar to move the camera to suit your own preferences and the shot you need.
Another advantage to using a gas system rather than a spring system is that the head is lighter than some spring-loaded heads: the Nitrotech N8 weighs just 2.2Kg.
Manfrotto’s fluid drag system is built into the Nitrotech N8, enabling you to vary the force required to make panning movements while keeping them jerk-free.
There’s also an Easy link 3/8-inch connector with anti-rotation to allow accessories like a video monitor or a light panel to be held securely next to the camera. And to make it easier to see in low light, the level bubble in the head base is illuminated - power is supplied by a small lithium battery.
While the Nitrotech N8 has a 75mm flat base to make it compatible with a range of mounting options including tripods, sliders, jibs and cranes, it can also be used with a half bowl adaptor to enable it to be levelled on an amount.
At the opposite end of the head, there’s a side-locking sliding plate mechanism to enable the camera to be locked quickly in position with a convenient means of adjustment.
Manfrotto promises that the Nitrotech N8 is the first of a new series – so we can look forward to seeing more nitrogen piston counterbalancing tripod heads in the future.
Check out our First Look at the Nitrotech N8 on our YouTube Channel:
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