DJI and Zhiyun might be two of the most well-known names for gimbals, but Manfrotto is joining the ranks with the MVG220 and MVG460. While it might be more well known for tripods and monopods, adding gimbal stabilization to its products portfolio is a natural move for Manfrotto. We got our hands on the smaller MVG220 and gave it a spin. Be sure to hit the video below and see it in action.
Manfrotto gimbal line-up
Manfrotto’s first products in the gimbal arena have some nice features and available accessories. The smaller MVG220 pack a weight limit of 4.8lbs and starts at $360 while the bigger MVG460 can handle up to 10lbs and comes in at $500.
Getting the MVG220 set up can take a while the first time, but it gets easier the more you use it. The MVG220 comes with a simple but handy carrying case. When you open the case, the gimbal is in locked storage mode. The gimbal has an additional locked mode for balancing. It’s easiest to mount the tripod feet and stand the gimbal up to start balancing. Once the gimbal is upright, you can lock the tilt axis and roll axis in the balance mode.
From this position, getting set up is a matter of running through all of the pivot points to get the gimbal balanced. The manual explains this, but the images were a little hard to interpret for me which is why it took a bit longer the first time I set it up. Thankfully because each axis locks, you only have to focus on balancing one at a time.
Check out the video below to see the Manfrotto MVG220 in action.
Manfrotto MVG220: Video
One unfortunate thing is that to pack everything back into the handy carrying case, all of the balance points need to be reset. So for my setup, I had to start back at square 1 every time I packed away the gimbal.
Manfrotto also includes a second arm which helps to hold and control the gimbal that easily bolts on. While the whole system isn’t terribly heavy, having a second handle makes holding and moving the gimbal much more comfortable in many situations.
MVG220: Weight limit
The MVG220’s weight limit was plenty for my usual payload. I shoot on a Sony A7s III which stays under that weight limit with plenty of lenses and accessories.
The only issue I had was when trying to fly the Sigma 24-70 f/2.8. It’s a long and heavy lens and the camera would hit the roll motor before I could evenly balance the system. That’s unfortunate, but there are plenty of smaller lenses out there that can work. I ended using a Sony 50mm f/1.8 for the fabrication sequence. I also tried a Canon 17-40 f/4 through a Metabones smart adapter, but that lens combo won’t work with autofocus on my Sony.
One feature that helps is to use the touchscreen on the gimbal to go into the payload settings and run the auto adaption. This will give the right amount of power to the motors to keep heavier payloads steadier.
Controlling the Manfrotto MVG220
For controls, Manfrotto has an assortment of buttons, a joystick, a large rotary dial, a trigger, and a touchscreen.
Besides displaying the current mode and battery status, the touchscreen also helps to quickly make adjustments. There are five different panels that can control movements, modes, and quickly change between selfie and portrait modes.
The joystick controls the gimbal’s pan and tilt directions. While I can’t find a way to adjust the speed of the joystick movement on the touchscreen, it can be adjusted through the Manfrotto Gimbal app.
Under the joystick are three buttons. On the left is a mode button that will switch between follow modes for the gimbal, which you can also do on the touchscreen. Next up is the shutter button that can start and stop videos or take photos.
One note on the shutter button is that this needs to be used in conjunction with the next button, which is the function button that will switch between photo and video mode. On my A7S III for example, it needs to be in video mode to start and stop clips which is indicated with a video camera symbol in the upper left corner of the touchscreen rather than the photo camera icon.
On the left side of the gimbal is a large multi-function knob. Turning this dial can adjust the tilt or pan of the gimbal. Just press in the knob to switch which axis the knob controls.
Further adjustments to the MVG220 can be made through the Manfrotto gimbal app. Tweaks to how the trigger button and joystick speed are easy to find and change in the app. You can control the gimbal wirelessly through the app, but it doesn’t give the same finesse as the joystick. Instead of having adjustable speed, it just adjusts the gimbal at the maximum speed set in the app.
GimBoom Boom arm accessory
Manfrotto has a few accessories for the MVG220 and larger MVG460. One that I also got to try is the GimBoom. Designed to be used with gimbals, this monopod style boom arm can quickly expand and retract to add 20 to 46 inches to the gimbal for more interesting movements.
In the fabrication sequence I shot, I used the boom to grab the shot above the tube bender as well as the final shot that pulls across the table.
One of the neatest features of this is how fast it is to adjust the height. Instead of opening and closing a series of clamps to raise and lower the boom, just rotate the middle handle and make it as tall or small as you want. It’s very easy to use and quick to adjust. It’s a $190 monopod, but the quick adjustment and added reach make the MVG200 more versatile.
Manfrotto also carries a follow focus, a remote control, and some extensions for the MVG220.
Manfrotto MVG220: In-use
As with most gimbals that don’t also use a Steadicam or other 4th axis of stabilization, you still need to practice smooth movements with the MVG220. Vertical movement will still transfer to the video clip with an up and down bounce when you are walking.
This is where something like DJI’s insane new Ronin 4D works to take out those movements with vertical stabilization as well as the normal three-axis that we’re used to.
But, with care taken to minimize movement, you can get some great shots on the Manfrotto MVG220. The motors are strong enough to control heavy payloads and the second handle adds a lot of ergonomic comfort to the gimbal for me. Be sure to watch the video to see a short metal fabrication sequence I shot on the Manfrotto MVG220 with a 50mm 1.8 Sony lens.
I also edit in Premiere Pro and adding just a little bit of warp stabilization can help a lot. In a couple of clips in the video, I show some examples of how it affects the image.
Occasionally when doing some very small movements, there would be the occasional twitch on the pan motor which would transfer into the camera. I played around with motor strength and tried to figure out if there was some way to hold the camera differently to prevent this little glitch, but it happened more than I would have hoped.
The Manfrotto MVG220 uses an internal battery that’s good for about 7 hours of usage. While it would be great to have an external battery that’s swappable, that’s a pretty long run time. Recharging takes around 90 minutes via the USB-C port.
Manfrotto’s entry into the gimbal market is a great offering at an affordable price. The combination of features and build quality make it an easy recommendation from a well-known brand. It will be exciting to see where else Manfrotto takes this line of stabilization gear in the future.
If you’re looking for something smaller, be sure to check out our review of the Zhiyun Smooth Q3
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