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Thread: Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

  1. #1

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    Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

    Having just gotten one of these, thought I'd report for any others who may be interested.

    In deference to my back, and for portability, I am replacing my heavy-duty Manfrotto 3251—a rock-solid tripod with excellent features but not terribly portable at 13.6 pounds—with a 3221 at about 5 pounds. I found a display model for under $100 on the auction site. The model has been discontinued but is easy to find used.

    I was seeking a tripod I could use for both 4x5 wooden field camera and Mamiya 645, no particularly long lenses, and no plans for challenging weather shooting conditions. My work will be largely location portraiture. Since I want to be able to make standing portraits, maximum height was a consideration; many otherwise fine models came in short.

    The legs have three locked positions. Full extension in the most-closed of the three positions raises the mounting plate to 54.5", and another 5 inches of height could be reasonably gained by spreading the legs a bit less on a secure surface. My current, Manfrotto 4047 head adds another 7 inches, and a view camera lens would tend to be an inch or more higher -- certainly adequate for eye-level standing portraits of people who are not height-exhuberant. This model also has a short center column, which can add about 5.5 inches to the height and is quite solid extended. (I have seen photos of the same advertised model with a much longer center column, probably the source of citations of 70" maximum height.)

    The legs do not have metal spikes, just rubber feet, which could be an issue for some users. Some sort of spike attachment could probably be made or rigged.

    At full leg-extension, torque -- that is, lack of it -- is, in my opinion, excellent for a tripod of this weight, and I expect no problems from it. The extension locks are very secure and tension can be adjusted. (Mine needed a little tightening on the bottom extensions. I looked it up and found that a black plastic piece that locks in the adjustment is just a cover that can be removed, and that an 8mm socket wrench can then be used to—little by little!—adjust and retry the adjustment.)

    The tripod is rated to hold about 13 pounds. That appears conservative, though my equipment won’t come close. My venerable 3047 head is weighty and may eventually be replaced with something lighter, but for now it stays.

    Given the short center column and the third, wide-spread leg position possible, the camera can make images from a very low angle.

    The 3221 is the black model; the 3021 is the same in unpainted aluminum.
    Although I haven't field tested the 3221 yet, decades of experience with other tripods, along with a number of excellent reviews, indicate to me that this is a worthy instrument destined for as many years as I can use it.

    I hope this may be useful.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est.

  2. #2
    SE Penna.
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    Re: Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

    Thanks for the review. I use a 3221 with a Toyo 45AII and it gets the job done. I backpacked this tripod and camera combination on my bike this week in Manhattan. It worked.

  3. #3
    pendennis's Avatar
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    Re: Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

    I own the 3221, and you can replace the rubber feet with a kit from Manfrotto; no need to jury rig anything. B&H has the following:

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ...for_3221g.html

    Not the cheapest of solutions, but these are "plug and play".

    I use the 3221 for my Cambo SC, and my Super Graphic, but with the heavier 229 head. I've used this particular head for a number of years.

    https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produ..._Pro_Head.html
    Best,
    Dennis

  4. #4

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    Re: Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

    Thank you, pendennis. Those spike tips look like a worthy investment, and, at about $6 each, reasonably priced.

    Depending on whether I end up selling my 3251 with or without the 3047 head, I may look for a lighter one, since I don't need the extra load-bearing capacity of the head and would rather be a bit kind to my own, reduced load-bearing capacity. I have seen several 3-way heads that look good but that can wait for now.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est.

  5. #5
    Do or do not. There is no try.
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    Re: Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

    Thank you for this review and the followon comments. I was essentially gifted ($15) a used 3221 about a year ago and am glad to learn that the legs locks can be adjusted, though mine are OK at the moment. The availability of spike feet (and their penchant for escape in the cold!) is good to know as well.

  6. #6

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    Re: Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

    I have two of these, with 3047 heads, and they are completely comfortable with my 5x7 cameras. I am planning on using one with my Intrepid 8x10 when it comes, and have been considering getting the current carbon version to save a couple of pounds, maybe with a smaller head, too.

  7. #7
    pendennis's Avatar
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    Re: Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

    After doing some further research, I ran across the correct parts kit, which attaches to the tripod via lock screws. Here's the link:

    http://bogentripodparts.com/parts/3221wn.htm

    This site carries a huge number of Bogen/Manfrotto replacement parts.
    Best,
    Dennis

  8. #8

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    Re: Review: Manfrotto 3221 tripod

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    Thank you, pendennis. Those spike tips look like a worthy investment, and, at about $6 each, reasonably priced.

    Depending on whether I end up selling my 3251 with or without the 3047 head, I may look for a lighter one, since I don't need the extra load-bearing capacity of the head and would rather be a bit kind to my own, reduced load-bearing capacity. I have seen several 3-way heads that look good but that can wait for now.
    Oops! The price is evidently for one replacement foot, not three as I had thought. I should have read more carefully. Hmmm...
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est.

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