Manfrotto 585 Modosteady 3-in-1 Multifunction Camcorder Stabilizer review: Manfrotto 585 Modosteady 3-in-1 Multifunction Camcorder Stabilizer

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The Good Clever, sturdy design.

The Bad Needs a level in the platform; doesn't sufficiently muffle vibration.

The Bottom Line Manfrotto's Modosteady Three-in-One cleverly combines a tabletop tripod, a shoulder brace, and a counterbalance stabilizer for shooting video, but most of that's moot if you've got a good optical stabilizer in your camcorder.

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7.0 Overall

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Manfrotto's Modosteady Three-in-One is an exceedingly clever--perhaps overly clever--multipurpose camcorder support. Capable of serving as a tabletop tripod, shoulder brace, or counterbalance stabilizer, in theory, the Modosteady solves a variety of in-the-field stabilization problems. In practice, it seemed to be less useful than I expected, especially for the price.

Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
Built of sturdy-feeling hard plastic and rubber, the 15.5-ounce Modosteady can unfold from a compact 7.5 inches long by 3.5 inches wide by 4.0 inches tall, crammable into a medium-size camera bag compartment (top), to about 19.5 inches when fully extended (bottom). The four-position armature joints are held together by heavy-duty metal screws.

Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
Although you can't adjust the height of the head, the Modosteady's tabletop tripod serves its purpose.

Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
Although Manfrotto dubs the tripod head plate "quick release," it's really only semiquick; you've got to first unscrew a knob to unlock the plate release. Then you press the knob in and pull the plate out. The plate rotates to accommodate the different handhold types, and the platform slides left and right to better orient the camcorder to your position. However, without a level, it's difficult to tell if you're holding it, well, level.

Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
Between the handle and the ball joint, which holds the platform, sits another ball mechanism with a little play that's intended to provide the head with a floating, shock absorption effect when using it in brace or counterbalance mode. However, quite a bit of vibration still seems to get transmitted to the head, albeit at a slightly different frequency than might otherwise occur.

I shot some video, using the Modosteady, in both braced and counterbalanced mode, with and without the optical image stabilizer enabled (using the Canon HV20) at 10x zoom, to see how much of a difference it makes. As far as I can tell, not much.

Although it doesn't confuse the stabilizer, as sometimes happens when using a tripod with stabilization, it doesn't seem to provide any additional steadiness. Without the image stabilizer, there's still some jitter. If your camcorder lacks an optical stabilizer, the Modosteady might provide some support, but it's price is high relative to what's probably an old or inexpensive camcorder.

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