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

Manfrotto 585 Modosteady 3-in-1 Multifunction Camcorder Stabilizer

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Lori Grunin
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Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice

I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.

Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
3 min read

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.

7.0

Manfrotto 585 Modosteady 3-in-1 Multifunction Camcorder Stabilizer

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.

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.

Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
This notched indicator helps when you're setting the counterbalance, and it provides an easy way to remember your setting, but I wish it gave an angular reading instead.

Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
The brace is an interesting idea, but since it works against gravity (as opposed to bracing below arm level against a leg or torso, like a steadicam does), it doesn't help lighten the load. So after holding the camcorder outstretched in your hand for a while, your arm begins to shake more than if you'd simply braced your arms against your body and used the eye-level viewfinder.

Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
Four 1.2-ounce counterweights allow you to fine-tune the Modosteady's counterbalance. Manfrotto doesn't provide anything to hold the spares when they're not in use, though.

Manfrotto Modosteady Three-in-One
The counterbalance is a nice idea, though it's a little harder than it looks to determine the appropriate positioning and weighting. Also, most people's natural instinct when shooting via the LCD is to grip the LCD with one hand while holding the camcorder in the other--a position that's more comfortable than the single-handed outstretch required by the Modosteady.

If all you're going to use is the tripod, there are loads of smaller, cheaper options available. And if your camcorder lacks an optical image stabilizer, you may want to consider upgrading rather than shelling out for the Modosteady.

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