The Manfrotto 700RC2 is a basic, fluid head head for use with video cameras up to 5.5 pounds. At around $90 street price, this is an entry-level head with little in the way of creature comforts.
The 700RC2 still gives you a quick release plate, and it has a pan arm rosette on the right side of the head for adjusting the angle of the solid pan arm included with the head. The 700RC2 also has separate pan and tilt friction locks.
With heavier HDSLR setups, smooth pans were more difficult to achieve, but stick to smaller camcorders with the 700RC2 and it will handle relatively smooth pans and tilts just fine.
All in all, the Manfrotto 700RC2 is a solid little tripod head for the $90 asking price. I was able to make it work for a lot of DSLR-video setups with the caveat that smooth pans became more challenging as the weight was added.
The 700RC2 is small and light enough to fit into most camera bags without taking up too much space. I compared it directly to the Gitzo G2180, which is a more expensive and higher-spec’d fluid head. I didn’t think the Gitzo 2180 performed that much better in terms of smooth pans. And while the Gitzo was probably a better head overall, I didn’t feel like it was a full $150 better than the Manfrotto 700RC2.
For small HD camcorders, the 700RC2 will work well; however, you will likely experience limitations if working with a lot of HDSLR video. For DSLRs, the best tripod head in terms of affordability and functionality remains the Manfrotto 501HDV in my opinion. I would definitely go for the Manfrotto 501HDV over the Gitzo 2180 referenced above.
If you are on a tight budget and need a fluid head, the 700RC2 will do the job just fine – especially if you are going to use a smaller camcorder with it. So, the 700RC2 comes with a solid recommendation from me, with the caveat on camera size. Don’t put a monstrous HDSLR setup on there and then complain to me that it doesn’t work right. For reasonable workloads though, the 700RC2 is a nice little gem.
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