A solid tripod is essential for many types of photography — and helpful for a lot of others. Manfrotto is a well-known manufacturer of high-quality tripods, and I just happen to have been using the 294 A3 aluminium tripod in the recent couple months.
Read on to find out if it’s something you should consider acquiring.
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The Manfrotto 294 A3 is a 3-section aluminium tripod. It’s designed to hold equipment up to 5 kilograms, but my experience shows that it’s capable of much more while still remaining solid. Its height of 169 cm is significantly more than the standard 140-150 cm.
It’s also fairly heavy and long, even when folded up fully.
Please note that the Oben ball head featured in this review is not part of the package, it’s available separately. You can get Manfrotto ball heads in a kit with this tripod.
Who Is the Manfrotto 294 A3 Tripod For?
I’ve been using this tripod to hold large telephoto lenses, with either a gimbal head or a ball head. In both cases, it’s very solid. Even with the old Canon EF 400 mm f/2.8 and a full-sized DSLR on it (the lens alone is 6 kg!), it’s working perfectly well.
This tripod is made of aluminium, but there are carbon fibre and magnesium options available as well. These are lighter, but also more expensive. I don’t have any problem with lugging around the extra half kilogram, so the aluminium version is fine.
The latches are made of reinforced plastic, with several screws holding them in place. This assembly is tight, but you can also adjust the tightness with a hex driver.
The centre column is held in place by a mixed plastic-and-aluminium housing. All the legs turn firmly, with hex-adjustable tightness.
The Manfrotto 294 A3 tripod has three-section legs, which are 60 cm long when closed up. The maximum height of the tripod, as mentioned, is 169 cm with the centre column (35 cm long) fully extended.
There’s a two-way switch on the top of the legs that enables them to open up more than by default. Its lowest setting with the three legs spread out fully is around 40 cm, which is not groundbreakingly good. Many tripods are capable of going much lower.
All the knobs and latches are comfortable to grab and adjust, and this makes the tripod quick to operate.
Just like all consumer-use Manfrotto photography tripods, this one also connects to heads through a 1/4 inch standard threaded screw. You can attach any head with this mount to the 294 tripod.
I use several different heads. The one on the images shown here is an Oben BA-117 head, given to me for testing by a friend.
Size and Weight
Without a head attached, the Manfrotto 294 A3 tripod weighs 1.9 kg, and it’s 48 cm long when closed up. Pictured next to the original Canon EF 400 mm f/2.8 lens for better scale.
The Manfrotto 055 series tripods are the most obvious competition. They are slightly more expensive but have a horizontal centre column, which can be a lifesaver when shooting product and food photography.
The Vanguard Alta Pro 2+ tripod also has a horizontally adjustable column, and its payload weight limit is much higher than the 055’s (although the real difference is probably less significant).