We first saw Nitrotech at NAB 2017. It impressed us enough that we gave it our Best Support of NAB Award and immediately began to pester Manfrotto for a review unit. The Nitrogen-piston counterbalance system is pretty interesting. Instead of using a spring for counterbalance like other tripod heads, it uses nitrogen gas. This allows for the head to tilt and stay in location without having to be locked down. The N8, a 75mm flat-base head, supports payloads from 0 up to 17.6 pounds. It has an illuminated bubble level and is left-side configurable.

Configuration

The N8 has a flat-base head, so if you have a bowl, you will need to get a ball attachment. We used the head with a Rhino EVO slider. The flat-base design allowed the head to be mounted directly to the slider and we were ready to go. For most of our evaluation, we used the N8 with the Manfrotto 546B tripod legs. The 546B has a mid-level spreader and rubber feet. We didn't love the tripod legs: they will require some significant work-in. When collapsed, they are difficult to open without using two hands, and even then, they require some force — more force than you’d expect to have to give.

A fluid tripod head that holds almost 18 pounds just a few years ago would have cost an arm and a leg. However, the N8 is reasonably priced for its weight limit.

In Use

We used the N8 with a Canon C200, Panasonic GH5 and Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro 4.6K. The heaviest set-up was the URSA Mini 4K as we have a large, heavier battery for it. The coolest thing about this head is that, at any time while tilting, you can remove your hand from the head and it will stay put, even without locking it down. On top of that, you are able to set the drag to as easy or hard as you’d like and the head will still stay where you leave it. Although the head says it holds from 0 to 17.6 pounds, we did find that it didn’t hold its place well when using a small mirrorless camera like the GH5.

Nitrogen powered counterbalance

The camera quick mount plate system is a bit tricky. We had a few times where we thought the camera was on securely when it wasn't. Plus, we struggled to get the plate to latch without significant maneuvering. After owning it for a while, we would surely get used to it, but it's not the best designed system. Until you get used to it, be aware that your camera might not be fully secured.

Marketplace

The Manfrotto N8 is unique to the marketplace, there are no other Nitro counterbalanced heads on the market. With that said, there are some heads with payload limits that are close. Let’s look at fluid video tripod heads from Vinten, Sachtler and Benro.

The Manfrotto N8 is unique to the marketplace, there are no other Nitro counterbalanced heads on the market.

Up first is the Vinten Vision blue3, The most expensive head out of the three at $1,300 bucks. It has a payload from 6.6 to 14.6 pounds. It also has a 75mm ball, has a continuously adjustable counterbalance and tilt drag. It offers both left and right hand rosettes and has an illuminated bubble level.

The Benro BV8H video head costs $600 bucks. It supports up to 17.6 pounds and also has a 75mm half ball. It has a 4-step counterbalance system plus zero. It offers independant pan and tilt drag and has a removable rosette panhandle.

Last up is the Sachtler Ace XL at $550 dollars. It has a 17.6 pound payload and has a 8-step counterbalance. It has a 75mm bowl and a 3-step plus zero pan and tilt drag.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

If you are in the market for a tripod head that supports a lot of weight but have a tight budget, the Manfrotto Nitrotech N8 is a great value. The Nitro counterbalance system feels good and is simple to use. Because it’s a flat-base head, it has a few more applications than if it was a ball head. The N8 has a great value in the marketplace and performed as expected, as long as your camera isn't too light.

Manfrotto
www.manfrotto.us

PRICE: $450

STRENGTHS:

  • Large payload
  • Responsive counterbalance system

WEAKNESSES:

  • Finicky camera plate mount

SUMMARY:

The Manfrotto Nitrotech N8 is a unique fluid tripod head. Its nitro-piston counterbalance system allows you to hold position at any tilt while at the same time being able to change the amount of drag.

RECOMMENDED USERS:

  • Home video shooters & Enthusiast filmmakers
  • Event Videographers
  • Documentarians and Indie filmmakers
  • YouTubers
  • Commercial & Corporate filmmakers
  • Journalists & Travel videographers

TECH SPECS:

Load Capacity: 17.6 lb / 8.0 kg
Payload Range: 0 to 17.6 lb / 0 to 8.0 kg
Tripod Head: 75 mm flat base
Balance Plate: Sliding, 1/4" and 3/8" screws
Center of Gravity: 2.2" / 55 mm
Tilt Drag: Fluid
Tilt Range: +90 to -70°
Counterbalance System: Continuous, nitrogen piston
Pan Range: 360°
Pan Drag: Fluid
Leveling Bubble/Illuminated: Yes/Yes
Material of Construction: Aluminum
Height: 5.8" / 14.7 cm
Weight: 4.8 lb / 2.2 kg

Chris Monlux is taller on his right side. He is also Videomaker’s Multimedia Editor.

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