The Compact Action is a compact tripod at the entry level of the Manfrotto range. It is easily recognizable thanks to its original head and its small footprint.
Do we still need to introduce Manfrotto? The Italian company is a historical specialist of various accessories for photography and cinema. The company's catalog is quite extensive and tripods are obviously a big part of it, so much so that they identify the brand's logo.
Among the countless models of the brand, we test here the Compact Action, launched in 2014 and become one of the "classic" tripods among the most compact of Manfrotto. In addition to its size, it is also distinguished by the original handle installed on its head.
Weight & Dimensions
The Compact Action tripod is surprisingly light in appearance. Despite its aluminum construction, it weighs only 1.2 kg, but is a bit too small when folded. It is relatively larger than the best models in its class. Without the head, it does not reach 37 cm, but the latter cannot be removed and adds about ten centimeters to the whole. It is also quite bulky and prevents it from being slipped into some backpacks.
Once the feet are fully extended, the foot exceeds 1.30 m and can climb to 1.55 m with the column fully extended, which is quite honourable. On the other hand, it will be necessary to invert the column to take pictures closer to the ground.
The aluminum structure could lead you to believe that this tripod supports a rather correct load, but it is not the case. It only takes a total of 1.5 kg! This means that a sporty SLR without a lens, such as the Nikon D6, would already be almost too heavy for it. In use, one can always try to go beyond the recommended weight limit, but it is better to take this recommendation into account. Therefore, the Compact Action will be used mainly with light enough cameras and accompanied by lenses of moderate weight.
Construction & Ergonomics
The design of the Manfrotto Compact Action is not very original. In fact, it is very classic. However, this is not necessarily a bad thing. It is easy to deploy with its flap system, and even novices will find it easy. We prefer this system, precise and practical, to the one with screws.
The head is much more original. It is made of a ball joint and a protruding handle that looks like a stick. Its operation is a hybrid of the two usual systems: to tilt the head in all directions, it is necessary to loosen the knob located on the handle. Tightening it allows to lock the position. To turn the head horizontally, you have to play with the small latch located above the ball joint. The intensity of the tightening of the knob on the handle allows to adjust the fluidity of the movements.
The Compact Action does not have a quick release plate and proposes a more constraining system. In a rather classical way, you must first screw a small hook under the camera. This hook then comes to be stuck on a place at the top of the head. Then, you have to close the latch that keeps it in place. Finally, to secure the position, you must also adjust a wheel marked "+" and "-". A method that is not very ergonomic and that would have deserved to be simplified.
We have already mentioned the lack of a low position. Indeed, the amplitude of the feet is rather limited and does not allow to go under 40 cm. It is thus necessary to invert the column - which is easy - to be able to take photographs at about fifteen centimeters of the ground.
Options & Accessories
The Manfrotto Compact Action only comes with a carrying bag as an accessory. It's not very thick, but it protects the tripod relatively well. And that's it. No soft ground spikes, no trace of spirit level or smartphone holder or other ballast hook.
Thus, unless you invest in accessories, the Compact Action remains very basic and can only be used with cameras or small cameras, its primary function in short.
The Manfrotto Compact Action is a tripod that gets to the point. We regret that the ergonomics of its head are a bit too convoluted, as well as its maximum load limited to 1.5 kg. Fairly light and easy to deploy, it is therefore primarily intended for equipment that does not take up much space and can be used as an extra tripod.