The Manfrotto Element MII Tripod is a lightweight tripod designed for amateur and beginner photographers who need something stable yet economical.
The search for the “perfect tripod” seems like a never-ending quest for photographers, and while the Manfrotto Element MII isn’t perfect, it still ticks a lot of our boxes. For the price you pay, it has a lot of great features and would be an ideal addition to any photographer’s arsenal, whether you’re a beginner or a pro.
Each type of photography has different tripod requirements, making it difficult to find one that works for everyone. the The best travel tripods must be extremely light and portable, while the Better tripods for astrophotography are engineered with stability and ease of use at the forefront of their design. But if you want advice on pairing with a camera, we also have guides on the Best cameras for photos and videos and the The best cameras for astrophotography.
We tested the Manfrotto Element MII and it seems to provide a happy medium thanks to its ability to perform well across the board. There are only a few minor drawbacks, so we think this would be a great affordable tripod to add to your kit.
Manfrotto Element MII: Design
- Aluminum or carbon fiber construction
- Rubber twist locks are thick, strong and comfortable to use
- No 90 degree center column
The Manfrotto Element MII tripod we tested is built with an aluminum construction and features an eye-catching design on two of the legs, which makes this tripod stand out from the crowd. On the upper part of the third leg there is a rubber grip, which makes it easy and comfortable to maneuver the tripod when in use or even when transported from place to place. At full height it measures 160cm with four different leg sections, which seems to be big enough for most situations and taller than many other travel tripods, but not too big for a small photographer.
It features easy-to-use rubber twist-lock feet rather than clips, making this tripod very quick and easy to set up, especially if you’re using it in cold weather and wearing gloves. It’s also very streamlined and compact when folded, so you don’t have to struggle with protruding clips when trying to fit it back into the padded carry bag or the side pocket of your camera bag. The fact that they’re made from rubber also makes them easier on the hands than if they were plastic, so it really does seem like Manfrotto built this tripod with comfort and ease of use from top to bottom in mind.
This tripod was so well built and thought out that honestly it was hard to find anything we didn’t like about it. There’s one feature we might find this tripod lacks, however – that’s the lack of a 90-degree rotating center column. It doesn’t make the tripod less fun to use, but we think adding this feature could take this tripod from great to great. For us it’s not a total dealbreaker, but we think it would just take this tripod to the next level.
Manfrotto Element MII: performance
- Quick and easy operation
- Robust but light
- Capable of supporting up to 8 kg
As far as practical use goes, this tripod worked perfectly. It’s incredibly easy and quick to set up and use, thanks in large part to this tripod’s twist locks and quick release leg system. It’s not the lightest tripod of the bunch, but it seems to strike the perfect balance between sturdiness and lightness, making it ideal for travel and backpacking as it’s light enough to carry around without breaking your back. and stable enough to withstand a variety of conditions (and to make you feel comfortable putting expensive gear on it). It weighs 1.55kg and has an 8kg payload, which is more than enough for a heavy DSLR and long zoom.
We tested it with a lightweight mirrorless camera in very windy British coastal conditions, and it absolutely held up and didn’t budge…one way or another! It also has a removable hook that screws into the bottom of the center column to weigh it down when needed (or even just to keep your pack off the ground). Having that extra weight is beneficial when shooting in strong winds or bad weather, especially as more and more photographers are now switching to lighter mirrorless cameras and need all the weight they can get .
One thing we noticed was that when the legs were fully extended to the max, they bent very slightly in the middle when weight was applied, even when the legs were locked. You can overcome this by pulling the legs back a little or shortening the tripod so that the thinner lower part of the legs is not used. But realistically you’re not going to have the tripod low to the ground with the legs fully extended anyway so we can’t see that as a major issue, rather something to keep in mind to extend the life of your tripod.
Manfrotto Element MII: functionality
- Ergonomic twist locks to keep legs in place
- Ball-and-socket mechanism for landscape and portrait orientation
- 360 degree independent panning
Another handy feature of this tripod is the ergonomic twist locks to keep the legs in place, with three separate locking settings to choose from. There are two locked leg positions: a fairly standard width and a wider position, plus a fully flexible leg up position that allows you to have your legs in any position you want. This setting would also be good for flipping the tripod upside down so that the center column is underneath, with the camera very low to the ground. This feature is great for versatility, as you might not want to spend time wrestling with your legs trying to even them out, so having a setting that does it for you is really handy. Not to mention, it makes setup even faster if you’ve spotted a good shot but don’t have time to eye-level the legs.
The ball head mechanism is also surprisingly easy to navigate thanks to spirit levels for both landscape and portrait orientations, eliminating the need for any faffing. However, you must first make sure you level the tripod with the spirit level, as once the camera is on the tripod you cannot actually see the spirit level as it is covered by the camera Photo.
Another really nice feature of this tripod is its 360 degree panning ability. This is a super useful feature as it is ideal for photographers and videographers. This gives footage a silky smooth feel as it spins without you having to move the camera between your hands and risk shaking. This feature can also benefit photographers, as not only could it be good for easy change of composition, but it would also lend itself to taking precise shots for a panoramic image. Not to mention, it allows tripods to be used in situations where they wouldn’t normally be used, such as action sports or wildlife photography. You can now effortlessly move the tripod head to track a subject as it moves, eliminating the need to hold the weight of the camera in your hands for an extended period of time.
Should I buy the Manfrotto Element MII?
Whatever your style of photography, we think the Manfrotto Element MII would make a great stable base for the majority of camera and lens combinations. It’s sturdy, lightweight, and has a bunch of really useful features that make it a really solid tripod, both practically and metaphorically.
With the ability to shoot 360 degrees, this would also be a great tripod if you’re getting into videography, which few tripods can offer. We tested the aluminum model; however, there is also a carbon fiber model, which weighs around 1.35kg, so if you’re looking for something even lighter, this would definitely be a great option. There’s also a version that comes with a cellphone clamp and Bluetooth remote, making it a great tripod for content creators who aren’t necessarily photographers.
Plus, for everything this tripod is capable of, it’s actually really affordable. If not having the ability to shoot at 90 degrees isn’t a dealbreaker for you, then we think this tripod would be a great choice and would last you a long time. With proper care, you wouldn’t need another tripod until you were ready to invest more money in one of the more expensive brands.
If the Manfrotto Element MII tripod is not for you
If you have the budget to go big and your biggest priority is portability and small size, then you can’t go wrong with the Peak Design Travel Tripod. It’s about the same weight as the Manfrotto Element MII, but is smaller in folded length. Peak Design tripods are some of the best on the market, so if you want to invest the money in a tripod that will last you a very long time, this is definitely the one to consider.
If the Manfrotto Element MII isn’t big enough for your photography needs, check out the 3 Leg Thing Punks Brian Tripod. It extends to around 188cm, which is 28cm more than the Manfrotto, and it can fold down to just over 40cm, so it’s no less portable either. It can also support up to around 14kg, making it more suitable for heavier setups. Although expensive, it is a tripod that you will keep for a very long time.
For another more affordable tripod, take a look at the Manfrotto BeFree Advanced Travel Tripod. It’s not as big as the Element MII, but that means it’s also slightly smaller when folded, so might be a better option for travel.