June 5

6 comments

Meet the New Manfrotto Element Travel Tripod

By Dan

June 5, 2017


One of the most popular tripods around these days is the MeFoto Road Trip. In fact, I’ve seen more of these than anything else during my workshops and photo tours during the past couple of years.

It’s no surprise. The parent company Benro created a real winner with their compact, affordable, great looking MeFoto line that all have fold-back leg design and sexy anodized aluminum trim. Other companies have surely taken notice, including Manfrotto, who just released their own Road Trip style tripod called the Element. 

The new Manfrotto Element is an awesome tripod and I’m glad to see them hit the market with an affordable, classic design such as this. I got to check it out in person over the weekend and I have to say, I’m pretty impressed. Nice job, Manfrotto! Sure, it’s an obvious copy of the Road Trip, but hey, it’s a great design, so there.

I’ve long been a fan of the Manfrotto line; I think they make great tripods that have usable features and excellent value. However, not everyone loves the “Flip Lock” leg design, which are found on their 190 series and the BeFree models. The Element uses the “Twist Lock” leg design, which gives the whole tripod a much cleaner look and and slimmer profile. (Most high end tripods brands like Gitzo use Twist Lock legs.)

Much like the MeForo Road Trip, (and the Gitzo Travlers), the 5 leg sections on the Manfrotto Element fold back on themselves over the head. This allows the tripod to collapse down to only 16.5″ when closed, which makes it small enough to fit in a suitcase or backpack.

With the legs and center column extended, the Element has a max height of 64.6″. With the legs folded out, it has a minimum height of only 16.1″ for low angle shooting. It’s rated to support 17.6 lbs.

Weight with the included ball head is only 3.5 lbs. That’s pretty darn light. In fact, it’s really no heavier than a carbon fiber Gitzo that costs over four times as much. That’s the best part about the Manfrotto Element, it only costs $149, which is $25 less than the Road Trip.

That’s pretty impressive, given that the Element is so close in design to the Road Trip. Like the MeFoto, it has detachable leg which allows you to turn the tripod into a monopod, it has an Arca-type quick release ball head and 3 independent leg angles for shooting low to the ground or on uneven terrain.

And like the MeFotos, the Element comes in different colors- all black, or black with gray or red anodized trim, and it comes with a nylon carrying case. If you’ve ever seen a MeFoto Road trip, you’d probably chuckle at Manfrotto’s obvious intention to capitalize on the extreme popularity of the Road Trip based on how similar they are.

I’ve owned a handful of Manfrotto tripods over the years and as I said above, I think they make great tripods for the money. They’re a very reputable company. So is Benro; I’ve also handled enough MeFoto’s recently to know that they’re good too.

Honestly, there’s not much difference between these two models, but given the fact that the Manfrotto Element costs a little bit less, why wouldn’t you go with that one?

If you’re looking for a decent lightweight tripod for use with a relatively lightweight DSLR or mirrorless camera, that packs small enough for travel and doesn’t cost very much, you really can’t go wrong with the new Manfrotto Element.

I can’t fault them for pretty much copying the winning formula of the Road Trip. Manfrotto certainly has a long history of innovation, so in my mind, they’ve earned the right to do something like this, at least for now. Bottom line, it’s a decent tripod for a great price. What’s not to love?

Support this site. If you’re in the market for new gear, consider purchasing through these links. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and it’s an easy way for you to show your support for the time I take writing these articles and reviews. Thanks ! 🙂 -Dan

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About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 20+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.


As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

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  • Finally, someone stealing/copying an idea from a Chinese company, haha! (Benro is Chinese, Manfrotto is Italian).

    Good review. This pushed me over the edge. I had independently narrowed my tripod choice to the Element vs the Roadtrip and was torn between the two.

    Element Pros:
    Taller (66″ vs 61″)
    Same exact weight even though taller
    Cheaper by $15
    Italian company (vs chinese)
    Manfrotto is mfr of Gitzo the super expensive brand

    Roadtrip Pros:
    Shorter when folded (15.4″ vs 16.1″)
    Much better Amazon reviews (682 x 4.5 star vs 17 x 3.8 star)
    more and cooler colors

  • Since your comment is fairly new, I thought I’d let you know that the Element is a re-branded Sirui (ie Chinese manufacturer). Depending on where you are the latter might be a better buy.

  • Thank for the comment, Al. I’ve long been a fan of Manfrotto products and the brands they distribute. It’s good to see them release a decent budget tripod in this class. The Element has a nice clean design at a very good price!

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    Terry Bourk

    I have read you new book “Behind the Landscape.” I could not “put it down” meaning that I kept at it because each photo you presented/analyzed was interesting and informative. I am trying to develop an eye for composition (both the scene and the light).

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