I shoot real estate videos. A lot of them. Somewhere on the order of 3-5 per week, sometimes multiple on the same day. Almost always in conjunction with photoshoots of the same property.
I have a few simple requirements of the gimbals I rely on to shoot my videos:
- Solid build quality that can handle the daily rigors of a professional videographer on the move
- The ability to handle a decent payload
- Quick and easy to setup and balance
- Easy to use
- Sufficient innovation to make upgrading worthwhile
- Most importantly, the footage I get from the system is smooth straight out of camera
I’m pleased to say that apart from a few minor nits, the Manfrotto MVG 300XM checks nearly all the boxes. Apart from a few minor build/ergonomic nits, the 300XM is the best gimbal I’ve ever worked with. Allow me to elaborate.
- 3.4 KG / 7.5 lbs load capacity
- The marking system allows for quick and efficient setup and breakdown
- Touch screen menu system
- Multi function control knob has programmable A and B points to repeat moves
- Paired remote control works seamlessly
- Solid build quality
- Some of the smoothest footage I’ve gotten from a gimbal straight out of camera
- Optional accessories compliment the system mightily! The Move quick release catcher system and GimBoom are brilliant.
- As solid as the build quality is, the arms don’t slide smoothly and easily when setting up
- Even when balanced, I find it necessary to auto tune the system nearly every time I balance or I experience gimbal shake in certain positions
- Hand grip has a smooth surface and isn’t very “grippy” — some kind of textured finished would be preferred
- The GimPod legs are kind of flimsy when compared to the rest of the system
Manfrotto MVG300XM — Build quality
As a working professional, I require robust products. The fact of the matter is, I work a lot. A normal day can consist of 3-5 shoots. What this means is I’m literally racing from job to job.
The real estate market in Southwest Florida has been extremely hot since the beginning of the pandemic. With rising home values hitting a peak, sellers and investors alike are all trying to cash in as we head into the slower summer season. Business has been brisk, and reality gets in the way. As I’m going from job to job, I don’t always have the luxury of having enough time to break down and put away my gear neatly. More often than not, I’m piling gear on top of itself in the back of my car to save time.
As a result, my gear gets tossed about over bumps, turns and lane changes. Because my gear gets bumped around so much, it has to be built well to survive my daily grind. Many of you are probably cringing as you read that, but it’s my reality. However, I’m pleased to say the 300XM is not only solid enough to handle the grind; Manfrotto has engineered an ease of setup and breakdown that actually allows me enough time to do it between jobs. I’ll explain in a bit.
Size and weight
The gimbal is almost completely made out of metal and all in comes in at 4.4 lbs (2kg) without a camera and lens. It’s not light, but it isn’t bicep busting either. The camera and lens you use with the system will have a significant impact on the overall weight.
I’ve been using it with the Sony a7S III (1.35 lb) and the Samyang 14mm f/2.8 (1.47 lb) which means all in, I’m right around 7.5 lbs. With two hands, the whole combo can get a bit heavy, but it’s not as heavy as several of the competitors. Moreover, most of the competitors aren’t this feature rich. I find that overall, I can easily manage the size and weight even during a long shoot.
Manfrotto MVG300XM — Ease of setup and ergonomics
As I mentioned previously, setup is much faster on the 300XM than on other gimbals I’ve used. Manfrotto has smartly included these sliding red “memory” dot markers that allow me to place two of the three arms in the same spot, assuming I’m using the same lens/camera combo. This cuts setup time significantly.
Now, to be clear it isn’t perfect, but my starting position is much closer to balanced with the sliding red markers. It’s a nice touch and actually affords me the luxury of breaking down the gimbal so it doesn’t jostle around in the back of my car.
On the downside, the roll arm is a bit sticky and can be difficult to slide back and forth to balance. However, I found that gives a little pressure toward the back of the gimbal it does move a bit more fluidly. But it’s not intuitively obvious.
Additionally, I find each time I start a new shoot, the gimbal will vibrate until I run through the “auto tune” function. Which is quick, but it is an additional step. Once however, footage is super smooth completed.
The locks that hold the gimbal arms in place snap into position with authority and ease. The touch screen interface takes a bit of getting used to, but overall is simple to follow and use. The multifunction control knob is stellar for repeating moves. Especially barrel roll moves. Sometimes I like unique angles on certain details in homes. The barrel roll move keeps visual interest while simultaneously highlighting a feature of the home.
Toggling between how you want to use the control knob is simple as there is a button that switches between pan, tilt and roll. Set which you want, and viola, the knob will pan, tilt or roll. To make a repeating move, you can press and hold the A and B button at specific points and then press A or B to move the gimbal to that desired position.
In the menu it’s possible to control the speed in which these moves can happen. I often like to move from ceiling to room to show off a detail and having an automated way to tilt, pan or roll makes acquiring the move so much easier!
Charging takes about 2-1/2 hours and run time is close to 10 hours. My experiences validate this claim.
Lastly, you can take the bottom of the gimbal off and use it as a remote control. It works seamlessly and responds as if it’s attached and reacts in real time. Well done Manfrotto!
Manfrotto MVG300XM — Innovation
Gimbals have been around for awhile, yet it never ceases to amaze how smart some of the new innovations are. They are the kind of innovations that make me say “duh! Why didn’t someone think of this before?”
The red dot memory markers are something so simple and obvious, I can’t believe no one thought of them before. Some of the new accessories Manfrotto has come out with, like the Move quick release catcher system, is so simple, yet so brilliant. The iFootage sea stars were the first to come out with this kind of release system, Zhiyun has something similar as well, but Manfrotto has perfected it in my opinion.
The new “GimBoom” telescoping monopod is also cool and innovative. I use it to get high shots that simulate a low flying drone and to make a move upward or downward in a high ceiling room. If there’s one accessory that seems to be an after thought, it’s the GimPod legs that screw into the GimBoom and simulate a tripod. I found the legs to be flimsy and not built to the same standard as the rest of the system. They seem to bow when even a slight bit of pressure is applied. I appreciate that Manfrotto has made these an option, but they don’t really go with the rest of the system.
Manfrotto MVG300XM — Quality of results
Now, let’s get down to brass tax. It’s built well, Manfrotto has made some outstanding innovations and has made the gimbal easy to use. All that’s great, however, how are the results?
Based on my experiences, smooth like butter! I’ve used close to a dozen gimbals over the last 10 years, starting with the original DJI Ronin. Each has gotten progressively better and more innovative. Where the 300XM really excels in my opinion is in ease of set up and quality of the footage straight out of camera. Smooth and controlled with very little bounce from step to step.
The multifunction control knob is a game changer for me because I can set up starting and stopping points to repeat challenging moves. Makes getting those difficult shots so much easier to achieve. It’s a nice touch that truly separates the 300XM from the competition.
Manfrotto MVG300XM — A near-perfect system full of innovation
The addition of the GimBoom, GimPod and the Move quick release catchers make the entire package a seamless filmmaking system that’s a joy to use but most importantly give me the quality of results that I need in my professional workflow. It’s a complete system that all in is about the best gimbal system I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with!
Manfrotto MVG300XM Gimbal
Manfrotto Axis Modular Gimbal MVG300XM is a professional 3-Axis Stabilized Handheld Modular Gimbal. The handle can be easily detached to be used as a remote control and allows the gimbal to be used in combination with many different types of support. Designed for CSC and DSLR cameras, it can support up to 3.4 kg / 7.495 lbs and is perfect for videographers looking for versatility and modularity.