REVIEW – Marsace MT-01 Robust Table Desktop Tripod with Ball Head
There’s a glut of table-top tripods on the market at the moment and literally hundreds to choose from. Some from big names, some from anonymous Chinese start-ups but most are fairly run of the mill and nothing to write home about. Big names on the side mean very little, either. I’ve used a couple of £9.99 eBay wonders that were just as good, if not better, than some of the expensive ones I’ve tried so I was curious when I was handed a Marsace MT-01 and asked to review it.
I’ve noticed a few photographic products from Marsace enter the market place, particularly their line of ball heads, which on paper look good value for money. This is the first Marsace product I’ve actually held in my hands, though and I have to say, if the rest of their products live up to the quality of this one then they should be value indeed.
The first thing that strikes you is the weight, feel, tightness and texture of this little 75kg(!!) rated tripod. I run an American JK Jeep Wrangler both off-road and on expeditions and much of the equipment I buy for it is powder coated for extra weather resistance. I’m not 100% sure if this tripod is powder coated or painted with an extra durable, textured paint but either way it really does look well done and I’d imagine this would stand up well to scratches. The matt surface should also help to hide any blemishes so if you’re a tad pedantic about how your kit looks, as well as performs, then I’d suggest you’ll like this little tripod. Moving the legs in and out is met with a very nice resistance; just enough to feel tight without being a pain to operate and it should be enough to hold the tripod in non-locking positions, at least with a light camera such as a Fuji mirrorless. The smooth and nicely manufactured turreted collar turns anti-clockwise to unlock the legs from their upright position and allow them to fully splay, meaning for macro work it will allow you to get as close as is humanly possible with a tripod and I’d imagine it will be macro photographers like myself who will quickly put their hands in their wallets to buy one of these.
Marsace seem to have gone out of their way to produce a quality product and have attended well to the small details. One such detail is the little rubber rollers on each of the feet. Those serve actually the opposite purpose to that which you might first think. Looking at them you’d have instantly thought they would allow the tripod to easily move around a table or flat surface. In practise they do quite the opposite, keeping the tripod firmly in place.
Of course you can use them as a point of mobility but that requires lifting the camera at the rear to bring two legs off the surface and then pushing or pulling the remaining leg. What macro photographers will like is the way it makes finding a foot hold on uneven ground a little easier than with tripods without. The wheels prevent the tripod from digging into turf or soil in the normal way and instead force the legs to keep splayed, thus improving overall stability on uneven ground.
The tripod head itself is also quality. A quarter turn (90 degrees) locks or unlocks the ball which is held in a structure similar to that used by the revered Really Right Stuff ball heads. The clamp is industry standard Arca Swiss compatible, as you’d expect and locks your quick release in place firmly and with ease. A spirit level bubble built into the end of the main knob will help setting up panoramas and a particularly nice touch is the second knob on the opposite side of the clamp which controls the panning functionality. Both these two knobs pull outwards, allowing the operator to move their positions so as not to snag or obstruct the ball heads position. This little tripod head is rated itself to 12kg and performs as well as many ball heads I’ve tried of much larger proportions and capacities. It’s not quite as rock solid as my RRS BH-30 but that ball head costs alone five to six times what this tripod and ball head together cost. All the ball head functions are smooth, feel expensive and work just as advertised. Another innovative feature is the cut-outs along the legs. Rather than serving simply to reduce the overall weight they allow the photographer to bind or anchor the tripod to something more stable using the supplied quick release strap. The MT-01 comes supplied with both the anchor strap and a nice quality nylon case with handle and hook attached.
This is a high quality tripod and ball head that can be easily slipped into any camera bag or travel luggage. It looks and feels like it’s built to last and that will be good news for those who plan to use it to support £5k’s worth of camera body and lens. Price-wise it’s certainly up there at £60 although if you’re quick you can pick one up at the sale price of £49.99 from UK Highland Photography. UKHP is a small UK based distribution company situated a few miles up the road from me in Woking, Surrey. I’ve dealt with them several times and so have no problem recommending their services, although I have not been paid to do so.
So is this tripod worth £50? Well, it will depend who you ask and photographers can be funny beggars when it comes to purchasing supports. I personally know several who will happily blow £3k on a lens or camera but baulk at a few hundred pounds for a decent tripod to support them all. I personally fall into the camp that takes my camera support very seriously and I’d prefer to pay up but buy once. If you think along the same lines as I do then I think it’s well worth the money. If you’re the kind of photog who asks the girl in the corner shop when she’ll be having a sale on the Walkers crisps then maybe not..