Last Friday I had the opportunity of being invited to the press & blogger morning of a new worldwide touring event by Manfrotto, a pop up interactive photolab entitled ‘Imagine More’ which was about to open for the weekend in the idyllic setting of Covent Garden in London. The event has already been to Berlin, Hong Kong and Beijing and has had a great reception so far.
Over the weekend the event allows the public to get creative with two pre-designed photo sets on site ready for the public to get involved and have some great photo’s taken. These photographs are all uploaded to their facebook page which in turn gets people connected, sharing and enjoying the photographs and experience, and ultimately leading to brand promotion and awareness.
To complement the social event, Manfrotto have launched a new range of products aimed at this new group of users, which have been named as the ‘social recorders’. Up to this point, Manfrotto has targeted the professional and advanced amateur user group, so this signifies additional markets rather than divergence away from the pro crowd – I’m assured by Manfrotto they will always continue to make premium professional equipment.
Manfrotto are tapping into a crowd that are currently enthused and experimenting with photography in a social way and the new products launched complement these users – products include a new style of messenger style camera & laptop bag, LED lights and great looking light tripod range, I’ll get to these later on and how they fit with the brand.
Some images from the weekend from the event facebook page
To me, Manfrotto products have always been part of my studio & grip setup right from the beginning when I was just an amateur photographer and these same products have stuck with me over time, it’s definitely kit I can always rely on, it just works. Every professional knows Manfrotto, a brand renowned for creating professional level photographic supports, stands and heads, Manfrotto has created a constant good reputation because of this.
Manfrotto is part the much larger Vitec Group plc, who “provide vital products and services that support the capture of exceptional images” – and I got the chance to speak with both the Imaging Sales & Marketing Director and Supports Managing Director Marco Pezzana, and Communications Director Simona Colombo. Marco talked about having identified a new niche of consumers, which they have named ‘social recorders’ – which as I understand, to be the iPhone / compact camera / social user that want to just explore photography in a social way, IE using pocket sized cameras or smaller entry level DSLRS capturing fun and daily photographs for social and personal use, rather than a professional creating image for commercial use.
Some of the new products that caught my eye:
1. Messenger style bags. (Unica V Messenger Red Limited Edition) I have one of these now, and as you probably know I have more photography bags than I know what to do with as there is not a bag on earth that ever ticks all the boxes. I’ve been a fan of LowePro bags for many years, and recently added a big Vanguard Skybourne to the collection – but this new style bag from Manfrotto changes it again. When I’m not on a photoshoot, I generally just carry my Macbook Pro & Canon 5Dmk2 in satchel / rucksack type bag for day to day use, so this new Messenger style bag just fits in perfectly into my current ‘offline’ useage. Although Manfrotto have had messenger bags out for a while – to have such a good looking, bright and modern bag rather than the usual black bag that account for 90% of all photography bags.
The messenger bag is colourful, well made, and definitely a premium product thoroughly thought out for the DLSR & Laptop user, with a padded inside sleeve for a laptop (fitting my 13″ Mac Book Pro perfectly) together with separate padded areas for my 5Dmk2, alongside a 24-70 2.8L as well as fitting in the 16-35 2.8L with loads of room to spare for batteries, cards, flash unit etc. One of the best features of the bags is that it has a dedicated space underneath with a zipped area where you can fit one of the new awesome looking white travel tripods. This bag is going to be my new favourite – and it doesn’t even look like a photography bag which is even better for walking around London with.
2. New white tripod. This is a genius idea – it’s almost like the white iPhone idea, break away from the usual black colour of tripods and supports and make a easy to use, compact and light, but still uber premium product in white and grey high quality metal & plastics. Looks great, and extends to a whopping 130cm, I was shocked considering it’s packed size – I had assumed it’d just be half the size. A great product that can be slung in a travel bag for quick use in a non pro environment. It has a smooth compact ball head on it too – allowing you to use both video and stills on the same head – as you can move it to both landscape and portrait positions and anything else in between, great for an quick and light all-round solution.
3. LED Lights – these are great, little battery operated bright LED lights that have a hot-shoe mount (removable) so that you can add some extra light to your photos and videos without having to use a big flash unit. Surprisingly powerful, and properly pocket sized. My biggest excitement with this was that you can use it is a video light for your iPhone, great for videos when you are out and about and the light just isn’t quite bright enough to light a face. I’m looking forward to testing the full range later in the month so I’ll let you know then. Looking pretty promising so far.
I love the direction that Manfrotto are headed, using the existing pro level premium product ranges twinned with a brand carrying an excellent reputation and quality, extending a hand into a more dynamic and wider audience of this new developing niche of social recorders. I have a great feeling that they are about to take a big market share imminently.
I’m sorry if I’m coming across a little obsessed – but it’s not often I meet a photography company that have such a genuine enthusiasm about their products and the industry, especially considering they are at such a premium and influential level. It’s great for the photograph industry as a whole and ultimately great for the hobbyists and amateurs that might just become the next pro’s – in my opinion I really do think a rising tide floats all boats.
»» Manfrotto product range & website
»» Imagine More Facebook Page
»» London Event Press release