Last week I was invited to a Manfrotto bloggers’ event titled “Optimising Your Blog Imagery”. It was the first event I’ve been personally invited to as a blogger and I got super excited about it, because I absolutely love Manfrotto!
In fact, I think the reason they invited me in the first place was because I had tweeted about some of their products recently, which got a bit of attention from other people and even the Manfrotto US and UK teams. +1 Twitter points!
The event was held in the penthouse suite of the Sanderson Hotel in London, and they had some product photography setups in each of the rooms showing how Manfrotto products can assist with getting better imagery. There were also plenty of lovely staff members on hand to give great advice and thorough explanations of each product!
Check out my video below of the whole event and then continue reading for some extra thoughts on the brand new Digital Director device.
Further Thoughts on the Manfrotto Digital Director
At £399, the Manfrotto Digital Director doesn’t come cheap, plus the additional iPad you will need to actually use this as a remote control/display for your camera, you’re looking at an investment of at least £700. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts that have crossed my mind when contemplating whether this is worth purchasing.
External processing hardware is great
First off, as I mentioned in the video above, I enjoyed using the Digital Director. I found it able to cover all my needs from a remote system and more! I like the idea of placing the processing power on external hardware rather than internally with the iPad. It makes for a speedy and responsive app that won’t cook your iPad at the same time. It does however also mean that it will need its own power supply. You can either plug the device into the mains or use 4 AA batteries to keep it running. I don’t know how long a particular use would be batteries however.
Fixed case design is not so great
I can’t help but spot a little issue (dare I say flaw?) in this product with the fact that it is essentially a case for your iPad Air. What happens if the next iPad Air is no longer the same physical size of the current one (that the Digital Director is made for). You only have to look back every other version of the iPad to know that the dimensions have changed significantly. It’s unlikely that next generation cameras will need much more processing power to operate remotely, so you won’t need to upgrade your Digital Director that frequently. But what if you want to upgrade your iPad? And the dimensions have now changed… You could soon have a £399 case that is unusable.
What I would have liked to have seen, would be a modular design that would allow the processing unit to separate from the case shell. That would allow the user a much cheaper way of upgrading the hardware to fit new product dimensions whilst maintaining the same processing unit. A serious oversight if you ask me.
The Manfrotto Digital Director is only compatible with the iPad and I don’t believe there is any chance of it coming to Android in the near future. If you think about the fact that this device has its own processor, that clearly means it is a powerful tool and will also be using extra power from the tablet it’s connected to.
Now think about just how many hundreds (thousands?) of Android tablets there are, and the varying specs of each of those devices. It would probably be out of Manfrotto’s interests to maintain compatibility with such a varied product line-up, which is why I don’t see it coming to Android anytime soon. At least with the iPad you have a manageable product release schedule to fit into.
I understand the technology, but the price?
I’m fully aware of the technology being implemented in this device and know that it is essentially another smartphone processor powering this thing. However I would still prefer to see it at least £100 cheaper to really tempt me into buying one. This could easily change in the future, if the product is successful, as this initial price could just be for business sense to not make any development costs too damaging.
Maybe the audience they’re targeting isn’t really me anyway? It could be that they’re targeting professional studios or networks that have much higher expenses for equipment like this.
Either way, I see the Manfrotto Digital Director as an amazing piece of kit that could really improve your product photography/filmmaking workflow. It’s just possibly a little too expensive at the moment and has me skeptical for how long it will work with current technologies.
If you would like to buy a Manfrotto Digital Director, you do so from manfrotto.co.uk and various camera retailers.
15% discount off manfrotto.co.uk orders
As mentioned in the video, there is the chance to get 15% off Manfrotto products using the discount code: MAN851
The discount is only valid on online orders over £20 (excluding shipping and handling fees) placed at manfrotto.co.uk until August 31st, 2015. The offer excludes the following products: Digital Director, New 190 Go, Off Road Hiker Bags, Lumie LED Lights, KLYP 6 Range, XPRO Geared 3 Way Head, XPRO Ball Heads and The National Geographic Bags Range, and cannot be used with any other offers. UK Residents only.
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