Production

Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Camera Bags Review: Balance and Expand

Big storage and specialty built bags by Manfrotto deliver the storage space needed when using a Ronin M/MX

Do you ever feel like you spend more time carrying your gear from point A to point B, or in my case to the car and from the car? It is a constant part of being a cameraman or creative. We need our gear close at hand. Manfrotto has made a couple of bags to help us keep our most wanted, and difficult to carry for long distances, gear with us when we need it most. I mean who wants to drag a DJI Ronin M/MX pelican case into the woods? I know I don’t.

Manfrotto

The Manfrotto Pro Light Cinema Balance or the Expand backpacks have been designed to carry either your DJI Ronin M/MX or a medium sized video camera system. Both are comfortable to wear on your back as the bag is fully loaded and come with many ways to customize the straps to find your best most comfortable fit. I will break down the differences between both bags and what I like the most about each.

The Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Backpack Balance

This bag has been designed to carry a DJI Ronin M/MX along with a host of other equipment. Consider this the one bag you need if you are going to be hiking into an area and you want your Ronin with you at all times. Manfrotto has designed a special pocket specifically to place the Ronin M/MX carriage. I am so glad to see a bag that has been designed around the Ronin M/MX. Sometimes it is totally impractical to drag a hard case to a shoot. Us shooters needed a different option.

The pouch for the DJI Ronin M/MX is perfectly sized and easy to access quickly. The outside attachment points and straps also mean your Ronin Stand can be carried with you wherever you go. A must with any DJI Ronin. Though the pouch meant for the DJI Ronin M/MX means you can only carry smaller camera systems and lenses, because the top large pouch is just a little bit shorter on the Balance bag than on the Expand bag. To me, I feel like a Sony A7 style mirrorless camera and its lenses will fit wonderfully. This, of course, is likely all by design by Manfrotto. The DJI Ronin M/MX are meant to fly smaller and light-weight cameras. I think the biggest camera to fit in the Balance bag might be the Canon C200 or a Red Camera and then the fit might be a bit of a squeeze.

Both bags have a wonderful mesh covered pocket in the large pouch. These pouches keep your smaller items in place so they do not bounce around and scratch up your more expensive gear. These mesh covered pouches are also accessible from an outside zipper giving you much needed quick access when needed. Both bags also have laptop computer pouches which fit laptops up to 17 inches.

Manfrotto
The DJI Ronin M/MX pocket which expands to fit the gimbal

The Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Backpack Expand

This Manfrotto Backpack feels best for me as a Blackmagic Design URSA Mini Pro shooter. The UMP is not an especially small camera nor is it Arri Alexa large. The URSA Mini is right in the medium-sized range like a Sony FS7, Panasonic EVA1, Panasonic LT, Red, and Arri Alexa Mini. I think all of those cameras listed could work well stored in the Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Backpack Expand. With a URSA Mini Pro, I am a little less interested in having a DJI Ronin M/MX with me and more interested in having as many lenses, batteries, and filters I can carry.

“Expand” means I can keep my Top Handle and EVF attached to my Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro when packed away in the Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic. I am all in on having a camera ready to go at a moments notice. There is no reason to miss a shot because your camera hasn’t been built out ahead of time.

The big difference between the Expand and Balance bags is the Expand does not seem to be able to carry a DJI Ronin M/MX or at least I would not feel comfortable carrying the DJI Ronin M/MX in the Expand Bag. I think this bag is meant for larger cameras and accessories like a small drone to go with your camera kit. As you can see in the image below the deeper larger pouch is a perfect fit for IDX V-mount batteries and the URSA Mini Pro.

Manfrotto
Manfrotto Expand with URSA Mini Pro

Both Bags are smart solutions for any shooter and creative. I tend to lean to the larger pouched Manfrotto Pro Light Cinematic Expand Bag than the Balance bag mainly because I use larger cameras and the larger DJI Ronin or Ronin 2. Both are good buys at the $279 price and both bags will be a part of your kit for years to come. I feel like the build of these bags is top level and will more than handle the abuse production life can dish out.

Product Highlights

  • Dedicated Solution for Ronin M/MX Users
  • Side Compartment for Remote Control
  • Space for 17″ Laptop
  • Straps for Compact Tripod or Monopod
  • Made from Water-Repellent Ripstop Nylon
  • Carry-On Luggage Size Compatible
  • Internal Padded Compartments
  • Trolley Smart Sleeve
  • Sun/Rain Cover Included

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Brian Hallett, is the senior promotions producer at the NBC affiliate in Nashville, TN, and an award winning cameraman, editor, and producer. He has shot everything from broadcast television news, promotional image campaigns, music videos,…

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Awesome This is really cool