Summary: The Manfrotto 322RC Joystick head works as advertised but expect to have to bulk up to use it. The grip takes more forearm strength than I imagined but performs extremely well.
Manufacturer’s Description: Take the versatility of a ball head, add true ergonomic control and you get the 322RC2: a photographic head that allows you to unblock, move, position and lock your camera with one hand in one position thanks to the revolutionary design of its grip handle, which incorporates the ball lock lever and can also mount the 322RS shutter release accessory. A friction control wheel lets you regulate the power of the blocking mechanism to match the weight of your camera/lens. The 322RC2 is made from magnesium for lightweight performance, and is designed to keep the weight of your kit as close as possible to the tripod’s center of gravity by way of its reduced height. It is this fact, matched with the precision construction of the 322RC2 that gives the head its load capacity of 5kg. Complete with built-in bubble spirit level and quick release camera plate (standard 1/4′ screw, with secondary safety pin). Suitable for use with 35mm or medium format cameras.
Review: I feel like a major wimp but it really does take quite a bit of forearm strength to squeeze the grip to release the ball head. My arm actually hurt after the first time that I used the head. You can’t say I didn’t warn you! There is a dial that adjusts the how tightly the ball head is gripped but this adjustment does not change the amount of effort required to release the ball head. As for the way the head works, I really like being able to use one hand to release the camera and reposition the it though I did find that I had to use my other hand to support a telephoto lens when I released the ball head – the weight of the telephoto caused the front of the camera to drop. Between the strength necessary to release the ball head and the weight of a telephoto lens, I wasn’t able to easily point the camera with one hand.
A few reviews mentioned that there was some droop with this head but I haven’t experienced that at all. When I release the grip, the camera stays positioned in exactly the same spot. I use a bubble level on my camera so I was able to easily see that the camera stayed in the same position.
The 322 RS shutter release is an accessory that you can purchase for the 322RC2. It is perfectly positioned for you to use your thumb to control the shutter release. The two position switch allows you to slightly depress the switch to auto focus then completely depress it to take the shot. You will need to purchase a cable to go between the switch and your camera. Be sure to purchase the correct cable. The one pictured in this post is for a Canon T1i.