Manfrotto 394 quick release review

Video review of the Manfrotto 394 quick release plate system.

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The Manfrotto 394 quick release plate system uses Low Profile 410PL plates which I've found to be more reliable and easier to use than the smaller 323/200PL RC2 system that comes as standard with smaller Manfrotto tripods and heads.

For use on my Glidetrack Shooter I modified the ball head seen in the video by removing a 323 plate that came fitted to it and attaching one of the 394 plates in it's place.

The price for the 394 adapter and the 410 plate in the US is $46.95 at B&H. I was slightly out with the price in the video. Click here to buy them at B&H

In the UK you can buy them from for around £35.

27 Responses

  1. Stephen Hughes says:

    This was really useful as I wanted to find a setup where I can switch quickly between a pan/tilt head with a ball leveller attached, a hybrid glidetrack and glidecam hd 2000. However using this particular quick release plate to attach the glidetrack (0.75m) to the tripod just doesn’t work. I’m surprised you suggested it. The slight play in this quick release combined with the weight of the dslr (5dmk II with 17-40) means the track seesaws as you slide along. Not only does this look strange but it means you can’t get smooth slides. It’s back to screwing the glidetrack directly onto the tripod I’m afraid.

    • Paul Joy says:

      Hi Stephen. I’ve used this method for years and my glide tracks lock into place really solidly with no movement at all from the quick release. I’d check to see if you a faulty plate or receiver.


      • Stephen Hughes says:

        Hi Paul,

        tried it with 2 of the other same quick releases I have so it’s not a fault with the plate or receiver. They are all brand new as well so I don’t know why I get play and you don’t. It feels solid when you place the glidetrack on and it’s ok when the camera is in the middle of the glidetrack but as soon as you get down either end the glidetrack dips slightly.

  2. Lily Tinkle says:

    Just wanted to thank you for so generously taking the time to make a video to describe so clearly how the quick release system works, what parts are needed, how you attach them together, and the specific movements you need to attach, release, and use it all. I’d previously read several descriptions which hadn’t really come together to make sense to me. Not only am I a newbie, but also live where I can’t easily get to a camera shop to see items. Plus I’m in the U.S. so appreciated for the the little currency translation as well ;-).

    So grateful to you!

  3. Arthur says:

    Thanks for the post! I’ve standardized on 501PLs but using them w/ a glidecam, baseplates with a big area, etc is becoming increasingly difficult to use. I’m probably going to switch over to this but I wish they weren’t $40 each!

  4. ben says:

    Hi Paul,

    This is brilliant.
    Though i have a velbon tripod? Will it work with any tripod or is it just manfrotto?


    • Paul Joy says:

      It should work fine, you just attach the bottom part to your existing tripod plate.

      • Caspian says:

        Hi Paul,

        Your vids on this and the new Glidetrack Hybrid have been big helps in my purchasing decisions.

        Just wondering, when you say “your existing tripod plate”, how did you attach the base of the 394QR plate to your tripod? My 055cxPro3 has a large 3/8″ male screw protruding, which doesn’t fit into the 394. It would fit into a thread-hole in the top plate (on the edge) but its not centered and doesn’t screw on well. Plus you have to stack them.

        Is there a simple screw adapter you can get so that it will fit into the bottom of the 394? Might have to pop down to my nearest camera store, ‘caus I can’t work out on Ebay which adapter I’d need.

        I’m thinking this would be a great method also for quickly switching between my 701hdv and a ball head for stills work (which using the same sticks).


        • Paul Joy says:

          Yes, you can by a thread enlarger which adapts the smaller thread on your tripod plate up to whats needed by the 394.

  5. VypeR says:

    Hello Paul,
    And everyone else :)
    I am a bit new to this, so could you tell me, how does the 394 Quick Release adaptor, fit on a 701HDV Fluid Head or on a Zacuto Target Shooter? Do you screw the adaptor on the original plate itself ? (remember I am talking about the 394 adaptor and not the plate).

    (by original plate, i mean the one that came with the 701HDV head / etc.. )

    Thanks again, I am in the market to buy, and I live in India, it’s not as easy to return it back, if you’ve bought the wrong thing, so I have to be absolutely thorough..


    • Paul Joy says:

      Hi there, yes you simply attach the 394 plate to the sliding plate in the 701HDV head. I do exactly that with my Miller Tripod.

  6. John Erdovegi says:

    Thanks for the great demo. I standardized on the Manfrotto 394 Quick Release, I use them everywhere. I will create a video of the many uses.
    I don’t use any included camera Neck-Straps. My Shoulder Strap replaces it, connecting to the RC4 Baseplate. Shoulders can support weight longer then my neck. I can also switch camera bodies easily using the RC4. I will try to incorporate a Zacuto ZFinder into my system soon.

    Between: camera and macro focusing rails.
    Between: focusing rails and tripod
    Between: Promaster Utility Platform and tripod.
    Platform used for Laptop, Positioning Fog Machines, DLP Projector, and breakfast stand while on internet.
    Between: DLP Projector and Manfrotto Avenger Light Stand with Boom Pole.
    Between: 13 Foot Boom pole for Microphone or Quantum Remote Strobes

  7. John Mathieu says:

    Hi Paul,

    Thanks for the very informative vid. Can you tell us which ball head is attached to the glidetrack?



  8. Lee Booth says:

    Hi Paul, ok that makes sense. Thanks for your help. Lee

  9. Lee Booth says:

    Hi Paul, is this to stop it moving around when carrying it or not is use?

    Sorry not 100% clear what you mean.

    • Paul Joy says:

      It was added to the shooter to lock it in position when using it as a shoulder rig, but before I had the shooter my camera had been on a few uncontrolled trips down the track while I was setting up a shot with potentially disastrous consequences as the weight moves outwards. It’s not an essential, but I like being able to lock it until I’m ready for the shot.

  10. Lee Booth says:

    Hi Paul, thanks for the info, what is the lock on the shooter used for?

  11. Lee Booth says:

    Hi Paul, thanks for replying, I have just picked up a 701HDV head which looks really good and pretty small. I saw your review of the glide track and was looking at getting the compact SD (0.5m) version as I only have a 7D 15-85mm which do you think is better the SD compact or the shooter as I see you have both?

    I am looking for something small and light to travel with but don’t think I will use the handles on the shooter so fancied the compact SD because of the rubber feet.

    Do you think you get enough movement with the small version (0.5m)?

    Sorry for all the questions but want to make sure I buy the right gear as it’s all starting to add up and want to spend wisely.



    • Paul Joy says:

      Hi Lee.

      The thing I like most about the Shooter is that it has a lock on the sliding plate, I don’t think you get that on the SD. I find that half meter shooter to be long enough for my needs, I guess it depends on the shot you want.

  12. Lee Booth says:

    Hi Paul, great reviews and tips, what head are you using on your monopod and tripod?



    • Paul Joy says:

      Hi Lee. The head on the monopod is comes with it as standard, I’m not sure it has an individual product code. It doesn’t have any pan movement because panning is done by a fluid cartridge in the leg.

      The one on my glidetrack is a standard ball head used by still photographers, I’m not sure of the product code, I’ll check for you a bit later.

  13. Robert Shaw says:

    Hi Paul, I have the 394 for my tripod but wasn’t sure how you mount stuff to a slider or rods. To see gear like the Zacuto and Slider handled up up close is very useful to see. Thanks.

  14. ben smithson says:

    Good tips. I mistakenly bought a photo head a while back. Now I’ll save up a bit more and include the plate and adapter as well. Thanks again!

  15. Ollie says:

    Hi Paul,

    Sorry to trouble you again. What kind of lavalier did you use? I’m looking into buying one but with the abundance of choice I’d rather buy one on recommendation.


    • Paul Joy says:

      Hi Ollie.

      I’m using Sony ECM-77 mics through a Sony UWP-V1 wireless system. The mics that come with the V1 system are actually quite good although not quite as nice as the 77’s.

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