March 11, 2015

Hejnar Photo MHR1 Monopod Tilt Head Review

The Hejnar Monopod Head was initially introduce in 2011 and has passed from different phases of evolution and improvements since.

The result of this evolution is the latest MHR1 model, in review here.

This R1 model is a slimmer and lighter iteration of the original Monopod Head but still very sturdy. It sports on its top, a robust Hejnar 6 cm (2.36") Quick Release clamp with a long screw knob, which is easily relocatable by 90° into three positions in relation to the head's tilting axis.

Hands on impressions were very good to excellent, justifying Hejnar Photo's claims about precision in machining to tight tolerances and robustness.
Somehow, it is both larger and stronger than I had expected just looking at the photos.

Packaging & Contents
The Head came in a hard carton box within a cushion of wrap paper. There are no inner boxes but a nylon zip-lock bag with large printed card stapled on the top, which warrants that none has touched the contents after leaving Hejnar PHOTO. The card has a product label and code on the back.

Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head with packing material and hex key
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Monopod Head with packaging material. As all Hejnar products the head is accompanied by a 4mm Allen hex key for the QR clamp mounting screw.

The Tilt Head

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:MHR1
Height with QR Clamp:9.84 cm (3.875")
Height w/o QR Clamp:8.25 cm (3.25")
Total Length:8.00 cm (3.15")
Total Width with Knobs:9.50 cm (3.74")
Square Base Width:3.81 x 3.81 cm (1.50" x 1.50")
Mounting Socket:3/8"-16
Weight with QR Clamp:*411 gr (14.2 oz)
Weight w/o QR Clamp:*294 gr (10.4 oz)
Color:Black hard coat anodized
Material:C.N.C. machined 6061-T6 Aluminium
Hardware:Stainless Steel
Made in :USA

* Verified weights on electronic scales 403 gr (14.2 oz) with QR Clamp and 287 gr (10.1 oz) without.

Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head side/bottom view
The dominating element on the Hejnar MHR1 monopod head is the gigantic tilt Lock-knob. With a diameter of 35,5 mm (1.40"), a length of 57.3 mm (2.25") and a clear Aluminium anodizing, captivates the eye. The head design is quite simple based on three robust CNC Aluminium parts. The base-L-stand, the semi-circular swing arm and the quick release clamp. All parts are hard coat anodized in a glossy black color. The king-pin (center tilt pivot) and the lock screw are made of polished stainless steel.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head bottom view
The base plate is square sporting a bidirectional Arca-Swiss® dovetail below, which enables clamping the head in any orientation in relation to the tilting axis. Apart of the dovetail of course, there is a centrally located mounting hole tapped with 3/8"-16 thread for mounting on a monopod or tripod. Unlike my experience with other heads, the rim around the hole is recessed here.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head bottom view w/ opt. ss bushing
This recess however, is meant to accommodate the quite large flange found on the Hejnar stainless steel 3/8"-16 to 1/4"-20 reducer bushings. As we can see from the illustration above the recess allows the bushing flange to sit flush against the bottom plate of the MHR1. (The Hejnar ss reducer bushing comes as an optional extra).

The Tilt Lock Mechanism
The Hejnar MHR1 monopod head design differs from the majority of monopod heads with its single Swing Arm attached via a strong pivot on a single but very robust base with an L-Stand. Most other designs feature either a double swing arm or a double stand.

Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head tilt & lock mechanism R side
With the assumption that this is the "right" side view of the head, we can see the robust base and thick vertical side on which the central tilt pivot is sustained. Just below the pivot the huge tilt lock knob shaft goes through the semi circular swing arm opening to brace on the vertical stand.
The quick release clamp stands on the relatively thinner but still robust swing arm which is suspended on the tilt pivot and locked via two Teflon washers on each side of the lock knob shaft.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head tilt & lock mechanism rear side
The rear view of the head shows the anchor points of the central tilt pivot (top) and the tilt-lock knob screw shaft (below). The large "smiley face" on the swing arm is the semi circular opening allowing the tilt-lock knob to travel from -90° to +90°. The two small holes on each side are now cosmetic resembling the head's "eyes". However, these holes used to be threaded 3/8"-16, playing the role of Reducer Bushing storage on earlier versions of the head.

Somehow, neither on this side nor on the front side could find markings for the tilt in degrees. Although not a must, considering the tight tolerances and the precision of the MHR1 head, the degree marks would be an extra plus for some applications.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head tilt & lock mechanism L side
The "left" side view reveals two little headless hex socket screws on the vertical L-stand which fix the central tilt pivot and the tilt lock knob shaft in place after factory adjustment. This means of course that the main pivot and the lock knob are captive unable to unscrew further.
By tightening (turning clockwise) the gigantic tilt-lock knob both inner and outer Teflon washers act as brake pads on the swing arm perimeter, thus gradually tightening, until full lock and immobilization of the swing arm.

The F62M clamp

Manufacturer Specification:
Model:F62M
Jaw Length:2.375" (6 cm)
Weight:117 gr (4.12 oz)
Center countersunk/threaded hole:3/8"-16
Long Captive Screw Knob:Stops at maximum opening
Material:CNC machined 6061-T6 Aluminium
Color:Black hard coat anodized
Hardware:Stainless Steel
Made in :USA

Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head F62M QR clamp Removal
The F62M QR Clamp can be easily removed by loosening and unscrewing the center 1/4"-20 flat-head mounting screw utilizing the enclosed Allen hex key.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head F62M QR clamp removed
The clamp is attached on the swing arm via one 1/4"-20 stainless steel flat head screw, which only after giving the head a hard time persuaded me that it is more than sufficient to withstand a lot of torque and keep the clamp in place in any orientation.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head QR clamp mounting socket & alignment pin
The reason for my disbelief in the beginning was knowledge of the original Hejnar Monopod head design which featured a square platform on top, with double mounting screws to host the quick release clamp.
The latest MHR1 however, became slimmer with just a threaded 1/4"-20 hole on the cross section of the semi circular swing arm. Alignment screws, springs or dowel pins inherent on older designs, gave their place to a far simpler and lighter alignment pin close to the mounting hole.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head QR clamp mounting orientations
Due to the small size of the alignment pin, just by loosening the F62M QR clamp a little, it is possible to lift it slightly and relocate it in one the three possible orientations in relation to the head's tilting axis.
One position is on the same side with the giant lock screw knob, one is exactly opposite and finally one to the right of the lock knob which brings the clamp jaws in line with the tilting axis.

Comparison with the F62Ab Clamp
For those acquainted with the classic Hejnar Photo Updated F62Ab Quick Release Clamp (Review), the Hejnar Photo F62M QR clamp accompanying the MHR1 is basically an iteration without the extra side mounting holes. Nevertheless, there are some other differences in fine details besides that.

Hejnar Photo F62M vs F62ab QR clamps comparison top
Looking from the top, the F62M on the left, has only a counter sunk center hole compared to the 3/8"-16 threaded center hole and the two 1/4"-20 threaded side holes holes of the F62Ab on the right. Otherwise both share the same shape, the same laser engraved decimal scales and the same safety stop screw relief groves.
Although different above, I shall not mention the screw knob which is anyway a matter of user choice between long or short and clear Aluminium or black.
Hejnar Photo F62M vs F62ab QR clamps comparison bottom
The bottom side of the F62M on the left shows far simpler featuring three (3) small alignment pin holes, compared to the large groove across the center hole and the four (4) 5mm dowel pin alignment holes of the F62Ab on the right.

Arca-Swiss® Compatibility
The F62M quick release clamp, besides the Hejnar PHOTO own rails, was also tested with various camera plates and lens plates, as well as with multipurpose long rails of various thicknesses and widths. Plates / Rails tested were from Benro, Desmond, Kiwi Fotos, Fotopro, and Marumi with excellent results.

For the readers that like numbers, I hereunder quote detailed measurements of the clamp Jaw dimensions, so as they can decide whether this clamp is compatible with the dimensions of their plates or rails.

Clamp Jaw dimensions        mm
Jaw Length60.35
Steady Jaw Height05.10
Moving Jaw Height05.03
Min Jaw Lip Opening31.58
Max Jaw Lip Opening37.64
Min Base Opening39.16
Max Base Opening46.64

All dimensions fall within the limits which consist this clamp compatible with almost any Arca-Swiss® type plate and rail. including but not limited to Kirk®, R.R.S.® and Arca-Swiss® own.


Using the MHR1 Head...
Mounted Directly on a Monopod
What more self evident than using a tilt head on a monopod. :-) That's why they call them Monopod heads actually. The one axis motion of the tilt head is easier to control with one hand compared to a ball head.
In the case when a heavy telephoto is mounted via its collar foot it allows for a forward backward tilt and deprives the camera /lens combination to drop sideways.
On the other hand it will allow a camera, mounted via a base plate, to tilt in portrait position without an accidental forward/backward sag as would be the case with a ball head.
Either way, panning may be achieved by pivoting on the ground the Monopod itself.

Mounting Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head on Triopo GL-70 CF Monopod
As long as the monopod is equipped with a 3/8"-16 stud on the top platform, the MHR1 may be screwed on tightly and get into actions quickly. Needless to mention that if the mounting stud on the monopod is 1/4"-20, the optional Hejnar Reducer Bushing, mentioned previously, should be utilized.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head mounted on Triopo GL-70 CF Monopod
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Tilt Head mounted on Triopo GL-70 Carbon Fiber Monopod (Review).
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head on Triopo GL-70 CF Monopod + LLSB + Canon EF 100-400 IS USM
The MHR1 Head plus GL-70 Monopod proves a very sturdy combination. Pictured above with a Hejnar Long Lens Support Bracket built around the modular MOD-1 LLSB (Review) holding a Canon EOS camera with the EF 100-400 IS USM lens attached. For sure the combo is meant for far more load than that. 

Mounted Directly on a Tripod
Somehow, a tilt head may find practical use on a tripod as well. Long and heavy telephoto lenses equipped with a collar foot are the main candidates. The MHR1 can handle the forward/backward tilt, while orientation may be changed within the lens collar.

Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head mounted on Triopo GX-1328 CF classic tripod
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Tilt Head mounted on Triopo GX-1328 CF classic tripod (Review)
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head mounted on Triopo GX-1328 CF classic tripod + LLSB + Canon gear
Once again the MHR1 is pictured above with a Hejnar Long Lens Support Bracket built around the modular MOD-1 LLSB (Review) holding a Canon EOS camera with the EF 100-400 IS USM lens attached.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head mounted on Triopo GX-1328 CF - tilted -90° and +90°
The MHR1 can handle full backward tilt by -90° or full forward tilt by +90°, side tilt correction or complete change in orientation may be arranged within the lens collar.

Mounted Via a Panning Base / Panoramic Clamp
However, the above implementation of a tilt head on a tripod is missing the ability to pan the camera/lens unless the tripod center column has a panning function or simply lacks an anti-twist pin.
Therefore, a panning base or a panning/panoramic quick release clamp comes in charge to complete the task.

Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head w/ Benro PC-0 panoramic clamp
Here comes handy a old acquaintance, the Benro PC-0 panoramic clamp (Review) which matches the size of the Hejnar MHR1 Monopod Tilt head.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head clamped on Benro PC-0 panoramic clamp
The bidirectional dovetail at the bottom of the Hejnar MHR1 Head is clamped on Benro PC-0 clamp which integrates nicely to undertake the role of a panning base for the head.
Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head clamped on Benro PC-0 panoramic clamp on tripod
The Benro PC-0 clamp is screwed on the tripod top mounting plate and then the MHR1 is clamped on top. The combo proves a sturdy pan and tilt head, shown above supporting the Canon EF 100-400 IS USM by its collar foot dovetail.

Torque Test results
Nevertheless, one thing that would complete the image of the sturdy looking Hejnar MHR1 Tilt Head was to measure its locking ability and prove its load capacity. Something not mentioned in the specs.

Hejnar Photo MHR1 Head torque measurment
Following the simple method used in many of my torque measurements, one of my counter balance weights, weighing about 5,5 Kg (12.1 lb) was used to calculate the torque.  The Hejnar MHR1 giant lock-knob was tightened as far as it would go by hand. The head was able to hold steady in horizontal position, without a sag, with the weight hanging at an offset position of 21.5 cm. This figure is translated into a Torque of ~118.25 KgF*cm (1160 N*cm).
This may also be further translated into a load of ~9.85 kg at a distance of 12 cm according to the Gitzo® method and a load of 33.5 kg on top of the QR clamp.
In plain words this head is capable of  holding and locking in position a large and a heavy camera equipped with a long and heavy lens, even if the center of gravity of the camera / lens combination is hanging quite far from the pivoting center.

Pros
Excellent design and machining of the tilt head with very good finishing and hard coat anodizing.
Excellent locking strength and torsional behavior with very tight tolerances.
Very smooth operation and strong locking ability.
Very nice sturdy and dirt-proof clamp design.
Excellent clamping strength with large clamping surfaces and Excellent Compatibility with virtually any Arca-Swiss® type plate or rail.
Very good overall value for money.

Cons
The MHR1 head + QR Clamp combo is somewhat heavier than competitive products.
Lack of tilt angle markings.

Conclusion
Although nowadays Monopod Heads coming from China are hard to compete pricewise, there is still a long road in front of many of them to catch up with the sturdiness of the structure and  the precision of the stainless steel mechanism of the Hejnar head. Somehow, these finer details come with a trade off in a little higher total weight and a little higher price.
As with other cases in the past, I trust that Hejnar Photo will take care of the laser engraving soon.
Would I trust a multi thousand dollar lens on this head? By all means!

Disclaimer:
This review and test was run on a single product sample, using the specifically described methods. Independent of the favorable or unfavorable results of any test, a test on a single product can not be used as a rule, unless more samples of the same product are tested. Furthermore, similar comparison tests should be run with comparative capabilities products so as to reach a solid conclusion.

Note: The MHR1 Monopod Head presented in this article was kindly offered for evaluation and review by Chris Hejnar of Hejnar PHOTO.


I hope you found the article and ideas useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2014-2015 S.C.Vlachos

Price & Availability:
Current price for the MHR1 Monopod Head is US$ 165.00 (+Shipping where applicable). The optional SS Reducer Bushing costs US$ 4.00 while both are available from the Hejnar PHOTO Store.
Check the Recommended Sellers page for a valid Hejnar Photo discount coupon.

Referenced Articles:
Updated Hejnar PHOTO Quick Release Clamps Preview
Hejnar Photo Updated F62Ab Quick Release Clamp Review
Long Lens Support Bracket Articles
Hejnar PHOTO Modular Lens Support Bracket MOD-1 Review
Triopo GL-70 Carbon Fiber Twist Lock Monopod Review
Triopo GX-1328 Carbon Fiber Classic Tripod Review
Benro PC-0 and PC-1 Panorama Clamps Review

Relevant Articles:
Desmond DMH-1 Monopod Tilt Head Preview

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