Manfrotto 338 levelling base mounted below a Manfrotto 410 geared head and Manfrotto 300n panoramic headSunwayfoto DYH-66i levelling base and Manfrotto 338 levelling base.Sunwayfoto DYH-66i levelling base mounted below a Manfrotto 410 geared head and Manfrotto 300n panoramic head
Attached to the Manfrotto 410 geared head and 300n rotation unit above left is the Manfrotto 338 levelling base. Far right image is the Sunwayfoto DYH-66i levelling base.

Having the Manfrotto 300n panoramic head on my Manfrotto 190XPRO3 (new series) tripod is great for when I want to do panoramic images, but adjusting all the tripod legs to get precise leveling using the bubble level on top of the center column, can be a bit of a pain and sometimes quite time-consuming. The solution to this leveling niggle was to purchase a leveling base that could get the tripod perfectly in level quickly.

After searching on the internet and reading various reviews, I decided to get the Manfrotto 338, which has a safety payload of 15kg, well above the weight of the heaviest gear I would be using. It also weighs 600g and has 3 adjustment thumb knobs that can be moved 5° in any direction, with additional locking screws once leveled.

When it arrived I thought the build quality was great, but the thumb screws were not just a little stiff; they were very stiff! No way to adjust them as the screws are glued; this is to keep them at a particular tension. I returned this one and ordered a replacement 338 leveling base and found that the leveling knobs on the replacement were a bit easier to turn than the first unit. I decided to keep it and hoped that the adjustment knobs would slacken a little over time.

Leveling was easy only if you have the tripod legs fairly level to begin with as there are only 5° adjustments in any direction. I had been using the 338 base for a few weeks doing several panoramic images until one day one of the adjustment knobs would not turn; it was completely locked and would not budge. I had no other choice but to send it back for a refund as I did not want to risk buying another Manfrotto 338 and then having the same thing happen again.

I scoured the internet again looking for a suitable leveling base and came across the Sunwayfoto DYH-90i. This base seemed to be better than the Manfrotto as it allowed 16° movements in any direction and could take an even greater load than the Manfrotto; it was also slightly lighter in weight. Sunwayfoto also have a smaller and lighter version of the DYH-90i called the DYH-66i.

The DYH-66i max load capacity is 10kg and weighs 250g, which is less than half the weight of the Manfrotto 338. I decided to get the DYH-66i as the max weight load it can take is well above the heaviest equipment I might have on it, i.e. Manfrotto 300n (609g) Manfrotto 410 (1220g) Canon 5dsr (840g) and Canon 400mm f5.6 L (1250g) which totals 3,919g, well below the 10kg max load capacity. It made sense, therefore, to buy the 66i version with the weight-saving reduction and the reduced cost too.

Upon receiving the Sunwayfoto DYH-66i I was very impressed with the packaging it came in, not to mention the superb build quality. I recorded an unboxing video with my LG G3 with the help of an assistant, below.

As you can see in the unboxing video, the Sunwayfoto DYH-66i comes with some accessories, including an allen key for securing it against my Manfrotto 300n via the three allen key adjustment screws on the DYH-66i. There is also a 1/4″ to 3/8″ converter screw and cleaning cloth included.

The build quality is exceptional, and feels sturdy in the hand; it is machined from lightweight aircraft aluminum with a scratch-resistant anodised surface. In use, the DHY-66i movement is smooth as butter and makes leveling quick and easy using the offset bubble level, and once locked with the locking lever it will be held securely in place until the lever is unlocked. Below is a quick demonstration video I made showing how quick and easy it is to level the base.

Unlike the Manfrotto 338 leveling base, the Sunwayfoto 66i can be unlocked and swivelled (not independently) around to a convenient viewing angle for leveling with the offset bubble level, no matter which position my tripod is at, then it is just a matter of rotating the 300n or 410 geared head, which can be rotated independently of other attached equipment, if needed.

Another great thing about having this base paired with my excellent Manfrotto 410 geared head, is that it can add to it an extra 16° tilt, for shooting at a higher angle than what the 410 would normally allow.

The Sunwayfoto DYH-66i is an excellent leveling base I’m glad I purchased.