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  1. #1

    Benro Tripods - Thoughts?

    Hey all,

    I know probably Manfrotto is one of the leading tripod brands out there - but ive stumbled across the Benro range and they seem to be okay priced.

    Anyone used them or have any thoughts on them?

    I'm looking at the travel series

    My Current Kit
    Canon 40D + Grip | Canon 10-22 | Canon 50mm f/1.4 | 135mm f/2L | 430EX speedlite | Bibble Pro | Building my stable of primes...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    25 Sep 2008
    I was seriously considering buying the A series legs and one of their ball heads, but have since changed my mind, due to a couple of reasons - mainly because I want to be able to try them out before I buy.
    By all accounts the tripods seem to be o.k. - they are esentially Gitzo copies, but the few reports I could find about their ball heads were mixed.

  3. #3
    Ausphotography Regular J.davis's Avatar
    Join Date
    17 Dec 2008
    I have just purchased an Benro Tripod Aluminium A-650EX +HD-38 3-Way Head Combo from Ebay as it was cheaper than buying directly from the shop in Sydney.
    It works very well and is a bit on the weighty side, but I wanted the height of this model - don't have to bend down.
    The 3 way head has a spirit bubble in, it as does the legs.
    Tried it on a panorama an it works well, as the wind was very gusty.
    I would recommend them the same as they where recommended to me.
    Nikon D7000, Sigma 10-20 F4-5.6, Sigma 17-50 F2.8 OS, Sigma 24-105 f4 OS, Sigma 120-400 OS, SB600
    Benro a650 tripod and 3way head

  4. #4
    Account Closed reaction's Avatar
    Join Date
    18 Sep 2008
    if you buy them, go for the top carbon models
    not worth going to a knockoff for cheap alu tripods.

    heads got bad reviews, avoid them. same for other knockoff brand heads.

    Manfrotto's kinda pricy for mid range stuff. Manfrotto alu are good tho.

  5. #5
    i ordered a C298, J3 head and a specific QR plate for the D80 body. i'll do a review when they arrive.

  6. #6
    My Benro stuff arrived and I have played around with it for a little bit. I've done a small review below. As mentioned, I got a C298, J3 head and QR plate.

    The Legs:
    I chose the C298 because I wanted carbon fibre (it's not much lighter than the aluminium but it is stronger) and I wanted a tiltable centre column. The model numbers have a meaning which is explained in the manual:
    - The C describes the construction series (A = alu, C = CF, and there area few others)
    - The 2 describes the diametre of largest leg section. This can be from 1 to 4 (bigger is bigger).
    - The 9 describes the centre column type with the 9 being the multi tilt. There are a few other variations
    - The 8 denotes a 4 section. A 7 in the last position would denote a 3 section.

    First impression of the legs are that this is fine engineering. The build quality is obviously high and there are tight tolerances everywhere. The carbon weave is very uniform and pleasing to the eye. The speckled powdercoating on the centre is also very good. The legs are tensioned with rotating clamps - not quick releases. I prefer this as the quick release clamps are either on or off and also have more void for dust/sand ingress. I know that I won't be overtightening the legs with the rotating clamps as I have control over tightness. The clamps themselves are rubber coated and the dust sealing appears to be very good.

    The centre column is removable for upside down mounting. It can also mount at any angle due to the multi-tilt clamp (even past horizontal). This would be very useful macro work. There is a hook for counter weighting the centre column. The ballhead fitting is 3/8" size (larger than normal) and there are 3 grub screws to lock the ballhead to the centre column securely. There is a spirit level and compass built into the top. The legs also have 3 squatting positions, from maybe 20 degrees close to 80 degrees (at a guess?). By default the legs have rubber feet but a toolkit is enclosed with 3 metal spiked feet and a spanner tool for fitting them. The travel bag that came with the legs is also of heavy duty construction and allows enough room for a ballhead to be permanently mounted on top.

    Cost $430 AUD

    The Ballhead:
    I chose the J3 based on reviews of the J1 and J2 and on specs alone. From my Googling, I found this German site that reviewed a lot of ballheads. They rated the Markins Q3 and Arca Swiss Z1 as first and second - which is not surprising for industry leaders. What shocked me was how well the J1 and J2 fared.

    On paper the J3 was superior to the J2. J3 has a 54mm diametre ball and is rated to 40kg. The J2 has 44mm diametre ball and is rated to 30kg. It is quite tall at 118mm but for an extra $30 I wasn't fussed. I reasoned if the J2 did well, the J3 should do better.

    Very unscientifically, I mounted my D80, 70-210 (sorry it's the physically longest lens I have), SB900 on the rig and place weight on the front of the lens. The camera didn't move and the lens was flexing at the camera mount! There is no creep when locked. This thing is rock solid. The combined drag & tension knob is easy to use. To start with, you wind out the tension, set the drag, lock it down and never have to touch it again. Then it is just a matter of operating one rubber covered knob for everything. It is a full turn from maximum looseness to maximum tightness. Within that range is an easy working range that makes it quite quick to operate. The panning is smooth and the panning lock is simple and effective. The degree dial is a bit confusing as to which mark the degree numbers represent. There is a slot for portrait orientation shooting.

    Cost $265 AUD

    The Body Plate:
    The PS-D80 is a simple body-specific plate with some shallow scalloping to suit the curvature of the camera. There is an allen key headed screw for mounting to the camera. It is a low profile and can be left on the camera permanently. Its smooth machined corners and black anodizing suits the rest of the Benro gear. There are two screws which act as slide stops when the plate sits loosely in the ballhead plate.

    Cost $50 AUD

    Everybody loves what they spent their money on to justify its cost. But I have tried a few cheap tripod set ups and have been less than impressed. I initially wanted to save up for Really Right Stuff head equipment and to settle for heavy aluminium legs bought locally. With the Benro gear, I have equipment that will be close enough to the quality of the better gear without breaking my budget. I bought from a store in Sydney and it got to my door 4 working days later. I can't recommend them enough.

  7. #7
    Interested to see how you get on this set up. I'm about to get a similar Benro set up also
    Fuji X100S
    Mamiya RZ67
    Rolleicord IV

    My SmugMug

  8. #8
    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
    Join Date
    04 Jun 2006
    the worst house, in the best street
    I have a few tripods now.. all kind'a cheap or specific, but I have seen and played with Gitzo tripods and although Vanbar didn't have any CF Gitzo's on the floor, I can safely say nam is right when he says that the quality of the legs are very good.
    I'm assuming that if there were any weak spots n those legs it'll be in the cantilever tilt design.. but not having extensively tested it, I only just played around with it here and there.. it;s certainly better than any Manfrotto I've ever seen, save for the studio specific tripods with cross bracing.. but of course they are not very versatile for outdoor use and walking about.

    The J3 ball head was great. Better than any of the ballheads I've had, which include the Manfrotto 488 and 468MGR(which is hydrostatic, and large and heavy)

    J3 was light and locked down solidly with the 80-200mm hanging off the front of the body, not mounted on it's tripod collar.

    One day I hope I can get a chance to compare the Benro setup against the manfrotto's IO have.. but just from my limited hour or two of playing with the Benro setup.. it felt immediately better than the manfrotto 055(no longer in use), my current use 458B and their heads.

    I use that 458 only because it's such a rapid to set up set of legs. Pull out and your set to go. I have those twist lock pull out.. three times over kind'a legs.. but the 458B is very unsteady for long-ish lens use.

    I may end up getting 4xx series legs(497 maybe?), and definitely a J3 balhead .. sooner rather than later

    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC

  9. #9
    Join Date
    23 Nov 2008
    I have just got the Benro M158 with the KS0 ball head, haven't done a lot with it yet but so far i am very impressed.

    Canon 6D,Fuji X100
    l Canon 50mm f1.8 MK l l Canon 85mm f1.8 l Canon 100mm f2.8L Macro l Canon 24-70IS f4L l LR4/CS6

  10. #10
    quick update...

    the D80 body QR plate will comfortably fit on the tripod mount of the 80-200 f2.8
    the whole shebang feels much better balanced this way too

    i was going to get a flat lens QR plate but i'm not going to bother as it's pretty easy to take the body plate off and chuck it on the lens mount

    next test is to hang the lowepro bag arthur gave me (thanks again arthur!) on the counterweight hook to see if that improves stability even further

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