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Published on July 30th, 2011 | by Greg

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Benro: Travel Flat Tripod (And Ballhead)

It’s a fact of life- pho­tog­ra­phers have to trav­el. Re­gard­less of sub­ject mat­ter, un­less you on­ly do stu­dio work, you’re go­ing to be mov­ing. Wed­ding and events, races and grad­u­a­tions, land­scapes and news­wor­thy scenes… Many pro­fes­sions are more sta­tion­ary, but pho­tog­ra­phy gear is gen­er­al­ly made with the del­i­cate bal­ance be­tween dura­bil­i­ty and weight in mind. Cam­eras and lens­es are of­ten heavy, but one nec­es­sary item can ri­val them- a good, sol­id tri­pod. Af­ter all, you’re go­ing to en­trust your ex­pen­sive gear to a set of met­al and pins, so you nat­u­ral­ly want it to be hefty enough to stand up against wind and nudges.

We’ve been us­ing the Ben­ro A0190T tri­pod and BH0 ball­head mount over the last few weeks, while cap­tur­ing ev­ery­thing from group por­traits to ar­chi­tec­ture. And while there many folks are pas­sion­ate about their gear- fierce de­bates be­tween cam­era for­mats and man­u­fac­tur­ers are le­gion- we think this is one tri­pod that ev­ery­one can agree on.

The rea­son is ob­vi­ous at first glance- it folds down to a nice flat 16-inch­es that can fit in a car­ry-on or in the con­ve­nient in­clud­ed bag. It pops up eas­i­ly, and is ex­treme­ly flex­i­ble. We liked that the two-sec­tion cen­ter col­umn is re­mov­able; we didn’t need it so took it out to save on some weight. At two pounds, it will like­ly be one of the lighter pieces of gear in your kit, but you’ll need to add a bit more for the ball head- an­oth­er half-pound to be ex­act.

The BH0 ball­head holds about 9 pounds, plen­ty for our pur­pos­es. Ben­ro makes sev­er­al oth­ers as well, in­clud­ing one small­er/lighter and two larg­er/heav­ier mod­els- choose the best fit for your gear, con­sid­er­ing that the tri­pod it­self can hold up to 13 or so pounds. The ball­head con­nects eas­i­ly to the tri­pod, screw­ing on tight­ly. Like most, it of­fers a quick-re­lease with lock, and a de­cent bub­ble lev­el. Ball­heads are usu­al­ly the best sys­tem, as they can quick­ly ad­just to any ori­en­ta­tion and still lock down to a sol­id po­si­tion. This one was fair­ly smooth, and the quick re­lease plate (where there is usu­al­ly some give and the cam­era can jig­gle slight­ly) felt firm and well-ma­chined. At near­ly $50, it seemed a bit pricey, and a bit heavy, but it’s hard to ar­gue with qual­i­ty.

Back to the tri­pod, it can ex­tend to over four feet with­out the mid­dle col­umn- high enough for most use cas­es, but ex­tend­able to an­oth­er foot with that re­mov­able piece. Five sep­a­rate sec­tions made for quite a bit of twist­ing to ex­tend and re­tract all three feet, but the rub­ber feet were sta­ble in most con­di­tions. And if you are look­ing at a great trav­el tri­pod for video use, Ben­ro of­fers the HD1 head, with han­dles for slick pan­ning shots. And at $110, this is a tri­pod well worth the mon­ey.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.



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