Published on July 30th, 2011 | by Greg0
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.