If you’re reading this, you’ve no doubt spent several dozen hours reading tripod reviews and looking at spec sheets until you’re bleary-eyed. Here’s some more kindle to add to the fire.
I previously owned the ever-popular Manfrotto 190XPROB & 498RC2 tripod/ballhead combo, but wanted something better, overall. There was not one thing wrong with the Manfrotto setup, it just didn’t excel at anything.
Here’s a size comparison of the Manfrotto and the Benro:
You should read this review in light of the equipment I use and my requirements. My heaviest setup would be a 5D Mark 2 (gripped) and a 70-200 2.8 IS VRII. I predominantly shoot in windy environments, so stability is a concern and one of the primary reasons why I chose a 3-section tripod over a 4 or 5-section option.
I'm not an engineer, nor am I capable of taking this tripod apart and commenting on the materials used or the construction.
I can say, however, that everything moves very smooth. If Benro skimped on something in the manufacturing process, I certainly can't see what that could be.
I guess the only thing that I would like to see improved, from a build quality standpoint, would be the foam used on the one leg - it's defiantly cheaper than what Manfrotto uses on their lineup.
Legs & Height
The maximum height without using the center column is 55", with the B-2 attached, it's 59". With the center column up and the B-2 attached, it's 68".
Folded up, with the B-2 head = 29", without the head = 25"
Whether that's tall enough for you is up for you to decided.
This is my first experience with twist lock legs. It's safe to say I won't be going back to a leaver lock system anytime soon. They seem to be some sort of faux air cushioning "system" in place so the legs just don't drop down or collapse instantly. I'm not sure if all twist lock legs have this "feature", but it's nice.
Benro B-2 Ballhead
My biggest concern, coming from the Manfrotto 498RC2, was camera droop after you’ve locked the camera down. It wasn’t a big concern when shooting wide, but for close shots it did impact my framing.
I was happy to discover that the B-2 does not droop at all with my 5D2 and 70-200, which was my primary apprehension. The head is rated for a load of 44lbs.
The tightening knobs are great. They have a tention indicator scale and will only twist from 1-12 - as an ex-498RC2 user, it's a nice touch. With the B-2, you always know how far you are away from being locked down, to being able to move freely.
Spiked feet – A nice addition, but I’m not sure how much I’ll use them
Center column hook - Again, it's nice to have, but I'm not sure how much use it will get.
Carrying case – The case is very well made and it makes carrying any tripod much easier. If you hike, a case can be invaluable if you like keeping your gear in like-new condition.
You can buy Benro tripods and just about any camera store on the internet. I bought mine from “dc-stuffs” on ebay – they’re located in China, but offer free express shipping. My package arrived within 2 days.