I've been looking for a replacement tripod, since my SLIK 35S is beginning to feel on the heavy side, aswell as not the latest greatest.
Usualy when I'm selecting my tripod I tend to weigh the heaviest equipment at my disposal, which I can think of to be using on the tripod, in this case it was my 1Ds3 with my 70-200mm f/2.8 IS attached and the 580EXII flash on top.
This would put me in the vicinity of beeing suitable for a load of 9lbs.
As a rule of thumb, I want my tripod to atleast be able to support twice this ammount, both for stability but also because you don't want the setup to be sagging under the load if the head is at an angle.
At this point my requirements were a lightweight tripod, with a head suitable of supporting atleast 18lbs, for my third requirement I wanted this to be a small collapsible tripod, since I take alot of walks/hikes this should be small enough to have in my backpack and not be a burden when lugged around.
Now I know many of you look at tripods with the ruleset
In this regard, I wasn't going to let price be a factor, well not initialy, so I set out to find a tripod with a ballhead that was going to fulfill my requirements, most of you would say, if price isn't a factor why not just get a Gitzo and be done with.
Well, here comes the question of size in play, as I was researching I found that the Gitzo wouldn't provide me with a tripod that folded would be small enough yet still provide me with full lenght that seemed high enough (I'm 5'9") so I turned to Benro for their line of Travel angel.
There are several eligible versions, either Carbon fiber or Aluminium, here comes the weight into consideration, since I wanted as light as posible there was only one way to go, and it was with Carbon Fiber.
And with the support requesting atleast 18lbs there realy wasn't much of a choice, thus I settled for the Benro C-269 M8 Travel Angel, with it's support of 30lbs.
Now there's something missing, and thats the head, since I wanted this to be as small as posible I was very much encuraged by the Markins Q3T ballhead, and had decided to get it, but as I was ordering the legs, the benro ebay store presented me with the benro J-2 ballhead which seemed to have a larger ball diameter than the Markins.
One of my rules are, a larger ball will provide more support, so instead of the Markins Q3T ballhead, the benro J-2 ballhead was quickly added to the list.
Shipping time was more than could have ever been expected, I made the purchase on a sunday evening, and had the two items in my hand on tuesday evening, given that there's atleast a 16hours flight from China to Denmark it's impressive it was shipped in only a matter of two days.
As you can see, I ended up modifying the ball head with adding a Really Right Stuff quickrelease clamp, it dosn't have as snug a fit to the ball as the benro top plate, but having a leveling base thats 8x6cm instead of 5x5cm and provides you with a spirit leaver, is a bonus.
From day one this tripod had a very sturdy feel to it, the locks on the legs are very easy to unlock/lock when using, and it is quite fast at assembling as well as disassembling, and the weight is better than I could have hoped for, after three - four hours of lugging this around, you'll barely notice it's there.
As for height one could have hoped for a tripod that would be an additional 10cm without having to raise the center column, but since one of my requirements were a folded length that would fit in any of my bags, I can live with that.
The entire tripod with head and QR clamp messures a total of 43cm when folded, the disadvantage of the slightly larger ballhead, is that the tripod bag with which the legs came, wont zip up fully, since the enlarged base on the head prevents the legs from folding in tight with the center column.
But a bag with a slightly larger messurement will solve that.
After fiddling around with it, and trying to get it to fit inside the bag, it is possible, I found that out after trying to position the head in various ways, and all of a suddent it would let the zipper close fully, altho a bit tight but it did
The head, which is the main attraction, seems to be on par with any Markins, I have yet to find anything cumbersome about it, the paning is smooth, the tightening screws are very responsive, a bit of a turn can determine if you will be able to adjust the angle or if it's locked tight and wont budge.
Overall this setup is very close to exactly what I needed, I see this as beeing the tripod I'm gonna use for the next 20 years.