Sorry for the late replies but I've been out-of-town for a few days on a trip (with my travel tripod) and just got back today.
at7815 wrote in post #13147324
... I'm going to be using the tripod for some nighttime photography with long exposures, 25 to 30 seconds, do you think this Benro would be sturdy enough for that?
Depends on a number of factors; your gear, the amount of extension you use on the tripod, and the environment you're taking your shots in.
I have not taken 25-30 second shots using a dSLR, but I have taken 15 second shots and they were fine. That was with a Fuji S5 (Nikon D200 w/Fuji sensor) and an end-heavy Nikkor 17-55/2.8. My normal cameras are Leica rangefinders and a Rolleiflex TLR, they are small and light and the tripod handles very long exposures (minutes) under the right circumstances with them.
You can mitigate issues such as vibration by being conservative with extensions, and I don't just mean just the center column, but the legs as well. This tripod is taller than my 1541T so I never have to use as much of the center column on it anyway, but clearly the shorter the center column is the less you have to worry about stability as well.
That goes for the legs also, and not just the bottom section. You can get a more stable rig by shortening each leg section by 2-3 inches rather than pulling out the top three sections fully but not the bottom section at all.
If you're shooting in a gusty wind environment you can have problems. The only tripod I use that seems to be completely impervious to this is my Gitzo 3541LS. You can stand wind-side of a smaller tripod and use your body, but you need a remote trigger to do that successfully, or you can use something like a folding light reflector to lessen the effect of the gusts. But if the wind is really bad the only solution is a bigger tripod with no center column.
I think provided you are using gear that is reasonably small (i.e. not a wind catcher) and light, you're smart about using the extensions, and understand the effects of even slight wind gusts, you can take long duration pictures quite successfully with the C2680T. My use of this tripod is often urban nighttime, and I'm a film shooter and you need to account for the different films' reciprocity requirements as well and I've had good results with long exposures in urban environments with potential sources of vibration around (traffic etc).
Mossman6 wrote in post #13150548
Hi Peter, could you please tell me which tripod has a smaller diameter when packed? It looks like the gitzo is more compact (diameter wise). I'm trying to put a small travel tripod in my think tank security (the compartment is measured 20x2.5) and am hoping the benro will fit in this tight spot.
The Gitzo has a smaller diameter without question. There are two reasons; (a) on the Benro the bridge that connects the center part of the main casting (spider) to the reverse-folding joints is 17mm deep for rigidity, and (b) it is wider than the Gitzo's because the top leg section on the C2680T is 29mm and much beefier than the Gitzo, so the spider needs to be correspondingly wider. As I mentioned in post #22 above I can't measure the diameter of either tripod but measured with a fabric tape at the leg collar the Benro is 11.75in and the Gitzo is 10.25in in circumference that gives you a straight diameter of 3.7in for the Benro. It's probably a little less than that, but more than 2.5in for sure.
With the Markins Q3T on the top the C2680T is 17.75in in length, but because of the diameter I don't think the Benro fits in your bag. Not surprising; you look at the two tripods together and the Benro definitely has more bulk.
Andrew_WOT wrote in post #13152531
Have you noticed any quality issues, loose tolerances comparing to Gitzo?
No. I've used the Benro for a year now and the only thing I've done is adjust one of the screws on a leg joint. I think it was the leg I took off to take pictures of the main casting joint construction. Just a further note on that point, those leg joints are machined pretty finely with close tolerances and so far (so far) they're the same as they were when the tripod was delivered. These joints are one of the most heavily used mechanical components of the tripod and they've held up very well.
Yesterday I was in Princeton, NJ and spent all of the afternoon taking pictures in the pouring rain. I had the Benro permanently extended and walked around with bag, umbrella and camera on tripod for hours. After I was done I did a fairly poor job of wiping the legs then put the tripod away and when I got home this morning I opened it up again to try the leg locks. They were fine even though the tripod was still a bit wet. The thing does seem pretty solid.
Andrew_WOT wrote in post #13152531
I was looking at another Review of Travel Tripods
and the author found some what he calls "niggles" on Benro model and GT1541T just outstanding in that regard.
I understand that Benro is half of Gitzo price and at that price point expecting identical quality would be unreasonable, but if I read it right your review indicates zero quality differences between the two. Just curious if you were just a bit over enthusiastic or they are indeed that close.
That's an interesting review and thank you for the link. I can't speak to the Feisol but the comparison between the Benro C168 M8 (now labeled as C1680T) and the Gitzo 1541T is a mismatch; an apple and an orange. The competition for the Gitzo traveler is the Benro C2680T; a different animal entirely. A Gitzo 1541T is always going to be a better tripod than a Benro C1680T. A series-1 Gitzo = a series-2 Benro; just different naming conventions.
Was I a bit overenthusiastic? Others can be the judges of that but personally I don't think so. I waited for 9 months of use before writing the review, and I try to keep my language temperate. I don't recommend my tripod where I think it inappropriate for a person's use. I've even recommended tripods that I have reservations about (Feisol for example) where there is a height issue. I use other tripod brands than Benro. Do I think there are zero quality differences between the two? To be honest I haven't been able to discern any apart from the leg locks.
Having said all that let's just remember that all these reviews we read (and write) of product comparisons are merely a sample of one. And a sample of one absolutely does not make a normal distribution. You cannot generalize from a sample of one and yet we all do; I'm as guilty of this as much as anyone else. Just because my sample of a product is brilliant or crap doesn't mean they all are. I'm a Leica user, some Leica normal (50mm) lenses are $4K and a larger percentage of those than you might think are defective. There are defective Benros, defective Gitzos (as you point out), defective Leicas and so on. I think we should keep that in mind when reading reviews and particularly recommendations. To be honest, I discount most recommendations I read as I prefer to try things for myself. So caveat emptor, you should be taking my words with a pinch of salt too...
Andrew_WOT wrote in post #13152531
Would love to hear if anyone else used both can provide some input as well.
Me too! I would also really like it if those who bought this Benro could report back on their experience with it; good, bad or indifferent it all adds to the sample count for this particular model.
The 1541T has a 12mm bottom section diameter and so can't take spikes. The Benro has a 18.5mm diameter and can. That's a mistake in the B&H web page. There's no mention of spikes on the 1542T web page on B&H.