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Thread started 05 Sep 2007 (Wednesday) 07:43
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Teardown of Amvona Dynatran AT-A105T enDurance Tripod – A Copy of a Copy?

 
squiress
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Sep 05, 2007 07:43 |  #1

In a previous thread I described my purchase of this carbon fiber tripod. Now I wanted to dig into things a bit, and because I have a pretty good range of tripods both in quality and size distribution I also wanted to compare. I originally thought the Dynatran would be a copy of a couple of generations ago Gitzo. Imagine my surprise to find both ALR and G-Lock incorporated into this Dynatran. I was going to compare the leg locks to an earlier C128 Benro. Now they will go straight up against current Benro n6 and Gitzo 6X. This teardown has become then a simple comparison of the Dynatran to the tripod it appears to be a pretty good copy of – the Benro C328n6/Induro C314. And since that is a pretty good copy of the Gitzo 3540 I thought I would give some specs on each tripod to give some relativity to the choices that are out there. The 3540 Mountaineer is shorter by about 8" than either of these so I gave the specs for the L version. The L is the Leveling base and neither of the copies is that model so the price I used is for the non-L version of the 3540.

Feature/Spec ------Dynatran AT-A105T ------Benro C328n6 ------Gitzo GT-3540L

Price ---------------$110 shpd (Auct) --------$370 shpd (BIN) ------$712 shpd (B&H)

Max Height -------------70.2” ---------------68.3” ---------------71.3”

Min Height ---------------14” ---------------10.2” ---------------15.4”

W/o Column Ext. -------61.5” ---------------62” ---------------59.1”

Folded ---------------24.5” ---------------24” ---------------23.6”

Weight ---------------4.45 lbs. ---------------5 lbs. ---------------4.7 lbs.

Max Load --------------22 lbs. --------------- 22 lbs. --------------39.6 lbs.

Upper Leg Diam --------32mm ---------------32mm ---------------32mm

Anti Leg Rotation --------Yes ---------------Yes ---------------Yes

Dust/Weather Seal -------Yes ---------------Yes ---------------Yes

G-Lock ---------------Yes ---------------Yes ---------------Yes

Optional Spike Feet -------No ---------------Yes ---------------Yes

Case/Tools ---------Yes/Allen Wrench -----Yes/AW, Nut Wrench -----No/No

Spike Feet Set In Box -----NA ---------------Yes ---------------No

Reversible Stud (3/8-1/4) ---Yes ---------------Yes ---------------Yes

Of course the Dynatran is another Gitzo copy and my saying it is a copy of the Benro is not so much the case as it is the former. Still given the price points it is fun to describe it as a copy of a copy. :) Besides price, the only other major descriminator on the list is load capability. The Benro and the Dynatran are rated at 22 lbs, the Gitzo at almost twice that. Pictures of the various parts of the tripods will follow in a day or two, but I wanted to set the stage. As you can see, the feature set of all three is pretty similar leaving durability, fit and finish, manufacturing process and materials as the differentiators. I don't have a 3540L, but there are parts of the 5540 that I do have that will compare nicely. So, when I'm done, you all should have a pretty good idea of what your money is buying you. ;)

More to come.

Stew


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cfcRebel
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Sep 05, 2007 09:27 |  #2

Very informative post, Stew. Now only i know what G-Lock and ALR are :lol:. I am pretty sure my $50 AT-L105T has ALR, and i suspect it also has the Gravity Lock (i can't tell for sure since i don't have previous G-Lock experience or anything else to compare it with). I'm surprised the Dynatran is the lightest among the 3.

Great post!


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txcwboy
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Sep 05, 2007 09:55 |  #3

I have 2 Dynatrans and love both. I have the at-663s tripod and the at-1015 monopod which I just picked up. I bought both on ebay new and saved a lot of money bidding on them instead of buy it now. I find both to be very good quality and features for the price. Just my 2 cents !

Dave


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squiress
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Sep 06, 2007 09:08 |  #4

Okay, as in previous teardowns (see FAQ section) I will post all the pics and then go back and comment on them. Let me start of by stating the my comments concerning this and the Benro as being copies of the Gitzo G-lock (Gravity Lock) were erroneous. I believe there are elements of that system intended here, but after working through the disassembly of all three leg sets it just ain't so. I will start by echoing a number of threads here that the first thing you notice when you unpack this (and apparently any) Dynatran is the smell of something kerosenish or petroleum related. I think it relates to the really poor quality foam used on the legs, personally. It goes away quickly. I will be posting pictures of the three tripods compared here in various stages of disassembly. I only go so far, but differences will be very clear. The Dynatran is more a copy of the Benro than previously thought, and really is quite a nice tripod for the money. When you think about it, tripods are pretty simple. We aren't dealing with exotic materials here as you will see. The first two pics are of the Gitzo 5540, Dynatran A105T and the Benro 328n6, all fully extended; then the Dynatran and the Benro. In general they look pretty similar although the Gitzo protruded carbon fiber pattern is obviously different. The Dynatran and Benro patterns are very similar although not exactly the same.


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Sep 06, 2007 09:08 |  #5

The first picture shows the upper part of the 32mm leg lock hardware. Dynatran (D) is on the left, Benro (B) in the middle and Gitzo (G) on the right. The D and B are finer threaded and a marketing point for Gitzo. Less turn of knob to loosen for faster extending of leg segments. Materials appear to be aluminum for all three. And all three have a thick lubricant applied to make turning of knobs smooth.

The second picture is of the Anti Leg Rotation (ALR), tube shim, and G-Lock parts. In all three ALR is accomplished by plastic shims (teflon?) that are stabilized to the legs by pegs on the shim that fit into holes in the leg segment. Then whether the shims are single piece or two piece, there is a space between the ends that fits a rail inside the leg segment that prevents rotation. Each is a bit differently implemented, but all do the same thing. And there is enough difference that I probably won't be able to use Gitzo parts to repair either B or D without modification.

The G-Lock part on the Gitzo is the black plastic ring. There is a taper here that when load is applied to the tripod head would act as a friction wedge and improve rigidity. While not the same, there are tapered edges on the B and D parts that would force the previous rings to expand into the leg segment when locked and the tripod is further loaded. So I think the concept is the same, but definitely different implementation.

All three tripods have weather resistance, with the Gitzo doing it in two pieces (knob and G lock piece) and the B and D with two as well (knob and lower most white ring).

Lastly, because the D and B ring sets are soooo similar, I think the Dynatran is more of a copy of the Benro than the Gitzo. Think of it as the Benro may be the likely choice of professionals in China, but the Dynatran is probably the inexpensive copy for the masses over there.

So primary difference so far is a piece of plastic, and possibly the white shims are made of different stuff, with possibly different wear characteristics.


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Sep 06, 2007 09:11 |  #6

The first picture show the ends of the tubes. D at bottom, B in middle and G on top. The G is obviously thicker walled by about 1/2 mm. You can see the rails on the left of the G and B, and on the right of the D.

The second picture is of the ALR shims removed. D on top, then B, and then G on bottom. D and G use two halves. B uses two rings. The D has a cap at top (upper segment only). The B segment shows the shim from the next segment down through the holes.


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Sep 06, 2007 09:22 |  #7

In this picture we see the leg tips of the B on top and D below. Of note is that while the upper segment on both is 32mm, and the next segment down is 28mm, on the B, the next segment is 25mm while the D is 24mm. The last segment on the B is 22mm and the D is 20mm. The Benro is going to be a little more stable due to larger leg diameter in lowest two segments, all other things being equal. And of course the Benro allows changing out of the rubber tipped feet with spikes that are provided with the tripod.

Now we take apart the center columns. Big differences here. The B is carbon fiber and larger diameter than the D's aluminum. The other significant difference is the plate material. D appears to be plastic, B aluminum.


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Sep 06, 2007 09:25 |  #8

Closeup of the plates, studs, and column tops. The D uses a screw to afix the aluminum insert to the tube. The B uses a pin to do the same thing in the carbon fiber tube. The studs appear to pretty much the same, but either the nickel plating on the Benro is better or it's stainless. I have thought the latter, but haven't subjected my tripods to much weather so don't really know.

The second picture shows the underside of the plates. Obviously metal covered by plastic for B and all plastic for D.


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Sep 06, 2007 09:26 |  #9

This picture shows the bottom of the columns and the hooks. Again a screw for the D and pin for the B. The hook on the B is more substantial but not any other real differences.


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Sep 06, 2007 09:30 |  #10

These pictures show the next major difference between the two. The compression sleeve on the D is a simple shim that relies on the inner machined yoke hole and itself to stabilized the column. The B uses a much longer sleeve and does not rely on the machining to stabilize the column. Locking nuts appear to be very similar.

The top of the yoke and leg attachments show a lot of similarity as well. And yes, the D compass is just as worthless as the B. Both bubble levels work pretty well though. The B yoke is larger and a tad stouter. Actual leg attachement points are pretty much the same, however.


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Sep 06, 2007 09:31 |  #11

Here we see the underside of the yokes (D on right). Not a whole lot of difference. In both cases the upper leg segment top is bolted to the leg segment through an insert in the carbon fiber shaft. The B has a strap swivel ring (better quality than early Bs) and you can see the plastic rail on the inside of the D column hole.

The bottom picture shows the leg adjusting mechanisms, which are so similar to the Gitzo that they are the same in function in my opinion.


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Sep 06, 2007 09:32 |  #12

A final shot of the heads and yokes.

I have to tell you that I am surprised at the level of quality of the Dynatran. I have always felt that we were paying for a lot of name goodwill when we bought a Gitzo. I think this Dynatran probably takes that statement a pretty large step further along to include the Benro as well. Fit and finish is better on the B, but let's really look at the major differences - plate composition, column composition, foam on leg, leg tip option, hook. Not much I can say about materials, except that I believe that carbon fiber technology is pretty much well implemented in tripod leg design given my vibration testing, and that leg diameter is key to stability.

I will say that the Benro leg lock is much more definite. The Dynatran requires almost an extra twist to finally lock it down. Without it the leg lock is fairly wobley. When applied it appears as stable as the Benro. That we can get ALR, weather resistance and a degree of G-lock in these less expensive tripods is not so amazing when you see what actually makes it happen in the parts itself. Not rocket science.

We know that both of these are likely made of injection molded aluminum parts. Gitzo markets gravity molded for reduced air bubble weaknesses. Some risk of that affecting both of these, but just how much is indeterminate given the few times it has been mentioned on the net that a leg attaching point has broken off.

I don't like the top plate being made of plastic and would have preferred that the column locking hardware was a little more stable. Probably the only serious mistakes here by Dynatran.

Oh, I also wanted to say that the case for the Dynatran is as good as the Benro. Much better padded than the Weifeng three series came with.

Bottom line, the Dynatran is a heck of a value if you're willing to take some (small) risk that its durability is going to be less than the Benro and less than the Gitzo. Like everything else though, its prices will rise as it becomes more appreciated in the market. With tripods like these out there, I think Gitzo will have more and more problems competing in the amateur market. That means their prices are likely to rise further so that professionals can continue to get the best (by some margin that I think is getting smaller instead of larger all the time.)

Fun comparison. Hope it helps in your tripod purchasing decisions.

Stew


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Stephen ­ Martin
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Sep 06, 2007 12:52 |  #13

Very informative and helpful! Thanks for the comprehensive breakdown...
I just wish Dynatran had a tripod model with tilting center column, like the Explorer for macro, etc. Then I'd buy one in a heartbeat!
I still may have to buy one as a secondary tripod... :)


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squiress
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Sep 06, 2007 13:12 |  #14

Stephen Martin wrote in post #3874580 (external link)
Very informative and helpful! Thanks for the comprehensive breakdown...
I just wish Dynatran had a tripod model with tilting center column, like the Explorer for macro, etc. Then I'd buy one in a heartbeat!
I still may have to buy one as a secondary tripod... :)

Thanks for the comments.

Benro does have an Explorer type tripod and I have it - the C297/8. Again about half the Gitzo price. I have a little concern about the column locking clamp being injection molded rather than gravity molded, but so far it does all that I want it to do.

Stew


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Sep 06, 2007 14:33 |  #15

Stew, do any of the Benro's that you've seen have the equivalent of the Gitzo ground level kit? i.e. you unscrew top and bottom from the center column, discard the column and screw the two end bits together?


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Teardown of Amvona Dynatran AT-A105T enDurance Tripod – A Copy of a Copy?
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