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Thread started 31 Aug 2009 (Monday) 13:01
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Benro C-2691 Carbon fibre Tripod + Monopod Review

 
stjhie
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Aug 31, 2009 13:01 |  #1

Price paid from ebay: USD$380 + free EXPRESS UPS shipping
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For specs:
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Introduction
I started this review as a frustrated photographer who could not find any single review about the new Benro C-2691 (c2691) which allows one leg to be unscrewed to become a monopod. Coming across other review in POTN about the C-269 (c269) which is exactly the same less the monopod leg uniqueness, I start to wonder if the additional unique feature will be a blessing or a product-failure.
Benro, a Chinese (Made in China) brand often get stereotyped by people for a low quality, rough and poorly constructed product. However, many reviewers including me can assure you otherwise. Even one of the staff from a big local camera store says that Benro is a good product; too bad he only carries the bigger brands.

The additional of the monopod leg adds about 100+ grams which is quite little with only about USD$10 diff in price.
Construction
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As you can see, the travel angel series has legs that can be folded 180 degrees to cover the length of the ballhead (with centre tube extended). As you can compare with the Wii remote, the length is quite short. Easily fit into luggage bag. The legs are made using the new M8 technology which uses 8 layers of CF while resulting in strong but thinner thus making it lighter than the previous 6 layers method.

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The central column can be reversed for low work which I still can’t imagine a situation that requires that. It also has a spring loaded hook to hang any weight and lower the centre of gravity.

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The B1 ball head is very well constructed with several knobs that can be quite overwhelming to first time user. B1 head can support up to 12kg. The quick release plate (type PU) is the same standard as those Arca-Swiss ones. At each end of the plate, there is two screws that revent the plate to slide out of the ball head. The plate needs to be tightened if you have a very strong fingernail, large Phillip screwdriver or the included allen key. I would prefer the manfrotto’s tightening mechanism which allows you to tighten using your hand with the half-circle ring. The PU-60 has a threaded area at each corner that allows you to take the screw out and move it to the other holes.
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The height of the tripod including the head is taller than me. I am 176cm. If a camera was attached, the height will be way taller than me. Guess having a tripod so tall but not using it all the way to the max should make it even more stable.

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One of the legs that has the foam padding can be unscrewed. The ball head on the other hand can also be unscrewed along with the head mount allowing both to be screwed together to become a monopod. The head mount and the ball head are secured with a small allen key so that they will not come apart accidentally when unscrewing from the tripod. The whole process should take less than 1 min as the length of each thread is quite long; not the often advertised 5 seconds conversion time. The length of the monopod is quite disappointing. The height of the monopod + ball head is just a tad below my jaw. With my camera on it, the viewfinder reached to the height of my mouth (when I’m not wearing shoe). This will ultimately lead to backache if shooting over long period while standing. Shooting while sitting down such as in football matches will be no problem. As the main purpose of the tripod is for travelling, I won’t really complain.
The legs are tightened so strongly that it’s quite hard to open and close the legs. The leg also has a small catch that allows you to adjust how wide you want to open the legs to. Use the provided allen key to tighten or untighten the legs to your desire. However, untightening it too much will make your tripod unstable and the screws to become easily loose after some use. By the way, the screws are nicely stamped with the word Benro on it.
Quality

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The quality are pretty top notch. All the parts fit perfectly and the tripod is very stable. The C-2691 comes in EX series which ahs the flip lock legs. My twist legs are fine but can take a little longer to set up. But I find that twist leg has lesser part to go wrong. The rubber on each twist leg have a simple technology that try to keep all the sands, dust and water away from the threads. All the threads come pre-lubricated with some heavy oil that should last for a while. Mounting my 5DII, flash and 70-200 2.8, I do not get any flex. This is always subjective to each user and system they use on the tripod.

Accessories

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The Benro also come with a very nice well made bag with strap, some instruction booklet; amazingly with perfect English grammar and spelling! And two allens. For adjusting the quick release plate, tripod legs and ball head if necessary. The bad also has a small internal pocket that allows you to store these stuff especially the allens.
One competing brand for these series of tripod (excluding Gitzo of course) is the Feisol. However, the Feisol is hard to get through ebay and does not include the bag and Feisol do not have the anti rotation leg technology which makes locking and unlocking the legs so much faster (5 sections tripod!!!). Furthermore, the Benro like Gitzo, features the CF traditional look which I loved as opposed to Feisol’s black painted look.
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The leg tips are made of rubber which are perfect for smooth ground especially indoors. For outdoor, use the spike feet. However unlike the Gitzo, the spike feet is a different set (and ALSO need to be bought separately) while in Gitzo, the spike is the reverse side of the rubber! However the Gitzo are
Coincidentally, my friend also bought a travelling series tripod form Gitzo which competes with Benro C-169 directly. Having only played with it briefly, I can somewhat recall that Gitzo have a better twist leg technology and also smoother operation. Will update if I find any interesting feature different. The Gitzo cost him about double!


Conclusion
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The legs can also be unscrewed all the way to clean any of the threads or legs. Just be careful to pull back the rubber back alittle or you can't screw it back as the rubber will cover the outer thread.

So far so happy with the tripod. Will take the monopod for it’s first ever action tomorrow at a fashion show. No doubt that it’s bang-for-your-bucks compared to the bigger brands. This review also applies to the C-1691, C-169, C-069 as they are similar in built.

http://img44.imageshac​k.us/img44/6702/mg7909​s.jpg (external link)

The monopod + the head can fit into the bag too.

Stanley Tjhie
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Mocows
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Aug 31, 2009 13:41 |  #2

Great review and very interesting read. I have a benro monopod and I love the untainted, unpainted look for the CF as well. Good to see that the construction is upheld as well.


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stjhie
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Sep 03, 2009 12:30 |  #3

Yeah.. me too mocows. good thing that when the monpod its screwed to the other main tripod part, it's very stable and no movement at all


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donmcmahan
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Sep 14, 2009 07:17 as a reply to  @ stjhie's post |  #4

I am thinking of getting one of these, my one concern is in unscrewing the top plate from the center column and screwing it on to the monopod leg and back again, will those threads, over time, become the weak point of the whole thing?




  
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McChook
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Sep 14, 2009 22:01 |  #5

donmcmahan wrote in post #8640936 (external link)
I am thinking of getting one of these, my one concern is in unscrewing the top plate from the center column and screwing it on to the monopod leg and back again, will those threads, over time, become the weak point of the whole thing?

This is why I am not getting the -1 tripod w/ monopod
I just don't trust that detaching and reattaching is a good idea....
Especiall for its price, I'd rather a solid, reiable lightweight travel tripod, not one with one too many features that turns into a weakness with age




  
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digititus
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Sep 19, 2009 21:30 |  #6

Thanks so much for a great review. I have been anxious to hear from someone who has hands-on experience.

I am a little concerned about the height of the mono-pod since I am 6ft (183cm). Too bad they didn't find a clever way to use the center column as the top member of the mon-pod. That would eliminate the need to remove the head and it would have made it tall enough for any user.

Thanks again, and if you have any other thoughts or learnings, I'd like to hear more.

Regards




  
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xchric
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Sep 21, 2009 23:57 |  #7

Thanks for the great review. Too bad I got C-168 before this is released




  
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M3Rocket
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Oct 22, 2009 23:48 |  #8

Just received the new flip lock version C-2691EX of this today. Initial impressions are pretty good. I wanted the flip locks because I find them easier to adjust than the twist locks. The Benro ones are, at least on first impression, as good as the ones on the Manfrottos.


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BradM
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Oct 23, 2009 09:05 as a reply to  @ M3Rocket's post |  #9

While not the same model I have had experience with both Benro, Feisol and a 3rd at the time an unbranded CF tripod. All are of Chinese manufacture and clones of Gitzo or Manfrotto, I was able to use these for for time at no charge through a friend who imports these products. Any of which I could have bought for well under $100.

All of them were those rated for the largest weight rating to support a 1D body, 500mm or 600mm f/4 using a Jobu gimbal. I passed on them all after a short period of time, one as soon as I recieved it.

These tripods were all rated to about 17Kg or more, ~36 pounds, my gear pushes about 2/3rd's that at maximum load.

The primary issue was the castings that mount the legs to the head plate, these castings had flaws that were obvious to the eye. Cracks that would eventually lead to failure of a leg and collapse of the tripod and gear.

This specifically happened to me in the field, luckily I had the camera in hand when it happened or I would have had about $10k of gear bouncing on the ground.

The attached image shows the failure point of the tripod, with the one I never used an inspection immediately showed visible cracks in the same area. The 3rd also exhibited the same issues, while the crack wasn't visible, it was possible to feel a ridge or possible crack under the finish. Stressing the tripods weight limit showed the finish to crack at this point, whether the casting was also failing could only be assumed.

The issue was not limited to Feisol, Benro, or the 3rd unbranded, it appears that all whether they assemble their own product or not, that at least some components like the castings are shared between the brands for at least the largest models.

For me it certainly did not make sense to try to save a few hundred dollars at the possible expense of thousands of dollars. I use a Gitzo CF 35 series for my big glass, & a heavier Gitzo P series for landscape and portrait work.

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Snow001
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Oct 23, 2009 09:43 |  #10

BradM wrote in post #8878957 (external link)
For me it certainly did not make sense to try to save a few hundred dollars at the possible expense of thousands of dollars.
QUOTED IMAGE

Thanks for posting this. I don't really go and inspect my Benro on the side that you have shown. Also when I am using bigger heavier lenses, I no longer use it because of of vibration and the ball head that came with it, although the specs claim that it could hold heavier lenses, it did swoop down a bit.
The travel angel series however IMHO is a great compact tripod for light use and I still am satisfied that I have purchased it. As it is great to carry with you on vacation.
I have do have a Gitzo and Markins Q3 combo for the heavier lenses.




  
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M3Rocket
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Oct 23, 2009 13:27 |  #11

If anyone is thinking of using the "travel" series tripods for a 500L or 600L on a 1D series with a gimbal head, they deserve what they get.


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BradM
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Oct 23, 2009 14:32 |  #12

M3Rocket wrote in post #8880599 (external link)
If anyone is thinking of using the "travel" series tripods for a 500L or 600L on a 1D series with a gimbal head, they deserve what they get.

I didn't speak to using a travel tripod and was clear about that.

My point was the construction of the biggest tripods this vendor and two others from China were not up to the task straight from the box for what they were specifically designed for.

If this is the case in the most expensive of their products does the lesser priced options offer a better build?

You can decide that is the case if you care too, it isn't my gear. I just thought sharing the experiences might be helpful to some.


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lblaod
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Oct 23, 2009 14:33 |  #13

M3Rocket wrote in post #8880599 (external link)
If anyone is thinking of using the "travel" series tripods for a 500L or 600L on a 1D series with a gimbal head, they deserve what they get.

bw!




  
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M3Rocket
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Oct 24, 2009 04:08 |  #14

BradM wrote in post #8881017 (external link)
I didn't speak to using a travel tripod and was clear about that.

My point was the construction of the biggest tripods this vendor and two others from China were not up to the task straight from the box for what they were specifically designed for.

If this is the case in the most expensive of their products does the lesser priced options offer a better build?

You can decide that is the case if you care too, it isn't my gear. I just thought sharing the experiences might be helpful to some.

Well, the "failure point" of what you show does not apply at all to either the Benro reviewed in this thread, or Benro's "Explorer" line. I know, because I have both of them in front of me. And I also own a Gitzo G1257 to compare with. With all due respect, what makes you so certain that the problem you had wasn't isolated to a bad batch and lacking quality control at the time? Besides, you could have started another thread pointing to this rather than hijaack this one to spread FUD about the "Chinese made tripods."


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stjhie
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Nov 25, 2009 18:24 as a reply to  @ M3Rocket's post |  #15

Regarding the wear of the monopod thread over long time. I dont think it will be a huge problem.

1. The thread and screw is large, spanning over quite a long thread. Also it looks quite properly machined and is very smooth to turn.

2. As you almost hit the end of the thread, you will get more resistance so that it can be locked very tightly.

The height of the monopod is short (to an average guy). You will need to bend over which will hurt your back if you use for a long time.. But this is a travelling tripod hey! If you really want to use the monopod properly, then sit on a small bench like those soccer side lines photog.

I would advice to get the flip locks. I have not personally use them yet. But the twist turn can get time consuming. The price sifference is not much. The only reason that I got the twist turn was to ensure that I can really TIGHTEN the legs if I really want to and not only 2 settings in flip (open, close). You will probably need a tool to adjust the flip lock tightness.

The legs on my tripod doesnt seem to be held in place by those small notches on the underside. As far as I can understand, it uses the small lock at the upper side that can be pulled out and in. It allows you to adjust your legs from the standard angle to a low and wide configuration. Similar to my friend's manfrotto.

Hope that helps!


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Benro C-2691 Carbon fibre Tripod + Monopod Review
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