Benro C169M8 Tripod
Two weeks ago I purchased a Benro C169M8 Tripod from B&H Photo. The tripod arrived defective, an anti rotation lock was broken. The tripod was returned and exchanged for a new one (see possible follow up story about how my B&H return cost me money but I want to give them a couple of days to fix the situation before I complain in public, hey wait I just complained in public, oh well). I write this as there have been changes to the tripod. I am fairly certain the previous tripod was an older model as the new one is improved in a couple of ways and worse in another way.
First the improvements. The leg locks feel (much) better on the new tripod the rubber is more substantial and is fitted better. The old one gave the feeling that the anti rotation locks were about to give way. Indeed one was completely broken. The broken leg locked but you had to tighten the upper lock first. The older legs locks felt a lot cheaper than my Gitzo GT2540. On the new one the leg locks feel closer to the Gitzo but do not lock with as short a turn. The rest of the tripod looks better as well but I do not have the old one sitting here to compare. The new one has two screws in the upper and lower part of the center column to hold bits in. The old one had one screw in the bottom and none in the top as I recall.
I wrote the difference off to the differences to the Gitzo as that between a traveller tripod (I looked at the Gitzo traveller once and I was not impressed) and a regular tripod. Now I feel the quality is much closer. I can tell by small signs in the finish that the Gitzo is higher quality but this is good for a tripod I will use more lightly, besides Gitzo does not make something that competes directly with this Benro (14 inches light with no head). My Gitzo need not feel that I have slighted her.
Now they have changed one thing for the worse and that is the included bag. The old one had a very good padded bag with detachable shoulder strap and accessory pocked inside. The new one has one of those cheap velvet like dust bags (better than Gitzo joke bags but still really cheap) and it barely fits the tripod so with a head this is useless. Even just for the tripod it is useless.
There are no spiked feet with this tripod as other Benro have. The head does not sit inside the legs when folded up so you must remove the head for the most compact storage. These are two things Benro should fix. They are not so established in the market that they can start customer abuse/product cheapening.