Choosing a Tripod?
Benro Travel Angel Tripod Review
Which Tripod to Buy? (The Background Story)
This is honestly a harder question than people realise, this may sound strange, but it’s a personal thing, and buying right the first time will certainly save you from buying twice!
Everyone has their own predeterminations of what they want from a tripod, whether it’s compact design, sturdy, budget, etc. I cannot recommend a ball head enough, additionally, one that enables the use of Arca Swiss compatible L-brackets.
An L-bracket is paramount to securing the camera in portrait orientation for long-periods and eliminating camera movement, it’s functionality is also completely logical in its operation and an easy transition between landscape and portrait arrangement.
Zero camera movement is essential for night photography, or any genre requiring long exposures in portrait orientation.
An L-bracket, and more often than not, compatible head, is a key element that every participant of one of my workshops over the last five years not already in the know, leaves with firmly at the top of their “need list”, and I quote, “need”, not “want” after seeing it function in the field.
My workshops have been ‘sell out’ year in, year out, over the last five years, and there is a duty of care that comes with that toward the photographers that spend their hard-earned cash with me. I spend hours pre-, and post-, workshop specifying equipment for people, from top spec cameras to head torches; but one of the most critical, often overlooked components are tripods and heads.
My issue of late has been with which direction to point people with regards to manufacturer, and although there are plenty of reasonable quality third party L-brackets on the market, not everyone has £1000 plus for the tripod and Arca style head.
The average budget tends to be between £250 and £400, and people expect to get a lot of tripod at the higher end of that budget.
Last year, after seeing a few Benro tripods come along, I purchased a set of Benro tripod legs for myself (Benro combination series 3 C3770TN) though these are fairly large, and over most people’s budget once coupled with a fairly large ball head.
Benro combination series 3 C3770TN
I spoke to the guys at Benro asking about their other tripods, explaining my dilemma, and indicating I liked the fact they were rolling out ball heads that were Arca Swiss compatible, and the ones I had come across, I was impressed with quality versus cost.
I have no affiliation with Benro, but they did however offer to hook me up with a tripod within my average client’s budget to put it through it’s paces; so, I decided to take it on my last month-long February trip to Iceland, where better to really put it to the test!
Solution – Benro Travel Angel FTA29CV1
So, the Benro Travel Angel FTA29CV1 arrived in a smart, compact, lightweight carry case!
Perfect! Compact and lightweight are high priority prerequisites for so many photographers.
This could easily accompany you as a secondary piece of hand luggage on certain flights whilst in the case as it did on my Iceland flight, with the camera gear being the main cabin hand luggage, it could also slip into camera bags, carry on suitcases, or even large handbags out of the case, easily boarding most flights.
It certainly lives up to the “travel” aspect of its name.
The Travel Angel FTA29CV1 is a reverse folding, four leg section 9X carbon fibre model, with metallic blue magnesium castings giving it a smart appearance. The build quality is decent, and the components manufactured to a high standard. The tripod is adjusted with smooth twist locks to control leg section heights. Furthermore, you can adjust the angle of the legs to any position enabling wide set up width for stability, or low, stable set up for low compositions, or to avoid wind.
The ball head is of solid construction, with pan adjust to base and degree increment markers, and camera angle adjustment via ball adjustment. The plate and clamp are all important Arca Swiss compatible with the clamp operated via a twist release. I have to say, this is the only thing that took a little getting used to, Benro have incorporated a safety system on the clamp twist, and after working with a ball head with a lever, it took using it a couple of times to get in the swing of things before it became second nature.
There are more goodies in the bag!
I was pleased to find a stub centre column that allows the user to remove the standard centre column and replace it with the stub, using this aids stability and can drastically reduce camera shake in windy conditions, or for prolonged exposures, though naturally you sacrifice the extra height adjustment the centre column enables.
Personally, I have always used tripods with no centre column, or the centre column replaced with the stub.
Spikes! Benro supply this tripod not only with standard, removable (screw in) rubber feet, but also with screw in spikes which are essential for landscape photographers.
And last, but certainly not least, as with many tripods, there is the option to unscrew an entire leg, and attach the ball head to it, thus creating a monopod!
But even that’s not the whole story. Benro go the extra mile and provide a neat wooden screw on handle, turning said monopod, into walking stick, add spike, and it makes for a great trekking pole; genius!
It’s the trivial things that get me excited, and this was put straight into action during wintery hikes in Iceland, it works a treat.
In the field the Travel Angle holds its own, it’s rated for up to 10kg, and I had no worries when mounting a Nikon D810 and 14-24mm lens to it with a third party L-bracket, or an 810 and Nikon 200-500 F5.6 via the Benro plate provided with the head, with which It coped well when used to capture a Super Blue Blood Perigee moon in wind and below freezing temperatures.
The spikes were ample in the icy conditions and the entire unit withstood strong gusts.
It’s quick and easy to set up, even in sub-zero temperatures, and pack down, hell, I even dared walk away and leave it holding a Nikon D750 and 14-24mm on an icy ledge at Aldeyjarfoss.
Please note, Benro provide standard camera plates with their ball heads, and L-brackets currently need to be purchased separately from another manufacturer.
1st – 8th December 2018