I got my new tripod on December 22! I have been undecided between getting a Manfrotto or a Benro. After months of deliberation, I finally made my choice. I’m now a proud owner of a Benro A-350EX with a BH-0 ballhead.
Manfrotto – the popular choice
Manfrotto is an Italian brand tripod. It is a popular brand favoured by many photography enthusiasts. From what I have read in forum threads asking for tripod recommendations for beginner photographers, Manfrotto’s name come up very often. After much research, I was seriously considering getting a Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod. The only thing that put me off was the price tag. I was unwilling to spend SGD390+ for just a tripod alone. I would have to spend another SGD100+ to get a ball head. That money is better invested in a new lens or a PG gunpla.
Benro – the poor man’s choice
Benro is a brand of tripod from China. It is significantly cheaper than other better known brands. The designs of the Benro tripod legs are similar to that of Gitzo. Benro ball heads are said to follow the design of Arca Swiss heads. Gitzo and Arca Swiss are leading brands in the tripod legs and tripod head industry respectively. If the design of Benro tripods are similar to these two brands, it goes to show that tripod should do well in terms of function. The only concern is the quality of their products. No offence but the term “Made in China” does make consumers think twice before they even consider a product.
I came across an article where a guy took apart his Benro tripod. He showed that the interior of the tripod is of poor quality. However, the article was posted in 2007. I’m sure the people working in Benro want their product to be popular and would have built on the feedback and improve their tripods.
The price was reasonable for Benro tripods. Comments on forums led me to believe that Benro was a reliable brand. Despite the reservations from those who own more expensive brands, people who own Benros are satisfied with their tripods. I was still not convinced. My friend, Kian Boon, happened to own an A-200EX. We went for a photoshoot at the Marina Barrage and I got to try his tripod.
Hands on testing
After the photoshoot, I was quite impressed with the quality of the Benro product. If not for the label, you wouldn’t know that the product is made in China. The tripod is sturdy and well made. Shooting with Kian Boon also showed me the kinds of shots I could try to do with a good tripod. I wanted a Benro tripod.
I decided to get the tripod and went down to their shop to test the different models available. I was greeted by a friendly staff who was eager to show me the various products. The experience was contrary to that of some who commented on forums that they were ignored by the staff. After some fiddling, I found myself deciding between an A-350EX or an A-300EX. The difference between the two being the former had four sections while the latter had three. The A-350EX was smaller when closed up compared to the A-300EX.
I wanted something small but was unwilling to spend on Benro’s Travel Angel series, which was about SGD100 more expensive. So I went for the A-350Ex.
Total damage: SGD165 for the tripod and ball head.
How sturdy are Benro tripods?