Let me start by saying that I didn’t really need a new tripod. Prior to my trip to Ali Mountain – 阿里山 here in Taiwan I went to the website of my favorite camera store in Taipei for a weekly check of their offers and noticed a new product in stock, the Benro Slim Carbon-Fiber Tripod. While not a kind of product I was exactly interested in, it immediately caught my eyes: a carbon fiber tripod under 1kg, with 4kg max load (enough for any of my camera bodies+lens) and at an extremely affordable price. There had to be a catch.
I spent some time checking online reviews. The vast majority of them were positive, but as this tripod is a relatively new product I couldn’t find as many information as for other well established products. I decided to pull the trigger and get one; the worst case scenario I was expecting was to have a lightweight tripod that struggled a bit with my 6D and full frame lenses, so it could have become my go-to tripod to use with my 80D, as the EF-S lenses for that camera are much lighter.
The locking mechanism in the head is different from my other tripods, as the ball friction control unlocks both the ball head and the horizontal orientation axis. It took me a bit of time to get used to this system. It’s actually quite convenient to be able to setup everything in one go, but coming from tripods that work in a 2-step way I had a few scary moments thinking:”Ok, now I’ll let go this lock here and….wwoooooaaaaaahhhh hold on”, with the camera suddenly starting to tilt sideways because the whole mechanism was unlocked.
Let’s get to the meat of the review; how did this tripod perform during my 3 day trip on the central mountains in taiwan?
My heaviest setup (Canon 6D + 70-300 L ) weights just below 2kg and the Benro Slim handled that without batting an eye. For standard use, the Benro Slim performed just as well as my regular alloy tripod that weights more than twice as much. Most of my shots were composites of 7 bracketted photos and no alignment was ever needed.
Due to the lack of cooperation from the weather I wasn’t able to take any long exposures. I carried a nice set of ND filters with me, but when time and location were right the fog decided to completely embrace me. That’s the only stress-test I wasn’t able to conduct, and it’s on my to-do list next time some helpful weather shows up and allows me to go to the seaside.
I have only a minor gripe with the Benro Slim tripod: the thumb screw. There’s very little space to insert a finger under the D-ring, and my lack of nails made it nearly impossible for me. I basically had to keep a coin around all the time, but after a while I just kept the arca plate mounted on the 6D and either kept it in the backpack or held it in my hand. This was a bit annoying as I usually carry my camera(s) using Blackrapid straps which lock to the camera using a tripod plate. A minor inconvenience, but worth mentioning.
All images in this review were shot with my 6D and 80D mounted on the Benro Slim Carbon tripod. For other images from the trip to Ali Mountain, feel free to check out my Flickr page for more samples: https://www.flickr.com/photos/107755637@N06/with/36783285714/
I’ve enjoyed using the Benro Slim tripod a lot. Not only is it a great performer, but the massive reduction in weight compared to other tripods is a Godsend when hiking or cycling. The fact that this is priced below many popular entry level alloy tripods is amazing, kudos to Benro for the aggressive pricing.
The Benro Slim Carbon-Fiber tripod is highly recommended from me. Whether you already have a good tripod and need something lighter for hiking and travelling, or if you want to invest some money in your first tripod and you’re worried about the low price being a sign of possible low quality, fear not. I don’t think anyone who purchases this tripod could ever regret it.
Benro also has an alloy version, which is a tiny bit cheaper and heavier. Considering the rather limited price difference, I’d definitely suggest to get the carbon fiber one.
Well done, Benro!