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01-27-2010, 05:20 AM   #1
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First tripod? Benro a550 vs Manfrotto 190xprob

Hello everyone,

I am deciding my first tripod. I can't decide between:

Benro A 550 EX + BH-1 + bag ($153.5)

OR

Manfrotto 190XPROB + Manfrotto 486RC2 + bag = ($251)

Pro Benro A 550 EX:

In terms of structural rigidity, weight, max load, height and price, the Benro seems equal or better then the Manfrotto.

Pro Manfrotto 190XPROB:

Reputation, re-sale potential, design, details and horizontal angle bar.

My dilemma:

As a traditional tripod, Benro potentially excels. The main problem with the Benro is the lack of information about this model. In terms of versatility, the Manfrotto seems creative but at the expense of structure. I read somewhere that the two models seem equal to each other. The Benro is 3/5 the price of the manfrotto. I did briefly consider the Triopo Titanium alloy tripod, but the benefits seem negligible when compared with the Benro A 550. At least with this middle tripod, there is room to expand to a heavier tripod in the future and maybe a monopod.

Equipment:

K20D, (heaviest lens) 55-300, (maybe) 100mm Macro, gp3 gorillapod and a few small primes and zooms,

Does anyone have any thoughts or advice?

01-27-2010, 10:51 AM   #2
Ari
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I have to be honest - after going through a few tripods, the Manfrotto 190XPROB is the best one I've used for my needs. I use a Manfrotto three way head and a (ridiculously heavy) Manfrotto VR Pano head and it just works great. It's easy to adjust the height of each legs to level off the camera, it has a built in bubble level (I also use a hot shoe level), is very flexible and the ability for the shaft to hang perpendicular to the legs has been a nice feature. I don't know much about Benro, but your really get your money's worth with the Manfrotto.
01-28-2010, 09:27 PM   #3
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Benro AKA Induro

Just read somewhere that Benro is generally known as Induro outside of the USA. Supposedly it is becoming increasingly popular in USA and Australia. In China its the main brand for tripods. As a imitation of the Gitzo it should be quite good.

From what I understand the manfrotto 190xprob is great for its class/category. However in the greater scheme of tripods, it does have its faults.

I think i will get a second hand tripod to start with: Manfrotto 190D. It less fancy then the 190XProB and structurally weaker then A-550 (specs) but its cheap and its solid. I would prefer to focus my money on lens...

That being said, if I had to buy a NEW tripod I would buy the Benro A-550. From my inexperienced opinion, based on my readings, the Benro SEEMS that it will perform its primary job slightly better and at a better price than the very attractive Manfrotto - esp. with the "x" horizontal bars.

PS: is Induro a good brand in the US? (I am from Australia)
01-29-2010, 04:24 AM   #4
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roadkill- I have both the 190 Manfrotto and a Benro (Induro) Travel Angel. I think the Benro is more stable than the Manfrotto, and much more compact when traveling. I use the Manfrotto now in studio and the Benro travels with me everywhere. Eds

01-29-2010, 04:56 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by roadkill4snacks Quote
Just read somewhere that Benro is generally known as Induro outside of the USA. Supposedly it is becoming increasingly popular in USA and Australia. In China its the main brand for tripods. As a imitation of the Gitzo it should be quite good.

From what I understand the manfrotto 190xprob is great for its class/category. However in the greater scheme of tripods, it does have its faults.

I think i will get a second hand tripod to start with: Manfrotto 190D. It less fancy then the 190XProB and structurally weaker then A-550 (specs) but its cheap and its solid. I would prefer to focus my money on lens...

That being said, if I had to buy a NEW tripod I would buy the Benro A-550. From my inexperienced opinion, based on my readings, the Benro SEEMS that it will perform its primary job slightly better and at a better price than the very attractive Manfrotto - esp. with the "x" horizontal bars.

PS: is Induro a good brand in the US? (I am from Australia)
I can only emphasize the importance of looking what people who actually USE these tripods write. Assumptions, based on what you have heared or which "seems" to be the case, will not be beneficial to your decision.

I would also emphaseize, that a good (aka stable) tripod might proof more beneficial to the quality of your images, than yet another lens. Also, the better the lens, the higher your expectations towards image quality will be, and a good tripod is a very important accessory to achieve that higher IQ.

I don't want to be perceived as a nasty spoil sport, but you should really look at a tripod as the "base" for many images, which cannot capture at all or only with disappointing results, without it. For instance I am convinced, that a low tripod weight does not go together well with a moveable center column, as this combination may topple over, when the column is extended with a heavier load and is prone top vibration. There have been several discussions about this and opinions differ on that.

Also, I cannot comment about these particular modells, as I have not used them (wheras Eds has). My own buying decisions were and are always triggered by: load capacity and stiffness of the tripod, versatiulity and lately portability.

I have not found a single tripod, that would fullfill all these requirements (and these even ignore budget) and so I use several tripods, optimized for different purposes:
for portability a Velbon Sherpa Pro 540 with Novoflex Ball 30
for max. rigidity a Gitzo Studex with a Benro KS-2 (will be replaced with an ArcaSwiss)
for long lenses and the gimbal head a Manfrotto 055
for macro and studio work, which requires strange shooting angles a UniLoc Major 2300 with a Linhof ball head
as a compromise between portability and performance a Fancier CF tripod with a Manfrotto 468 ProBall

I have some more, but these are the most used ones, which all have a clearly defined use.

So, the first step should be to define the real use, you anticipate. Then you should consider what will be the longest lens you intend to use in five years and the maximum weight of your equipment. Finally an eye on the budget cannot be avoided.

Ben
01-30-2010, 07:34 PM   #6
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I just got rid of a BM 190XPROB for a couple of reasons--it was too heavy for me to carry around while hiking and that rotating center column was a pain in the butt to deal with. I've found that I really don't need a center column to begin with and the center column on the 190XPROB doesn't come off.

I just got a really good deal on a used Feisol 3442 Tournament Class tripod. One of the things that drew me to Feisol to begin with is that most of their tripods don't come with a center column to begin with, but give you your choice of either a short or long column if you want one. The 3442's extended height (without center column) is plenty tall enough for me (I'm 5'1")--54.33 in. and it folds down into a nice little package--18.9 in., which is great for traveling. Brand new, the 3442 can be had for $309.

If you can't afford that much for a tripod, then Feisol offers some less expensive legs; the least expensive set is $209--not much more expensive than the 190XPROB.

Here's a link to one of Feisol's US distributors just in case you're interested in learning more: FEISOL USA / North America - Tripods Monopods Ball Heads

My new (to me) legs are supposed to arrive via the Big Brown Truck on Monday and I can't wait to try them out.

HTH,
Heather
01-30-2010, 10:41 PM   #7
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About a year ago, I picked up a Benro Travel Angle. I needed a certain size and weight to fit into my luggage for traveling - and it fits the bill. I wanted a ball head, however the Benro ballhead was a bit of a disappointment. The single lever on it, tends to knock my knuckels etc. So I moved it to my monopod and wound up getting an Acratech GP ballhead (works much better and I can flip it upside down and use it as a panning head).

Now, that said - I have 2 primary uses (so far) - traveling and then hauling the equipment around by truck. I have also picked up a Nodal Ninja. The tripod, ballhead and NN along with the camera (K20D + DA 12-24 or FA 31), is now a load. Without the NN everything is fine.

I am now thinking of going down to the local used camera shop and picking up this one old used tripod that weighs a ton, a bit beat-up, but for $25 I can toss it in the truck and it will support anything.

I did not buy the Benro to use with the NN (a recent acquisition), but for travel. This other used tripod would never fit in my luggage.
01-31-2010, 08:20 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by hwblanks Quote
I just got rid of a BM 190XPROB for a couple of reasons--it was too heavy for me to carry around while hiking and that rotating center column was a pain in the butt to deal with. I've found that I really don't need a center column to begin with and the center column on the 190XPROB doesn't come off.

I just got a really good deal on a used Feisol 3442 Tournament Class tripod. One of the things that drew me to Feisol to begin with is that most of their tripods don't come with a center column to begin with, but give you your choice of either a short or long column if you want one. The 3442's extended height (without center column) is plenty tall enough for me (I'm 5'1")--54.33 in. and it folds down into a nice little package--18.9 in., which is great for traveling. Brand new, the 3442 can be had for $309.

My new (to me) legs are supposed to arrive via the Big Brown Truck on Monday and I can't wait to try them out.

HTH,
Heather

Hey, Heather.

I'd like to hear what you think about that one, myself: that looks like it's pretty close to where I might want to be looking, (When the time comes to shell out for quality legs) fairly compact but pretty stout.

And I'm a big fan of having a 'beater' tripod for any given vehicle, Observer. While it's good to have a quality tripod, it's nice to have something in the vehicle that you don't have to be concerned about it getting ripped off or anything, and that'll always be there, should you need it unexpectedly.

There's plenty of nice old stuff out there that can suit this kind of purpose: that might be kind of heavy and/or clunky by current standards, but will work just fine in a pinch.

01-31-2010, 08:32 AM   #9
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Tripods and Ball Heads by Thom Hogan

feisol has been getting very good reviews for their legs
02-01-2010, 08:06 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ari Quote
I have to be honest - after going through a few tripods, the Manfrotto 190XPROB is the best one I've used for my needs. I use a Manfrotto three way head and a (ridiculously heavy) Manfrotto VR Pano head and it just works great. It's easy to adjust the height of each legs to level off the camera, it has a built in bubble level (I also use a hot shoe level), is very flexible and the ability for the shaft to hang perpendicular to the legs has been a nice feature. I don't know much about Benro, but your really get your money's worth with the Manfrotto.
I have the exact same combination (together with pano head) and did a 10km hike yesterday. I swear my hands are numb today! It is a beast! Stable as my old oak kitchen table, but very heavy, and I just couldn't wear it across my shoulder with the 3-way head and the pano head on. On the positive side, a bit more physical excercise doesn't harm either in the end
02-10-2010, 10:02 PM   #11
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No hiking for me I use it for interiors (vr shots). It is cumbersome, but the confidence knowing how stable everything is is worth the fact there is no bag on earth that will fit that combination
02-14-2010, 06:52 PM   #12
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Just an update...

I did get my new (to me) Feisol 3442 legs and while I really haven't used them out in the field yet, I think I'm going to like them. As I thought, there's really no need for me to use a center column, as the tripod, with head attached, is just about as tall as me--the camera would be a good bit above eye level, so I won't even need to extend the legs fully to get it at a comfortable height for me. Extending the legs is a little tricky--I think the quickest way to do it is to start from the bottom up and then from the top down when you're closing them back up. It's definitely not as simple as the Gitzos, but hey, these legs cost me less than half of the Gitzo 2541 legs I was looking at cost--I can handle that.

The 3442's legs are capable of folding up and over the ballhead, but don't do that too well with the Kirk BH-3 head I have unless I were to use the optional center column. While this isn't a huge deal to me, I imagine that this feature would work better with the smaller ballheads like the Markins Q3 Traveler and the RRS BH-25. If I'm packing both tripod and ballhead in a suitcase and the 2 attached won't fit, I'll just remove the ballhead and pack it separately.

Granted, those fold-over legs won't help me too much when I'm traveling, but they will most definitely be helpful for low-level shooting (i.e. macro), as it will be possible for me to flatten the tripod almost to the ground; if I remove the hook on the bottom, I can flatten it completely.

Overall, I think I've made a good choice in a tripod. I do plan on taking it on a cruise next month and that is when I'll most likely get my first real world experience with it.

HTH,
Heather
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02-27-2010, 03:27 AM   #13
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Can't seem to find the Benro a500 and a550 anywhere besides eBay. What's up with that?
03-01-2010, 01:13 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by LeDave Quote
Can't seem to find the Benro a500 and a550 anywhere besides eBay. What's up with that?
There seem to be a few Benro models that are VERY difficult to find.

My experience seems to be that the following brands all source from the same factory and share commonalities between product lines, however each one will have a few "unique" models:
Benro (in the US, they were a B&H exclusive for a while)
Induro
Adorama Flashpoint series
Um... crap, I forget the name, but they frequently sell on eBay and seem to carry the "Factory rejects" not sold under the other brand names.

Supposedly the earlier Benro models were junk, but their second generation models were vastly improved. I have one of their second-gen carbon fiber models (I'll need to check the exact model when I get home, I think it's C-158n6) and it's excellent. The new "travel angels" are third-gen models I think.

Edit: A500 and A550 aren't consistent with Benro's usual naming scheme.

Usually it is:
A or C - Aluminum or CF
0,1,2,3,4 - Weight rating
5 or 9 in models I've seen - 5 are "traditional", 9 are "flexpods" with the tilting center shaft
7 or 8 - 7 for 3-section legs, 8 for 4-section
They now have EX and M8 suffixes - EX seems to have fliplocks, M8s have twistlocks. Go for the M8!
03-02-2010, 03:54 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by interested_observer Quote
About a year ago, I picked up a Benro Travel Angle. I needed a certain size and weight to fit into my luggage for traveling - and it fits the bill. I wanted a ball head, however the Benro ballhead was a bit of a disappointment. The single lever on it, tends to knock my knuckels etc. So I moved it to my monopod and wound up getting an Acratech GP ballhead (works much better and I can flip it upside down and use it as a panning head).

Now, that said - I have 2 primary uses (so far) - traveling and then hauling the equipment around by truck. I have also picked up a Nodal Ninja. The tripod, ballhead and NN along with the camera (K20D + DA 12-24 or FA 31), is now a load. Without the NN everything is fine.

I am now thinking of going down to the local used camera shop and picking up this one old used tripod that weighs a ton, a bit beat-up, but for $25 I can toss it in the truck and it will support anything.

I did not buy the Benro to use with the NN (a recent acquisition), but for travel. This other used tripod would never fit in my luggage.
To Interestant Observor


Was the Benro Travel Angel you bought a TRA series with the BH ball head? It looks like the TRCB and TRAB come with the better B series ball head (ACRA type plate, 2 screws for tension and release, plus panoramic vs the lever of the B ball head and propriety plate).
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