It used to be said that the casino owners in Monte Carlo loved people who played to a system...because it allowed the house to take all their money from them in a calm and orderly fashion. No passion, no gun shots on the terrace. Most civilised...
We, in our turn, love camera systems, because they allow us to have more new equipment. Sometimes, as with the Benro tripod
system, they actually allow us to do useful things...
I wondered a little as I unpacked the Benro. First the box, then the travel bag...then it all started to get like Russian dolls as there was a second bag inside the main bag. Eventually there was a tripod - a tripod with a difference.
The difference is the centre column. it is one of the up-and-over-the-side types - designed for some interesting specialist tasks. In addition to just rising and falling , it can be used for:
- Copying. Put a camera or a ball head on the base plate of the tripod and swing it out over the side. Extend and weight one of the legs opposite to the camera so that the assembly won't tilt, and then you can have the lens looking straight down at the floor or a table. Slide your flat copy in there and shoot away. You can get quite a large surface to play with this way.
- Fungi. Or little plants. Or any close-up subject. The ability to get out and over the top of the legs means you do not have to intrude into the natural composition when using a shorter focal length macro lens. And you can attach a weight to the other end of that centre column as a counter balance.
- Ground-level subjects. If you tilt right over, your camera can approach the ground base. You'd be surprised how often this helps with interiors or architecture. You can even base the tripod firmly and extend a camera out a window for a side shot.
- The centre column does not have to be way out of alignment all the time. There are occasions when you need to have a vertical truly vertical while the rest of the structure copes with a definite slope. Panoramic shooters know what I mean. This column arrangement is admirably suited to that.
The design is all metal, with screw legs, to a re-fold design. You'll need to consider closely what sort of head you want. I'd look at the Benro, Sirui, Gitzo, and Arca heads myself, in keeping with the premium nature of these legs.
But then I always did like good legs...